The Walking Dead: Did Rick Grimes Face "The Last of Us" Moral Dilemma?
HBO's The Last of Us got us thinking about AMC's The Walking Dead. What if Dr. Jenner actually told Rick Grimes that he might be immune?
Okay, so this is how we found ourselves in this "ouroboros" situation. Covering production on AMC's Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) & Danai Gurira (Michonne)-starring The Walking Dead: Summit got us thinking about HBO, Neil Druckmann & Craig Mazin's Pedro Pascal (Joel) & Bella Ramsey (Bella)-starring The Last of Us. In turn, the hit HBO series got us thinking about the original The Walking Dead series. So here's how it works.
There have been some rumblings around "Summit" that CRM may learn that Rick is immune to the walker virus – a fact that Rick learns, too. The whole concept got me thinking about the season finale of The Last of Us, with "Look for the Light" finding Joel making a serious, game-changing moral decision when confronted with the truth – a decision that's still being debated. And that got me thinking about The Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 6 "TS-19" (directed by Guy Ferland and written by Adam Fierro & Frank Darabont), the famous episode that finds the CDC's Dr. Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich) whispering something to Rick before our survivors escape ahead of the building's explosion. When I have that many factors in play, I can help but feed my raging dumpster fires of random speculation – and that means asking the tough questions. Did Dr. Jenner actually tell Rick that there's a good chance he's immune – and Rick made the decision not to tell anyone?
Okay, just to be clear? I know that there are a number of factors that could call this theory into doubt – but it also has some teeth to it. I'm not intending anything malicious or pre-mediated on Rick's part. Just the opposite, actually. Having that information and not divulging it is a hard decision to make because it requires a lifetime's investment in maintaining it. Let's say that was what Dr. Jenner told Rick – how would Rick know it's true? Without proof, Rick could potentially be endangering himself, Laurie, Judith, Carl (until we learn his real parentage), and many more, based on nothing more than a whisper. And when you're talking about a society that's already fallen apart, the last thing you want is the remaining survivors side-eyeing each other as potential cures. As we've seen in other instances with other characters, we know it wouldn't be long until any one of them was under the knife, being cut apart for a cure that might not exist.
By keeping quiet, Rick was also avoiding any sense of false hope creeping out there because – again – Dr. Jenner wasn't exactly in his right state of mind at the end there. That said, having that knowledge would be just the spark of hope that Rick would need to lead and to keep inspiring others to fight on. Because by building up some kind of new functioning society, the core mechanisms would be in place to examine the validity of Dr. Jenner's claim. Plus, the burden of holding onto that truth would definitely carry with it some hefty dramatic baggage – the kind of baggage that CRM could unpack and use to their advantage in "Summit." Because just imagine the waves of emotions that Rick would have to confront if the clandestine military government proved that Dr. Jenner was right – that Rick has been a walking cure all along. That he wasn't one of the "walking dead"? I'm getting chills just considering the storyline possibilities…