There’s no new sheriff in town. But the old one is becoming unrecognizable.
As someone who has been watching “The Walking Dead” since it debuted on AMC in 2010, I have seen Rick Grimes transform from a level-headed policeman to a power-hungry killer.
And in the season-six premiere Rick has even made me question who the real monster in the show is: zombie or man.
The premiere episode starts right where season five ended — with Rick shooting Pete in front of the members of Alexandria and his own gang. It is this moment in which viewers see how easy it has become for Rick to kill.
Sure, Pete was an abusive husband and father, and was going to try to murder Rick if he didn’t get to Pete first. But the Rick that viewers stood behind unquestioningly in the first seasons of “The Walking Dead” would have hesitated before killing any man, and might have even chosen a different fate for Pete.
It’s not even the killing of men that makes Rick seem more twisted than before. The way he handles the hoard of Walkers the gang encounters during the premiere makes him look more like a dictator ordering his minions around rather than a man leading his people.
Many would argue Rick had no choice but to become hardened and cold. He has seen more horror and gore than most characters and has been put in countless situations that would drive any man insane.
But look at characters like Darryl Dixon and Glenn Rhee. Both of these characters have been around since the first season of the show and have been beside Rick throughout most of his journey. Darryl had to watch his brother Merle turn into a villain and then die at the hands of the Governor — Darryl even had to be the one to kill Merle once he turned into a Walker. Glenn had to watch as the Governor forced Maggie Greene, Glenn’s love interest, to strip and then threatened her with rape.
The difference between Rick and characters like Darryl and Glenn is that the latter two men have not let the zombie apocalypse and the events it preceded consume or change them. Though both men have had to kill to survive, neither are the killers that Rick has become.
I’m not complaining about the transformation in Rick, though. His evolution — or perhaps devolution — into the cynical, somewhat ruthless man he is now is what makes “The Walking Dead” so successful.
Rick’s methodical nature in dealing with any crisis, be it that of living or dead, has kept him and his friends alive while others have resorted to hiding behind walls. His distrusting and paranoid nature has allowed him to fend off enemies before they can do harm to him and his loved ones.
If Rick Grimes had stayed the character he was at the beginning of the series, viewers would be bored of him.
Honestly, if he stayed the way he was, he would probably be dead and the TV show would not have lasted as long as it has.
So thank you, producers, for keeping Rick insane. It makes for great television.