‘The Ones Who Live’ Picks Up Where ‘The Walking Dead’ Left Off. Where Was That Again?

The new six-part mini-series “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live,” the latest installment in the sprawling “Walking Dead” universe, premieres Sunday on AMC and AMC+. It finds Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira reprising their longtime roles as Rick Grimes and Michonne, the weathered survivors of a postapocalyptic wasteland populated by flesh-devouring zombies.

Rick, the former sheriff turned heroic leader, and Michonne, the katana-wielding warrior with a heart of gold, were two of the show’s longest-tenured and most beloved characters. When they paired off late in the show’s run, it added a warm central love story to somewhat offset the show’s litany of bloodshed and gore — until Rick left the series in Season 9 and Michonne in Season 10.

“The Ones Who Live” picks their story up where it left off in the original series, revealing what happened to the couple after they exited the show. But it also involves other characters, settings and organizations that have either appeared or been mentioned in “The Walking Dead” and its spinoffs, including the dystopian city the Civic Republic, its high-tech military the C.R.M., and the slippery villain Jadis, played by Pollyanna McIntosh. There’s also 12 years and 11 seasons of back story to keep in mind — and a ton of lore, including flash-forward child births and complex double-crosses.

If any of that sounds only vaguely familiar — or if you, like millions of viewers, stopped watching “The Walking Dead” some time before it wrapped its 11th and final season in November 2022 — you might need a bit of a refresher to keep up with “The Ones Who Live,” which dives into its propulsive story without many flashbacks or expository monologues to bring viewers up to speed. (For their part, Lincoln and Gurira have said that they didn’t keep up with the whole series either, so you’re in good company.) Here’s everything you’ll need to know before the series kicks off on Sunday.

What happened to Rick?

After it was announced that Lincoln would be leaving “The Walking Dead” sometime during its ninth season, many fans assumed Rick would be killed off as many other characters had been before. Lincoln’s final episode, “What Comes After,” certainly set up that expectation, placing Rick in seemingly insurmountable jeopardy, gravely wounded and surrounded by a horde of walkers. As they close in on him, he has visions of friends and family he’s lost over the years, including Shane (Jon Bernthal), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and his first wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), driving home the impression that these are Rick’s final moments on earth.

Instead, Rick is saved at the last moment by Jadis, his antagonist and sometime-ally, who whisks him to safety in a mysterious helicopter with cryptic promises that things will be OK. (Using a radio to communicate with the pilot, she refers to “As” and “Bs,” insisting that Rick is an A, which is sure to figure into “The Ones Who Live.”) Badly banged up, he is placed on a stretcher and given an intravenous drip, and he drifts off to sleep as Jadis consoles him. It’s the last time we see Rick until the final minutes of the series finale, when we catch a glimpse of his life six years later under the iron rule of the heavily militarized city the Civic Republic, still dreaming of reuniting with his family.

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