Walking Dead: Rick and Michonne Series Just Solved a Mystery the Original Never Did

Five years after Rick Grimes was reported as a "B" rather than an "A," The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live reveals what it means.

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Lesley-Ann Brandt as Thorne - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Episode 1
Photo: Gene Page | AMC

This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live episode 1.

When Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes exited The Walking Dead in season 9 episode 5 “What Comes After,” he did so in a mysterious fashion. After Rick was near-mortally wounded in a bridge explosion that he triggered to save his community, the enigmatic Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) came across his unconscious form. She then hailed down a nearby helicopter from an unknown community and delivered an unusual message to its pilot.

“I have a B. Not an A. I never had an A. He’s hurt but he’s strong can you help him?”

That episode aired on Nov. 4, 2018. In the more than five years since, The Walking Dead franchise has not fully explained what Jadis meant by “A” and “B.” TWD spinoff The Walking Dead: World Beyond did reveal what eventually happens to people labeled A’s and B’s (and it’s not pretty) but not why they’re labeled that in the first place.

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With the arrival of the Rick and Michonne spinoff The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, however, we now finally have the answer to this long-running question.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live picks up with Rick in the clutches of the massive society known as the Civic Republic, which is defended by the incredibly powerful military force known as the Civic Republic Military. We’ve seen these folks and their alliance’s distinctive three-ring logo quite a few times in The Walking Dead canon now, most notably in the aforementioned World Beyond and also Fear the Walking Dead.

Since Rick is considered a “B” he handles the lowly grunt work expected from an unremarkable individual – clearing out hordes of walkers with a sharpened stick. He’s a “consignee” and after six years of zombie pruning, he will be allowed to enter the walled sanctuary of the city (that was once Philadelphia) to live in peace. Or at least he would have been allowed to, if a CRM officer named Donald Okafor (Craig Tate) hadn’t forcibly recruited him to join the army.

Roughly 19 minutes into The Ones Who Live‘s premiere episode “Years,” Okafor explains why he knows Rick and his fellow soldier Pearl Thorne (Lesley-Ann Brandt) aren’t “B’s” but rather “A’s” and would therefore be the right people to reform the CRM.

“The CRM designates people it finds A’s and B’s. A’s have a strength, A’s will die for what they believe in. People follow A’s. The people we cross in the world, the few we bring in, they’re classified as B’s. Every day people who are just trying to survive. B’s get in. A’s are sent away and killed except you two.”

All this time, the explanation as to what A’s and B’s were was the obvious one: letter grades that apply to human beings. B’s are good, A’s are better. But ironically, the CRM doesn’t want “better,” it wants “decent and compliant.” Someone like Rick, a natural-born leader who not only survives through unimaginable circumstances but thrives in them, is an inherent threat to the CRM’s carefully maintained hierarchal structures.

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Okafor mentions that these people are “sent away and killed” and thanks to the events of World Beyond season 2 we know he’s not lying. In that series we discover that, not only are A’s killed, but their resurrected walker selves are then extensively, cruelly experimented on to better understand the undead.

That would have been the fate that awaited Rick if Jadis hadn’t felt obligated to save his life after he brought her into the Alexandria community. Now that we definitively know what A’s and B’s are, it will be fun to retroactively figure out how the CRM would view every character we’ve met in The Walking Dead thus far.

One thing is for sure though – Michonne an absolute A. What that means for her going forward on The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live remains to be seen.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.