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The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live - Rick Grimes' Dream Sequences Explained

Contains spoilers for "The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live" Season 1, Episode 1 — "Years"

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is understandably going through the wringer as "The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live" opens. He was held hostage by the Civic Republic Military during his long recovery after nearly falling to his death in a bridge explosion. Since then, he's been spending his time trying to escape from the CRM, failing to do so, and losing any hope that he will ever get away. 

Now missing a hand thanks to killing a flaming walker, he's given into the unit's ways and become another faceless drone in the company.  During the day, he dispatches walker after walker, working basically like a garbage disposal to keep the CRM free of their menace as a punishment for refusing soldier training. There is no light or hope in his life. Is it any wonder he escapes in his dreams, having visions of meeting his lost love Michonne (Danai Gurira) in a much happier, walker-free setting?

Throughout "Years," Rick dreams that he's a lost tourist looking for direction and purposes, and Michonne is there, dressed up in business attire, on her lunch break. He flirts with her, but she is elusive and he cannot even get her to give him her number. Each time, Rick is pulled out of his fantasy and forced to face the grim reality of his existence. Those dreams end up culminating in him coming face-to-face with the real article on the field of battle, leaving them to grapple with the reality of the damage the CRM can do. Rick's fantasies here are punctuated with romantic longing, but they don't mark the first time he's ever dreamed of his family.

Rick has had multiple dream sequences before

Rick has indeed hallucinated before about better days with people whom he loves. During Season 5, Episode 9 of "The Walking Dead," "What Comes After," which would be Rick's final episode as a regular character on the main series, he has several hallucinatory dreams about his friends and family, both dead and living, while nearly bleeding to death atop a horse. Among the many people who pop into his mind are Michonne;  his former best-friend-turned-bitter-enemy Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal); Sasha Williams (Sonequa Martin-Green); Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson); Rick's late wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies); and Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz).

In an earlier version of the episode, Rick even had a vision of his enemy Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) tormenting him in a dream state. But this Rick and Negan scene was left on the cutting room floor as it didn't strike the show's writers as properly appropriate. There's no telling who or what he will further dream of during "The Ones Who Live." Audiences will have to keep watching and waiting to find out.