Warning: spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead series finale.
Rick Grimes’ mysterious iPhone is back in The Walking Dead, and new clues suggest it could be far more important than Michonne realizes. After Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes was taken away by a Civic Republic Military helicopter in The Walking Dead season 9, his loved ones believed him dead, but Michonne eventually deduced the truth upon finding an iPhone etched with an image of herself and Judith, all but confirming Rick survived his bridge blast. Danai Gurira’s character now carries the iPhone artwork as a memento as she embarks on a quest to locate her missing husband.
AMC’s The Walking Dead series finale ending explains the origin of the Grimes family cellphone. Escaped from the CRM, Rick tosses the iPhone into a boat alongside his boots and a notebook. The boat then travels to where Michonne finds it in The Walking Dead season 10, neatly setting up the upcoming Rick Grimes & Michonne spinoff series. The Walking Dead leads audiences to believe that the iPhone is merely a token – a handmade photograph Rick crafted to motivate himself while in captivity. Michonne appears to be of the exact same opinion, but the final moments of The Walking Dead hint toward a deeper significance behind the defaced cellphone.
It’s Weird The CRM Doesn’t Kill Rick Grimes In The Walking Dead Series Finale
Their presence in the main show was limited, but the Civic Republic Military has enjoyed more screen time in both Fear The Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond. One overriding quality the CRM possesses during these appearances is ruthlessness, especially when keeping its own existence under wraps. In Fear The Walking Dead season 5, the CRM’s Isabelle shot her own partner for becoming unreliable, while The Walking Dead: World Beyond saw Lieutenant Colonel Kublek commit two separate cases of mass murder against Campus Colony and Omaha, while also planning a third at Portland, simply because the Civic Republic disliked the cut of their jib.
With these examples of brutality in mind, the CRM keeping Rick Grimes alive in The Walking Dead‘s series finale is strange indeed. Every detail The Walking Dead has revealed about the CRM thus far suggests a fleeing prisoner would be dealt with by nothing less than a well-placed bullet between the eyes. In the final moments of The Walking Dead‘s “Rest In Peace,” however, the CRM helicopter makes a point of forcing Rick Grimes to surrender, very clearly intending to capture the protagonist alive.
The Civic Republic’s curious determination to keep Rick Grimes breathing may suggest The Walking Dead‘s shadowy villains deem him useful. Perhaps the CRM believes Rick could become a vital ally if they can break his spirit and convert him to their cause. Jadis hinted Rick was valuable to the CRM in The Walking Dead: World Beyond, and Elizabeth’s pursuit of Hope Bennett confirms the organization will make concessions for targets they consider potential assets. Another explanation, and the one most relevant for this particular theory, is that the CRM is unable to kill Rick because he holds crucial intelligence that needs to be extracted through interrogation.
Theory: Rick’s iPhone Contains Crucial Data On The CRM
The concept of cellphones is so alien in The Walking Dead‘s world, Michonne is perfectly justified in seeing Rick’s etched tech as nothing more than a touching tribute to missed family members. Few in her position would consider that the gadget’s inside is just as precious as the outside. Michonne has maybe failed to realize that the first step in her quest to find Rick Grimes is actually finding someone with an iPhone charger from 2010.
When the escaped prisoner Rick Grimes hears a helicopter approaching and tosses his bag onto the nearest boat, The Walking Dead‘s series finale implies that Rick’s intention is for one of his old friends, ideally Michonne herself, to find it and figure out he survived. If this were true, however, Rick surely would have included his handwritten note inside the bag also. Instead, he lobs the message in a bottle into the water, then throws the iPhone bag into the boat. Not only does this suggest Rick needed to keep the cellphone dry, it also signals the iPhone carries a purpose beyond just alerting friends to his survival.
Given the lack of internet, cellphone service, and the limits of early iPhone technology after the zombie outbreak in The Walking Dead, the potential applications for Rick Grimes’ gadgetry are relatively limited. He may have recorded a warning for his friends in Alexandria, informing them of the CRM’s presence and capabilities. Rick might have detailed specifics about the CRM’s future plans, or uploaded stolen data for programs such as “Project V,” which The Walking Dead: World Beyond revealed as a weaponized gas. The iPhone could even contain the last remaining copies of deleted research documents from a CRM lab.
All of the above would explain why the Civic Republic wants Rick alive in The Walking Dead‘s series finale. The CRM would, at the very least, wish to stop the phone falling into external hands, but depending on its precise contents, may also need whatever data Rick stored on the iPhone for the organization’s own dastardly schemes to continue. The massive CRM in The Walking Dead is so thorough in covering its tracks, a search would have been carried out to ensure Rick left no trace behind. Michonne’s iPhone discovery in The Walking Dead season 10 proves this search failed, leaving no alternative but to capture Rick alive for questioning.
Walking Dead iPhone Theory Can Explain The “Consignee” Mystery
When Rick Grimes appears in The Walking Dead‘s series finale, he comes complete with a CRM jacket and zombie skewer. Both of these items appeared at the CRM’s culling facility in The Walking Dead: World Beyond, suggesting he might have been put to work killing zombies in a controlled environment. Other clues suggest this is not the case. Culling facility duties are typically performed by young teens as an entry point into military work, and are among the least valuable members of the evil Civic Republic social structure, contradicting Jadis’ suggestion that Rick Grimes is valuable. Rick more likely stole the jacket and weapon during his escape.
The biggest clue as to Rick’s Civic Republic role, however, is the helicopter voice referring to him as “Consignee Grimes.” The exact meaning of “consignee” in this context remains highly ambiguous, but the term usually denotes a person receiving goods. The CRM is known to associate with outside communities such as Portland, Omaha, Campus Colony and, very probably, the Commonwealth, so would plausibly require workers to handle these imports. During the course of his assigned task, Rick would potentially come across recovered pieces of technology – iPhones, for instance – and may even stumble across sensitive information pertaining to the CRM’s habit of wiping out other large settlements.
What Rick Grimes’ iPhone Contents Would Mean For The Walking Dead’s Future
Danai Gurira’s The Walking Dead series finale cameo is too brief to draw firm conclusions, but gives the overriding impression that Michonne’s search for Rick Grimes has made very little progress since it began in The Walking Dead season 10. Rick & Michonne’s The Walking Dead spinoff must explain how Gurira’s character ultimately figures out her husband was captured by a massive military organization. Michonne finding a way to switch on Rick’s iPhone could bridge that gap, revealing everything she needs to know before launching a rescue mission. Having the answer to Rick’s whereabouts in her pocket all along would represent a poetic twist in Michonne’s tale.
Whatever intelligence Rick stored on his iPhone can also reveal the masterplan of the Civic Republic Military. If Rick stole important data, uploaded it to a cellphone, and threw said phone into the wild desperately hoping someone would find it, he must be reasonably certain the CRM is planning something big. Taking place after Rick’s recapturing, The Walking Dead: World Beyond showed Campus Colony, Omaha, and very nearly Portland all succumbing to the CRM’s wrath, and the devastated city behind Rick in The Walking Dead‘s series finale may be another victim.
Nevertheless, these tragedies all feel like cogs in a larger machine, and a newspaper article in The Walking Dead: World Beyond hinted at CRM leader Major General Beale overthrowing the elected council of the Civic Republic itself in a military coup. Whatever Rick knows, it may expose what Beale and his baddies are plotting. And whatever the CRM is plotting in The Walking Dead may be stored inside Rick Grimes’ iPhone.
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