One day closer to All Out War; today’s article is all in Rick’s mind.
Welcome to the day three of the JustUs Geeks War Report countdown to All Out War. For the last two days we have discussed two of Rick’s most important relationships (with Carl and Andrea), and today we want to finish up talking about Rick by discussing his sanity.
From as early as the Atlanta camp we have seen Rick’s mental state slowly deteriorate. His sanity has played a major role in nearly every decision he has made in the past, whether right or wrong. Everyone in The Walking Dead has begun to have their sanity deteriorate to some degree, but none quite like Rick has. Often his battle with his mental issues are a central plot point, and even though he has showed some signs of recovery, I expect Rick’s sanity to be in question once again by the end of All Out War.
Early in the series, Rick was a logical leader. Before the weight of the zombie apocalypse had fully taken its effect on him, he was able to make clear decisions that made sense for the entire group, which actually precipitated the ire of his former partner, Shane. Little did Rick know that Shane’s mental issues were actually a foreshadowing of his own to come in the near future.
By the time Rick’s group had reached the prison, he was battle worn from the events at the Atlanta camp and the effects of traveling. We initially start to see Rick’s sanity start to slip from him when he learns that Thomas killed Hershel’s twins, and he brutally beats him close to death. Not long after Rick continues to demonstrate his downward spiral when he murders Dexter for trying to kick his group out of the prison. Later when Rick and Tyresse fought over Carol’s attempted suicide, the dialogue between the two reveals just how far Rick is gone, with him justifying all of the times he crossed the line, because he is the leader.
The biggest blow to Rick’s sanity though, was the death of Lori and Judith as they were fleeing the prison. While he and Carl are hiding in an abandoned house Rick begins to have conversations with Lori over a disconnected phone. He is aware that she is not real, but he does not care. Rick also becomes more violent at this point, probably due to a combination of his weak mental state and his renewed mistrust of other people due to the Governor’s actions. He and members of the group brutally murder a group of cannibals in revenge for them briefly terrorizing the group.
Even though Rick started to recover slightly once reaching the Safe-Zone, he still had times when his paranoia caused problems for him. It was not until after Carl was shot by Douglas that his sanity began to truly recover. Since recognizing that the Safe-Zone could be a permanent residence Rick has displayed a much healthier mental state than most of the series beforehand. He thinks much more rationally and logically, except for when he believed Negan had killed Carl.
Even with Rick’s mental health being stable at this point, I believe that some point during this arc Rick is going to snap. Whether it is due to the death of Carl or Andrea, or just because of the sheer pressure of his responsibility as leader during a war, I do not know. Rick has been too sane for too long, and I think Kirkman is preparing to destroy him mentally and emotionally. Regardless, I do not expect Rick to remain as rational as he has been for the last twelve or so issues.