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The CRM - What we learned by watching FTWD & World Beyond so you don't have to by Joi, Kera, and Khalilah

Updated: Feb 29

With The Ones who Live’s premiere steadily approaching we all will be tuned in for the triumphant return of Rick and Michonne Grimes. The couple’s departure from the main show, The Walking Dead, left us with open-ended questions. Primarily, where the hell have they been? And when, if ever, would they return?

Fans were thankfully granted a glimpse of what was to come from the Chief Content Officer of The Walking Dead Universe, Scott M. Gimple. Three Rick centric movies were in the works. Those films would undoubtedly feature Rick’s wife Michonne as well. A fact that was recently confirmed by the man in charge. But once the pandemic hit, projects went into limbo. We were left wondering what was to become.

Jump to February 2022, happenstance put me in a position at Fandemic where I was made privy to the Rick movies being switched to a Rick and Michonne series. The information was meant to be kept under wraps in a group chat but of course spilled onto the Twitter timeline. Chaos bread from excitement and even denial ensued until July 2022.

TWDU conducted panels at San Diego Comic Con. And to all of our surprise, hand and hand strolled out Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira. The pair announcing the long-awaited return of Rick and Michonne Grimes in an untitled six- episode project later using the placeholder Summit. Richonne was coming home to us!

What happened to Rick and Michonne?

We last saw Rick Grimes in a helicopter marked by three interlinking circles, designating him as a strong B by Anne as he’s whisked away to unknown parts. Anne aka Jadis, the leader of the defunct Scavengers radioed for extraction once she felt she couldn’t hold out for Team Family to come around on her. Even Father Gabriel Stokes during their short-lived liaison tried to persuade with his own tales of being on the outs until he earned the trust of his companions. But Anne decided to depart with difficulty and a falsehood until she happened upon Rick gravely injured on a riverbank creating an opportunity.

A radio transmission informing her that he’d attempted to make the ultimate sacrifice for his family and communities to halt a mega herd from destroying all they’d worked for. Jadis assumed she was in the clear to kidnap Rick, a very valuable ticket for entry into the Civic Republic where surgeons would be able to save his life after being impaled on rebar. Somehow in these plans, she must’ve assumed Rick would be grateful enough to not want to return home to his family. Or knew he’d likely be unable to escape. 

Perhaps she also hoped he’d  take up with her after her several past attempts to bed him.

Years later, Michonne, who still hadn’t given up hope for her husband, ventured on a mission to a naval base. She sought munitions promised by a struggling survivor named Virgil. He was held up on Bloodsworth Island in Tangier Sound with his family. He’d asked for help in exchange for weaponry. Michonne agreed, wanting to put an end to their newest threat, The Whisperers. A roaming group of socially degenerative people who wore masks crafted from the dead. Their leader was Alpha, a vicious mentally disturbed woman convinced the only way to persist was to adopt a Charles Darwin-ish approach complete with baser instincts meant to become one with the dead.

While on this quest, Michonne is drugged with hallucinogens and captured. She survives and while regaining her belongings she stumbles on a pair of familiar beat up cowboy boots. On a ship floating off coast, a room aboard contains a journal logging locations and a phone. The device long dead but on its screen clear as day was her and her daughter, Judith’s likenesses accompanied by Japanese writing.

Hope bloomed with the confirmation she yearned for all those years, her husband and the father of her children hadn’t perished on the bridge. After an anxious talk with Judy where she was reassured that the communities were safe and Alpha was dead, Michonne tentatively set out on a journey to bring the Brave Man home.

At the end of the original shows finale event, we are granted an incredible surprise scene of Rick and Michonne. At separate campfires, the couple write letters describing the trials and tribulations they have undergone since the fall of the world. Their tone uplifting because each continues to have hope against all odds. A declaration Rick first uttered becomes a proclamation for inspiration and fortitude. It’s stated by friends and family (one sneak) ending with the Grimes Family.


But with all of that said who are the CRM?

Wherever our heroes were there were sure to be villains. Complicated, blurring lines yet  dirty for sure but formidable enough to keep the dynamic pair away from home with their children for untold time.

The Civic Republic is a community secretly inhabiting Philadelphia with fueling stations and connections across the United States including a research facility (RF) and Health Welfare Complex. With a working government, the leaders have put the task of doling out controls to the Civic Republic Military (CRM). Unfortunately, while conducting sanctioned measures the CRM also exacts their own clandestine ones.

Clad in all black combat gear with handheld weapons used to neutralize any threat whether dead or living, it all depends on their orders. The best intentions and the greater good are the usual excuses used to defend unsavory and despicable acts and the CRM is much the same.

To retain order in their quest to return the word to its former standing before The Fall, they take in people deemed worthy. Separating survivors into two groups, A’s and B’s. The latter is kept and given the opportunity to become a citizen if they can withstand the trials of access or if they arrived equipped with a viable skill. A’s are a bit tricky. Seeming to be stronger-willed individuals, they are either turned away or taken for means we don’t find out fully.

In World Beyond, we glimpse a lab with scientists experimenting on test subjects. Some delivered alive, freshly dead or kept in cold storage. Marked as A’s we recognize two of these reanimated men from prior scenes where they questioned the motives of the CRM which they were a part of.

The claim of the researchers is what we expect, to find an overall cure. Perhaps speeding up decomposition of the dead, which they call Delts, would shorten their death cycle lessening the timeline of threat. Another option is to dispatch the desire to feed and therefore the migration. But ultimately they aim to discover what is causing the dead to reanimate and switching that off in live humans.

Assembling great minds and leaders who crunched the numbers for statistical balance. Two years prior, a hypothesis touted not enough was available to sustain even the drastically lowered populace at large. A treaty agreement they had enacted with two other survivor groups, Portland and Omaha/ Campus Colony make up the three circles linked in unity. The model regarding reserves claimed that the sister cities weren’t self sustainable and would eventually collapse. Starvation would be the safest option but the worst could be disease and chaos that jeopardize the CRM. Therefore they decided they’d be the ‘Last Light of the World’.

Corralling scientists and others deemed geniuses into working at the RF or attending school in hopes they’d be successors was only the first step.

After ten years of sustainability, the Campus Colony celebrated Monument Day welcoming Lt Col Elizabeth Kubrik and her squad for revelry. After partaking and departing, the second part of the plan was enacted… destroying Omaha.

Metal catch wires were clipped, roads were cleared, detonations set on the perimeter walls all while two columns (what they call walker herds) were guided by helicopters towards the city with a population of ninety-seven thousand. The deads purpose to cover up the use of a chemical weapon deployed to wipe out the community. Operation Bodus was a year in the making where stockpiled algae derived extracts combined with chlorine gas was deployed for genocide. Within seventy-two hours after the destruction of Omaha the mega column would be redirected to collapse the Campus Colony as well.

The citizens of Philly are delivered grave news unknowing that some of their leaders were responsible for mass murder. The remorseful news alerts serve to weaponize fear and strengthen the support for unilateral decisions that ten percent of the CRM will make if they were to ever find out. Determinations that we can only see being issued from the ominous Major General Beale, the leader of the largest military on the planet.

From interviews, we now know that Beale, a lifelong company man, served from a young age in the Vietnam War. He believes that he is the one willing to make the tough choices no matter the cost. His plans include replicating the annihilation on an additional eight-seven thousand with ‘sunset protocols’ on the remaining city of Portland. Pretending a prior communication breach meant to warn Omaha of the approaching danger was brought on by equipment failure or sun flares. But a foreboding message of ‘This is just the beginning’ is relayed.

The CRM offers modern day luxuries such as running hot water straight from the tap, readily available food, medical care, safety from the dead and even air conditioning. A lot of these are acquired through scavenging of communities they massacre. Small or large societies have to fear the CRM unless they are able to barter (if offered) a deal. These usually occur with groups willing to steer strangers away from their perimeter facilities or ones willing to deliver test subjects.

Enter Jadis/ Anne

A former eclectic leader of a group called the Scavengers residing in a junkyard. Their motto Take but not Bother stated to Rick in season 7 episode 10. The use of a theatrical  dialect of English purposeful in bonding the mostly artist colony. Small teases of a helipad and modern digs in storage containers hint there’s more than meets the eye with these people. We find out that Jadis had been providing designated A survivors to the CRM.

Jump to six years later, Warrant Officer Jadis Stokes takes her last name from maybe an unforgotten fondness for Father Gabriel. Desirous of promotion, she seeks out corruption, ineptitude and betrayal instead of becoming a soldier. Initially, survival was her purpose but once she gained safety it expanded to new ruthless heights. Her pursuit to stop the rot and gain favor with Beale was accomplished by waiting for the strongest person she’d met to become entirely vulnerable. She also rescued his son Mason from a partial coup that successfully destroyed a large measure of the gas meant to bomb Portland. But scientists escaped taking their years long data with them. This could mean Stokes has something to prove when we see her in TOWL.

Last scene, Jadis was scapegoating Kubrik for treason likely taking her position. The fact that she has no connections makes her merciless. Yet she has some arcane desire for interrelation with Rick. She has also taken a likeness to a consignee she’s made a cadet under her watch, Silas.


Consignee Duty

In order to keep the ruse going, the CR maintains tabs on its citizens. Anyone that wavers or is later recognized as an A is made a test subject. Furthermore, the CRM is confident in their forces to fight against the new batches of dead they are creating. Because there is of course another reason to murder innocent people beyond the appeal to have your small section of humankind survive the zombie apocalypse. And the largest reason being… they are using delts as fuel to run their society.

Decontamination aka culling outposts are where death is the likely outcome for anyone designated a consignee. If one can survive the dangerous and painstaking work of luring in and putting down delts they have the chance to work their way up to citizenship inside the main city’s walls. Or you could even be selected for military duty.

Al and Isabelle

There is no escape from the CR. Because honestly who would want to. Yet departure is not a precedent they will allow to take seed in their people for fear of revolution or retaliation. In Fear the Walking Dead we meet Althea. She is a drifter in the apocalypse who has travelled the country in an MRAP in search for people’s stories. Personal details about her are kept completely under wraps (by her) until she happens upon a mysterious CRM soldier named Isabelle.

Their meeting was a tumultuous one. Al was on a mission until she found an opportunity for another possible story. Isabelle had one mission…keep herself and where she is from secret at all costs. Needless to say, their meeting was a violent and stressful one. Al wanted to know who the mysterious stranger was, and Isabelle just wanted Al to forget she had ever seen her…or she would have to kill her.

After subduing Al and taking her hostage, Isabel then only seems concerned about retrieving whatever tape she has made of the CRM soldier she discovered. The CRM, even for their own, maintains strict policies to keep themselves a secret. Isabelle races against the clock to refill her helicopter to beat the reclamation team they planned to send to make sure their existence is kept a secret.

Althea, resourceful as usual, avoids being killed by Isabelle and eventually slides her way into an interview agreement with Al. They take a journey together to find gas for Isabelle’s helicopter, and on that journey they find something in each other that neither of them expected. Love. Companionship. Attraction. Isabelle tells Al she’s the prettiest thing she’s seen in the apocalypse right before she kisses her, and leaves without killing her…making it clear they could never see each other again.

Life seemingly goes on for Al until we find out she’s been secretly tracking and communicating with Isabelle. Al has figured out some of the places Isabelle may stop to gas up her helicopter, and even goes as far as saving her from landing in a hazmat zone. She risks everything to get on the radio and identify herself so she could make it clear they should NOT land or risk possible death. Al later reveals that Isabelle wants to be with her and made it known, but Al turned her down. She did not want to constantly be on the run from CRM and risk her and her friends’ lives. Dwight helps convince Al that the love she found is worth the sacrifice, which is proven when Isabelle decides to use a CRM helicopter to save our FTWD crew when the bombs in Texas were about to go off.

After the rescue Isabelle was in trouble and being hunted down by the CRM. Al finds her at their cabin and tells her she will run away to escape the CRM with her, knowing she will never see her friends again; and may not live very long with the person she loves the most in the world.

Once you are in you are in whether you asked for entry or not. Cameras, guard patrols, mile long security and unlimited resources make getting out a painstaking task. And if one manages to get out, a manhunt will be enacted. One that could lead right to whomever you were so desperate to reunite with. The CRM would murder anyone you hold dare to drive home the lesson that their reach is absolute.

It's perhaps the reason Rick Grimes has been gone for so long. His and Michonne’s absence have been critically missed with the state of the communities left behind rapidly deteriorating. Hilltop, Oceanside, and The Kingdom are gone. Alexandria Safe Zone transformed to an outpost while most of the people they once knew are residing in the King Ezekiel lead Common Wealth (CW).

But our heroic leader is truly missed by his appointed brother, Daryl Dixon, his daughter Judith Grimes and the son he doesn’t know exists, Rick Grimes Junior (RJ). But he’s certainly missed the most by his loving and devoted wife, Michonne Grimes. And she is the only one that is capable of bringing him back.

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