For the last couple of years, ratings on the hit TV show, “The Walking Dead,” had been on the decline. From 2013-2016, the show had averaged over 16 million viewers per season, before spiraling to just 11.44 million for the season premiere in 2017 and plummeting further to 6.08 million viewers for this past October's season nine premiere. A lot of this could be attributed to an overload on the series, which runs over 20 episodes per season, in addition to the spinoff "Fear The Walking Dead,” which debuted in 2015. That's a lot of episodes about zombies

As somebody that tuned in every Sunday night to watch the show since its third season (I binge watched the first two seasons on Netflix), I honestly can't tell you 5 things that happened in Season 8. For a moment, I thought season 8 was actually season 7. All I could recall was after Negan killed Abraham and Glenn, Rick became his bitch for a while, got tired of being his bitch and started fighting back. It took about 40 episodes for that to happen. The show got away from its main characters.

Glenn was dead. Daryl got reduced to a grunting ape — seriously, when was the last meaningful Daryl storyline? Where were those tender moments that shot his character into the hearts of millions, like crying when he discovered his zombified brother in a field and embracing Carol after believing she had been killed? Now he is just a scavenger?

The show gave too many episodes to characters that nobody gives a shit about, like Eugene and Rosita (who makes the worst decision possible in every single circumstance). Instead of ensemble episodes, the show would devote an entire episode to a single character and follow their journey. The episode where Tara finds Oceanside? I would rather watch the Bills play a Monday Night Football game.

The only thing keeping me coming back to the show was Rick Grimes. The portrayal by Andrew Lincoln is just marvelous and as a straight man, my God is he gorgeous. Those eyes, that hair... It's a shame that he has never received an Emmy. Awards don't usually go to popular things, giving an actor an award for being the lead on a zombie TV show would be almost as bad as giving a major award to a comicbook movie (screw “The King's Speech,” I'll watch “Iron Man” over it any day). The man blew a freaking snot bubble on camera for Christ sake.

So naturally, when it was announced in May that Lincoln was leaving the show, but the show would continue, that was it. Finally, the final straw. I was out. I saw all the promotions on AMC for "Rick Grimes's last episodes" and figured, what the hell. Might as well tune in and see the final episode to one of the best leading men in television history. For the first time in my life, I had not watched any of this season's episodes, so last week, I binge watched them to get caught up. I was pleasantly surprised. The show had driven a wedge between Rick and the rest of the group over how he handled the aftermath of war with the Saviors. It was refreshing to see that these things weren't taken for granted.

Rick's final episode itself was filled with nostalgia. They had him off on his own, presumably bleeding to death, and fleeing a herd on horseback while he floated in and out of consciousness. Shane showed up in one of them, a reminder of the chemistry that the actors shared on screen together for the first two seasons of the show. Then, a tear dropping cameo from the recently deceased Scott Wilson, who played father figure Hershel on the show. Rick exited the show without dying, but ultimately being saved. Spinoff movies with Lincoln were announced, which, fuck yes.

Here's what really gave me hope for the future of this show: The preview at the end of last week's episode at what is to come for the rest of the season. There's a 6 year time jump, and 9 year-old Judith Grimes now carries Rick's python and dons his sheriff hat. She shoots dead about 6 walkers and rescues a group of survivors. SOLD. I am so fucking down to watch a little badass girl carrying on the Grimes family name and carrying a gun heavier than her. Little Ass Kicker finally lived up to her name after all.