WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Walking Dead #192, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, on sale now.
The Walking Dead has always prided itself on surprising plot twists. No character is safe, no matter their importance, and any minor character might do something unbelievably significant. And now, one such character just rose in importance through a series-changing action. In the latest issue of The Walking Dead, Sebastian Milton does what so many villains and Walkers never could: kill Rick Grimes.
CBR is taking a look back at the history of the character, his role in the series and how his actions may affect the future of the comic.
A Privileged Upbringing
Sebastian is first introduced in The Walking Dead #177. He's the son of Pamela Milton. When the pair are introduced, Pamela is revealed to be the Governor of the Commonwealth, an Ohio-based community of survivors. Of all the camps encountered by the main characters, the Commonwealth is perhaps the most advanced. Residents enjoy many of the luxuries that were made scarce by the dead rising. The Commonwealth also has a class system, relying on people's professions from before the apocalypse to determine where resident's fall in the Commonwealth's hierarchy.
At the top of that food chain thanks to his mother's job, Sebastian grows into an entitled and spoiled teenager. While other young people like Carl and Sophia become strong, self-assured survivors, Sebastian falls back into a world where his status makes him untouchable. Although his mother tries to excuse his behavior by citing the death of Sebastian's father and sister, many of his protectors dislike him.
What He Did
Rick Grimes' arrival and choice to hold democratic elections threatens Sebastian's luxurious way of life, causing him to snap. He takes a gun, and confronts Rick Grimes in his bed. Yelling about how the Commonwealth owed him and his mother more than it could ever pay. He shoots Rick in the chest before, in The Walking Dead #192, shooting him several more times and leaving him for dead. When Carl arrives the next morning, Rick has already turned into a Walker. Carl puts his father down, and a manhunt quickly results in Sebastian's arrest.
Despite the connections he so frequently bragged about earlier, there's no way for Sebastian to escape punishment. Pamela reveals Sebastian will serve a life sentence in prison for his crimes. Carl accepts this and confronts him in his cell before leaving to take his father's body back home to bury alongside Andrea. He sees through Sebastian's attempted apology, telling Sebastian that he's only sad that his way of life is gone. Carl promises to make sure Sebastian is in prison for the rest of his life, leaving him with the threat that if he ever escapes, Carl will return him to a cell, but not in one piece.
What This Means
Sebastian is now the man who killed Rick Grimes. Rick managed to prevent a battle and ensure elections for the Commonwealth in the process. However, in killing him, Sebastian may have reignited the potential conflict between the Commonwealth and Alexandria. Michonne still promises elections are coming, but Pamela will now certainly be unelectable, which might push her in dangerous directions. In attempting to protect his way of life, Sebastian's actions only ensured his world would be destroyed.
Kirkman claims in the letters page for the issue that he always knew Sebastian would eventually be the end of Rick. The decision came because Rick chose to put his life on the line to keep his fellow survivors from going to war with the Commonwealth. Despite the flawed class system, the Commonwealth proved to Rick that society could return and life could flourish, even after dead rose. Having Rick die here opens up the series to follow the ever-expanding cast with whom recent issues and stories have felt more concerned.
Having Sebastian murder Rick makes sense on a number of story levels, as well. It puts Pamela in an impossible situation, as her warped priorities makes her culpable in the death of Rick. Seeing what role she plays going forward, especially with the elections coming to the Commonwealth, could end up being quite compelling. Rick's death also puts Carl in a relationship that parallels what Rick had with Negan. After capturing the villain, Rick spared his life and kept him locked away as punishment. The relationship that grew between the pair influenced Negan and led him to help Alexandria and eventually renounce the violence he'd sworn by.
Forcing Carl into that kind of relationship with Sebastian will be fascinating, as the comics have always explored his growth with a deft hand. The last look Sebastian gives Carl suggests Carl's right to see through his cries for sympathy to the selfish and cruel soul underneath. Carl will have to step up to take the place his father left, and it means he'll have to truly embrace mercy if he wants to prove himself worthy of that mantle. Even if he's stuck in a jail cell, this certainly isn't the last we've seen of Sebastian.
The Walking Dead #193 will hit shelves July 3.