Beware: This post contains spoilers for The Walking Dead—especially revolving around the romance between Michonne and Rick Grimes—including the Season 7 finale.
Rick Grimes and Michonne (no canonical last name) do not meet cute, or meet at all, really, until the third season of The Walking Dead, but when they do, neither will ever be the same. “When the Dead Come Knocking,” Michonne risks her life to deliver a shopping basket full of the baby formula Rick’s newborn daughter, Judith, desperately needs since her mother, Lori, died in childbirth. Rick and son, Carl, fend off the walkers that would have preyed on Michonne, and bring her to the (supposed) safety of the prison where Rick’s group had taken shelter, but does he trust this mysterious newcomer, even though she’s saved his daughter’s life? Nope. Okay, Michonne knows her way around a katana, and has two armless, jawless walker “pets” on leashes, and sobs when she holds baby Judith, but Rick hallucinates his dead wife, and has telephone conversations with her on a phone that isn’t connected to anything. We see, right away, these are two strong, yet broken people, who need somebody who understands this kind of pain.
Neither is ready for romance at this point, and there is the little matter of Rick actually considering turning Michonne over to The Governor, to save the rest of the group, but these two have an understanding. They’ve both lost a beloved partner, each is or has been a parent, and both have an innate sense of justice, Rick was a deputy sheriff before the change, and Michonne, a lawyer. They both know what it’s like to make hard decisions under difficult circumstances, especially when there are no good choices. In season four’s “Thirty Days Without an Accident,” Michonne kills The Governor before he can kill Rick, then escapes into the woods. She dreams of her former life, and tells her dead boyfriend how she wishes he and their son could be with her, but finally chooses to follow Rick and Carl’s tracks to a house where the pair now live. This time, her tears are not for sorrow over the life she has lost, but joy for the one she might have. Thanks to scavengers, and Terminus being the exact opposite of the safe haven they expected,the de facto family doesn’t get much of a chance for relationship building until they hit the safe zone of Alexandria.
In the positions of constables, under Alexandria’s leader, Deanna, Rick and Michonne live in a normal house, with Carl and Judith, Michonne’s katana now a decoration on the wall. Despite walker infestations and power struggles between Rick’s group and the Alexandrites, Season 5 brings some quiet, tender moments: Rick teases Michonne about how much time she spends in the bathroom, and she waits by his bedside for him to wake. Fans suspected there might be something simmering beneath the surface, because if it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
In Season 6’s “No Way Out,” the episode ends with Michonne watching over Rick and an injured Carl, with Judith in her arms. Then there’s “The Next World,” and everything changes. Rick goes on a supply run, while both Carl and Michonne pass on putting down Walker Deanna, so her son, Spencer, can do it instead. She needed, they agree, to be put down by someone who loved her. Carl assures Michonne he would put her down if she turned, because they are family. When Rick comes back, he doesn’t have toothpaste, but he does have mints. The two hold hands, and then :sound of entire fandom holding its collective breath: kiss. Michonne laughs, and they kiss again. By the episode’s end, the two are shown naked and in bed, until an intruder, Jesus (aka Paul) intrudes, and bam, they’re on their feet, weapons in hand. Even in afterglow, these two are ready to roll. When a retreating Jesus refers to the pair as Carl’s parents, Carl doesn’t correct him.
In Season 7, “Say Yes” finds Rick and Michonne searching for guns to pay off junkyard leader Jadis. Michonne wants to take the van back to Alexandria, but Rick asks for more time. Michonne agrees, and he sleeps while she drives...until she spots a deer, which they follow to an abandoned school, which is set up for a carnival, the grounds swarming with walkers,. Michonne dispatches a walker in combat gear, and the two climb onto the roof for a better look, but fall through...onto a bed, surrounded by crates of nonperishable food. They tease, they eat, they talk, they sleep (and possibly not-sleep, wink wink) and, in the morning, do what they must to take out the walkers and collect their weapons. There’s a moment when Michonne sees walkers feasting on fresh human flesh, and her apprehension leaps through the screen. For a second there, time stopped, until Rick emerged from a carnival ride, threw Michonne her katana, and they finished the job, then embraced. That, folks, is how it’s done.
Done, as it would turn out, is a word that Richonne shippers feared might apply all too well in the Season 7 finale, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.” Rick and Michonne approach Jadis for help in their war against Neegan and the Saviors. Jadis turns to Michonne and asks, “yours?” to which Michonne replies that they are together. Jadis shrugs. She’ll lie with Rick, “after.” After what, Jadis, hmmm? After Jadis double-crosses our heroes at Neegan’s approach, that’s what. One of Jadis’s minions attacks Michonne in her sniper’s perch, sneering “we win,” and the two women engage in deadly hand-to-hand combat, and Michonne takes a beating. When a body plummets to the ground, Rick, Carl and Neegan all believe it’s Michonne, and Neegan taunts Rick, who remains defiant, even as he turns a stricken glance toward the tower, his sorrow plain.
Thanks to a quick intervention from King Ezekiel (and tiger, Shiva) our heroes escape. Rick and Carl rush to the tower, only to find the body on the ground is not Michonne, but Jadis’s minion. Michonne is crouched inside the house, her face swollen and bloodied. Rick races to her side, relieved she is alive. Michonne croaks out, “we win,” to which Rick answers an impassioned, “I know. We are. We will.” He believes it, and so do we.
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Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.