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Discussion/Meta “Came Out of Nowhere, My Ass!”: The Undeniable Love Story of Rick and Michonne

Discussion in 'The Richonne Zone' started by Doctor Grimes, Jan 6, 2017.

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  1. Doctor Grimes

    Doctor Grimes Not Your Governor
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    “I didn’t see it coming,” is a common statement by many fans about the coming together of Rick and Michonne on The Walking Dead. Many times it is said in an innocent way by those who were genuinely caught off guard by the hand-hold and subsequent love-making in “The Next World” (6x10). These fans didn’t notice the developing story between Rick and Michonne, even though it was there. Perhaps because they’re drawn to other parts of the horror drama.

    It isn’t a bad thing to have not seen the romance coming -- it was subtly orchestrated and meant to be somewhat of a surprise (just as Rick and Andrea’s union in the graphic novel series was rather spontaneous).

    However, to not see the story coming isn’t the same as saying it wasn’t there -- a common statement from those who wish to diminish the love story between Rick and Michonne, invalidating the romance by trying to pass it off as a poorly told, a whim of the writers, a random “plot twist”, or, worse, “fan pandering.”

    Generally, these people will tack on the spiteful addendum: “There was no build-up” or “It came out of nowhere.”

    No build up. Nowhere. Even though Scott Gimple, the current showrunner and one of the principle screenwriters since season two, said he’s been building the relationship between Rick and Michonne since season three.

    Speaking as a fan who did notice the “non-existent” build-up -- I’d say I’m inclined to believe the showrunner and the two actors involved in the telling of this story: Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira.

    In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gimple explained why he had Rick and Michonne come together the way they did on the couch in a seemingly innocuous and casual moment:

    It was all about finding an everyday context. It was all about having these two characters come to realize that their intimacy and bond extended beyond friendship. Alexandria, in the state it’s currently in, gave them the moment to come to that realization. And that’s a super clinical, mathematical analysis of romance. So I’ll say this: These are two people who have found kindred spirits in each other, strength, respect, support, loyalty. But the world has been screaming in their faces and clawing at them for a good part of their acquaintance. For all they’ve been through, when the world stopped screaming and clawing for them, they realized what they had.

    These are two people who have suddenly realized — pretty much at exactly the same time, on that couch — what they already had together and who they already were to each other. This isn’t a one-night stand. And what they have was already there, before they even kissed.

    Gimple makes a point to emphasize that what Rick and Michonne had was there all along -- in front of their faces -- this entire time. It was only once they could breathe, to “turn [their] brain off”, they were able to see it.

    Here I seek to show just where Rick and Michonne came from -- and how their relationship built up steadily over time to that moment on the couch. (I'll probably edit this a million times, but it's a good start.)


    i. A Fortunate Encounter of Two Wounded Souls

    It was right on the heels of Lori’s death that Rick and Michonne met.

    During a walker attack on the prison, Lori died in childbirth, and Carl was the one to ensure she didn't reanimate by shooting her in the head. After the walkers were dealt with, and everyone came outside to meet in the courtyard, Maggie emerged holding a newborn, with Lori nowhere in sight. It was then Rick realized Lori was dead, and shortly after that Carl had to be the one to put down his mother. Unable to deal with the grief, Rick collapsed on the ground, sobbing

    The next time the audience saw Rick, he was non-communicative, angry, tearing through walkers with an axe. He fought his way to where Lori died, paying little attention to his own safety. He dropped to the ground, finding nothing but a scrap of her plaid shirt and the bullet that went through her skull. A bloody trail led to an engorged walker that had Lori’s hair in it’s mouth. Enraged, Rick stabbed the walker repeatedly. After the walker was well-put down, Rick collapsed in an exhausted daze, staring blankly at nothing -- then the phone “rang."

    Rick answered the phone, beginning a series of conversations with auditory hallucinations of the dead. The final person he spoke to was Lori.

    Rick: "Lori? Lori? Lori? Lori?"

    Lori (Hallucination): "What happened, Rick? Baby, what happened?"

    Rick: "I loved you. I loved you. I couldn't put it back together. I couldn't put it back together. I thought it was... I made a deal with myself. I would keep you alive. I'd find a place. I would fix that. And then... I couldn't open that door. I couldn't risk it. I was gonna keep you alive. Carl, the baby. And then... I thought there'd be time. There's never time. But I loved you. I love you. I couldn't put it back together. I should have said it. I should-- I should have said it."

    Lori (Hallucination): "Rick. Now you listen to me. You have a baby. Our baby. And Carl. And the others. I love you. Rick. Can you do that? Can you do that? Rick? Rick? Rick? Rick? Rick?"​

    It was after this conversation that Rick hung up the phone -- and went to greet his daughter for the first time. Then, in the distance, Rick saw something -- "this mirage of this dread-locked Samurai woman" (Andrew Lincoln, The Journey So Far).

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    That mirage was Rick’s future: Michonne.

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    He just didn't realize it yet.


    ii. Intuitive Trust & Forced Suspicion
    [Season 3]


    Danai Gurira describes Michonne’s trust of Rick as "instinctual." Gurira said that Michonne could tell that, unlike the Governor, Rick is a good man. That Michonne and Rick had similar wounds -- and perhaps that’s why they had an almost natural, uncanny trust from the beginning.

    I think even in the case of Rick and Michonne, people keep saying that there's a similarity that these two are crashing into with each other. At first I was like "Huh?" But then it was like, "Oh, I see, they're both functioning from their wounds."

    Rick is hardened as a result of his wounds, and Michonne has hardened too! We just haven't seen what Michonne's wounds were. But it's the same thing. We saw Rick's process into this place from where he was in the beginning of season one, or even the beginning of season two. There's things he's gone through that have hardened him. Both he and Michonne are functioning through their wounds, so there's mistrust of each other even though their instincts are telling them, "Okay, we can work together."

    At the same time, the traumatic wounds that are kind of similar are causing them to bash heads.

    With Rick, it was the exact opposite [than the Governor]. She could feel, and I think she even knew instinctually, that there was something good about him. She knew about him, also, through Andrea, but she knew instinctually that there was something good about him.

    And that's the one place that she was weak enough to fall and need help, even though she hated that! Something in her body was like, "This is where I can collapse." Her mind was like, "NOOO!!!" [Laughs] But her body was like, "I'm safe."

    It's the instinctual understanding, but she's fighting that because that involves vulnerability. And she's scared of vulnerability, so she's not going to treat him like, "Hey, let's be friends." She can't do that. She's scared of that. But it doesn't mean that her gut doesn't tell her, "This is where I'm meant to be."

    -- Danai Gurira, Comic Book Resources​

    But that’s not to say they didn’t also have their share of butting heads at the same time.

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    During their first meeting, Michonne wasn’t treated with much kindness from Rick’s group. Rick interrogated Michonne roughly, even slapping the bullet wound in her thigh. Michonne snapped, “Don’t you ever touch me again!” ("When the Dead Come Knocking", 3x07)

    And he didn't touch her again. Rick respected her request all the way until "What Happened and What's Going On" (5x09) -- two seasons and two episodes later -- which he broke with a gentle two finger touch on her arm to see if she was okay.

    Michonne eventually told the group that Maggie and Glenn were at Woodbury. Rick told Michonne she was coming with them on the rescue mission, which Michonne wasn't all too opposed to as she had hopes of getting revenge (and admittedly hurting Andrea). In fact, Michonne withheld the information about Andrea's whereabouts at Woodbury so as not to dissuade the raid.

    On their way to Woodbury, the group hid out in a small cabin where a crazed hermit threatened to kill them. Michonne was the one to take him out, which provoked some mild intrigue from Rick.

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    During the raid at Woodbury, what little trust Rick had in Michonne was broken when Michonne ran off to deal with her personal vendetta against the Governor. In the chaos, Daryl also had gotten kidnapped.

    Rick was not pleased.

    [​IMG]

    Michonne attempted to alleviate Rick's anger:

    [​IMG]

    Michonne: "I brought you here to save them."

    Rick: [sarcasm] "Thanks for the help."

    Michonne: "You’ll need help to get them back to the prison or to go back in there for Daryl."

    Rick: [silence]

    Michonne: "Either way, you need me."
    [​IMG]

    Either way, you need me.
    For all his posturing and scowling, for all his, “We patch you up and you’re gone,” Rick brought Michonne back to the prison. Even more, he kept checking on her with binoculars from the catwalk.

    In an intriguing scene in "Home" (3x10), Rick was watching Michonne --

    [​IMG]

    -- to only a few moments later see a vision of his dead wife, Lori, in a white dress:

    [​IMG]

    It was as though Rick was seeing a vision of what is to be — and what has passed. In retrospect, these scenes become especially telling.

    Even stranger, Rick going out to pursue this false vision? Almost got him killed.

    [​IMG]

    Michonne witnessed Rick's interaction with the hallucination, which comes up in the next episode Rick and Michonne significantly interact -- "Clear" (3x12), a benchmark episode in Rick and Michonne's relationship.

    "Clear" (3x12) set the stage for Rick’s "test", to see if Michonne could be one of the group (or really a member of Rick’s extended and eclectic "family"). On their trip, they first went to the old weapons locker only to find it empty (save one bullet). Rick snapped if Michonne had a problem with the plan, and Michonne said, "No, Rick, I don't have a problem," which left Rick speechless.

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    They then came across Morgan, who began shooting at them from the rooftops. They managed to subdue him and carry him back to his hideout.

    [​IMG]

    Rick and Michonne debated about whether to help Morgan, with Rick adamantly saying he was not leaving him behind. Michonne shrewdly picked up this might be something Rick needed, so she agreed to help Carl and left Rick to conquer his demons.

    Michonne departed with Carl to get the crib; but then Carl took a detour to get one of the last pieces remaining of his mom (a photograph so Judith will know what her mom looked like). Instead of stopping Carl, Michonne retrieved it for him.

    [​IMG]

    It was this moment that gave Carl the confidence to vouch for Michonne. "I think she's one of us," he told his father. This was a glowing seal of approval for Rick.

    At the end of the episode, Michonne offered an olive branch of sorts to Rick by telling him she knew he saw things, and that it was okay. She wasn't judging him; she was comforting him. She even divulged she had talked to her dead boyfriend.

    [​IMG]

    Rick returned this gesture by admitting he did, indeed "see things" — even though this was clearly a painful admission for a man like Rick to make — and offering her to drive.

    [​IMG]

    For the first time, they acknowledged each other's similar trauma and coping mechanisms. For the first time, they related to one another.

    This episode was critical because it was a wake-up call for Rick. This episode came right on the heels of a hallucination almost costing Rick his life; then Morgan served as a visceral clue for Rick — this is what happens when you go too far without trusting people, letting people in. All while Rick was in conflict over Michonne’s presence at the prison.

    Similarly, Michonne recognized herself in this barred-up town, in Morgan’s mania. While in the car, Michonne overheard Rick talking with Carl about his doubts — that Michonne couldn’t be trusted. Michonne’s reach-out to Rick at the end signified her willingness to take in Rick.

    Unfortunately, not long after all this bonding, the Governor offered Rick a deal to save Rick’s family: If Rick hands over Michonne? The war ends.

    Rick tried to dissuade the Governor from this demand, but the Governor was out for blood, determined to avenge his walker daughter and the loss of his eye. Initially, Rick shrugged off the deal, but when he got back to the prison, his mind started spinning. He saw his son, his infant daughter, his friends — and Michonne — the newcomer. All it would take was one sacrifice, and his family would be safe.

    In his heart, Rick knew this was wrong, and he knew he couldn't be the one to do it. While convinced it must be done, Rick asked Merle to handle it. In this way, Rick was slipping into the role of the Governor— using a henchman for unpleasant business. Later, while Rick was collecting wire to bind Michonne’s hands, Rick envisioned Lori staring down at him, which prodded his conscience.

    [​IMG]

    This time, the vision of Lori was a reminder to Rick of what he was losing -- his humanity. Right after this, Rick had what can only be called a What have I done? moment. He ran in pursuit, looking for Merle and Michonne, but they were already gone.

    In his horror over his actions, he abdicated his position as the leader of the group.

    When I met with the Governor, he offered me a deal. He said— he said he would leave us alone if I gave him Michonne. And I was gonna do that… to keep us safe. I changed my mind. But now Merle took Michonne to fulfill the deal and Daryl went to stop him and I don’t know if it’s too late.

    I was wrong not to tell you. And I’m sorry.

    What I said last year, that first night after the farm… it can’t be like that. It can’t. What we do, what we’re willing to do, who we are, it’s not my call. It can’t be.

    I couldn’t sacrifice one of us for the greater good because we are the greater good. We’re the reason we’re still here, not me.

    This is life and death. How you live… how you die— it isn’t up to me.

    I’m not your Governor.

    We choose to go. We choose to stay. We stick together. We vote. We can stay and we can fight or we can go.

    —Rick Grimes, "This Sorrowful Life" (3x15)​

    Fortunately, Merle had released Michonne, and she came back to the prison to Rick's visible relief.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    In the season finale, Rick apologized to Michonne for what he almost did, for what he thought about doing, and once again Michonne alleviated Rick’s guilt/conscience by saying he "had to think about it," showing that she understood the demands of being a father and a leader.

    [​IMG]

    Michonne proceeded to thank him for allowing her into the prison, but Rick brushed it off, telling her she had formula. When she quipped, “You could’ve just taken the formula,” Rick got contemplative and said, “Well… must have been something else then.” He admitted it was Carl who made the call, that she belonged, that she was “one of [them]” — and Michonne gave him a skeptical glance.

    The ghost of Lori visited Rick one more time; to aid Rick in his decision to let the Woodbury residents into the prison. To help Carl get in touch with his slipping humanity after shooting Jody (the Woodbury child soldier).

    It was almost as though the last two visions of Lori were to help Rick build a new family. Lori tried to stop Rick from turning over Michonne, and Lori was a call to Rick to give Carl a sound, moral foundation.


    iii. Fighting Against the World Together
    [Season 4 & Season 5]


    During the first two episodes of season four (“30 Days Without an Accident”, 4x01, “Infected”, 4x02), it was clear Rick, Michonne, and Carl had become good friends. Not just casual friends, but “leap off the ground and go running to meet at the gate” sort of friends.

    Rick was out tending the field with Hershel when he heard Michonne whistle for the gate to be opened. Rick immediately got up, looked to his son (who was already running up to the gate), and they went to meet Michonne.

    [​IMG]

    Very enthusiastically, I might add.

    Michonne brought back gifts like a parent who had been away on business -- comics for Carl and an electric razor for Rick. This was significant because not only did it mean Michonne was thinking about the Grimes boys while away, she had been mulling over Rick’s physical appearance, cognizant of what would make it more appealing to her.

    [​IMG]

    Rick asked if Michonne was planning on staying, but Michonne just said, “for a little while.” Rick slumped, displeased with this, and the conversation was dropped.

    [​IMG]

    Later, when Michonne was leaving she told Carl she would get him some stale M&M's, which caused a back-and-forth between Carl and Michonne that made Rick smile as he walked away ("Infected", 4x02).

    [​IMG]

    Before Michonne could get through the gates, an insurgence of walkers happens. During the chaos, she twisted her ankle and fell, but she Maggie and Carl helped her. Rick asked if Michonne was okay.

    A few episodes later, in "Internment" (4x05), Rick offered Michonne help clearing out bodies, but she told him to “do his thing.”

    [​IMG]

    Once again, Rick appeared disappointed at the rejection — this time that his brand of post-apocalyptic chivalry was dismissed.

    Michonne and Hershel went out on a run only to wind up in the hands of the Governor's army. In "Too Far Gone" (4x08), they were hostages bound before the prison gates as the Governor’s personal forces threatened to take the prison by force.

    [​IMG]

    Rick tried to negotiate for their release while offering to share the prison, but the Governor chopped off Hershel's head with Michonne's katana. A battle broke out. During the shooting, a bullet plugged Rick in the thigh in the same spot Merle shot Michonne.

    Michonne freed herself. Rick and the Governor started brawling. The Governor grained the upperhand on Rick, beginning to choke the life out of him. Just as it started to look like it was curtains for Rick, Michonne stabbed the Governor through the chest, and pulled Rick back to his feet in a scene that was reminiscent of Rick rescuing Michonne outside the prison fence.

    [​IMG]

    Just as Rick saved her life, she saved Rick’s. It wasn't an accident it happened this way. If the show wanted Michonne to kill the Governor, they could’ve had her do it at anytime. Rick’s life was deliberately put on the line so that Michonne’s fulfilled promise to kill the Governor coincided with pulling Rick back from death. She was his literal savior.

    After the fall of the prison, Rick and Carl drifted off together.

    [​IMG]

    Rick was still heavily injured from his fight with the Governor. They settled at a house, Rick slipped into a coma-like state, and Carl had to protect both of them from the walkers encroaching on the house. (“After”, 4x09)

    While this was happening, Michonne made her way back to the prison, put down the reanimated head of Hershel. She fashioned two walker pets reminiscent of her wandering days prior to being introduced in the show, and she lost herself in the woods among the dead.

    [​IMG]

    While sleeping in a car, Michonne has a vision of herself, dolled up in pre-ZA attire, making appetizers with her boyfriend Mike and their mutual friend Terry.

    [​IMG]

    We see Michonne’s child for the first time -- Andre Anthony -- who runs up to her. As the dream continues, the situation decays before her eyes. Their pleasant conversation spins into discussion of pessimistic survival, of apathy, Mike asks Michonne what the reason for all this is -- while Michonne desperately tries to cling to the illusion.

    Terry: "I don’t think that we should stay at the camp."

    Mike: "No. I’m not taking my son out there. I don’t know if this place will work out, but I know it won’t if we go out there. Does it even matter anymore? Are we just kidding ourselves?"

    Michonne: "Okay. All right, I see what this is."

    Terry: "Really? What is this, Michonne? I mean, you’ve gotten good with a sword. You know how valuable that is now? You know what that makes you?"

    Mike: "For what? What are we going for? Where’s the happy ending here? This isn’t life. This isn’t anything close, okay? Not for me, not for us. And for our son. What’s the answer here?"

    Terry: "Well, what is the damn question, Mike?"

    Mike: "Why?"

    Michonne: "Okay. That's good. Now, I have a question. Who's going to open the wine?"​

    Then Mike and Terry become armless -- we learn they’re the two walker pets she had at the beginning -- and Andre Anthony ominously vanished from her arms in a cut-away. Michonne screamed and woke up.

    Michonne rejected Mike’s nihilism. She rejected allowing herself to fall into the same self-destructive, wallowing pattern.

    [​IMG]

    She killed the walkers around her, steeled herself, then backtracked to find Rick and Carl’s footprints (which she had deliberately bypassed earlier). She followed the tracks all the way to the house where Carl and Rick were staying, saw them through the window, and broke down in tears of happiness.

    [​IMG]

    It's for you.
    [​IMG]

    From this moment on throughout the rest of season four, Rick, Michonne, and Carl were presented as a “family unit” of sorts. (“Claimed”, 4x11, “Us”, 4x15, “A”, 4x16).

    [​IMG]

    But each time they began to find stability, calm, a chance to catch their breath -- the world screamed and clawed. Just like Gimple said.

    In “Claimed” (4x11), Rick and Michonne conversed over whether this was now “home” or just a stop along the way. There was a sense they were going to catch their breath, wait, and see what happens.

    However, the Claimers shattered their domesticity. They were forced to flee on foot for their lives.

    Later, they settled down to camp in the woods (“A”, 4x16), they began a conversation about how all they ever talk about is food, you get the sense they're about to really talk -- and the world shrieked once more as the Claimers come out of the woods with intention to rape and kill them.

    Their next promise of respite, a community called Terminus, turned out to be a cannibal deathcamp (“A”, 4x16). They fought their way out (“No Sanctuary”, 5x01).

    From there on, all their peace…

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    … kept getting shattered…

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    After Grady (and Beth’s death), Rick decided to honor Beth by trying to get Noah home. They went to Shirewilt Estates. During this trip, Rick noticed Michonne and Glenn were becoming increasingly despondent and cynical. Michonne implored that they should continue to Washington, D.C. Even if Eugene was lying. It was better than nothing. It was a chance. After a beat, Rick said they should go.

    In post-episode interviews, Andrew Lincoln said that Rick agreed to go only because he could see the toll it was taking on the people Rick relied on the most -- Michonne and Glenn. While Rick thought it was a waste of time, he knew they needed the hope.

    On the way to D.C., the group was lost on the road, battling the elements (starvation, drought, and weather). It was a horrible, persistent barrage of mother nature.

    The promise of salvation came when a scout, Aaron, from the Alexandria Safe Zone made contact with them.

    Rick didn't want to take a chance with this stranger after having been burnt by Terminus, but Michonne did. Rick disregarded a look from Michonne (which says how well they know each other to communicate through “looks”) and knocked Aaron unconscious.

    [​IMG]

    From there, they went out to see if what Aaron said has any merit. After checking things out, Michonne made the call they were going to go to Alexandria -- for Carl and Judith -- and Rick agreed, once again deferring to her leadership.

    Once they got to Alexandria, there was a rough period of adjustment. Both Rick and Michonne found the suburban experience eerie in different ways, each exhibiting signs of post-traumatic stress.

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    Rick became fixated on his past. He brought up Lori for the first time since “Indifference” (4x04), he was disturbed by his own reflection, he got a job that reflect his old profession. In many ways, it was as though Rick had slipped into his old skin -- the ghost of himself -- and got a do-over. A chance to correct the mistakes he made a long time ago.

    [​IMG]

    Michonne, on the other hand, became dazed. She compared her mental state to that of someone who was “asleep.” She hung up her sword, primarily seemed to lay around, listless, feeling something was wrong without quite knowing what. For someone who had gotten so used to the fight, but championed against it, she was having a hard time adjusting to the idea of just “letting go.”

    It was during this time, Rick met Jessie Anderson.


    iv. On the Rebound: Jessie Anderson
    [Season 5 and Season 6]


    It seems anymore we can’t talk about Rick and Michonne’s relationship without bringing up what else happened to Alexandria: Rick’s infatuation with Jessie.

    Once the story got to Alexandria, and Rick started exhibiting interest in the newly introduced Jessie Anderson -- a housewife who had been sheltered from the horrors of the zombie apocalypse. Many fans of the Rick and Michonne relationship were upset. For those who had been paying attention to the unfolding love story between Rick and Michonne, this sheltered civilian plopping into the narrative and capturing the eyes of Rick, was an emotional blow.

    While the degree of Rick’s interest was never clear, it was there -- and what did it mean? Did this mean everything before was a lie? Was Rick not interested in Michonne that way? Why was he enamored with this stranger? Not just a stranger, but a married stranger? For some, it almost looked like Rick was choosing Jessie over Michonne. Choosing an unavailable stranger over the woman to whom he was closest.

    This story arc had many Richonne shippers either bored, annoyed, angry, hurt, or all of the above. Even for those who knew the relationship wouldn’t last, it was still a muddy swamp to wade through. To some, a muddy and unnecessary swamp. One which didn’t portray Rick in the best light.

    So why? Why did the writers think this was necessary? Why derail a good thing for this poorly-written melodrama?

    According to Andrew Lincoln, Rick may not have been ready to open up to Michonne unless Jessie had happened. To Richonne shippers, this felt like a slap in the face. What made Jessie so special? It doesn’t answer why she was necessary. Couldn’t Rick have just fell in love with Michonne naturally?

    Well, unfortunately, human relationships and emotions can be messy. Rick wasn’t ready to move onto a healthy, long-term relationship -- let alone with someone who is so incredibly different from the last woman he loved.

    In other words: Rick was on the rebound.

    Someone who is ‘on the rebound,’ or recently out of a serious dating relationship, is popularly believed to be psychologically incapable of making reasonable decisions regarding suitable partners due to emotional neediness, lingering feelings towards the old partner, or unresolved problems from the previous relationship.

    -- "Rebound", Wikipedia​

    What’s more is that “rebound relationships are believed to be short-lived due to one partner's emotional instability,” and that “those emerging from serious relationships are often advised to avoid serious dating until their tumultuous emotions have calmed.”

    While it has never been explicitly stated Jessie was a rebound, the narrative does make it fairly clear that’s what was happening. Rick was still having “tumultuous emotions” over his “previous relationship” -- a 13+ year marriage to a woman he loved very much.

    All throughout Rick’s infatuation with Jessie, the writers made it abundantly clear that Rick was “incapable of making reasonable decisions.”

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    There were implicit references to Rick having “lingering feelings towards this old partner,” -- as well as can be inferred his “unresolved problems” from his marriage.

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    In many ways, the show sought to draw subtle comparisons between Lori and Jessie through the use of imagery and dialogue:

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    "To hell with the guns. Shane is right. Merle Dixon? He’s not worth one of your lives, even with guns thrown in. Tell me. Make me understand."
    -- Lori ("Tell It to the Frogs", 1x03)
    "Well, look at their faces. Look at mine. We’re all terrified. If one of us suggested, based on a hunch, that we head toward that city, you’d have no part of it. Tell me something with certainty."
    -- Lori ("Wildfire", 1x05)
    "So he can run and run and run and run and then even if he survives he ends up… he ends up just another animal who doesn’t know anything except survival? If he… if he dies tonight, it ends for him. Tell me why it would be better another way."
    -- Lori ("Save the Last One", 2x03)
    Compare to what Jessie says right before Rick kisses her:
    "You heard about that? I wasn't saying there wasn't a future. There's gotta be. Tell me there's more."
    -- Jessie ("Now", 6x05)​

    Jessie was even in the same pose and clothing-style as Lori on the SDCC banner:

    [​IMG]

    During the Paley panel in 2014, Andrew Lincoln spoke about how he played the hallucinatory Lori scenes in season 3. He said he'd read about people "seeing ghosts in the first year of bereavement":

    It is quite a common occurrence [...] the spaces that are left by the people are replaced by their brain, and it is quite a common thing. In the corner of their periphery to see loved ones. And so that's kind of the only way that I kind of hooked into it, really. I just went, 'Well, that's what he's doing.' That's all of his brain short circuiting and just going, 'She's here.' But certainly I think guilt is a huge part of this guy. I think Lew said it. He said, '[Rick] puts himself on a cross.' He can't let himself off the hook. It's one of his great heroic strengths, but it's also his Achilles as well.
    I think Andy tapped into that same mentality during his scenes with Jessie.

    In 2015, during the TimesTalks panel in February, Andrew Lincoln spoke about what was to come for Rick’s character in season 5B: "I was thinking about Sarah Wayne Callies, you know, Lori. Constantly, she was like a ghost with me in the second half of this season... for whatever reason. There's a spoiler. Is that a spoiler?"

    Furthermore, after the airing of “Forget” (5x13), Lincoln commented, "I think it's funny to see when [Jessie] is holding the baby, when I sort of kiss her on the cheek. There’s this seemingly innocent moment when I expected to see my wife in a second with my child." (The Daily Beast) During this episode, a jarring song by the Bee Gees called "Spicks and Specks" plays at the end of the episode, which is about a man who is losing his mind over the loss of the woman he loves.

    Thomas Golubic (the show's music supervisor) said this about the selection of that particular track for the scene:

    [Showrunner] Scott Gimple really liked the counterpoint approach of ‘Spicks and Specks,’ and we were able to get the song cleared for the episode. […] This Bee Gees song, very early in their career and largely overlooked, was a wonderful way to capture Rick’s strange and unsure sense of his direction forward."
    The lyrics seem to indicate Rick is openly seeking the woman he once loved. It could be Rick is looking for Lori in Jessie.

    So while it was never stated in the show, enough was done to try and lead the viewer to connect the two -- and that was how Lincoln chose to play this arc.

    This is why, in Lincoln’s mind (and possibly Gimple’s), it was necessary for Rick to have this arc. As a way of processing through his unresolved hang-ups as a result of his last long-term relationship.

    Rick needed to weed through the ghosts of his pasts before cultivating a new one, a healthy one, with Michonne.

    But then what to make of the red-tinted flashes when Rick chops off Jessie’s arm? Those sort of made Jessie seem like she was quite a deal to Rick. After all, Rick had never suffered flashes before the deaths of key figures in his life.

    Greg Nicotero, who directed the episode, said those flashbacks weren’t originally intended to exist, but they added them to add emotional gravity to the scene (which I assume they believed was missing without them). The creators didn’t want it to be lost that Rick was still chopping off the arm of a human being -- one who didn’t deserve such a grisly fate.

    With regard to the red-flash scenes themselves, none were of Rick and Jessie together -- just Jessie’s happy face. It wasn’t about what Jessie meant to Rick, but about the loss of an innocent person. Furthermore, some have drawn comparisons between those flashes and what Morgan Jones ominously said about the moment his dead wife killed his son Duane:

    I was checking out a cellar and I didn't want Duane to come down there with me. And then when I came up... she was standing there right in front of him and he had his gun up and he couldn't do it. So I called to him and he turned. And then she was just... just on him. And I see red. I see red. Everything is red. Everything I see is red. And I do it. Finally. Finally was too late. I was supposed to.

    -- Morgan Jones ("Clear", 3x12)
    It could be said, in a way, that the same was happening to Rick. His “dead wife”, his attachment to Jessie in this case, was presently killing his son, Carl, by dragging him down. Rick had to let go, “severe the link” as it were, to this vestige of his past. To try and hold on to what he’d lost, what couldn’t come back, Rick was at risk of losing his children.

    It wasn’t until Jessie was dead, and some time had passed, that Rick removed his wedding ring -- signifying that he had finally processed the loss of his wife, ready to move forward.

    What is also important to note is that, even though Rick was infatuated with Jessie, Rick’s relationship with Jessie never progressed very far. In fact, it was never really a relationship. They only kissed twice: one was a peck on the cheek while Rick was drunk (“Forget”, 5x13) and the other was when they made-out in Jessie’s garage (“Now”, 6x05).

    Rick was never in love with Jessie, they never spoke about having a relationship, and they knew each other for a total of two weeks. Literally, that’s it. Two weeks. It wasn’t until the day before she died that they even had a “proper” kiss.

    During this arc, Jessie and Rick only ever shared about 13 scenes: their first meeting (5x12), Jessie giving Rick a haircut (5x12), Rick knocking over her owl statue (5x12), Deanna’s party (5x13), Rick investigating the broken owl statue (5x14), Rick begging her to leave Pete for her own safety (5x15), Rick checking up on her after the fight with Pete (5x16), very briefly when working on the diversion wall (6x01), running into each other in the armory (6x01), kissing in the garage (6x05), the group going to her house during the herd (6x08), Rick telling the plan to Jessie at the window in her house (6x08), and the entire herd sequence including chopping her arm off (6x09).

    That’s it. It is about 15 minutes or less of actual screen time -- and most of their scenes weren’t even of a romantic nature, but were friendly and plot-specific (such as their first meeting, the owl statue scenes, Rick making sure she’s okay after the Pete fight, the armory conversation, etc.)

    Also, during this arc, Rick and Michonne didn’t stop having scenes together -- and that is key. Even through Rick processing his old life, he never put his relationship with Michonne on hold. They had the post-toothbrushing scene (5x12), breaking up the Aiden and Glenn fight (5x12), the midnight window conversation about “signing the papers” (5x12), the scene questioning why Deanna made them constables (5x13), Michonne knocking Rick out (5x15), Michonne asking Rick what happened (5x16), Rick confessing the gun plot to Michonne and her saying she’s still with him (5x16), Rick and Michonne working on the herd diversion together (6x01), Michonne watching Rick and Morgan on the porch (6x01), Rick finishing Michonne’s sentence when they hear the truck horn (6x01), Rick and Michonne along with Glenn and others being out in the woods and Rick telling her to leave the ASZers behind if they slow them down (6x03), then the entire David and Betsy conversation Michonne had which was foreshadowing her relationship with Rick (6x03), Rick and Michonne’s porch conversation (6x07), Rick and Michonne tending to Deanna together (6x08), Michonne saving Rick’s life (6x09), Michonne going out into the herd to help Rick (6x09).

    Throughout it all, the show didn’t want us to stop thinking of Rick and Michonne as a pair, as a unit, hence putting them in similar clothing, having them mirror each other’s body movements, keeping them around each other, and -- most importantly -- showing they’re still there for each other.

    Rick wasn’t emotionally ready for “This is different,” but Jessie allowed him to process through the past that still haunted him.

    And Michonne hadn’t figured out what she wanted for her -- but Deanna got her thinking about it.


    v. The World Stopped Screaming
    [Season 6]


    A clear respite has settled over Alexandria after the herd is vanquished by a large community effort. There’s time for domesticity, smiles, and playing music. Sometime during a time jump (which is about a month long), Rick has shed his wedding ring -- and it’s the first image we see coming into “The Next World” (6.10).

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    This is a new Rick, a lighter one free from the baggage of the past. This Rick is no longer "on the rebound." He isn't harboring feelings about his last long-term relationship. He no longer is having "tumultuous emotions."

    What's more is it’s clear he and Michonne have gotten to know each other even better -- and in new ways. They’re living together, working together, and tending to the children together. Rick makes a joke about how he knows Michonne has been fleecing his toothpaste for weeks, and Michonne tells Rick which toothpaste she likes as though he’s running to the grocery store. On his way out, Rick playfully tosses Carl’s therapy ball back at her, hitting her in the leg.

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, onto the good stuff. That couch scene. It wasn't just the breath mints that Rick brought back (which showed Michonne that Rick was thinking about her), it was that they had time -- the luxury -- of turning their brains off.

    [​IMG]

    You hear that? It's the sound of peace and quiet. Claimers aren't going to leap from behind the coffee table to interrupt. There isn't a tornado about to rip the roof off their heads. The kids are safe. They're safe.

    That's why, in that moment, they're finally able to realize what those feelings they've had bubbling inside of them were all along.

    [​IMG]


    vi. “What They Have Was Already There”: Why It Was Undeniable

    Gimple, Lincoln, and Gurira have stated that the love was there all along -- but neither Rick nor Michonne was at a point where their minds could recognize it because the world around them was too distracting with all its blood, horror, and chaos. However, their interactions since “30 Days Without an Accident”, show how each other’s “subconscious love” (as it were) shines time and time again. How it was always with them, simmering under the surface.

    Rick exhibits a seemingly endless desire to please Michonne. It’s as though he’s not happy unless she’s happy. His mood visibly shifts when Michonne says she’s going away again (“30 Days Without an Accident”, 4x01), and Rick even tries to help Michonne with the bodies of the dead in “Infected” (4x05).

    One of the most telling moments is when Rick, noticeably tense after the incident with the Claimers (“A”, 4x16), asks Michonne if she’s okay:

    Rick: "You okay?"

    Michonne: "Yeah."

    Rick: "I'm okay."

    Michonne: "I know."

    Rick: "How?"

    Michonne: "'Cause I'm okay, too."
    Michonne knows Rick is okay, because she’s okay. In that moment, they both recognize the bond that is there -- even if they don’t know it’s love. It is an integral scene because, in ways, both Rick and Michonne reflect in that moment the balm to each other’s psychological wounds.

    Rick is the man Mike couldn’t be -- resolute and determined to safeguard the life of his child.

    Michonne is the woman Lori couldn’t be -- accepting, understanding, and even grateful for the monstrous acts Rick has had to do.

    Throughout season 5, there’s various moments where Rick defers to Michonne’s judgment and command -- in "Strangers" (5x02), "What Happened and What's Going On" (5x09), and "The Distance" (5x11).

    These moments spawned the “whipped Rick” memes, which continue among Richonne fans to this day (as whipped Rick is practically canon anyway).

    Even once they reach Alexandria, Deanna seems to see what Michonne and Rick do not. She pairs them together as constables (“Remember”, 5x12). It’s not just Deanna, other people have seemed to be “in tune” with Rick and Michonne as a unit as well. Beth lumped them together when referencing members of the group in “Inmates” (4x10): "Rick, Michonne, they could be out here." Daryl seemed to recognize Rick was upset about Michonne leaving the prison, patting him in a consoling manner (“30 Days Without an Accident”, 4x01). While Hershel never made an explicit reference to Rick and Michonne, Hershel’s dialogue to Rick right before Michonne whistles is a massive thematic tell:

    Things break, but they can still grow. These little bristles, they'll take root and we'll have a whole new plant.
    -- Hershel Greene ("30 Days Without An Accident", 4x01)
    All around, there were signs pointing at Rick and Michonne. Like Providence itself.
     
  2. Doctor Grimes

    Doctor Grimes Not Your Governor
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    Of course I post it and I messed up half the formatting. It's fixed now. :ogg:
     
  3. MamaGrimes

    MamaGrimes 100% Certified Shipper Trash
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    Someone's been busy today!
    I'll be back when I've internalized your thesis!! :yay:
     
  4. Doctor Grimes

    Doctor Grimes Not Your Governor
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    Not a thesis (perhaps a half-finished rough draft), but thank you! :andykiss:
     
  5. Appetence

    Appetence Eternally failing at productivity bc TITTD
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    Beautiful work doc. It's too bad some people need it laid out for them like this, but if people who didn't "get it" took the time to look over what you have here, they'd be hard pressed to argue.
     
  6. JenLoLace

    JenLoLace Guest

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    I enjoy the Richonne ship. Not technically a "shipper" of them, but I like their relationship. I could see it coming, but when it happened I thought it was sudden because of how soon it was after Jessie. I knew Rick was not heavily invested in Jessie. I never saw Jessie as a long-term character. However, I did think there would have been more time from when he was with Jessie to Michonne.
     
  7. myislandsugar

    myislandsugar Hiding in Dale's RV

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    WOW!! WOW!! WOW!! I saw this post and "shoo-ed" my hubby and kids away so I could read (and re-read) it like I was being read a bedtime story. LOL. OMGosh, absolutely brilliant analysis, Doctor Grimes. Total Perfection!
     
  8. I'mStillWithYou

    I'mStillWithYou Richonne Trash
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    Absolutely amazing job @Doctor Grimes. It's like a Richonne dissertation and all naysayers should read it. Maybe it changes minds, maybe not, but the effort you put into compiling all of this is very appreciated :holdheart:.
     
  9. walkinggirl26

    walkinggirl26 Rick's Right-Hand Woman
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    How can anyone read all of that and see those gifs and say that they came out of nowhere? SMH. It's like a play-by-play of how to do a perfect slow burn for a couple. Great job, @Doctor Grimes:)

    Richonne is such a beautiful love story that just keeps getting better and better.:flirt::heart::rickgrin:

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Silas

    Silas Beloved Side Piece
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    Doc, this was beautiful and even I learned a thing or two in the process!

    As for anyone who didn't see it, simply for no other reason than failing to open their eyes - I pity their love lives. Richonne feels real.
     
  11. MamaGrimes

    MamaGrimes 100% Certified Shipper Trash
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    Beautiful post @Doctor Grimes! Brava!!

    I loved how you intertwined quotes from the actors who breathed life into these characters as well as the man who created their love story. If those voices don't validate the slow build, I don't know what will.

    VERY interesting take on the Jessie arc. I love that she's the rebound attachment. Andy is quoted as needing Jessie in order to open himself to love (badly paraphrased) and while some took that to be a slam against Richonne, it's easy to see that she was simply the conduit to saying goodbye to his past.

    You're our meta master, Doc, bar none, and I thank you for sharing this with us. Hopefully a non-believer or two will make their way to our site and learn from it!
     
  12. Armte

    Armte Schadenfreude is my Aesthetic
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    I feel like this is deep musings with @Doctor Grimes :). I will be back after I get a glass of wine so I can sit back and truly internalize all this linear epic Richonne receipts. :yay:
     
  13. Doctor Grimes

    Doctor Grimes Not Your Governor
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    Actually, after writing this, I feel completely okay with the Jessie story. I actually feel bad for Rick. Anymore I think he was really hurting deep-down inside and he didn't know how to process what was happening. He saw a chance to get his old life back, and that yearning can be strong. And also hard to explain. I don't think Rick was even aware of it -- and I believe Andy even said something along that line in an interview, that if you hook Rick up to a lie detector and asked him if he had feelings for Jessie, he would just say something like "No, what? What are you talking about?"

    I still think the execution could've been much better, but I get the gist. Jessie was like this hodgepodge proxy in Rick's mind of all his failures -- and he desperately wanted a "do over." Hence why he was acting out the same motions Shane did. He thought it would keep "Lori" alive this time, because, in his mind, I think he always thought a part of Shane was right about his ability as a protector.

    Then I looked up the rebound stuff and the Jessie story fit almost perfectly -- especially the bits about Rick being incapable of making rational decisions, and his reminiscing of the past.
     
  14. thesamurai

    thesamurai The World Is Ours
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    [​IMG]

    Nicely worded Doc, as always.
     
  15. lovingdead

    lovingdead The New Mrs. Grimes
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    I try not to pay much mind to Jessie anymore but very interesting perspective on her here. Some were saying Michonne was a rebound but nobody caught on that Jessie was the true rebound. Totally makes sense considering all variables.
     
  16. TexasZAgal

    TexasZAgal Ricktator
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    Beautiful @Doctor Grimes Remember the scene on the porch where Rick is telling Daryl about him and Lori riding through neighborhoods like these and dreaming about the homes and Daryl said, "here you now Man". That was really telling and it showed Rick's frame of mind.
     
  17. balladsinthebluegrass

    balladsinthebluegrass Hold to things that are bright.
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    So excited to see you're writing some meta again, @Doctor Grimes. No one does it like you do.

    Your rebound theory is the best explanation out there of the Jessie situation. The idea that Jessie was a rebound makes a hell of a lot sense when you zoom out and look at Rick's behavior patterns at the time as well as comments that were said in interviews, especially by Andrew Lincoln.

    This actually makes me feel better about the whole Jessick debacle. Well done, Doc.
     
  18. Richonne4Lyfe

    Richonne4Lyfe Ricktator

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  19. SweetDee85

    SweetDee85 Richonne Trash
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    Well, when you put it all out there like that.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Danaisbestie

    Danaisbestie Rick's ride or die
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    This is fantastic!! Nicely done Doc.. this was a great read and it's nice to have everything compiled into one post for reference.
     
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