By Alexa Day
I am delighted to say that The Walking Dead is back, and I’m relieved (but not surprised) to say that its return on Sunday was amazing. It delivered everything I’ve come to expect from The Walking Dead over the years — such a welcome change from all the shows that have begun to disappoint me. But there’s a specific reason hope springs eternal during the zombie apocalypse.
This is your one and only warning. This entire post is basically wall to wall TWD spoilers. If you haven’t seen the season six mid-season premiere, “No Way Out,” you probably don’t want to read any more of this.
All the spoilers follow this music video.
Still here? Good.
The season six mid-season finale, “Start to Finish,” found my favorite couple-to-be, Rick and Michonne, trying to deal with the tremendous herd of zombies that overran Alexandria. I actually felt bad for Rick at this point. He has, either through action or inaction, jacked up just about every safe place this group has ever temporarily called home, but the invasion of Alexandria really wasn’t his fault. He did everything he could to protect the place that gave him the first shave and hot shower he’d enjoyed in months. Things just didn’t work out for him this time around, poor thing.
Anyway, at the very end of that episode, Rick led Michonne, Carl, and a handful of others dressed in zombie camo into the midst of the herd. Jessie and her family are part of the human chain, and just as they start their long slow walk through the giant wall of zombies, Jessie’s son, Sam, starts up with, “Mom? Mom? Mom?”
I’m not a parent, but I’ve been a kid, and I can tell you that my mother did not need the zombie apocalypse to, shall we say, gently encourage me to ZIP IT after three iterations of “Mom?”
But Jessie just lets him roll. “Mom? Mom?”
I have complained about Jessie before, at the opening of season six. I could not understand what made Jessie a viable love interest for Rick when the two of them have walked a very different path through the apocalypse, when she could not reach the very deep, very dark places inside Rick, and when it was painfully clear that they could not parent each other’s children. Indeed, I dared to dream that Something Might Happen to Jessie and Sam, and maybe her older son, Ron, too, while we’re at it.
Sam isn’t strong enough to be among the herd. Rather than retreating to safety with Father Gabriel and Judith, Sam insists on staying with his mother. More importantly, Jessie indulges Sam in his fragility. She’s done it before. She won’t do for Sam what Rick has done for Carl; she won’t force him to face the new realities of the apocalypse. As a result, Sam buckles amid the multitude of zombies, and when he blows his cover, he loses his life. Jessie, powerless to prevent his death, and equally powerless to save herself once he is lost, also loses her life.
Once he’s lost his entire family, Jessie’s older son, Ron, chooses this exact moment to take a shot at Carl. Ron has long had an ax to grind with Carl, and he has a poor sense of timing. Stationed protectively behind them, Michonne dispatches Ron, but not before his gunshot claims Carl’s eye.
One family has faced off against the other, and Jessie’s family has paid the ultimate price. The stronger family has prevailed.
Jessie was gone.
I’m ashamed to say that I was delighted.
I’m not that ashamed, but still. Even as Rick and Michonne rushed Carl to Alexandria’s hospital, I sighed and thought, “Now *there’s* a family.”
As the doctor examines his son, Rick finally breaks. He drifts out into the darkness to face the herd alone with an axe and a handgun. Michonne is torn — she wants to stay with Carl, but she can’t let Rick face the herd alone. Once the doctor stabilizes Carl, she tells Michonne to go after Rick, and then my heroine does something that choked me up a little.
She kisses Carl on the forehead before rushing out the door.
The apocalypse has cost Michonne a son, but this new reality has brought her another.
Everything that’s happened in Alexandria has worked to bring Rick and Michonne closer together. Michonne has been Rick’s strong right hand, providing valuable advice, daring to argue with the Ricktator, and shutting Rick down when he starts to go off the rails. She’s always been good with Carl, knowing how to protect him, when to give him space to grow up, and when he needed to be a kid. Carl and Michonne have been family for a long time.
Now, as the sun rises over a very different Alexandria, Rick makes a promise to his son. Rick has seen a world worth saving, a future worth claiming, and a place worth calling home. He pledges to make those things real for Carl.
I know Rick can’t do all that by himself.
Jessie was a barrier to the relationship between Rick and Michonne. In “No Way Out,” the barrier was abruptly removed. I’m sure the story has plenty of obstacles in store for Team Richonne, but Sunday night showed us that Rick and Michonne are ready to take all comers.
I can’t wait. Every romance fan knows how persistent real love is.
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Alexa Day writes erotica and erotic romance with heroines who are anything but innocent and fictional worlds where strong, smart women discover excitement, adventure, and exceptional sex. A former bartender, one-time newspaper reporter, and recovering attorney, she likes her stories with just a touch of the inappropriate, and her literary mission is to stimulate the intellect and libido of her readers.