By Alexa Day
I’m writing this on Monday, almost a full day after watching the most recent episode of The Walking Dead, “The New World.” I’ve spent most of the day staring off into space and smiling. Everything is right in my little television world.
I’ll tell you. Of course, here’s the usual spoiler warning, with the usual classic music video to give the spoiler-averse the chance to slip away.
Still here? Good. I bet some of you will want to play that video again so you can sing. I needed three or four times, so I absolutely endorse that. Go for it. This post will still be here in fifteen minutes.
Is it any surprise that “The New World” is a world of love? Apparently it is a surprise to some folks. But I’ll get to that in a few minutes. I want to hit some highlights first.
Daryl teasingly echoing Doctor Denise’s jazz hands.
Rick playing the annoying older brother to the hilt — subjecting Daryl to his music and later swerving so that Jesus tips over onto Daryl’s shoulder. I’m an older sibling myself, so I loved watching Rick enforce the ‘my ride, my music’ rule.
Rick playing the loving older brother to the hilt — reassuring Daryl as they watch a truck full of supplies descend into a lake.
Maggie reaching out to Emo Enid, to let her know she needn’t be alone now that she’s helped both Maggie and her husband.
Carl teaching his baby sister how to find her way home.
Michonne telling Spencer that he still has a home and people who see the best in him, even though his mother has died.
And then things got real.
Carl explaining to Michonne that he didn’t kill zombie Deanna because it wasn’t his place. The job belonged to her family, he said, to someone who loved her.
And then Carl says, “I’d do it for you.”
Michonne, hearing Carl say that he is her family and that he loves her in this deep, dark, zombie-apocalypse way, returns his promise and embraces him.
I really didn’t think we would get any more than that. And I was good with it. You know I love anything that gives Michonne and Carl the chance to be family.
But there’s more.
Rick and Michonne wind up on the couch, asking each other about their day. Conversations like that are always kind of intimate. I mean, anyone can ask how your day went, but we only tell the truth to our loved ones.
They watch baby Judith on the monitor.
Rick offers Michonne the roll of mints he got for her in lieu of the toothpaste she requested.
In the quiet, they hold hands.
They lace their fingers.
They turn toward each other.
I realized after a moment that I was actually trying to get my eyes to open wider.
I was afraid that if I moved or breathed or blinked, this would all be taken away somehow.
They look at each other — okay, yeah! And they kiss some more.
An astonished little squeak popped out of my mouth.
Rick and Michonne are making out on their couch.
This can’t possibly be real. Is this real?
Is Richonne real?
And then we cut to an overhead view of the two of them in bed, naked and entwined with each other, their weapons leaning against their respective nightstands.
Seriously, superfan and longtime Richonne shipper Yvette Nicole Brown had the same reaction I did. She just didn’t spend as much time shouting delighted profanities at the screen.
So let’s be clear.
Richonne is real. Holy shit.
I’m surprised that all of this happened so soon after last week’s episode, yes, but only because my expectations have been lowered by Television As Usual. Television As Usual would have made us wait forever for this. We’d have gotten innuendo first, then hand-holding a few weeks later, and then interrupted kisses, delays to protect the feelings of others, and then did-they-didn’t-they for the season finale.
I should know better by now. The Walking Dead is not Television As Usual. The Walking Dead goes There. Now. Whether you’re ready or not.
I was ready. Richonne shippers everywhere were ready.
A great many people, however, are evidently surprised by this.
Nathan Fillion, on Sunday’s episode of Talking Dead, said he didn’t see it coming. And before I could ask what television show that dude has been watching, I saw headlines from Entertainment Weekly about the “huge Rick-Michonne shocker.” The Hollywood Reporter calls this “Rick and Michonne’s Surprising New Dynamic,” but it should be noted that neither Andrew Lincoln nor Danai Gurira seems terribly surprised by the nature of their characters’ relationship. Danai in particular saw this coming some time ago, and so have the people who have been stopping her on the street to ask when this was happening.
Is this a huge shocker? On one level, yes. If I hadn’t been surprised, I wouldn’t have launched into joyful hysterics back there. I’m surprised to have gotten everything I wanted in the space of two episodes. But I’m not surprised to see these two together. Rick and Michonne have been a great idea for a pretty long time.
I mentioned it here. Jamie Broadnax of Black Girl Nerds raised the matter three years ago. Yvette Nicole Brown (who should have been on the Talking Dead couch on Sunday — yes, I said it) started shipping Richonne back in season three.
So who is surprised? I don’t think the comics purists can claim to be shocked by this, honestly. TWD established a long time ago that the television series is not bound by the comics.
I’ll make a suggestion.
The same people who are totally okay with the marginalization of Rome in Magic Mike XXL are probably astonished to see that Richonne is real.
The same people who were good with relegating the Storm-Wolverine smooch from X-Men: Days of Future Past to the deleted scenes are probably shocked to discover that Richonne is real.
People who are confused by my use of “marginalization” and “relegating” just now probably didn’t see Richonne coming.
Ordinarily, I’d be bothered by that.
But I’m not going to let the easily shocked people of the world steal my joy.
Richonne is real. And to hear the powers that be tell it, Richonne is not going anywhere right away.
We’ll go easy on the told-you-so.
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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.