There was a beautifully refreshing, yet totally unexpected moment in the most recent episode of The Walking Dead. Rick is at his house in Alexandria setting up makeshift beds on the floor (thanks to Negan and The Saviours for stealing their mattresses, only to go and burn them afterwards. Yes, this is what Michonne saw at the end of the episode for those who didn't catch it) when Michonne walks in to talk to him.
Michonne begins to question Rick, in order to gauge where he's mentally at. Does he want to fight Negan? Is there a plan lurking somewhere in the back of Rick's head? What's the next step? Sadly, much to Michonne's frustration, there doesn't seem to be one. Rick has ultimately admitted defeat. Negan has won. "they've got the numbers" exclaims Rick. "what about The Hilltop!?" asks Michonne, Rick fires back - "but they've still got the numbers!"
Michonne looks totally crushed, as does Rick. She now realises that this is the way it is. The man she used to look up to has thrown in the towel. He's waving the white flag.
|"I had to accept that"|
Rick then proceeds to tell Michonne of his former best friend and partner, Shane Walsh. Just to make it clear, I personally love when a TV Series makes a meaningful callback to past characters and events - it's something I think they should do more of in The Walking Dead. It just helps everything connect together and carries on the flow of storytelling - something that a lot of people criticise this show for - much more thoroughly.
Michonne never met Shane as she wasn't around at the time when he was alive, this explains why she looks so shocked as Rick is telling the story of his past relationship and most importantly the love triangle that existed between Lori, Rick and Shane. The love triangle that is responsible for baby Judith, who Rick now admits for the first time is not "really" his own.
|Shane and Lori before the apocalypse|
"I know Judith isn't mine, I know it."
Wow, this shocking revelation is one that many fans of The Walking Dead - including myself - never figured would get brought up again, hence why I found it so refreshing.
Here we have Rick at quite possibly one of his lowest moments (to be fair, there have been a lot!) and yet he still finds it in himself to push on, put his own beliefs to one side - in this case the belief that Judith is not really his daughter - and survive.
"I know Judith isn't mine," he said. "I know it. I love her. She's my daughter. But she isn't mine. I had to accept that. I did. So I could keep her alive. I'll die before she does, and I hope that's a long time from now so I can raise her, protect her, and teach her how to survive. This is how we live now. I had to accept that too, so I could keep everyone else alive."
Reading into this tells us a couple of key things:
- Rick says he "had to accept that" likely meaning that he's known for a long time that Judith isn't really his own flesh and blood, even if he didn't admit this to anyone else. The fact that he's known this for a while, and still risked his life countless times to protect her shows us that deep down he truly is a decent, caring man. Some men of this world wouldn't raise a child as their own as it is, so adding a zombie apocalypse to the table really shows us those who do, and don't ultimately care.
- Rick telling Michonne that "this is how we live now" shows us that Rick is no longer willing to take risks. He's seen the consequences of that first hand with the horrific deaths of Abraham and Glenn. All he wants to do now is survive and keep everyone else alive, most importantly Carl and Judith. This was emphasised furthermore in the episode when he had an emotional crack in his voice whilst explaining to Michonne that he simply can't, and won't lose anyone else!
I think the writers created this scene so that we can see clearly the state of mind that Rick is currently in, and who can really blame him? He feels the guilt for everyone's deaths weighing heavily upon his shoulders. His whole emphasis on the fact that Negan is in charge, no matter how much he hates to admit that, tells us he's willing to do whatever is required to prevent anyone else from dying.
The question now is what will Rick do going forwards - especially when it seems not everyone is as willing to get on board the 'Negan train'. Leave your thoughts and comments below or discuss on our Walking Dead Forum.