10:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Walking Dead': Without Jessie, Is the Path Clear for a Rick-Michonne Romance?
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead comic series that the AMC drama is based on.]
It's not easy being Rick Grimes.
The beleaguered former sheriff (played by series star Andrew Lincoln) just lost girlfriend Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) — the first woman he was able to share a romantic love with since the death of his wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), early in season three. Worse: Not only did Rick watch as Jessie was ripped apart by walkers but he also had to get beyond the shock and grief within seconds as he had to savagely chop her arm off to ensure his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) was able to make it out of the encounter. The attack will also leave a permanent physical mark on Carl — who lost his eye to a stray bullet from Jessie's son Ron that was intended for both him and his father — and serve as an emotional reminder about Jessie.
While Carl will be OK — he squeezed Rick's hand at the end of the midseason premiere — Rick is also a newly transformed man after the harrowing experience inspired him to unite Alexandria and serve as the true leader everyone believes him to be as he is motivated to show Carl a "new world."
So who does Rick turn to now for that emotional support that Jessie — and Lori before that — provided him? Could that be Michonne (Danai Gurira)? The katana-carrying badass saved Carl and Rick from Ron's bullet and has become a confidant for Carl as the duo have grown closer over the years. The character also already seems like a mother figure for Carl, having kissed his forehead before joining Rick in the battle for Alexandria.
"Rick is in a very upbeat, optimistic kind of mindset coming out of this thing," series creator Robert Kirkman tells THR. "He is certainly upset over Jessie's gruesome death and all that. But if there was ever a chance of anything coming together for Rick, this might be the time."
For non-comic book readers, this is the part of Kirkman's series that sees Andrea grow closer to Rick and become his love interest and mother to Carl. (The couple are still going strong in the comics, some 150 issues into the series.) However, that is no longer a possibility after the AMC drama pulled off one of, if not its most stunning deaths in the season three finale when Andrea (formerly played by Laurie Holden) died after effectively siding with The Governor (David Morrissey).
"My plan always was to still portray those aspects of Andrea and break them up among a lot of different characters — even in some cases, a few male characters," showrunner Scott M. Gimple told THR. "I'm trying to play out those Andrea storylines but in different contexts and characters having those stories."
While neither Kirkman nor Gimple would say much about a potential romantic relationship between Rick and Michonne, the latter said the series will continue to spread out the kind of relationships that Andrea had with multiple characters in the comics as he continues to take a "remix" approach to adapting the source material as the AMC series will jump forward a few weeks after the deadly Alexandria attack.
"There were a lot of people who showed up for one another in these stories," Gimple said. "For example, there are some Andrea stories — like her romantic story or with other characters like that moment where she and Michonne are having breakfast in the book — or even the Rick-Andrea story might end up being someone else. And Michonne to Andrea might end up being someone else in the show. We'll tell the stories but the cast of characters that the stories happen to might be different."
For their part part, Lincoln and Gurira previously told THR that Rick and Michonne can hold their own together, with a September poll showing that 82 percent of the more than 5,000 responders in favor of a romance between the two characters.
"There’s a kind of jokiness to them," Lincoln told THR in September. "They’re both warriors, but she's one of the few people who can take the piss out of Rick, which is great. She has the arched eyebrow kind of smart-ass remark [persona], and I love playing those scenes. But also she has a great point of contact. There aren’t that many people in the apocalypse, but when everybody is dead and it’s just me and her left, let’s get it on!"
Added Gurira: "There's a friendship there that I treasure with Michonne's connection with Rick. He's the one who really challenges her to step out of who she was and who she was becoming."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. Stay tuned to THR's The Live Feed for more coverage.