Rick’s Love for Michonne Isn’t an Insult to Lori


Summary

  • The Walking Dead
    spin-off series,
    The Ones Who Live
    , explores a love story between Rick and Michonne, challenging fan expectations.
  • Rick and Lori’s relationship in
    The Walking Dead
    is complicated, with signs of strife and past tension that foreshadow their downfall.
  • Rick and Michonne’s bond in the apocalyptic world proves to be stronger and more enduring than any previous love, surpassing all expectations.



The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live is a slight departure at times from the original series, The Walking Dead, as well as all the other spin-offs. While its core story is still about survival and features two fan-favorite characters from the original, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), it’s also primarily a love story. It’s about love lost, love found, and trying to return to where it once was.

Episode 4 of the first season, which has become the most successful spin-off to date, shattering AMC records, explored the relationship between Rick and Michonne in-depth, but it also had some die-hard fans upset because of one line Rick spoke. He declared to Michonne that she’s the “love of his life,” which had fans up in arms about Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), Rick’s first wife and father to his now-deceased son Carl (Chandler Riggs). Was Rick disrespecting his long-gone love? Not at all. If fans look deeper into the story, the signs of a spark between Rick and Michonne and, arguably more importantly, that there was strife between Rick and Lori were always there.



Rick and Lori’s Love Triangle in The Walking Dead

When Rick wakes up from his coma in the first episode of The Walking Dead, he sets out to find his wife Lori and son Carl. Unbeknownst to him, they had been rescued by his partner and best friend Shane (Jon Bernthal) and were at a camp with other survivors they met along the way. Lori had also begun a romantic and sexual relationship with Shane, believing that her husband was dead (since Shane told her as much). Only about a month had passed by this time.


Naturally, when Rick reunites with them, the situation gets awkward. This is especially true when Lori discovers that she’s pregnant, and it’s clear based on the timeline that the child, who turned out to be Judith (Cailey Fleming in later seasons), could not possibly be Rick’s. Fans were furious with Lori for moving on so soon from Rick, especially with his best friend. But given the end-of-the-world scenario, others felt it was worth cutting her some slack.

Most important, however, is that after re-watching the first two seasons, it’s clear all was not rosy between Rick and Lori. In a flashback scene, when Lori is informed by Shane outside of Carl’s school that Rick has been shot, there is noticeable sexual tension between them, suggesting that feelings already exist. She also alludes to the fact that their marriage wasn’t great, based on her body language and comments to Shane. It almost seemed as though the affair was bound to happen even in the real world if the apocalypse had not happened. The signs were there.


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Later, at the prison, Rick and Lori have a heart-to-heart, and she tells him that it isn’t like they can call a divorce lawyer and get papers prepared. The comment didn’t seem to be referencing only her infidelity but suggested they might have been headed on that path even before the outbreak. Rick’s later comment to others about Lori making awful pancakes every Sunday because she “wanted them to be a family that ate pancakes on Sunday” also suggests they were going through the motions, trying to be something they weren’t.


What’s more, Lori manipulates Rick in many situations, fueling his anger towards Shane and making him feel weak. In one scene, she even whispers to him that he needs to kill Shane, almost implying that this will make him more of a man to her.

It’s likely that Lori’s lack of confidence in her husband’s skills as a leader is one of the things that drove him to become more hardened both right before and later after her passing. The old Rick would never have driven an axe through Tomas’ (Nick Gomez) skull had Lori not been watching and judging to see if he had the guts to do it. But the Rick he felt she needed him to be would.

Rick and Michonne’s Story From Friendship to Love


Meanwhile, fans were “shipping” Rick and Michonne long before the two were seen reaching for one another’s hands in their first romantic moment. In fact, in a Talking Dead episode from season 3, host Chris Hardwick asks Gurira, a guest on the episode, if there’s any hope for that “ship.” She shrugs it off.

When Michonne joins the others at the prison, Rick is the first person she meets. She’s holding formula she saw Glenn (Steven Yuen) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) drop before they were kidnapped by Merle (Michael Rooker). He is hesitant and allows her in for Hershel (Scott Wilson) to tend to her wounds. But then he wants her fixed up and gone.

However, once Michonne officially becomes part of the group, plenty of glances are shared between the two. While not romantic in nature, there’s a mutual love and respect. Unlike Lori, Michonne admires Rick’s humanity and moral code compared to his vicious side. When Rick, Michonne, and Carl come across an unstable Morgan (Lennie James), a bond develops between Michonne and Carl, further solidifying Rick’s view of Michonne: he sees how much his son has taken to her. From there, it’s like a big-sister-little-brother relationship that clearly warms Rick’s heart.


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The Ones Who Live Narrowly Avoided an Overused TWD Universe Trope

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After the group is attacked at the prison by the Governor (David Morrisey), everyone scatters. Rick and Carl are together in a suburban home, Rick suffering from serious injuries and Carl dealing with his anger and teenage angst. When Michonne happens upon them, Rick peers out the door to see who is knocking, and with a wide smile, he tells Carl, “It’s for you.” But it’s obvious Rick is just as happy to see her.

The trio plays family for some time as they travel together to Terminus. Rick even asks Michonne to be there for Carl as a friend in a way he can’t be as a father. If Michonne were the stepmother at this point, Carl would most certainly approve. And in reality, if Lori were still alive, she probably would, too.


Apocalyptic Love Is Complicated in The Walking Dead

Lori might have been the love of Rick’s life at one point in time, and she might very well still be in some way. They were together for a long time before the virus outbreak. But he and Michonne had been together just as long, with the timeline suggesting it has been about 13.5 years since society fell. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and being away from one another for so many years only strengthens the bond so much so that Rick has dreams about meeting Michonne in a real-world, non-apocalyptic scenario.


Rick went through far more with Michonne than he ever did with Lori, from watching mutual friends they had been traveling with for years get brutally beaten to death to fending off formidable enemies and launching major attacks. Their relationship was put to the test in so many ways, and instead of driving the two apart, it brought them closer together. Michonne’s emotional breakdown in the fourth episode of The Ones Who Live proves how much these two characters mean to one another.

Is it possible for someone to have two loves in a single lifetime? Maybe. Just because Rick called Michonne the love of his life doesn’t mean Lori wasn’t, too. But even if she wasn’t, her actions and the clear tension between them suggest she wasn’t, at that time, the right person for him anyway, regardless of the fact that they once exchanged vows.


When it comes to love stories, Michonne dedicates years of her life to finding Rick and watches him chop off his own hand in a desperate attempt to escape and get back to her and Judith. Their love is far stronger than any love that could have ever existed in the world before. When it comes to “Richonne,” Lori never stands a chance. Watch The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live on AMC and stream episodes on AMC+.



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