The Walking Dead thrives on socking audiences with unpredictable outcomes. Characters near and dear to our hearts have become zombie buffets with little fanfare. Or die horribly in the most unexpected moments. How many tears were shed last season when Beth (Emily Kinney) got her head blown off? The writers are expert manipulators. At the beginning of this season, we were teased with Glenn's (Steven Yeun) demise. Fans were apoplectic, but it was all smoke and mirrors for the ratings. We didn't see him actually die, so no surprise when Glenn pops back in hero form. The real gut punch was Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) watching his make-out partner, Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and her not ready for the apocalypse sons (Major Dodson, Austin Abrams), get devoured by walkers in the midseason premiere. Shocking is an understatement, but Rick's grief at love lost was truly short lived.
Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rick consummated their relationship in the finale of Sunday's episode The Next World. Social media reaction gave the internet a seizure as fans clamored to discuss the possibilities. First, let's get the racial nonsense out of the way. It is rare to see a black woman and white man have a steamy sex scene on network television. Bravo to AMC for going there, and not doing it in a gratuitous way. It's a major development for the lead characters, but not remotely a surprise given their situation. Michonne, since her introduction in season three, has been an impressive character. She's a zombie killing machine with a samurai sword, level headed, and incredibly resilient. But she's also a nurturer, becoming a surrogate mother to Carl (Chandler Riggs) and baby Judith. Michonne has been an inseparable part of the Grimes family since the destruction of the prison in season four. Jessie's kindness and beauty were a weakness, perfect fodder for an undead snack. Michonne is a proven, perfect mate for Rick in the deadly world they face. This unfortunately leads me to believe that her character is doomed.
Let's dispel any romantic entanglements from the comics. Andrea is still alive and with Rick. Michonne has had multiple lovers. That storyline has no basis on the television show. Rick's love life there is beset by tragedy, beginning with the cruel fate of his wife Lorrie (Sarah Wayne Callies). She sacrificed herself to give birth to Judith in season three. Rick's mental collapse from her death, then the fight or flight situations thereafter, essentially scrubbed romance. Running for your life doesn't leave time to date. It's only when the characters were allowed to settle in Alexandria, that subplots for intimate relationships could be established. The introduction of Jessie as a love interest lends itself to the idea of a warm, cozy suburban life. This is not the brutal reality of The Walking Dead. She didn't have the chops to make it. Michonne does, a true survivor. The question is whether the showrunners will allow Rick to achieve domestic bliss. That seems highly unlikely given their track record.
The women that Rick loves die. This fact does not bode well for Michonne. Their long friendship turning into romance is perfect for romcoms and English period costume dramas, not the end of civilization. It's amazing that Glenn and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) have lasted this long. Then again, she is the last member of her family alive. The same goes for Carol (Melissa Suzanne McBride) and Spencer (Austin Nichols). Rick and his children, in my opinion, are the only safe characters on The Walking Dead. Their penance for life is suffering. They lose people close to them, and aren't immune to pain, as Carl's eye can attest. It seems like the perfect time to establish a deeper bond with Michonne, then to have her tragically killed.
The second half of the season is building up to the appearance of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the vilest baddie from the comics. Who famously dispatches a beloved character with a baseball bat upon his introduction. Last week's episode ended with Michonne and Rick pulled from their afterglow slumber by Jesus (Tom Payne). He warns them that their world is about to get much bigger. This wasn't stated as a threat, but it is indeed ominous. As Negan looms against the Alexandrians, Rick will be his nemesis, meaning his loved ones are a target. If Judith and Carl are untouchable, then it means Michonne is quite possibly the next heartbreak on deck. We'll certainly learn more about Michonne's ultimate fate this Sunday, when the all-new episode Knots Untie premieres, only on AMC.