Up until the end of the fourth season, The Walking Dead’s Michonne was an intense katana-wielding badass shrouded in mystery. She’s still an intense intense katana-wielding badass, but now there’s a little less mystery. Season 4 revealed the story of Michonne’s son and boyfriend in the episode “After.” A flashback in the form of a freaky dream showed her toddler son Andre, her boyfriend Mike, and their friend Terry before the zombie apocalypse. And in the Season 4 finale, she told Carl how Mike and Terry were responsible for her son’s death and were the “pet” zombies she had when she was first introduced. But now that we know her back story, how will it affect Michonne’s interactions with Rick, Carl, and the rest of the group in Season 5?
Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne, didn’t give much away about the dream scene when it first aired, but viewers were left to believe that the two men in it were the chained protector zombies she escorted around. The dream was in the aftermath of the Governor’s raid on the prison. Separated and alone, Michonne went back to her old ways and created two new zombie pets to help conceal her. Then she had the unfortunate chance to run into Hershel’s zombiefied severed head. A day wrought with emotions (what day in the zombie apocalypse isn’t?), it made sense that her dreams later would contain the loved ones from her earlier life, including her son, Andre Anthony.
The day after the dream, she walked among walkers and envisioned one that looked like her, which led to her going on a zombie-killing rampage and deciding to join the land of the living again. She decided to find Carl and Rick — and find them she did (hoorah!). But not before she “talked” to Mike and admitted she missed him. The happiness of the reunion with Rick and Carl was a spring of hope in an episode fraught with despair.
“After” was a huge turning point for Michonne. Instead of traveling with the walkers and denying love and companionship, she returned to Rick and Carl — who need her about as much as she needs them. Although Michonne had long been hiding her maternal side, it inevitably kicks in when she interacts with Carl. It’s Carl who she confides in about her son, especially in “A,” the Season 4 finale.
The episode was mostly action-packed, but in a quieter moment she told Carl that she had been staying in a camp after the outbreak with Andre, Mike, Terry. She went out for a supply run, and Mike and Terry got high, so when zombies attacked, Andre was killed by walkers. Afterwards, she made Mike and Terry her pets.
A mother’s grief is profound, and she had to go to a really dark place to do that to Mike. Yet she recognizes how sick her choice was. Michonne is resilient and fierce — an alpha force that would never slip up and make a mistake like Mike did. She is a protector and her son’s death understandably brought out an intenseness in her.
Now that she has people she cares about again, Michonne is dedicated to keeping them safe. If she keeps taking on a mother-like role with Carl, could Michonne and Rick get closer? That’s what Richonne shippers hope for (for the record, a romance between them better not happen). And what will happen when Judith is reunited with her family?
Right now, Judith is with Carol and Tyreese, but the Season 5 trailer shows Rick holding her. (The revelation that Judith is alive is sure to be one of the only moments of joy in the new season since Rick, Michonne, and Carl all think that Judith was eaten by walkers.) We saw Michonne break down while holding Judith earlier in Season 4, so perhaps now that she has opened up about her past, she will be more comfortable to take on a role in Judith’s life.
(By the way, I’m always uber impressed that Judith is still alive, It would be cruel for the show to kill a baby, but seriously, it’s like divine intervention that a zombie hasn’t gotten her.)
The bond between Michonne and the Grimes family better grow stronger in Season 5. Michonne not only has developed more as a character, but Carl and Rick have greatly benefited from their relationship too. And just because Michonne has been showing an emotional side doesn’t mean she’ll have gone soft. Rick and Michonne are two strong personalities and together they make a great team. But the pair at odds could lead to disaster for the group. They’ll need to stay united for the upcoming challenges against Terminus and the zombies. And you know, having Daryl along for the ride doesn’t hurt either.
Images: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC; ricktatorship-twd/Tumblr