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Why The Richonne Romance Means More Than You Realize

All hail Richonne! The Walking Dead made a huge stride not just in character development, but also in TV progressivism, with Rick and Michonne finally taking their relationship to the next level. Here's what it all may mean (besides just two beautiful people loving one another, of course).

There's no more Ricktatorship

Michonne has generally followed Rick's lead throughout the series, but in season 5, episode 15, she had enough of his seemingly unhinged attitude in Alexandria. To keep Rick in line, she did what she needed to do: she knocked him out. Even when Rick doesn't necessarily agree with Michonne, it's clear he knows better than to cross her. Now that he has an official partner in life, not just in battle, chances are Rick may yield to Michonne's will even more. Danai Gurira told The Hollywood Reporter that Rick will likely trust her intuition about new people like Jesus, explaining, "Michonne is very good at figuring people out and determining what category to put people in. It's very difficult for people to be evil and her not to see it. I think she'll be able to figure him out pretty fast and understand what sort of guy he really is."

Carl and Judith have two parents now

Carl sees Michonne as a mother figure, and rightfully so. Michonne is fiercely protective of Carl, even stabbing Jessie's son, Ron, through the chest in order to save his life. She's shown maternal instincts since her first interaction with Rick at the prison, when she delivered formula for Judith.

Michonne is finally opening up completely

Danai Gurira told The Hollywood Reporter that Michonne's relationship with Rick is the final step to regaining her own sense of humanity in the apocalypse—and that Deanna played a key role in the move. "What Deanna asks her [in the midseason finale]—'What do you want for yourself?'—that question takes her by surprise. That was getting into the heart area that Michonne had a wall up around ever since her last tragedy. She has a new lease on life: Carl recovered, Alexandria is stable, Rick and Michonne have their home and Rick has now embraced everybody. Then the day just progresses as a perfect storm," Gurira says. "Seeing Deanna's son Spencer do what he has to do with his mother and seeing her face again and remembering the last thing she said—Michonne promised that she would figure out what she wants. Seeing Spencer's pain and hearing Carl say that he sees her as his mother—she keeps receiving love all day. The idea of Rick going out of his way to make sure to bring back something of what she asks for [mints] since he couldn't bring back the toothpaste was really sweet," Gurira explained. "It's letting her heart out from behind the wall. It's in that moment where she holds on to his hand. Rick does stuff for her all the time, but today she actually held it back because this was the one that meant her heart got to be the steering wheel."

The show is super progressive

Let's be honest: for a while, it was a given that there could pretty much only be one African American survivor at a time, and if another showed up, well, someone was doomed to die. (And seriously, can you name a single T-Dog personality trait?) That changes in a big way now: Michonne and Rick are in it for the long haul, especially if she follows the storyline of Andrea in the comics: though Andrea's long dead in the show, in the comics she goes on to become Rick's girlfriend and a mom to Carl and is still alive. Even though it's 2016, interracial relationships are rare on television, so this is a pretty refreshing move on the part of AMC.

Rick has hope

Pretty much everyone Rick dates gets killed, so here's hoping Michonne escapes that fate. (To be fair, that may be because up to now Rick's type was "useless white woman who could barely survive Candyland, let alone a zombie apocalypse.") Andrew Lincoln explained to The Hollywood Reporter that Rick's relationship with Michonne has a deeper meaning than, well, sleeping together. "There's newfound sense of hope and with hope comes romance, laughter and rebuilding a civilization. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how long it's going to last!"