TWD: The Ones Who Live Made Rick and Michonne’s Reunion Worth the Wait

If there’s one thing The Walking Dead universe will always do, it’s get the internet talking.

Through the first three hours of the Rick and Michonne show, we spent much time at the CRM and witnessed the reunion between the lovers who’d been apart for many years.

And while they technically reunite during The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 1, their official reunion comes a little later.

Passionate Embrace - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 3

While fans have been waiting for this series for years, waiting until now, with the original series concluded and various other spinoffs in their infancy, was the right time to bring this series to light.

It’s a love story at its core, but like all the other series that came before it, it’s also a tale about survival, both emotionally and physically. And that’s a timeless story.

Ready To Talk - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 4

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 4 is a tour-de-force from beginning to end, buoyed by magnetic performances from Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira, which is hardly a surprising revelation.

During this hour, we finally see Rick and Michonne utterly alone and not trying to steal hidden moments in a dangerous land. They’re free to be completely vulnerable and honest with one another without immediate fear.

They get to have the tough conversation they haven’t been afforded the time to have.

The hour ping pongs between major angst, romance, action sequences, pockets of humor, romance, and back again. And the backdrop is this apartment building, which at first offers stability and then quickly crumbles under the weight of the end of the world.

Outside Kisses - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 3

And the potential end of Rick and Michonne’s relationship.

So much of the first half of the episode is heavy on Michonne being an almost mouthpiece for the viewers, though, unlike Michonne, we are more informed about the genesis of many of Rick’s feelings.

He loves Michonne, and it’s that love deep in his gut that is pushing her away, but it’s impossible for her to understand that when the Rick Grimes she knew would have never let anything stop him from getting home to his family.

The early scenes’ framing is perfect, from the way Michonne stalks around the apartment while Rick often stays rooted in place.

Rick Listens - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 1

They’re in two different places, with Michonne already planning their escape and return home to the children while Rick is digging even deeper into the decision he made to return to the CRM and do what he can within his power to save his family.

The apartment itself is as big a character as anything, which director of the hour Michael Slovis told us in our exclusive interview with him.

They’ve needed a conversation that wasn’t rushed or via written letter. They needed to express themselves in a place where they weren’t worried about being overheard, and that high-tech apartment with its open floor plan and perfect temperature was the perfect backdrop.

Michonne is so happy to be safe and together, quickly realizing this is the moment she’s been waiting for since she laid eyes on Rick again. It’s the moment they can break away and restart their life again.

Michonne Is Back - Tall - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 1

But it’s different for Rick, who finds himself momentarily free from the CRM’s shackles but still beholden to its influence.

The series made a conscious choice to wait until the limited series was already heading into its final batches of episodes to give us these unfiltered Rick and Michonne conversations, and it allows for a clear reset to lead us toward the finale.

Six episodes isn’t a long time to cover the couple’s time apart, and the series doesn’t try to pretend they can do it.

In all honesty, they could have spent even more time at the CRM and had this hour be the finale, leaving a clear path toward a second season (which has not been confirmed but would be universally welcomed) or plopped this actual reunion in even earlier.

Teary Michonne - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 4

But it’s saved for this moment, in this atmosphere, because it’s a true manifestation of the crossroads they’ve reached.

I could wax poetic about this hour forever because everything about it is perfection, from the lighting to the small details like that big open window that highlights so much of their early conversations and that basement area where everything comes to a head.

This is it for Rick and Michonne. They’re leaving that building together, committed to one another, and returning to their life, or they’re leaving that building separately and officially closing that chapter of their lives.

Rick is stoic throughout so much of their talk, sticking steadfastly to the talking points you must imagine filtering through his brain. Andrew Lincoln has always excelled in the moments where he’s meant to be in control, but he’s slowly coming apart at the seams.

Determined Rick - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 4

It doesn’t seem like Rick believes what he’s saying, but he’s mostly confident it’s the only way. He’s pushed and buried certain parts of his feelings so far that he can’t access them anymore.

On the flip side, Michonne is wearing her heart on her sleeve and becoming increasingly agitated with the brick wall of a man staring back at her.

When she laments that basically he’s won, she’s giving up and heading back to her kids, not theirs, but hers, Danai Gurira has never been better. She storms around, arming herself for a solo battle back home, and the best part is that she doesn’t stop until she’s forced to.

Rick and Michonne are endgame, right? They’re meant to be together and all that jazz, but this is such a defining moment for them, and the angst is so necessary.

Willing To Listen - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 4

They love each other more than anything, but they’ve changed and aren’t the same people. While Michonne never gave up on Rick and never gave up on bringing him home, Rick had a completely different experience.

He grieved the loss of Michonne, Judith, his people, and the life he could have had. To move forward, he had to bury that part of himself, and he had to die while still alive to exist in a world without Michonne.

Think about the gravity of what Rick is saying in the heartfelt conversation with Michonne, the most honest moment they have shared since they were brought back together.

Rick is petrified of having to endure the loss of Michonne a second time, so utterly and entirely haunted by it that he’d rather see her leave him so his brain can conjure up whatever reality he chooses than experience it firsthand.

Rick Is Determined - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 4

Think about the gravity of that and how desperate Rick is at that moment.

Not only does Danai Gurira give the performance of a lifetime in the episode, but she also wrote the hour, and no one understands both characters and their bond better than her.

With years and years of experiences separating them, it comes down to this for Rick.

He’s lost Carl to the point he can’t remember him. (And it’s such a lovely sentiment to know that Carl proves to be a such a significant factor in bringing two people he loved so much back together.)

He’s lost Michonne, Judith, and so many others he’s cared about, and the realization that he might get some of that love back has him spiraling because it’s simultaneously all he’s ever wanted and the worst thing to happen to him.

Michonne Is Ready - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 4

If this story had played out any sooner, we wouldn’t have gotten such raw passion from this reunion because they’ve had to endure what felt like a lifetime apart. That distance heightens this hour to obscene levels.

As Michonne and Rick drive away together, the building crumbles in the rearview mirror, just as their walls crumble, and they allow the other to take residence in the place inside their hearts, permanently etched out for the other.

Now, we have to see what’s next, but this reunion was worth all the intense angst because they never move forward unless they get this mostly uninterrupted (the walkers stop for no one!) time to explore the annals of their grief.

It’s an almost flawless episode, from the set pieces to the dialogue and the acting. While The Walking Dead hasn’t historically been an award-season darling, I dare anyone to walk away from this hour not enraptured with these characters.

Thinking Hard - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Season 1 Episode 4

It’s more than a ‘ship. It’s more than an apocalyptic love story.

It’s two broken people loving so deeply they almost don’t know what to do with it existing in a world that does everything it can to break that love down.

I’ll send my therapy bill to AMC because how do you walk away from all of this and not wonder if love truly does conquer all?

You can watch The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live at 9/8c on Sundays on AMC.

Whitney Evans is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lover of all things TV. Follow her on X.

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