‘The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live’: Don’t Get Too Excited About Rick and Michonne’s Reunion

Scott M. Gimple and Danai Gurira break down the AMC spin-off series’ early romantic twist

Danai Gurira as Michonne in "The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live." (Gene Page/AMC)

Note: The following story contains spoilers from the series premiere of “The Waking Dead: The Ones Who Live.”

Leave it to “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” to drop a major twist in its first episode. Going into the latest AMC and AMC+ original, fans knew to expect a season-long love story between the thought-to-be-dead Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). What fans likely didn’t expect was how quickly that love story would start.

Instead of teasing out Rick and Michonne’s reunion over the course of the six episodes in Season 1, “The Ones Who Live” cuts right to the chase. The horror drama ended its first episode with the two star-crossed lovers reuniting in the heat of battle.

“We’re not going to do what you expect,” Gurira told TheWrap. When the actor behind Michonne saw fans speculating that the couple would meet at the end of the season, she was thrilled.

“That’s exactly what we want. When they do find each other by the end of the first hour, people are floored because now they get to see what happens with this reunion,” Gurira said.

“I’ll just say they aren’t completely together once they’re together,” series executive producer and “The Walking Dead” chief content officer Scott M. Gimple told TheWrap.

“The Ones Who Lived” begins by focusing on Rick. After seemingly sacrificing himself by blowing up the bridge ahead of a looming zombie horde, Rick Grimes is taken in by the Civic Republic Military, more commonly known as the CRM. Though he repeatedly tries to escape (and loses a hand in the process), his efforts continuously backfire, leaving him trapped behind enemy lines and unable to reach Michonne or his children. That is until the couple unknowingly almost kill each other on the battlefield.

“It was the thing we knew we needed to get to and the epic love story aspect of this. It has to involve them interacting,” Gurira said. “We will see what happens from there.”

Cutting right to this reunion is also a symptom of this particular series being shorter. The latest AMC installment is six episodes as opposed to the average 16 episodes “The Walking Dead” used to have per season.

For his part, Gimple said he “loved” having a weekly relationship with the “Dead”-loving audience four months out of the year.

“We got so close to them and so much a part of their lives. And frankly, I love consuming television myself that way,” Gimple said. But for this series to work, the drama had to be more direct.

“We wanted to tell these individual parallel stories that came together to really establish who these characters are,” Gimple continued. “They aren’t the same people that they were when we left them on the show.”

It’s because of that evolution of these characters that the “Walking Dead” head believes new audiences should have no problem watching “The Ones Who Live.”

“I think new audiences can come to it because this isn’t the Rick from the series. This isn’t the Michonne from the series,” Gimple said. “When we met Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first Star Wars movie, he had this big history that he refers to. I feel that Rick and Michonne have these big histories that they refer to, but anybody arriving at this story sees a decidedly different Rick and a decidedly different Michonne than the ones that the viewers of ‘The Walking Dead’ last saw.”

New episodes of “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” premiere Sundays on AMC and AMC+.


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