More than anything, The Walking Dead is a show about relationships. Arguably, the bonds between characters are even more important than the walkers.
A Gentle Approach
One of the relationships that doesn’t get as much attention is the one between Carl and Michonne. Entertainment Weekly talked to actress Danai Gurira about the touching scene she shared with Carl on the porch last season:
“She has so much respect for him as the child soldier who’s weathered so much, and that’s so much a part of why she loves him and wants to protect him. But her approach, I felt, needed to be gentle and respectful, but then also clear and firm that we are going to have this conversation. And he is, of course, avoiding that. It was interesting to find the moments of where he has to finally open up about what exactly he was doing out there, and that moment takes her by great surprise.
“And that was what was really a beautiful part of her evolution, was the realization that he looks at her with that level of regard and that she is actually that loved by him. She comes back to this young man who she just absolutely loved, and hears him affirm that fact by leaving her the position of mother in his heart. And I think that really makes her so emotionally open and available. That was really a climactic moment because that moment happening does cause her to have an open enough heart and available enough emotional space to have that next moment with his father.”
A New Beginning for Michonne
It’s easy to forget, but Carl and Michonne have been close from the beginning. Gurira elaborates on their friendship and how she relates to him:
“He’s the one who actually brought her into the group. And so, from there on out, they have definitely had a deep and intimate bond. The loss of a child, many will say, is the worst loss one can have, and Carl still steps into that position of giving her a second experience with a young growing man that she lost with her own son. So he really is what opens the gates of her heart to be able to open up to Rick. I don’t know if she would’ve been able to respond to Rick’s touch in that next scene, honestly. I think she would’ve felt that electricity between her and him, but she probably would have said, ‘Okay, don’t stay up too late,’ and said something cocky and jumped off to bed. But I think that what happened with Carl opens up her heart to give and receive the love. She’s like, this is my family.”
Permission to Love
Many viewers saw the subtext in the scene with Michonne and Carl. They interpreted it to mean Carl is giving Michonne permission to have a relationship with Rick. Gurira agrees:
“Absolutely. He blesses her with this position in their home, and I think it gives her permission to be open and to let go a little bit and to let her heart actually express itself. The idea of having her heart touched so unexpectedly by Carl in that previous scene, it allows her heart to take the driver’s seat, and that is the moment where she’s able to actually see this man sitting in front of her, for what she’s actually seen him as but never really has acknowledged to herself.”