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The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live - What We - Review

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If you obsessed over the Danai Gurira and Andy Lincoln interviews leading up to the premier of The Ones Who Live, you know this is an epic tale about Rick and Michonne's love. Danai penned this episode, so there were great hopes for raw emotion and healing after Michonne pulled Rick from a moving helicopter during a thunderstorm at the end of the previous episode. Danai did not disappoint.

At the beginning of the hour, Rick and Michonne miraculously escape the helicopter and make their way to Greenwood, a fallen community. They enter a building with an Alexa-like voice saying, "Welcome home." The rooms are spotless, thanks to a still-functioning rumba. The future-focused building featured computers, voice-activated thermostats, and large picture windows. Outside, a purifying rain fell. The music playing is Tony Orlando and Dawn's "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" (1973), whose significance dates back to the Civil War when families attached yellow ribbons to trees in honor of soldiers. Suicide prevention is also associated with yellow ribbons. Both references inform The Ones Who Live since Rick is now a CRM soldier and has considered killing himself. Rick and Michonne also discover in this episode that a community founder, Patel, committed suicide. These atmospheric elements propel the story forward.

"What We” – THE WALKING DEAD: THE ONES WHO LIVE, Pictured: Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes. Photo: AMC ©2024 AMC Networks. All Rights Reserved

Rick and Michonne begin to bicker in a brutal back and forth. Michonne wants to go home to Alexandria, and Rick insists they return to the CRM. The AI voice announces that they've reached the preferred temperature, which indicates that they've reached a critical point. Michonne immediately changes into dry clothing while Rick watches. He sees she has an X burned into her flesh, but he doesn't ask why it happened. Michonne tries to sway Rick by revealing that he has a son called Rick Jr., RJ, or the Little Brave Man. Michonne expects Rick's love for his family to inspire him to join her on the journey home. It does not. Rick expected that Michonne's love for him would lead her to return home alone so he could remain at the CRM and change it from the inside, as Okafor had envisioned. It did not. Both are deeply disappointed because their expectations of each other remain unfulfilled. These unmet expectations drive the two to battle with their hurt, anger, fear, conflict, and, finally, reconciliation.

After learning about RJ, Rick still asks for the radio to signal the CRM. Michonne is deeply hurt by this and how Rick has tried to reject her. She cries that she doesn't know him anymore. Rick keeps insisting that he is protecting their family. Again, he asks, "Are you going to give me it (the radio)?" Rick convinces Michonne to give him the radio by acknowledging many things. He admits that he never stopped loving her. He acknowledges that he wants her to live. He concedes that Jadis feels threatened by them because together, "they can do anything." He concedes that Michonne saved their lives because the helicopter crashed into another tower of the building. The Walking Dead (TWD) OGs may see a parallel between this scene and S7:E4, "Service," when Rick asks Michonne for her gun to protect her and the community from Negan. Michonne responds, "So what, we just let them win?" Rick weakens and says, "Look at me. They won a long time ago." While he remains resolute, this conversation inches him off his position of protecting her and their family toward how he may be the last man standing to save the whole damned world.

"What We” – THE WALKING DEAD: THE ONES WHO LIVE, Pictured: Danai Gurira as Michonne. Photo: AMC ©2024 AMC Networks. All Rights Reserved

However, Michonne does not believe the CRM are Rick's people or his fight. She only sees the perfect opportunity to go home. Rick, a prisoner of the 'what ifs,' fears what if, upon returning to the CRM, he can't protect his family. Michonne sees that Rick is in a Schroedinger's Cat situation, where he is found, yet not found, and where he's alive, yet dead. Michonne couldn't push him past his fear, which made her angry. Angry, she relies on Nat's guidance: "You have to know when to go." So, she goes.

The CRM Ethos prioritizes security and secrecy, so they reduced the building to rubble to hide the helicopter crash. Rick, who predictably chased Michonne, helped her fight off walkers. They take a break from fighting long enough to argue about saving the world versus reuniting the family. Michonne confronts Rick about "signing up for lifelong duty with the enemy." Rick counters: "This is about ending the enemy." Michonne offers one of the most romantic lines:" The only time I feel safe is when I'm with you." Rick falls silent. But they are still not on the same page, as evidenced by their unsynchronized fighting. As a result, Michonne finds herself trapped under a chandelier. She tells Rick to go, but predictably, Rick says, "That's never going to happen." He is inching ever closer to the recognition that together, they can do anything.

"What We” – THE WALKING DEAD: THE ONES WHO LIVE, Pictured: Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes. Photo: AMC ©2024 AMC Networks. All Rights Reserved

Rick and Michonne eventually escape to the side of the building and to the side of their relationship that hasn't yet buckled. They enter another unit, and the AI voice again says, "Welcome Home." Rick immediately reaches out to touch and kiss Michonne. Near-death experiences heighten our lover's passions. During that poignant moment, Rick suffers a panic attack. In storytelling, the heart is the most potent symbol of love. Michonne places Rick's palm over her heart to push him past his fear and reestablish their commitment and connection as the buildings fall around them.

Despite the urgent need to move, Michonne demands they stop for reconciliation. Reconciliation in conflict is about healing the relationship. Throughout the episode, Michonne accuses Rick of lying because she is also lying. She discloses that she doesn't know if the kids are okay. She talked about how the CRM nearly killed her and cost her a year with her kids. Rick confesses that the CRM took Carl and Michonne away from his dreams. Rick offers his most romantic lament: "I can't live without you. Without you, I will die. You can't simply make me feel alive again until I know I won't lose you." TWD OGs may again notice that this scene echoes those in S2:E12, "Better Angels," and S7:E12, "Say Yes," when Rick initiated conversations with Carl and Michonne, respectively, about surviving the death of loved ones. A traumatized Rick is no longer ready or able to lose his family again. So, Michonne brings Carl back to Rick with the artist's rendering. In the last episode, the artist said he could never get the face right because Rick could no longer see Carl's face. Michonne could. Michonne did! This was the much-anticipated, Bridgerton-esque moment when they talked openly from the heart to restore the trust that had always existed in their relationship. Michonne further reassures Rick, saying, "We love on each other as hard as we can, while we can." Her words and actions brought Rick back to her.

"What We” – THE WALKING DEAD: THE ONES WHO LIVE, Pictured: Danai Gurira as Michonne. Photo: AMC ©2024 AMC Networks. All Rights Reserved

"What We" strikes a remarkable balance between walker killings and romance. The Richonne faithful will find this episode nourishing and satisfying, much like a great meal. At the end of the hour, our heroes are battling the dead, in sync this time, on their way to a car loaded with ethanol. Hopefully, the car is sound and has enough fuel to get them home. Michonne and Rick are proving once again that they "can make the whole damned world theirs if they want to." The episode gives us hope, allowing us "to believe a little bit longer" that the Grimes family will be reunited. 

What did you think, TOWL fans? Share your thoughts in the comments below and follow me on X to discuss TOWL.

About the Author - Lynette
Lynette is a self-identified 'woke boomer' who hails from an era bathed in the comforting glow of a TV, not a computer screen. Navigating the digital world can sometimes leave her feeling a bit unsure, but she approaches it with curiosity and a willingness to learn. Patience and kindness in this new landscape are truly valued. Let's embrace the journey together with kindness and a touch of humor!
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