‘The Walking Dead’ Has A Michonne Problem


Michonne has taken a turn for the worst.Credit: AMC

Season 9 of The Walking Dead has done a complete about face from the past two seasons and offered up some of the best episodes of AMC’s zombie drama in years. It’s frankly astonishing just how much better this show has gotten under new showrunner Angela Kang.

And while it’s not perfect, and still has trouble shaking some of The Walking Dead’s worst habits, by and large it’s almost like a completely new and different show, replete with a timeline hop, an older Judith and New Carl (aka Older Henry). I’m actually excited to see what happens next each week, though a part of me misses being able to write such scathing reviews. Rather, I’ve been shockingly upbeat for seven straight episodes now, even as the show’s ratings continue to slump.

But there’s one thing I simply cannot abide—or, rather, one character I simply cannot abide now in this fast-forwarded timeline, six years (or so) into the future: Michonne.

Grumpy, isolationist, rude-to-everybody Michonne.

She has suddenly become that character. The Walking Dead always has at least one. That character that you find yourself rolling your eyes at for one reason or another. That character that for reasons you don’t quite understand is suddenly changed and less likable. Andrea was that character in Season 3, where she was written into a series of corners and ultimately killed off. Rick has been that character from time to time. For a short while, even Carol became that character, before getting her groove back.

There have been many over the years, and they often come out of whatever slump they’re in or are killed off. I hope, when it comes to Michonne, that she comes out of hers.

What’s sort of weird about this is that a lot of characters I was annoyed with over the past couple seasons have really bounced back in Season 9. Both Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Jesus (Tom Payne) were on my nerves for the past two seasons, to the point where I wondered aloud if this was an acting problem as well as a writing problem. But in Season 9, both characters are great as are both actors. Marquand in particular has really impressed me this season (leading me to believe that it was a failure of writing and direction that made me dislike him in Season 7 and 8.)

Siddiq has some ‘splainin’ to do…Credit: AMC

The problem with Michonne might be that we just don’t know exactly what’s transpired between the “death” of Rick Grimes and the current timeline. We certainly don’t know exactly what happened after Rick disappeared. We know that the communities have split to some degree, with Alexandria closing itself off to the world largely because of Michonne.

We know that bad blood has formed between Maggie and Michonne, with Maggie ultimately leaving Hilltop (and the show, for now). We don’t know if this is all fallout from Rick or if something else is going on. I suspect that something else happened in the intervening years, because if this is just Michonne still grieving over Rick’s death six years later, that would be a pretty unsatisfying explanation. That she talks out loud to both Rick and Carl when she’s alone seems to hint that it’s their deaths that haunt her and drive her still. But I’m holding out hope it’s something more.

Regardless, Michonne has become intolerable to watch.

Gone is the Michonne the early episodes of Season 9 worked so hard to shape—a woman every bit as concerned with Rick’s vision for peace (or Carl’s vision? Or Morgan’s vision?) that she spent her days writing a new charter, setting up new laws to help govern a new society. Gone is the compassionate, friendly Michonne who always balanced her humanity against her badass ninja zombie killing.

I’m sorry, I know that grief is powerful and can linger for many years. But the show’s timeline before the time jump didn’t even take place over six years. At most it was four, maybe five tops.

Michonne showed up shortly after Judith was born. She started a romantic relationship with Rick only months before his “death” after the zombie herd swarmed Alexandria and not long before the Negan war began. Love and grief don’t require a long relationship to become powerful and all-consuming, and I have no doubt that losing Rick would have been a crushing blow to Michonne, but after six years I think she would have processed that grief and rebuilt her life.

She has two youngsters to look after and countless friends and people who depend on her and who she can depend upon. It just doesn’t make any kind of sense that she’d be so angry and unbending this far into the future. So much so that she doesn’t even go to Hilltop where several of her old companions live, and likely doesn’t go to the Kingdom, either, despite it being Carol’s stomping ground. That’s just…incredibly extreme.

Now apologize to Luke for murdering his violin!Credit: AMC

Even if this is something else—perhaps something to do with the mysterious “X” scars on both Daryl and Michonne’s backs—I’m annoyed that the show isn’t just letting us in on that. I like a good mystery as much as the next TV critic, but not one that requires a character to act so out of character for this long. Michonne is, quite frankly, wrong about just about everything right now and it’s tough to watch. She killed new guy Luke’s violin because she’s become so paranoid. And it was a bloody Stradivarius! And Luke is a cool, friendly guy who didn’t deserver that.

I think the real problem is that the show hasn’t earned this kind of mystery. That’s no fault of the current showrunner and writers. They’ve inherited a mess. The fact is, we don’t trust The Walking Dead still despite the massive uptick in quality. We just watched two utterly abysmal seasons of AMC’s zombie drama—two seasons so bad that ratings have fallen to the lowest levels in years, just when it’s finally getting good again

Just because Season 9 is great doesn’t mean we trust it to remain that way. I’m still getting over the burn of Fear The Walking Dead’s fourth season. That burning dumpster fire followed up a really terrific Season 3 (though Season 9 of The Walking Dead is better still.)

Right now Michonne’s transformation doesn’t feel earned, doesn’t feel real. It feels forced. I suspect all will become clear to us by the end of the season, but at the moment I keep wondering why nobody actually talks about the elephant in the room, whatever it may be.

Hopefully we’ll get some resolution in this weekend’s midseason finale, and even more will come to light in the back half of Season 9. Michonne has always been one of my favorites, and it sucks to have her suddenly become one of the annoying ones.

The Walking Dead’s Season 9 midseason finale airs tonight on AMC. My review will go up afterward. I can’t wait to talk with you all about the episode!

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2018/11/25/theres-still-one-thing-driving-me-crazy-about-the-walking-dead/