In a zombie-infested world, the solar-powered and gated community of Alexandria is a palace. And even though they don't have the numbers of Negan's Saviors, they have a large stockpile of guns and a small but well-trained group that knows how to use them. However, Negan came knocking in Sunday's episode and robbed them of their security, taking all their guns and mattresses (which they later burned).
This is something Rick would have never put up with in seasons past. He's a fighter, through and through. A born leader, always willing to put his life on the line. But after Negan thoroughly emasculated the leader of Alexandria and shattered his and his group's spirit by savagely clubbing Glenn and Abraham to death, Rick is willing to accept that Negan is now in charge and will endure the taunts and public humiliation to keep his people safe.
While in this fragile state, Rick opens up to Michonne, telling her about Shane and Lori and amitting openly that Judith is not his biological child. It's a heartbreaking, painful, and emotional moment that helps a rage-filled and frustrated Michonne understand why Rick is willing to accept Negan's way of life.
"I think voicing it aloud. It's one of those watershed moments that happens, certainly between the two lovers, between Michonne and Rick, that brings them together," Andrew Lincoln told EW. "It's a very important moment in understanding his psyche and going, 'This is what I've been doing for the last two years. I've accepted the situation and I will accept the situation if it's going to save lives and if it's going to protect the people I love. I will take it.' It's another perfect kind of quiet heroism. You know, he's a stepdad and it doesn't stop him loving his child, but he kind of has accepted that it's not his.
"I told Jon Bernthal [who played Shane] that, in the pool with his kids — I hadn't seen him for a while — I said, 'Dude, you're never going to believe this,' and he was like, 'Oh, my God, no. What?' It was hilarious because he was like, 'No. What… you… really? Really?' And he took it all so perfect. It was so Jon. It was beautiful because it was almost like he wanted to replay his scene again. He wanted to go back and reshoot the thing and I was like, 'Dude, I know. Come on… they… you know.' But it was a very, very key point that [shworunner Scott M. Gimple] told me before I even got script 1 [this season]. We talked about it in the hiatus because it is very, very key."
While many fans always suspected Judith wasn't Rick's, it's still a big revelation. "Well, it is, but it's also a great secret," he explained. "It's a great, great secret that he's been holding on to for a long, long time. It's also a very smart way of understanding why he's behaving in this way, because he's been behaving that way with regards to his child since the outbreak, since he got the news. There's a scene with Lori where it's almost touched upon — outside on the farm, there's a scene where he makes peace with whatever's gone down and that's, I think, a key moment. He doesn't voice it, but it's there. It's in the air."
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