Warning: Possible Walking Dead spoilers ahead, including comic book spoilers.
Following a thrilling Episode 15, fans of The Walking Dead are preparing themselves for the march to war between Negan and Rick. While so far things are simmering away, by the end of the season finale, we can be sure that events will have well and truly boiled over, meaning we can expect a battle-filled Season 8.
But what exactly will transpire in the Season 7 finale still remains a mystery, though during the episode teaser (see below), it certainly looks like both groups are preparing for a battle. However, it was one small arc in Episode 15 that particularly stuck with me and solidified a theory that the show has been building towards since very early in Season 7 — Michonne using a gun will most probably be a major part of the season finale.
True love: Michonne and her katana
Ever since Michonne was introduced to the series, her weapon of choice has always been a katana. In her early days she teamed her sharp blade with her 'pets,' two armless, jawless walkers who helped her blend into herds and remain unharmed.
In fact, there's only been a couple of instances when Michonne had touched a gun prior to Season 7. In the Season 4 finale she shot Tony and Harley (using Tony's gun) when the group attacked her, Carl and Rick. Then in Season 5, Michonne used a gun after the Termites took her blade, however even then we only ever saw her use it as a bludgeoning device, preferring to crush the walkers skulls with the gun than to line up a shot.
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But following the Season 7 premiere, Michonne seems to have had a dramatic change of heart concerning guns, arming herself with a secret rifle during Episode 4, and going to a field to use walkers as target practice. In Episode 7 and 8, Michonne even held one of the Saviors at gunpoint (though is still clearly uncomfortable with the handgun), ultimately shooting and killing the woman at her request.
In Episode 12 we saw Michonne had become pretty comfortable with a gun and had great aim, first preparing to shoot a deer in the woods, before showing off her newly acquired sharp-shooting skills hitting a target from a rooftop.
The journey to becoming a sharp-shooter
It's been subtle, but over the course of Season 7 the writers of The Walking Dead have slowly turned Michonne into a proficient shooter. But what does it all mean for the season finale? Well, as we saw in Episode 15, Michonne acted as the group's sniper during the Oceanside heist. And during the promo for Episode 16 there are also hints that we'll probably see her in a similar position in the finale.
With Sasha now basically a dead woman walking (or stuck without her gun at the least), Alexandria has lost its sharpest shooter, and it looks like Michonne will fill that gap. Acting as a sniper in Episode 15 showed that Rick has trust in Michonne's abilities, and seeing as she totally nailed the part then, from the looks of the promo for Episode 16 (see below) it seems she will have a similar role in the inevitable battle that will break out in the Season 7 finale.
Will she be part of one of the finale's most dramatic moments?
From a comic book fan point of view, this would also be in keeping with the fact that Michonne has taken over some of the qualities of the comic book character Andrea. In the comics, Andrea is not only in a relationship with Rick, but is also extremely proficient with a gun, something which is especially demonstrated during the lead up to the group's war with Negan.
In Issues 112 and 113 of the comic book, Negan arrives at Alexandria with a few men and during his tense visit Rick sends Andrea up the bell tower so she can take the chance to shoot Negan. However, after Andrea shoots and kills the Savior's driver, Negan reveals he always travels to supply runs with a backup team and a bunch of Savior snipers reveal themselves, leading to a battle breaking out. Unfortunately for Andrea, a Savior finds her in the bell tower and tries to kill her. Rick sees a figure fall to their death from the bell tower and believes it to be Andrea, but the very last panel reveals it was the Savior who fell, and that Andrea survived. The battle rages on at Alexandria, and by the time it ends war has been declared between Rick's army and the Saviors.
But as fans of both the comic book series and the TV show know, anything could happen, with the series picking and choosing which storylines to keep and which to refresh. However, with Michonne's gun subplot being repeatedly shown throughout Season 7, it seems to indicate that this is where at least part of the finale is headed. Fans can only hope that much like Andrea, Michonne makes it out of the bell tower alive.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC with Episode 16 on April 2