The Walking Dead , a thrilling zombie show adapted from the equally thrilling graphic novel, is just as much about zombies as it is about humanity and the human condition. However, some of the humans on the show achieve less progress than others and it’s not because they are slow learners. Michonne, a samurai with no known last name and arguably the source material's most iconic character, is continually shafted in this department. She is seen as nearly perfect, almost mechanical, which can be argued is a good thing in the zombie apocalypse. However, in recent episodes, it has become far too obvious that Michonne is still alone in many ways and certain aspects of her humanity have been abandoned, including that of the romantic. So has Michonne really progessed from the time we first met her?
In this last episode, viewers had clear evidence that Sasha will most likely become romantically involved with Abraham. This will be her second romance on the show. The character of Sasha was introduced shortly after Michonne, and is largely a new character created for the show, only sharing her name with a minor character in the source material. But the writers have been, so far, doing an excellent job of crafting this character into a sort of hybrid of the graphic novel's popular female characters, including Andrea and Michonne. She has absorbed several different elements of these characters and it has made for fantastic development. But it leaves us wondering, what about Michonne? We mustn't forget, in the source material, Michonne is a sexually active woman who had several serious relationships. She is as feminine as she is tough. However, in the show, she is portrayed less as a human female character and more as simply a weapon with a weapon. Is this, perhaps, how Team Family sees her? A bodyguard with no desire for love and affection?
Her entire story arc in Season 3 involved The Governor. The brutal rape and torture featured in the graphic novel was greatly diminished, for the better. And while Michonne was subjected to violence and brutal fights with men in the source material, she found romantic comfort with Tyreese. The show had a wonderful opportunity to explore this relationship.
But curiously, in season 4, Tyreese would become involved with another woman and Michonne would later be seen flirting with the two leading men, Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon. A possible relationship was alluded to with both of these men, but they essentially went nowhere and were forgotten by the writers. She forms a bond with Rick's son Carl and even shares painful details of her past with him, details he promised to keep secret. But again, that bond appears to have been abandoned in recent times.
Unfortunately, it soon became clear that Michonne was quickly sinking into the "Strong black woman" trope. She is constantly assaulted and manhandled with seemingly very little concern shown for her wellbeing.
In Season 5, the writers made it clear that the series would be shifting to better reflect the graphic novel...sort of.
In the graphic novel, our group of protagonists are taken in by a bigger group called the Alexandria Safe Zone and Rick struggles to adjust, to put it lightly. He ends up having to beat up and kill a woman’s abusive husband and later becomes romantically involved with said woman. All the while Michonne finds Morgan and they began to form a bond which turns into their own romance.
But in the show, Michonne virtually disappears. While the focus is shifted to various residents of the Safe Zone, including Rick's current love interest.
Instead of furthering the development that was put in place when this character was first introduced, they've regressed in many ways. She's been reduced to a YES woman for Rick, who seems to have no life outside of him or his family. Very different from her comic counterpart in that aspect.
In a recent episode, she volunteered to go on a dangerous mission in place of Glenn. It was implied that she felt it would be better for her to risk being killed because she didn't have anyone that would miss her, unlike Glenn. That was a very disturbing revelation for Michonne fans.
This is all problematic writing for a dark skinned black female character. Michonne is a beautiful woman, but she hasn't once been shown in a desirable light. Carol has been openly flirted with several times. Sasha, a light-skinned black woman, has been flirted with and had relationships. Tara, a woman who isn't even interested in men, has been hit on and has had love interests. Rosita and Maggie have lovers. And Michonne...has her sword?
That leaves our lonely samurai to continue to look out for herself because no one (love interest or not) is going to express any concern for her.
The new character bio that AMC presents on their website for Michonne this season talks about love. She loves people and she is loved back, is what it says in short.
To that I say, no.
No, she is not loved back.
Michonne’s “progression” started off promising, had tons of potential with the reveal of her family’s death, but was pretty much left dead in the water after that. She had a moment at the end of season 5 where she pledged her undying devotion to Rick and the rest of Team Family by extension, and has gotten nothing in return.
Her progression no longer exists, she is simply the strong black woman who don't need no man.
A weapon with a weapon.
***This was a collaborative essay written by several Michonne fans
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