“The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live ”creators break down Michonne's journey back to Rick

Danai Gurira, Andrew Lincoln, and Scott M. Gimple talk about the biggest scene and that surprising death.

Warning: This article contains spoilers about The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live episode 2, “Gone.”

Last week on The Ones Who Live, we saw everything Rick Grimes had been through since he left The Walking Dead back in season 9. This week, it was Michonne’s turn.

Even though the couple was surprisingly reunited at the end of the premiere, this week’s installment, titled “Gone,” still went back to showing us what Danai Gurira’s character had gone through since she left the mothership series in season 10. And that meant picking up right where her final season 10 scene left off, with her helping a couple who had been left behind due to an injury that was slowing them down.

Was that always the plan back when they shot Gurira’s TWD exit? “Absolutely,” showrunner Scott M. Gimple tells EW. “That's why we cast Breeda Wool and Andrew Bachelor [as the couple]. They're both great actors. They were on that last episode for 10 seconds. I don't know if we would've cast that caliber of actor for the 10 seconds. The reason I wanted to cast those folks [was] that I knew there was a bigger story to tell.”

<p>Gene Page/AMC</p> Danai Gurira, Breeda Wool, Matthew August Jeffers, and Andrew Bachelor on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

Gene Page/AMC

Danai Gurira, Breeda Wool, Matthew August Jeffers, and Andrew Bachelor on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

And the story shows how that one decision back in season 10 ultimately leads to Michonne’s reunion with Rick. “At the end of that story, she was like, ‘I've got to find Rick. Oh. crap, these people need help. I have to do it’. And now you get to see that, wow, the fact that she helped those people is what ultimately led her to Rick. So yes, it was the plan.”

The most heart-wrenching moment in Michonne’s journey occurred when — after spending a year recovering from a CRM gas attack — she and her new companion Nat (Matthew August Jeffers) sat at a campfire and Nat essentially gave Michonne permission to go home to her kids and still believe Rick was out there somewhere, telling her: “You can know when to go. You can do both. It’s not giving up.”

It was the episode’s most pivotal scene for Gurira. “She does get to a point where she's going home,” the actress and executive producer says. “As strong-minded as she was being willing to fight through being chlorine-gassed and all of that, she was still looking to continue the fight and to get to him. But there comes that moment where even she has to accept things.”

<p>Gene Page/AMC</p> Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

Gene Page/AMC

Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

And that acceptance led to tears. Lots of tears. “That moment for her at the fire is really her letting go in a way that is just unheard of for her,” Gurira says. “It kind of breaks her, but also sort of makes her. Because she's a mission-driven person and a love-driven person, so she has to go to her other loves now, to her children, and that becomes where she's going to. So that aspect of her breaking to that point and then finding him right at that point is this mirror. They're sort of mirror episodes in that regard, because that is so not her, to let go the way she finally does in that episode.”

Of course, this being The Walking Dead franchise, not everybody got a happy ending in the episode, as Nat eventually paid with his life when being gunned down by a CRM soldier. It was a brutal end for a character that made such a huge impact in only a single episode. “What a glorious death,” says Gurira. “That was a fantastic death. His death was a thing of beauty. I was watching like, ‘Wow, look at that. That's a great death. That's impressive.’”

Gurira found the work of her costar Jeffers — whom she also starred with on stage in Richard III — equally commendable. “He's just a very impressive young man and I can't wait for the world to get to know him in this role. I think he was just utterly fantastic.”

Andrew Lincoln concurs. “I agree with you. So much charisma, that gentleman. What a great actor.”

<p>Gene Page/AMC</p> Danai Gurira and Matthew August Jeffers on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

Gene Page/AMC

Danai Gurira and Matthew August Jeffers on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

This marks the second straight episode The Ones Who Live has introduced a seemingly major character only to kill them off before their first episode even ended. They did it last week with Craig Tate’s CRM officer Okafor, and this week with Nat. Just the cost of doing business in this world, says Gurira. “That's the show, man. That's the show! That's the Walking Dead idea of we're going to make you love someone, but this world doesn't allow people to just go on. It’s so perilous that you can't get too attached to anybody, really. That's vintage Walking Dead.

But while Okafor and Nat may not be the ones who live, the characters will live on in terms of the impact they made on Richonne. “The reverb of these characters in Michonne and in Rick plays out very much throughout the whole of the rest of the season,” Lincoln says. “They inform and make decisions and help these characters make decisions further down the story arc. So they don't die. They sort of continue.”

Speaking of which, Rick tells Michonne that in order to survive, she needs to hide who she really is moving forward and not show the CRM that she is a leader. But knowing what we know of Michonne, is that even possible? “Michonne exudes a power, a charisma, and a strength that is difficult to hide,” Gimple says. “And so you can ask her to hide it. She might even try to hide it. I don't know if she can hide it.”

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live airs 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.

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