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The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira on Why Michonne Wants a Charter, Not a Constitution

She's thinking many years ahead

Liam Mathews

The Walking Dead's Michonne (Danai Gurira) is preparing for a post-Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) future, whether she realizes how soon that's coming or not. In the Season 9 premiere, Michonne proposed a governing charter for the confederation of communities, which would provide a foundation for keeping society running in the event there isn't a charismatic leader holding everyone together. And though she was inspired by an exhibit on the Constitution she saw on the group's visit to the American history museum, she's specifically coming up with a "charter," not a "constitution."

Rick and Michonne were in bed, going over the events of the day. "I've been thinking, maybe we need an agreement between all the communities," she said to him. "Like, 'this is what we believe, this is how we treat each other, and this is what happens when we don't.'"

"Yeah, it's good. It feels like the right time," he answered.

"We couldn't before because we were always running and fighting," she said.

"It's smart," he said. "Building up something like that, it could pull people closer together." Rick said that Daryl (Norman Reedus) is worried that the Sanctuary is going to turn against them. Michonne asked Rick what she thinks they should do, and he said they should fix the bridge.

Fixing the bridge would be an immediate solution to the problem. Michonne is thinking long-term. "I'll get the people to agree to a charter," she said.

"Charter?" Rick said. "Not constitution?"

"Charter," Michonne answered.

Danai Gurira, The Walking Dead

Danai Gurira, The Walking Dead

Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

It seems like an important distinction. Unfortunately, here at TV Guide, our memories are so stuffed with television trivia that we don't remember if we learned the difference in civics class. So we asked Danai Gurira about why a charter and not a constitution when we visited the set of The Walking Dead last month.

"You know, I really dug into that," Gurira said. "I think it has to do with complexity. Charters, to me, seem to be simpler. A constitution involves a lot of elected, delegated people, whereas a charter is something that can be more simply enacted and I think ultimately grown upon. But I think the idea that she's sticking to is that we don't have elected officials, so we can't build a constitution just yet. We'll start here, and then we'll build to that."

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Think of Michonne's charter as sort of like the Articles of Confederation, the more limited document written during the Revolutionary War that guided the early federal government before the Constitution was established. Just something to get all the states (or communities) on the same page before the real long-term work begins.

Gurira thinks it's fitting that Michonne came up with this idea and not Rick, since she's the really smart half of the couple. "To me it makes so much sense that it comes from her, and that [Rick's] trying to maintain the raw material elements," she said. "Andy kept saying during that scene that Rick is punching way above his weight class. The idea is that Michonne is more sophisticated than him, in a sense, so his mind deals with 'build a bridge' and her mind is like 'create a system of law and order that can last for generations.'"

"I love how she corrects him, like 'no, baby, I got the brains," she added. "'You go out and build that bridge.'"

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.