We learned many things during last Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead, "Say Yes." Like that Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) have a death wish, for example, and that post-apocalypse, it's totally normal for fully-grown adults to form psychological attachments to statues of cats.
But most important, thanks to Richonne's magical carnival adventure, is that we learned once and for all that Michonne (Danai Gurira), not Rick (Andrew Lincoln), is our — dare I say it — savior on this TV show. She might not know it yet, but we know it, Rick knows it, and Carl (Chandler Riggs) probably knows it too, because she's definitely been there for the one-eyed wunderkind while his father was out of commission in the past.
When you boil it down, the reason why Michonne is Alexandria's last best hope is simple. As TVGuide's own Liam Mathews put it in his recap of "Say Yes," Rick is only in a "better place" right this moment because his love for Michonne is helping him see that a future is possible.
Michonne, however, never really shared Rick's doubts for a future. Or if she did, she never let it stop her from getting out of bed and cleaning her katana in the morning.
Throughout the four-ish seasons that we've known her — even back in the days when she refused to open up to anyone but Andrea (Laurie Holden) — she's consistently been the type of woman who keeps on going. The reason it felt so jarring when she paused to mourn Rick's "death" mid walker attack on Sunday was because we'd never seen anything remotely like that before; Michonne is not typically a "pause" kind of lady.
Through Terminus and Governor and Wolves and even Negan, Michonne has remained strong, never stopping for a beat to feel sorry for herself or let her emotions get the better of her. If Rick had stayed dead on Sunday, there is no doubt in my mind that she would have snapped out of it, postponed her grieving, found a weapon, and somehow managed to kill the ever-living crap out of those eight-to-ten walkers.
Then, despite her soul-sucking grief, Michonne would have returned to Alexandria and led the combined communities to war — for the sakes of Carl, Judith, the Maggie-Glenn baby, and the cat statue, if not for herself. Because Michonne is a woman who is capable of fighting the hard fight without letting her own feelings destroy her, while Rick Grimes — love him though we do — loses his mind every single time he loses a body. (Except for T-Dog's. Rick seemed to do just fine with that.)
Succumbing to grief and despair doesn't make Rick a bad man, of course. Rick is actually a wonderful man; one that is truly deserving of Michonne's sexy times in that van.
However, since the world of Walking Dead has proven itself to be even worse that we thought it was back in the Terminus days, he's not the man Alexandria needs to create a better world once the fight with Negan is through. Tough, violent, unafraid to make the rash decision to bite a man in the jugular, and an extremely capable marksman, Rick will make a great William Wallace in The Walking Dead's suburban Virginia war against the Saviors.
But as years of recurring mental breakdowns (hey guys, remember Ghost Lori?) combined with his pitiful submission to Negan (hey guys, remember when he surrendered Michonne's rifle to Negan, even though she totally was capable of keeping it hidden?), and his less-than-stellar diplomatic skill with other groups has already proven, Rick is simply not the man to lead the way once war is through.
Alexandria needs someone a bit more cool-headed than that — someone who can still appreciate a well-designed cat statue when her friends and family are dead — to lead them to salvation. And since Maggie (Lauren Cohan) has spent this entire half-season napping, that person is officially Michonne and Michonne only.
Long may she reign.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on AMC.