Warning: There are spoilers below for last night’s episode of The Walking Dead.
Last night, The Walking Dead underwent another major transformation as it said goodbye to Michonne, the formerly solitary fighter who slowly became one of the dominant forces on the series, eventually even having a kid with Rick Grimes and running security for Alexandria. It was a very good episode—much better than the ignoble end Rick Grimes received—but you may be wondering what exactly led the show’s creative team to think, “You know how we should send off Michonne? With drugs.”
Wonder no more. In a new interview with Variety, actor Danai Gurira discusses her character’s departure from the series, and she opens up about some of those creative choices—choices which, from the sound of it, she had a bit of a hand in shaping. “The writers came up with the whole architecture,” Gurira explains. “Angela [Kang, showrunner] talked me through it and then she was very generous in letting me collaborate with her on aspects of it.” They wanted Michonne to reveal some emotionally vulnerable elements of her psyche, and when your character is that much of a badass, it seems powerful hallucinogens are necessary to expose your soft side:
How do you get Michonne that vulnerable? The answer is you have to drug the heck out of her. I had never heard of [jimson weed] before. Then I looked it up and I read some stories from people who had taken it and I was like, ‘Holy goodness, what we show is very mild.’
The resulting story, which revolves around a drug-fueled fantasy about what would have happened to Michonne had she never stopped to help Andrea in the woods way back in the day, ends with her forgiving the man who imprisons and drugs her. Michonne then sets off on a mission to find the long-lost Rick, whose boots and personal items she stumbles upon, suggesting he’s still alive. Gurira calls the alternate-history narrative a “very satisfying” one, saying it was “chilling because it really does raise the idea of how one choice could make someone such a different person. She made one choice to help one woman, and that choice puts her on a journey.”
As far as whether Michonne would ever make another appearance in the universe of The Walking Dead, Gurira says, “We’ll see,” which seems like a very polite way of avoiding shouting out, “Fuck no.” You can read our full review of the episode here.