Even though this moment isn’t explicitly romantic, the subtext is strong with this one. This episode entirely hinges upon Rick’s internal battle to open himself up to hope; he’s closed himself off to that simple, crucial idea and Michonne is the one fighting to give it back to him. He has to hope for Washington, for Aaron, for Alexandria if they’re going to make it. All they’ve been through, especially with Terminus, has left Rick (understandably) cynical about all of the above. The one thing his darkened heart could never be cynical about? His best pal and soon-to-be better half.
“The fight’s over. You’ve gotta let it go. I know it’s hard after it’s kept you warm and fed, alive. But the fight turns on you,” Michonne warns him, imbuing every word with more warmth than you can imagine. Those words and her reply to Rick load this scene with references to all that she lost of herself before she found the group. It now reminds me of the more blatant Judith paternity confession as an example of these two using painful personal experiences to lend weight to an argument. It conveys how passionately she feels her point in a mere four words. He looks her in the eye right then, knowing all she’s been through and the pain she’s felt, and sees that her hope endures. This person who’s been through all that he’s been through is still able to believe in a future for them, and he can draw strength from that. His trust in her allows him to make the brave choice.
Danai: She’s seen him go to very dark places. She understands that this world takes us there, but [knows], at his core, he’s a wonderful, good, strong leader and someone that she trusts and is loyal to. When a true friendship really exists, people have to be willing to disagree. And what she’s seeing from him at the core is fear. She’s seeing him be cautious based on things that have happened before and not giving [Aaron] a fair shake. When you are truly someone’s friend and have some intimacy, which Rick and Michonne definitely have, that person can stand up in that moment and constructively move things in a different direction. She’s always been loyal to Rick, so that’s something that also jars him and makes him go, “OK, maybe this is something I have to indulge because she doesn’t do this often.” […] But [she’s asking,] “Do we have enough space to take in something possibly new and possibly good for us?” That’s what Michonne has become a guardian of: giving us that little space to have some hope. We need to have a little bit of hope because that’s the only way we’re going to survive.
Andy: Look at Michonne’s journey since Season 2: she’s the lone wolf and was lost and now she’s the one calling for us to stop and trust. They’ve all been so beaten down after the last six or seven episodes that all of them have their own agendas and perspectives in what they want. It was as vocal an opposition as Rick has heard in a long time. He’s not like the Governor – he’s not untethered yet. There’s probably space for him to get to a place where he’s not anchored by his relationship with his family – meaning his closest and dearest – but at the moment, he still is. It’s a very touching journey that Michonne and Rick go on. After they are reunited as a group, she’s always checking on him because she can see that he’s terrified.