I would rate The Distance as one of the great Richonne episodes of the series. I love it dearly for the way it shows Rick and Michonne moving in and out of sync, and for the way comic and dramatic elements bleed into one another. Even within this single scene, that’s what we see. For much of it, Rick and Michonne’s body language suggests they’re on the same page (e.g. the way they move in time in the third and fourth gifs). The blocking firmly places Michonne within the Grimes family fold; every shot of Full Beard Rick posturing threateningly at their visitor has him fixed in front of Michonne, with the children beside them. It’s a little extra on Rick’s part to say the least - but, y’know, he’s terrified that his fam is under threat. Nevertheless, he’s being unusually macho even before the punch arrives. Never the best at first impressions.
As Aaron’s powers of persuasion work overtime to break down Rick’s heightened defenses, Michonne moves even closer to his side. They then have my favorite silent conversation they’ve ever had. It’s old marrieds. It’s partners in crime. It’s any fucking trope you want it to be. And then, with comical machismo, he consciously ignores Michonne’s silent advice and punches poor, sweet Aaron in the face. Oh, Richard. Given the dire straits Team Family are in, I’m going to put this down to a combination of extreme over-protectiveness and serious hanger. But you’re on a warning. Walking Dead 101: Michonne is always right. You’ll learn, babes.
Andy: He’s on hyper alert and hyper vigilant at this time because of Terminus, and all of the people he’s met since the prison have either been dangerous, organized or brutal people – or a combination of all three. The whole thing with the punch is it’s nothing personal. It was a terrible call to bring a stranger into where they were staying, it’s bad protocol; all Rick is doing is saying to wait, start again, interrogate the guy and see who he is. I don’t think it’s important to Rick that he makes friends. He’s got all he needs around him.
Danai: They can talk to each other with a glance.
Denise Huth: Michonne is one of the few characters who can really call Rick out.