WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead #186 by Robert Kirkman, Charles Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Rus Wooton and Cliff Rathburn, on sale now.
The Walking Dead comic is famous for fallouts, most of which leave the relationships involved irreparable. The love triangle between Shane, Rick and Lori comes to mind, and time after time, we've seen other incidents of bickering as Rick and his crew reshaped the likes of Alexandria and Hilltop into key components of the alliance with the Kingdom.
Now, Issue #186 just created a rift between Rick and Michonne -- two soldiers who were willing to sacrifice their lives for each other -- and like the rest, it's one that doesn't seem likely to heal anytime soon.
This duo has a very different relationship in the books as opposed to the TV show; on AMC, the pair are lovers, but in the comics, they're simply leaders who rely on each other's advice in order to survive the zombie apocalypse. There's trust, understanding and a mutual respect between them, as they've been in so many wars together, facing killers like the Governor, Negan's Saviors and the Whisperers. But as they butt heads in the paradise known as the Commonwealth, this compassion, empathy and friendship seem to have been thrown out the window... permanently.
When Michonne tries to get Rick to talk Dwight out of his planned coup, the Commonwealth's head, Pamela, and her soldiers overhear and try to arrest him. This leads to Rick killing Dwight and Pamela's entourage leaving, grateful Dwight didn't kill them when he had the chance. Of course, it's all cynical on her part, and Rick knows there'll be fallout, especially from his people back home where Dwight was a beloved deputy.
Rick loses his cool and begins to blame Michonne for his actions; a hypocritical move, considering he didn't have to kill Dwight in order to stop him. She tries to reason with Rick, but he doesn't want to hear it as she was the one who invited Pamela to the meeting behind their backs. Rick thought it would just be old friends defusing the situation, not realizing Michonne had betrayed their trust. Now, he sees her as a traitor, even though she explains to him that killing Dwight was the best move, considering he was on his way to becoming a new Negan.
It's all in vain, though, with Rick's blind rage and guilt manifesting because he decided to pull the trigger. Not only did Michonne not force him to do so -- she was trying to calm Dwight down, too, so it's unfair of Rick to accuse her of siding with the Commonwealth. Michonne just wanted peace as she moved there to be with her daughter, Elodie, and resume her law career. But Rick now sees her as one of "them," someone who backs a social structure based on classism who is also a former friend he believes sold him out.
No words are needed to understand Michonne is excommunicated in his mind, but what's truly disturbing is that Rick is absolving himself of his actions. Painting Michonne as the villain is an excuse and a lie, one he seems hellbent on telling to the alliance. For all intents and purposes, Rick needs a villain, and he can't pin it on Pamela as Dwight pulled his weapon on them and they acted in self-defense. But in Michonne, he can spin the story in such a way as to paint her as a Judas.
Team Rick will be facing tough decisions soon, as it's likely they'll follow him for a long time to come. Pamela will back Michonne, and once again, it seems Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard will be pitting two human societies at war. It's an all-too familiar tale, but this time, Rick Grimes and his people may actually end up being the true villains of the story, as previous issues have hinted they would be.