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“The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” creators break down helicopter cliffhanger

Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, and Scott M. Gimple explain Michonne's desperate maneuver and pushing the "crazy switch."

Warning: This article contains spoilers for episode 3 of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, “Bye.”

Look out, below!

Episode 3 of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live ended on an airborne cliffhanger when Michonne (Danai Gurira) opened a helicopter door while in mid-flight, grabbed Rick (Andrew Lincoln), and jumped out. And then the episode ended.

It was an extreme maneuver and an extreme way to end the episode, but drastic times call for drastic measures. The incident was set up after Rick tried to get Michonne to escape the C.R.M. on her own, declining to go with her so he could stay back and make sure people like Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) did not pursue his family.

Not only did Michonne refuse to abandon him, she then disobeyed orders from Rick’s supervising Officer Thorne (Lesley-Ann Brandt), which seemed to provoke Thorne into almost taking Michonne out herself. Rick was so distraught over his wife’s actions that he blew up, telling her, “I belong here. You don’t. And you will never change that. It’s over. Everything we had is broken. You hear me?”

<p>Gene Page/AMC</p> Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

Gene Page/AMC

Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

But did he mean it? “That’s the ultimate question,” Lincoln tells EW. “The point is that he knows he's stymied because of Jadis. If Jadis hadn't been there in that scene at the end of episode 2, they're getting out of there. She's rekindled the love. But I do think that what's happened with Thorne in that episode, the real threat that she poses and ultimately would've taken out the love of his life — I think it's a knee-jerk reaction. I do think that he's in fear for her life and his family's life and he loves her and he wants her to live.”

And while Rick may have been trying to push Michonne away with those comments, it only did the opposite, forcing her hand and forcing her into taking that bold plunge out of a moving airborne helicopter. “There was nothing else to do,” says Gurira of Michonne’s decision. “As she says in the letter she's writing in her head to her daughter, ‘We might not make it back, but this is not how this goes down.’ For her, there's no way it happens like this.”

For Gurira, Michonne’s snap decision was about snapping Rick out of his funk. “He's getting stymied by this place and this institution, and I have to get him out of here.” Plus, both characters have been known to take drastic action in the past.

“They both have a crazy switch,” notes the actress and executive producer. “You've seen it in both of them in various ways. You can think about how she fought the Governor. You can think about how he bit out the guy's neck. They both have a crazy switch, and it comes when they're pushed against the wall. It comes when they're taking care of their own. It comes in that moment where they need to make a breakthrough for their family or for themselves. This is that moment where she's like, 'This is the way it's got to go down,' and she sees an opportunity and the crazy switch is turned on.”

<p>AMC</p> Danai Gurira on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

AMC

Danai Gurira on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

So it seems it was all Rick’s fault! “He had the gall to say to her, ‘Everything between us is broken,’” argues Gurira. “His tactic is the one to question everything, but that is just not something you say to Michonne, and she knows it's not true. So she's going to do whatever she has to do to get to the facts and to get her man to where it's making sense.”

And her costar agrees. “It's exactly the right reply to that question that he posed,” says Lincoln. “He went, ‘This is over,’ and it's exactly the right response.”

Yeah, but grabbing her husband and jumping out of a helicopter mid-flight? “She does calculate the odds,” says Gurira of what may seem to be certain death. “She sees that there's water below them. There was nothing else to do.” She also gives credit for the idea to co-creator Scott M. Gimple. “That definitely was Gimple's idea. I thought that was a very, very, very smart ending.”

Gimple also says Michonne’s move may not be the suicide mission that it seems. “It is less dangerous than you might think,” he insists. “In a very literal sense, she is pulling him away from the world that they have found themselves in.” The chief content officer adds that the move harkens back to classic TWD: “We wanted the episode to feel very distinct, and we wanted to have those big endings that we had on The Walking Dead.”

On that count, mission accomplished.

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