The line came out of nowhere, but it was also six seasons coming on "The Walking Dead": "I know Judith isn't mine."
In Season 7, Episode 4, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) confessed to Michonne (Danai Gurira) that he knew the truth about his daughter -- that she is Shane's (Jon Bernthal) biological child -- and he shared the news toward the end of an episode where he had been emasculated several times by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
Andrew Lincoln told Entertainment Weekly that was part of the point of putting the revelation in that episode, to illustrate why Rick was willing to swallow his pride and go along with Negan's treatment. Rick was just voicing the thought aloud for the first time, in an attempt to explain to Michonne his way of thinking, but he always knew that Judith was not his biological child:
"It's one of those watershed moments that happens, certainly between the two lovers, between Michonne and Rick, that brings them together. It's a very important moment in understanding his psyche and going, 'This is what I've been doing for the last two years. I've accepted the situation and I will accept the situation if it's going to save lives and if it's going to protect the people I love. I will take it.' It's another perfect kind of quiet heroism. You know, he's a stepdad and it doesn't stop him loving his child, but he kind of has accepted that it's not his."
Rick is not her stepdad, though, he is her adoptive father. It takes more than biology to be a dad and Rick is Judith's dad. Period.
Anyway, Andrew Lincoln told Jon Bernthal the news, and he took it all in a "perfect" Jon way. Lincoln also said "it was a very, very key point" that showrunner Scott Gimple told him before they even got the first script for this season.
"We talked about it in the hiatus because it is very, very key. [...] It's a great, great secret that he's been holding on to for a long, long time. It's also a very smart way of understanding why he's behaving in this way, because he's been behaving that way with regards to his child since the outbreak, since he got the news. There's a scene with Lori where it's almost touched upon — outside on the farm, there's a scene where he makes peace with whatever's gone down and that's, I think, a key moment. He doesn't voice it, but it's there. It's in the air."
It was a touching, humanizing moment after an episode of humiliations. Rick is a flawed leader, but he is a good man, and this was just another reminder. Of course, the Internet had fun with the revelation (whether true or not -- I mean, how could Rick really know without a paternity test?) and brought Shane back onto the show with their jokes:
"The Walking Dead" Season 7 continues Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.
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