After 2 wonderful, fast-paced episodes opening the back half of the season and then, last week’s intense re-introduction to Negan (Jeffrey Dean-Morgan) and the Sanctuary, we slow things down a bit this week. Actually, we slow things down **a lot**. Even though the new alliance with the junkyard group appears to be good news, there is that nagging problem of Jadis’ demand of “Guns. Guns. A lot of them.” So, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) hit the road on a gun-run, which, as an added bonus, gives the happy couple some much-needed alone time.
A ROADTRIP FOR RICK AND MICHONNE — AND SOME MUCH-NEEDED ALONE TIME
If you’re a Rick/Michonne shipper and have been waiting patiently for that big Richonne episode, well, you should be beyond thrilled after tonight. Lots of Richonne alone time spells lots of getting down to business (now, get your heads out of the gutter! Sorry, no nudity and honestly, the scenes are relatively tame), and in the opening montage alone, there’s 2 steamy scenes in the back of the van. The bad news is while the supply run is like one big date for Rick and Michonne, they’ve been out for over 2 days and don’t have much to show for it. Two guns, a few cans of food, some football jerseys, and that’s about it. No worries, though, because that’s to change, and it’s just like Michonne to keep Rick going with her optimism and her big smile.
What are you smiling about? — Rick
We’re fighting the fight. It’s better — Michonne
The first thing that happens that hints that things are looking up for Team Rick is they stumble on a small group of Saviors. We can’t really be sure if Rick and Michonne realize they are Saviors, but the viewers should with their mentioning Fat Joey being murdered. Of course, these Saviors are being idiots, as usual, and are playing golf while being out on a run. So, while they’re distracted, Rick and Michonne manage to swipe a good deal of their load — including batteries for that walkie that Jesus lifted at the Sanctuary. It’s not a lot, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
However, their big pay-day comes when a stray deer lead them to a school. We can’t be sure what happened here, but as Michonne points out, whatever it was, it was really bad. There are walkers everywhere — both civilians and soldiers — and the solders are still wearing their guns.
Something serious happened here — Michonne
These are serious rounds. Might be some serious guns here too — Rick
To get a better look, they decide to climb onto the roof of the school, and in the back, they discover a carnival — with also more soldiers, which means possibly more guns. But, then, right in mid-sentence while Rick and Michonne are discussing the situation, the roof of the school gives, and they fall through. Yikes! Fortunately, Michonne’s optimism that this is going to be a good day is 100% on-point, because once we hear the laughter of our heroes, we know everything is fine. In fact, it’s much more than fine. As it turns out, they land on a gym mat, and right there, before their eyes, is a gigantic stash of ready-to-eat/military-style food. This is seriously their lucky day, because that amount of food could feed Alexandria indefinitely. Yay. Oh, and Rick finds Michonne what appears to be one of her favorite foods — chili mac ‘n’ cheese. Now, that is one romantic guy — chili mac ‘n’ cheese and beer by candlelight!
Over the past few episodes, Rick has been showing the world how strong his feelings are for Michonne with all sorts of cute, romantic gestures — like his getting the cat sculpture for her at the junkyard. Awww, how sweet! Well, this week, we get to see the flipside, with Michonne revealing her true feelings. In one very memorable scene, Rick is injured when he falls from the Ferris Wheel as they are clearing the walkers at the carnival, and when Michonne runs over to help, she sees a group of walkers munching on something and immediately thinks it’s Rick. At that moment, it’s like her world ended, and she just stands there, completely oblivious that she’s about to be swarmed by walkers herself. Of course, that walker chow isn’t Rick after all, but even still, the entire thing impacts Michonne tremendously. After it is all over, Michonne is seen crying off in the distance by herself, and on the way back to Alexandria, she barely says a word, which Rick notices immediately. Eventually, she breaks down, saying there’s no way she can lose him. She just can’t.
It’s not about us anymore. It’s about a future. And, if it’s me who doesn’t make it, you’ll have to lead the others forward — Rick to Michonne
And, there’s the Catch 22. Michonne wants Rick to lead, but that in itself puts Rick right in the middle of the crosshairs. Ultimately, Michonne accepts the reality of the situation, but it still doesn’t alleviate her immense anxiety and fear.
However, Michonne isn’t the only one who breaks down and shows her true feelings in this episode. As we see earlier in the episode, Rick hasn’t been sleeping very well, and now, we find out why. Earlier in the season, we should recall Rick sharing with Michonne some of his past, particularly about Lori and about Shane. I think most of us remember that shocking confession of Rick acknowledging that Judith isn’t his, and he’s known it since the beginning. Well, now, he finally breaks his silence about Glenn.
I haven’t been sleeping. Thinking about what we lost. Thinking about my friends. Glenn saved me, right at the start. And, I couldn’t save him — Rick to Michonne
I’m so sorry — Michonne
I don’t know about everyone else, but this is, by far, my favorite scene in the episode. Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira both give exceptional performances, and you can feel the raw emotions in the scene. You can also see that Danai’s tears are very real. If that doesn’t tug at your heart strings and cause you to reach for the box of tissues, I don’t know what will.
So, now what about those guns? Rick and Michonne are ultimately successful in wiping out the carnival walkers and getting all of their guns — 63 guns in total. Not bad. Not bad at all. But, is it enough for Jadis? Well, what do you think? Nope, not enough, not even close. Jadis basically says they need to come back with at least double that (I.E. — at least 63 more guns), and when Rick tries to bargain with her to allow his group to keep some of the guns to help them get more, he gets pushback on that too.
Five — Jadis
Ten — Rick
Six — Jadis
Ten — Rick
Nine and the cat back — Jadis
Twenty. We keep the cat. I get you the guns. We fight together. Say ‘yes’ — Rick
Yes. More soon. We’ll fight — Jadis
Well, I guess Rick is getting better at this negotiating stuff because he does win the argument and gets to keep 20 of the guns. The bad news is where in the hell is Rick going to find 63 more guns. I mean, we just saw how difficult it was to get these! Stay tuned because by the end of the hour I think we all will have a pretty good idea where Rick will find his next gun stash.
NOTE: For those Richonne fans who really thought the title of the episode “Say Yes” was referring to Rick proposing to Michonne, I think the writers just pulled a fast one on you — and a pretty damn good one too. Too funny. At least the writing team now knows if they throw the Richonne fandom something — anything — they’ll drink it up like punch at the prom. And, I’m sure they’ll use that plow again.
ROSITA CONTINUES HER PMS STREAK AND MAKES AN UNLIKELY ALLIANCE
So, while Rick and Michonne are out scavenging and stockpiling guns for Jadis, trouble’s brewing at home, especially for Rosita (Christian Serratos). I tell you, this girl is a loose cannon and completely out of control. Rosita is stitching up her face, and when Tara (Alanna Masterson) shows up and offers to help since Denise did teach her basic first aid, Rosita is rude and ends up telling Tara off again. She then goes off to look for guns, and it doesn’t help that she spends an entire day and finds only a single toy gun.
Her next stop is the church, where Rosita proceeds to blame Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) for what happened to Olivia and Eugene. It’s a very interesting conversation, debate, or whatever you want to call it, with the end result being Rosita calling out Gabe for “meddling” and causing her to miss her only shot to kill Negan.
I said that you weren’t supposed to die and that you shouldn’t do the thing you were planning to do because we needed you. Still do. Even a fool like me can see that. It’s easier to be dead, and if it’s my fault you’re alive, well I’m just going to have to live with that. I decided to meddle, but I did something I thought was right, and I knew the stakes were very high. You can certainly blame me for the fact that you have a life, but after that, what are you going to do with it? How are you going to make what needs to happen happen. Anything is possible until your heart stops beating. Certainly more than yelling at a fool — Father Gabriel to Rosita
Um, wait. Did we hear correctly? Rosita didn’t actually “miss” and shot Lucille instead? Yep, it seems Gabe got to Rosita first and convinced her not to go through with it. That actually explains a lot, as I never really bought into Rosita missing the shot when her target was right in front of her.
Regardless, Rosita’s patience finally runs out, and she leaves Alexandria to go to the Hilltop. Once she arrives, can you take a wild guess whom Rosita encounters first? Oh, yes, it’s Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) visiting Abraham’s grave. Oh snap!! Cat fight, perhaps? You would think so, but no. As it turns out, she ends up asking Sasha for her help. Umm, careful Sasha! After all, with these 2 women’s history and Rosita’s state of mind, I’m not entirely sure I would trust her. But, regardless of the risk, Sasha agrees to help — under one condition.
One condition. I get to take the shot — Sasha to Rosita
Well, it seems Rosita was ready for that one because as a token, she brings Sasha one bad-ass mother-f*cker sniper rifle. Wow. These girls know the risks, but they’re ready. For Abraham. For Alexandria. For everyone. They’re both fully aware it’s a suicide mission, but neither seems to care. Okay, but will it work? If any of Rosita’s past “missions” are any indicator, I seriously doubt it. Didn’t this girl listen to a word Father Gabriel said! I guess not. I think the only question is how many people will Rosita get killed this time.
A DEBATE WITH BABY JUDITH AND A STARTLING CONFESSION
Remember Oceanside? We haven’t heard from them since that single bottle episode earlier in the season, but we get more hints tonight that we’re likely going to see them again very soon. After Rick makes the alliance with Jadis and the junkyard group and in the final moments of that episode, Rick says it’s imperative that they find some guns and very soon, and mentions to Tara that since she’s been further out than anyone else in the group, perhaps she can tell them where not to look. She just laughs off the comment, but judging from the look on her face, you can tell she’s conflicted, and she’s worried. Well, that inner conflict continues tonight with Tara deciding that a debate is in order and with perhaps the best listener in Alexandria — baby Judith.
If I say something, you know, Rick won’t leave there without their guns. If we could even get close enough, they’ll all start firing, and we’ll fire back. I mean, they should just fight with us. The Saviors killed their fathers, their sons and their brothers. They won’t want to fight with us — they just want to hide. So, they’ll just fight us. I tell everyone about Oceanside, that’s what happens. What makes our lives worth more than theirs? Because we want to stop the people who are hurting us? Who will hurt other people? God damn it — Tara to Judith
I guess the debate gave Tara the clarity she needed because after Rick returns to Alexandria, she says, “I have something to tell you.” While we don’t get to hear the confession on-screen, I think it’s a safe bet Rick knows about Oceanside now. Expect a trip to the coast in the next week or 2.
All in all, this is a decent episode, but probably one of my least-favorites of the season, 2nd only to the Tara bottle episode “Swear.” And, there’s 2 main reasons for that. First, I found the episode to be particularly slow, and a few times, I caught my mind wondering, thinking about something else which rarely happens when I’m watching The Walking Dead. What’s more, some scenes just felt like “filler,” doing virtually nothing to advance the plot and appearing to just burn time. Perhaps the biggest example of that is Rosita’s constant whining. This has been going on since the mid-season finale, and in this episode, we get a double dose. Okay, we get it. Rosita’s pissed. She wants revenge. So, let’s move on to more important things and stop wasting screen time, man! Second, I’m not much of a shipper (although I am intrigued with the possibility of Carol ending up being Ezekial’s “Queen”), and so, any episode whose focus is on Richonne I wouldn’t expect to get super-excited about. Even so, I knew the writers would eventually give the Richonne fans an episode like this, and all I can say, if you’re one of those fans, I’m sure you’re in heaven about now.
However, even with these complaints, I still rate it as a strong B+ episode. Danai Gurira’s performance is phenomenal, and she manages to make Michonne a real person, with real emotions in this episode, so much more than the fearless warrior we’re accustomed to. It wouldn’t surprise me if this episode earns her an Emmy nomination, and if it does, it’s well-deserved. What’s more, the last 10-15 minutes of the episode laid the foundation for the impending war with the Saviors that will likely mark the end of the season. Jadis and the junkyard crew have 1/2 the guns they require. Tara comes clean (we assume) about Oceanside, which will likely provide them with the remainder of the guns they need. And, Rosita and Sasha make a suicide pact to hunt down Negan and blot out the Savior threat once and for all. Lines are drawn. Sides are taken. There’s no turning back now.
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
Critic Grade — B+
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com