Is it me or is the second half of the season totally making up for the couple of duds we got in the fall? And how excited are all the Richonne shippers out there (myself included)? We finally got what we’ve been waiting for!
…which makes me very worried. Seldom has the show left a good thing alone, and Rick’s love interests are notoriously ill-fated. Hell, it was only just last week (and two months before, in TWD time) that he not only watched Jessie get eaten alive, but also had to chop her hand off with a hatchet to free Carl from her death grip.
This brings me to my one gripe about Sunday’s episode: did Rick mourn Jessie at all? Obviously whatever they had going was nowhere near as serious as his marriage to Lori, and naturally he had bigger things to worry about since the walker massacre – saving his son’s life, dealing with the loss of Carl’s eye, rebuilding the wall and making Alexandria safe again – but did he even pause for a second to acknowledge her death? He seemed pretty smitten with her since she gave him that haircut when the group first arrived in Alexandria; he was ready to dispatch her douchey abusive husband to claim her as his own (and ultimately did). Or did maybe watching her spawn almost get them all killed and cost his son an eye get to be too much for him?
I guess at the end of the day Rick knows how to compartmentalize – and prioritize. If you look at it objectively, the entire Alexandria story arc (and his interest in Jessie) has probably only taken up a few weeks at most, in real time. It’s not like he was some lovestruck teenager crushing on Jessie and obsessing over her since day one: he’s been keeping pretty busy, trying to fend off walkers and Wolves and deal with the town’s distrust of him. Sure, he wanted a future with her but then again, her youngest was a wimpy kid and her oldest was a downright dick, so whatever dreams he may have had about uniting their families were doomed from the start. Knowing that, it’s no wonder he didn’t spend his days following Jessie’s demise moping. Still, a little acknowledgement would have been nice.
Not only is Rick moving on, but he’s doing so as a changed man. He’s no longer the ‘kill or be killed‘ savage ready to pounce on anyone he might perceive as a threat. He’s back to the old Rick, the one who asked potential comrades the three questions. Seeing the Alexandrians banding together against their common foe has lit a fire under him – or maybe Morgan’s compassionate code has rubbed off on him. Either way, he’s back in touch with his humanity, and it’s a joy to watch. It doesn’t seem to be making him soft, just more hopeful. He’s finally getting what Deanna was talking about. He’s looking out for the town, for his extended family – which now includes not just our group of survivors, but every Alexandrian who grew a pair and made a stand alongside him last week.
But if his newfound hope and plans for the future aren’t making him weak, is it possible they’re making him a little stupid? We were all hoping for a Rick & Daryl reunion episode and this one delivered in spades, but boy, what a series of unfortunate decisions that road trip was. Although definitely fun to watch, and a much needed lighter note after last week’s shocker, the entire sequence was like a comedy of errors, with me screaming “nooooo!” at my screen. [Thank God for Rick’s (bizarre) music choices and Daryl’s quips about leaving Jesus on the tree!]
Seriously, why the hell would they make one bad choice after the other? Haven’t they learned anything? Even if Rick’s new hippie attitude is to blame here, didn’t Daryl *just* confront a pretty vile gang of people just last week? Shouldn’t he know better than to take detours or unsecured back roads? It seems to me that their mission was pretty cut and dried: find supplies, get them back to Alexandria. They found a truckload, so why the hell not just head back? They could have just gone back out to get Michonne’s toothpaste, Denise’s soda and whatever else was on that list, now that they had the food situation handled. [Also, how convenient that they’d just stumble across a truck with sorghum written on the side in huge letters?]
But no, they just had to pull up at that gas station and try to get that vending machine open. The encounter with Jesus and everything that followed was very bad decision making on Rick and Daryl’s part, which would have been fine (and a lovely respite from the heavy drama we’ve come to expect from TWD), had the truck not ended up at the bottom of the lake. Not that they seemed too concerned about it.
Jesus, on the other hand, monopolized their interest right from the get-go. I haven’t read the comics, because I’ve never actually read any kind of comics, zombie-related or otherwise, but mainly because I want to be surprised when I watch TWD. Just like I don’t know what to expect of Negan, I have no idea who this Jesus character is. Is he one of the good guys? He definitely doesn’t fit the profile of the bad guy we’ve come to know on the show. He doesn’t seem to be Negan-adjacent, either: he’s neither heavily armed, nor does he kill Rick and Daryl when he gets the chance. He is, however, well-groomed enough to give Rick pause. Is he really on his own, like Morgan was before finding our group and reuniting with Rick? Or is this entire plot line a ruse to get inside Alexandria and invite his buddies along to wreak havoc on the town?
Whatever he is, he’s definitely an odd one. Surprisingly upbeat for a guy supposedly alone in the apocalypse, he doesn’t try to befriend our dynamic duo – but then again, he’s not hostile towards them, either. He apologizes when he steals their sorghum truck. He’s also got mad skills: he manages to neutralize both Rick and Daryl, albeit briefly. He untied his constraints in record time and managed to jump on top of the truck without being seen. He only lost his footing when Rick slammed on the brakes. He got himself untied not just once, but twice. He found his way out of his (locked) room and through the (I’m assuming also locked) front door into Rick’s place, all of it unnoticed until he chose to make his presence known.
So, basically, not only did Rick and Daryl display very poor judgment throughout the day, but they didn’t even take a minute to second guess their lackluster ‘cell’ situation. If a guy you just tied up a minute ago manages to untie himself and jump on the roof of the truck, with you none the wiser, why would you just tie him up and leave him in a pretty much unsecured room again? And where the hell was Daryl? Wasn’t he supposed to keep watch?
If Jesus is one of the good guys, I’m excited to see how he assimilates with the group. If not, then it looks like our Alexandrians are in big, big trouble.
Aside from Rick and Daryl, we had some more questionable judgment calls in this episode. After the walker massacre of last week, it looks like everyone’s up to the same antics once again: going off into the woods by themselves or in pairs. Are we supposed to assume that the entire walker herd has been eliminated so there’s no probable threat of being ambushed by more than a handful of walkers now?
Whatever the case, it seems that Carl and Enid’s walk in the woods has become a regular thing. They go out to that awesome hollow tree, sit on the ground and read comic books. As you do. Except Enid is sulkier than usual, which bugs me big time. Carl’s the one who lost an eye, almost died and now has to walk around like a Governor mini-me for the rest of his life. Out of the two of them, he’s definitely had it the hardest since the world ended. He’s more than entitled to some residual grumpiness, not to mention anger. Instead, he’s being a man about it, while she’s constantly sulking. You would have thought that her conversation with Glenn last week had had a more permanent impact, but even after her hero moment, she’s back to her angsty teenage self. I was never a huge Enid fan to begin with, but this week she really annoyed me. She doesn’t want to talk to any possible mother figure (Maggie), she hardly talks to her (would-be? possibly?) boyfriend, she doesn’t want to be outside the walls anymore, but she doesn’t do anything to help out inside, either. Well then what good is she?
Carl, on the other hand, appears to be in a relatively good mood, for someone who was just shot in the eye. Somewhat stoic, maybe, but the kid’s wise beyond his years. Well, mature, anyway.
And then we’ve got Spencer roaming the woods with a shovel. The only surviving member of Deanna’s family has grown on me since we first met him. He seems much braver and less hot-headed than his brother (plus, he’s very easy on the eyes). Michonne, being her awesome, caring self, won’t just leave him alone in the woods like that. The Alexandrians might have proven their worth in the walker massacre, but they’re still not 100% equipped to survive in the wild, and the two months that have lapsed since last week’s episode are not nearly enough time to transform them into warriors.
Both pairs are aware of each other’s presence in the woods, and what follows is such a beautiful scene. Carl lures a walker away – and, we come to realize, towards Spencer and Michonne. At first I thought the walker might have been Jessie or Ron, but it turned out to be Deanna. And it was what Spencer had been looking for all this time. With Michonne’s help – both in terms of physically restraining Walker Deanna and offering emotional support – Spencer puts his mother to rest, and realizes that even though his actual family is gone, he always has family back in Alexandria.
When Michonne returns home to find Carl teaching little Judith about the North Star, we’re treated to yet another touching scene: Carl hadn’t just been luring Walker Deanna away from him; he had been guiding her towards Michonne and Spencer, because she should be killed by someone who loved her, much like he did for his own mother. He’d do it for Michonne, he adds, and it’s as moving as a sentiment can get in the apocalypse.
This moment not only clearly shows how far Carl has come, but it touches Michonne deeply. She’s been family to Rick and his children for quite a while now, but she hadn’t stopped to think what she really wanted, other than not be eaten by walkers. It’s hard to step back and be all existential when death and mayhem awaits at every corner. But the minute she can relax and take a breather, the answer is right in front of her, impossible to ignore.
It’s right next to her on the couch, in the form of a very tired Rick. Even though they’ve been playing house for a while now, and as cute as their toothpaste conversation and high-five was, nothing really says you’re my person better than a pack of mints after a long, long day. The moment they held hands we knew we were in for a treat, and boy, we were not disappointed. They finally got to see each other as more than a friend and confidant, and it just felt right.
And then, of course, they were rudely awakened by Jesus. Rick and Michonne immediately reaching for their weapons and jumping out of bed, stark naked, was as cool as a scene can get, especially after the tender, intimate moment they had just shared.
I’m excited to see how this plays out. Not just with Rick and Michonne, but also the rest of the group. Will Richonne change the dynamic of the Alexandrians? Will Carl be okay with this development? It always seemed like Michonne was more like a big sister to him, rather than a mother figure, and the kid’s been through enough already.
And then there’s Jesus. Out of all the characters that have been suddenly introduced to us over the course of the show, for some reason Jesus seems to be one of the most fascinating. My gut feeling tells me he’s one of the good guys (and if so, a potentially useful addition to the group), but I’m gullible that way. Not to mention that we’ve had enough happy moments in one episode to expect a huge disaster coming our way. As the season finale gets closer, the tension is bound to rise, and something tells me Jesus will play a major role in what’s to come.