Remember that underwhelming buddy comedy episode we got last season, when Rick and Daryl first came across Jesus? This week’s ‘Say Yes’ was the right way to do it, even if it was quite obviously intended as Richonne fan service. It was fun, touching at times and featured a few awesome walker kills (although it will be pretty damn impossible to top that walker clothesline from the mid-season premiere).

The cold open set the tone for the entire episode, with a lovely little montage of Rick and Michonne on their sexcursion. The two lovebirds were camping in the woods, scavenging by day and making sweet love at night. Last time we saw them happy together was when Jesus crept inside their bedroom as they slept in the buff, and it was nice to see those two alone as a couple. They have such great chemistry, and the insight we got this week into their sense of humor and familiarity was such a lovely respite from the gloom of dealing with the Saviors. Rck seems to agree, and wants to prolong the sexcation for a few more days. Those TWD folks weren’t kidding when they said they’d be switching up the tone of the show this season, were they?

As their search for guns continues, so they can honor their agreement with the garbage people, they stumble upon what can only be described as a fairground from hell: a dilapidated school building and its surrounding structures, a big ferris wheel and other carnival fare, and a bunch of fenced-in zombies – some of them civilians, some military, most looking like they were heavily armed. Bingo!

And then we get the first dumb line of the episode, courtesy of Michonne: “Something serious happened here… a long time ago”. Duh. It’s okay though, because what followed was brilliant: as our favorite couple of the zombie apocalypse (now that Glenn is no longer with us) make their way inside the fence and climb onto a roof to have a look at what’s down there, we get one of those signature Nicotero shots that make this show so great; I had no idea who directed the episode when I sat down to watch it, and the scene where the roof caves in and the camera stays put but we can hear their laughter from inside that storage room was enough to tip me off. It was also a great callback to a previous roof-caving-in scene from the season 4 premiere, when it started raining walkers from the roof.

Not only did Rick and Michonne have a pretty soft landing, but they were also safe from walkers, surrounded by crates of ready-to-eat meals, AND they conveniently found a bunch of candles to enjoy dinner, followed by yet another romp in the sack. This is going pretty well so far. (I would detract points for the cozy candlelit dinner, but apparently Nicotero’s inspiration for the scene was Sixteen Candles, so let’s call it a wash). I mean, chilli mac ‘n cheese, what could be better?

As a sidenote: it’s been what, a couple of days since Rick got his hand skewered on Winslow’s helmet? We’re talking a massive hole in his palm, by way of a rusty piece of metal. Did anyone give him a tetanus shot? The bandage looks pretty filthy already, and that’s before he and Michonne even took on the walkers. Is Rick not only immune to the zombie virus, but also impervious to every kind of infection, too? Sigh.

Michonne, for one, doesn’t seem to worry about it at all. In fact, she’s getting quite ahead of herself: they found the weapon motherlode, their quests success is a given, they’ll kill Negan and whoever stands in their way… and then what? Who will run the place when the Big Bad is gone? Rick’s response is a bit enigmatic. On the surface, it sounds like he wants her to not just his First Lady, but an equal partner; if you go back for a second listen, it seems as though what he wants is not to rule over the zombie apocalypse, but to just be with her. Aw.

But enough with the romantic dinners and musings about the future; Richonne is ready for some action, and so are we. Rick’s plan is pretty simple: Michonne can take care of 8 or so walkers while he blocks the broken part of the fence with a car. Naturally it doesn’t go off without a hitch, because it’s The Walking Dead we’re talking about, but we do get the second awesome shot of the night, with Michonne’s shadow slashing away at oncoming walkers.

As Rick gets to the car, a walker is stuck halfway through the windshield, and given that he’s wearing a helmet and Rick lacks Michonne’s handy katana, he has to actually pull the walker out, which results in some pretty gory comedic moments: first he pulls out a shoe, then he tears half the walker off with his bare hands, then he finally gets the rest of the dismembered walker out.

By now, Michonne has already chopped through plenty of walkers, helps push the car over to the fence, but not before a small group of walkers start surrounding the car. So she just hops inside the trunk and we get yet another callback to… well, just about every single instance where a mini-horde rushes a vehicle with our survivors trapped inside. What’s great about this scene is the fact that both of them are so at ease in this situation. Think back to when Daryl and Beth were hiding in a trunk for a whole night, for instance; not these two! They just climb out through the sun roof, cool as a cucumber, jump over the fence and start skewering zombies like it’s business as usual – and by this point, it looks like it is.

Naturally things go awry when Rick decides to climb onto that ferris wheel to get a better look, while Michonne is still taking care of business like the ninja badass we know she is. And, naturally, we get yet another instance where the show truly seems to hate animals. We’ve seen them chomp on rabid dogs, the countless squirrels and rabbits Daryl has killed, the turtle Enid ate when she was JSS’ing, the piglet slaughter at the prison and the walker-meat-fed pigs at the Kingdom; we’ve seen horses and pretty much every animal we can think of get eaten alive by walkers, and we recently saw Michonne’s attempt to shoot a walker result in the execution of a deer. And, of course, let’s not forget Tabitha the goat! This week, another deer caught her fancy and led to their discovery of the carnival, but just when we thought the poor animal would actually make it out alive, it turns into a walker distraction so Rick can get away. Better than just having Michonne shoot it, but just barely, although the obvious CGI effects did help).

And, of course, we get another callback, this time to the infamous Glenn dumpster dive fake-out. Of course we knew Rick was fine, but just seeing Michonne first devastated, then completely paralyzed by the idea that she’d lost him was such a powerful moment and gave me all the feels.

With Michonne having done most of the work and a truckload of weapons and food, the two make their way back home – and Rick still wants to extend the sexcation a little longer. He hasn’t been sleeping because he keeps thinking about all they’ve lost, particularly Glenn. We seldom see him talk about his feelings, and if there was ever a time to see him open up, it was this episode. ‘He saved my life and I couldn’t save him’, he tells Michonne, and it’s so honest and heartbreaking you can’t help but get a second round of the feels.

What’s interesting is how pragmatic Rick seems to be when he and Michonne talk about the future. Even though their outlook these days is completely different to the broken and defeated Rick Grimes of the first half of the season, he has no illusions about the way things will play out once they make their move on the Saviors. People will die, maybe even one of them. But they need to go on. It’s not about them, it’s about a future – for Judith, for Maggie’s baby, pretty much for humanity. If one of them dies, the other can go on without their partner. It’s as difficult to process and heartbreaking as it is practical and realistic.

I was half expecting the episode to end with the two returning to Alexandria with their loot, but was pleasantly surprised when we switched to the landfill to check in with the Scavengers. Apparently Jadis wasn’t content with the number of guns, because how would the Oceanside ladies come into play? Rick negotiates with her about how many guns he can keep for the group and I kinda like her style (and she wants the cat back!) but every time that woman opens her mouth I feel like going all Jules Winfield on her ass. Seriously, writers, they’re just a bunch of weirdos living in a dump, not a freaking alien race!

Speaking of Oceanside: Tara finally decides to come clean, after a ridiculous confession to a very confused-looking baby Judith. I get that this scene plays into the light-hearted tone of the episode, but even Judith looked like she was all ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ by the time Tara came to the long awaited conclusion that she needed to tell Rick about the stash of guns those Oceanside women are keeping.

Still, I can’t be too mad at Tara this week: not only does she finally speak up (took her long enough), but she also tries to talk some sense into Rosita, who’s being an utter idiot AND a major bitch to just about everyone. Tara’s “hey maybe you could just save all this for them” response to Rosita’s mopey, angry demeanor was one of the best of the episode (making up for Michonne’s ridiculous observation early on).

Alas, it looks like Rosita simply refuses to listen to reason. Tara doesn’t get through to her, and father Gabriel certainly doesn’t, even though he’s pretty much awesome at his job this week. (Seriously, how great is his character these days? He went from a weasely antagonist to a downright badass this season and I hope they continue to give him decent storylines as the show goes on).

Rosita not only blames Gabriel for her ‘missed opportunity’ to kill Negan – but conveniently glosses over the fact that she was standing a few feet away from him and still botch the assassination attempt – but also seems to think that simply shooting Negan would have solved the problem. If someone had killed Rick, wouldn’t the rest of the group fight back? How, exactly, would killing Negan stop the Saviors from retaliating? Sure, some of them are not content with the regime (whicih Rosita has no way of knowing, anyway), but there are a bunch of trigger-happy loyal subjects in the Negan camp who would happily take out a few more Alexandrians to make their point before continuing to enforce their ‘deal’.

Even more stupidly, Rosita decides to completely ignore Rick and the rest of the group, their plan and their agreement with the Scavengers and once again, goes rogue. Not only that, but she goes looking for help from the one person she was most rude to a couple of weeks ago. At this point I’m not even sure which of them is dumber, Sasha or Rosita. It’s also very frustrating to think they are actively messing up the first real plan that seems to have a shot at working since the whole Glenn/Abraham incident. Is the show ready to kill the two ladies off? I won’t be too upset to see Rosita go – it’s not like she’s had much character development anyway – but I had warmed up to Sasha lately and I’ll be bummed if she dies.

I haven’t watched the previews for next week but I did catch a clip on Talking Dead showing a very upset Carol doing her badass walker-slayer thing as she walks into the Kingdom demanding to see Morgan, so I’m really hoping this is the end of mopey Carol, because God knows it’s about damn time!

 

 

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