The Walking Dead served up a fairly quiet, yet thoughtful episode this week. Rick and Michonne spent time at the carnival, Tara sought advice from a toddler, and Rosita just got tired of waiting. All of this made for an enjoyable, well-written episode that featured great character interactions and introduced new complexities to the group’s situation.
After a torturous first half of the season, this show was in desperate need of some levity. We find a lot of it in this episode during Rick and Michonne’s sex and scavenging mission (with equal time spent doing both apparently). They arrive at a run down carnival and find a large group of walkers scouring the grounds. Luckily, these walkers are armed. Richonne’s (only time I’ll use that name, I swear) luck improves even more when they find a room full of packaged food. What differentiates this from one of the show’s normal supply runs is the banter and chemistry Rick and Michonne share together. It made me smile a number of times while watching it. From when they fall through the ceiling and are heard laughing down below, to when Rick shows her the package of “chili and mac & cheese… together,” there are plenty of joyful moments. It felt like a couple’s retreat, where Rick just wanted to stay out a “little bit more.”
Of course, no Walking Dead episode goes by without action. This one throws in as much vintage Michonne sword slicing as it possibly can. Richonne’s (I lied) team-up on the carnival grounds is very well orchestrated and fun to watch unfold. It’s funny too. I especially got a kick out of their exchange after Rick finds out the car they’re using has no brakes.
He says, “I think we overshot it.”
Michonne replies from the trunk, “You think, or you know?”
“I know… It was a good plan though.”
“It was a great plan.”
I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through the carnival, but I did begin to roll my eyes at the brief fake-out which leads to Michonne believing Rick is dead. I’m weary of the show pulling something like this after the whole Glenn dumpster debacle. But this one did serve two purposes. It allowed Danai Gurira a moment to shine and portray Michonne in pure despair. She’s very good at it. The scene also enhanced Rick’s later point in which he explains to Michonne the reason they are continuing forward in their fight. It’s about Judith, Glenn and Maggie’s child, and the future of humanity, he tells her. Rick and Michonne aren’t fighting for themselves, but for what comes after them. It’s a profound moment, and one that puts their motivations and the greater conflict with Negan into perspective.
We also see an angry Rosita storm into father Gabriel’s church. She blames Gabriel for talking her out of killing Negan (although she attempted to do it anyway, so this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense). Gabriel responds by saying “you can certainly blame me for the fact that you have a life, but after that, what are you going to do with it?” It’s a good speech, but Rosita probably doesn’t come away with the message Gabriel intended.
In the episode’s final scene, Rosita visits Sasha at hilltop (which is still a place that exists, in case you forgot). She passes Sasha a sniper rifle, taken from the stash Rick and Michonne brought back. Sasha agrees to help her infiltrate the saviors compound and kill Negan. This is problematic. As a viewer, it’s pretty easy to see the direction the series is going with Negan and all of the emerging communities. That direction is war. So to think that Sasha and Rosita can quietly take out the big villain before the war even starts is hardly believable. All we can really expect is that they’ll undermine Rick’s plan and cause more chaos with the saviors.
A development that does look to have greater implications in the overall narrative is Tara’s dilemma. She’s unsure about whether to inform Rick about Oceanside, the community she ran into earlier in the season. It’s a community that doesn’t want to fight the Saviors. If Rick and the gang try to persuade them otherwise, they could be looking at yet another conflict. But Rick needs all the numbers he can get, and Tara does eventually decide to tell him. I’ll be interested to see where this leads.
Overall this was another solid outing for a show I was almost ready to give up on earlier in the season. I hope this run of entertaining episodes continues next week.