I am. So happy. Right now. I feel as though The Walking Dead just rewarded all my heartache, struggle, and frustration with 45 minutes of Richonne. Laughing, hand-holding, emotionally-supportive, sexytimes honeymoon-style fun, with n0 Negan, Saviors, or plot lines that make me want to jab my eyes out.
Rick and Michonne are out searching for guns for Jadis’s people, who you might remember from week before last as the weird landfill dwellers who talk like repressed Vulcans. At first they’re coming up empty, but then they stumble upon some weird sort of carnival/army camp hybrid that’s full of dead army guys who still have their guns.
They hit the roof to do some scouting and end up falling through the ceiling into a treasure trove of canned goods and Meals Ready to Eat.
They eat and talk about what’s next, after they fight the Saviors. Rick seems reluctant to even consider it, and every time Michonne brings up going back to Alexandria, he hems and haws and says “a few more days.” She’s starting to side-eye him, but she gives him the benefit of the doubt.
The next day they storm the zombies in the carnival. They end up trapped in a car due to a foiled plan involving said car, but of course our heroes escape and cut a swathe through the walkers. They separate to make things easier, and Rick is at the Ferris wheel stabbing and poking when he sees a deer.
He owes her a deer from earlier in the season, and he’s contemplating killing it when he slips and falls into an approaching group of zombies. Michonne sees him fall and runs to help him, but she’s too late. The zombies close in and start to munch. She has no idea the deer was there, so naturally she thinks they’re eating Rick.
It’s instant devastation for her, like her entire world has been destroyed. Again. Because if you remember Michonne’s backstory, she lost her husband and her baby near the beginning of everything, and it took joining Rick’s people for her to finally start to recover from it.
Suddenly Rick pops out of a little tent thing, grabs his hatchet, tosses her the sword, and they get back to work. After, they share an enormous hug, and we get a moment to appreciate just how much Rick has come to mean to her. And vice versa.
On the way home with a van loaded full of supplies, Rick stops to tell Michonne he hasn’t been sleeping. He can’t stop thinking about Glenn, who saved him way back at the beginning and had been with him through everything…and Rick couldn’t save him when he needed it. He tells her they’re going to lose people in the coming fight, maybe even each other. She says she can’t lose him, but he tells her yes she can, and if he dies she has to be the one to lead. She isn’t sure she can, but he assures her she’s the one.
Ultimately Jadis semi-rejects the guns. She wants double what they brought before her people will help. Rick agrees (as long as he can keep 20 guns and the cat sculpture he stole for Michonne), and they go off in search of more weapons.
A subplot in this episode involved Rosita still seething about not being able to kill Negan, and Tara conflicted about keeping Oceanside’s secret. In the end Rosita goes to Sasha and they embark on a mission to kill him together, and Tara goes to Rick to spill the beans. We’ll see how all that plays out.
If You’re Happy and You Know It…
Okay, first of all, only 2 dudes spoke this entire episode: Rick and Father Gabriel. Other than that it was all ladies. I hate that I can be so easily pacified when Walking Dead throws me the occasional bone, like the Oceanside episode did, but, dammit, I’m easy. I want to love this show again! I want to look forward to watching it every week! I don’t think that’ll happen as long as Negan’s around, but episodes like this give me hope that the show can still capture some of what I initially loved about it.
This episode was bittersweet in so many ways—both Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln called it the “honeymoon” episode—and that just made it better. Seeing Michonne as both badass walker-slayer and vulnerable love interest was as groundbreaking as ever (see the entire thesis of my “Richonne and Fandom Racism” piece), and she had some truly great moments of both. Rick tossing her the katana (rather than try to use it himself) just shows how much he supports, respects, and appreciates her. He knows it’s her sword, and as upset as she was in the moment, he also knows she’s the one who needs to wield it. Hell, maybe because she was so upset. For him to put it into actual words later on in the ep only made it better.
They worked together so well through the entire episode, not just killing zombies, but also in the early montages of their scavenging and, of course, the sexytimes. Honestly this is one of the best relationships on TV right now (of the shows I watch, anyway, which aren’t really many…) because no one person holds the power. Neither of them cares more than the other or resents the other. It’s just two people perfectly balance to help hold each other together, and bring out the very best in each other, when the world is at its worst.
Of course I say “bittersweet” and not just purely “amazing, soul-cleansing shippers’ delight” because of the HEAVY FORESHADOWING which was actually…not as heavy as it could’ve been, honestly. But uh considering what they did about Glenn’s death, that isn’t saying much.
The majority of the episode’s actions took place at an old carnival. Just after Rick and Michonne fell through the ceiling to find all that food and water, telling each other it was a “sign,” the camera panned outside to show us the midway: zombies wandering around amidst tattered tents, broken rides, and crumbling food carts. The setting sun gives everything an orange, end-of-day glow. This is the after, kids. Carnival’s over, humanity is downtrodden, and the sun sets on our memories of better times.
In case you can’t tell, I liked it. It was relatively subtle imagery that nearly everyone can relate to. Fairs are so loud and alive, full of music and lights and people and smells! Why the hell did the army set up their base camp at a carnival anyway? Who knows, but it made for eerie and haunting set pieces that really worked to contrast against the episode’s overall hopefulness.
I’m also very glad they took a moment to remember Glenn. I hate it when an important character dies and everyone seems to forget they even existed. I mean, obviously Maggie remembers and thinks about him, but to hear Rick acknowledge how important Glenn was to him (from the PILOT, even) is a good reminder for the audience, too.
Michonne’s right, though: they need to get home, because Judith has aged like an entire year since Negan held her in the mid-season finale.
Now my nitpick du jour: they’re sending a Latina and a Black woman off in what they’ve both called a suicide mission? Sigh. You just can’t leave well enough alone, can you, show?
I’m not happy about Rosita’s characterization from the last several episodes, and the show seems intent on doubling down. I get that she’s furious and impatient, and obviously she has no idea there’s any other source of guns out there, but come on. This is ridiculous. She and Sasha are going to just stroll into the Saviors’ compound and attempt to shoot Negan with some huge-ass rifle? All because Jesus drew Sasha a map of the outside, and Rosita “memorized” everything Carl and Daryl said about the inside?
This is NOT going to end well, and I sense anger in my future.
Episode Grade: A. I loved it, okay?? I’m a sucker.