The Walking Dead trudges on in a mostly ho-hum season. ‘Say Yes” was not the worst episode audiences have seen during this boring season. Not by a long shot. However, there were some moments that could definitely have been edited down to something more poignant. While The Walking Dead is weakest when it follows individual characters, this weeks offering was not as bad as it could have been. Rick and Michonne are out on the prowl, looking for guns and love in all the wrong places, namely, a carnival where very bad things happened.
As always, SPOILERS for The Walking Dead.
Remember how boring all those episodes were just following one character at a time and painfully learning how they were dealing with the deaths of Glenn and Abraham? Of course you do, because that was 99% of the first half of the season. It took far too many episodes for Rick to realize that the right thing to do was to fight Negan. Now, of course, the group is on this weird video game-esque fetch quest to get guns. Get the guns and they get the group of weirdos from the junkyard, who shall be known as the “Junkyardigans”, to fight Negan with them.
So the episode opens with a montage of Rick and Michonne out looking for guns and supplies. Some sexy time between the two is thrown in for good measure.
Back at Alexandria, Rosita and Tara have a nice chit-chat about the same old garbage. Rosita is still going around like a pouting teenager who is on the verge of throwing a temper tantrum. Tara literally tells her to save it for the Saviors. It seems like Rosita’s character is quickly becoming a one trick pony. Granted, it’s not like she had much depth previously as Abraham’s F-buddy. However, her bad attitude continues to just grind against the flow of the show. Yeah, we get it, you’re REALLY pissed about Negan killing Glenn and Abraham. We also get that you want to kill Negan as soon as humanly possible. The poor handling of her character has actually got me rooting for her death on the show.
Anyway, back to Rick and Michonne’s excellent adventure. They come across a carnival full of walkers. The twist is that a lot of the walkers are dressed in military fatigues and carrying assault weapons. Rick adds some commentary by telling Michonne that something very bad happened there a long time ago. C’mon Rick. It’s the zombie apocalypse, of COURSE something bad happened! Rick and Michonne decide to climb a nearby roof so that they can better survey the area. While they are up there, thee roof collapses. Normally, that would be a disaster and walkers would immediately swarm the pair. Not today! The very next thing heard after the roof collapses under them is laughter. Admittedly, them laughing at falling through a roof is a nice little comedic bit that feels new and different. In fact, throughout the episode, there were several more little attempts at comedy that were confusing at first, but ended up being quite refreshing overall.
For instance, when Rick and Michonne enact their plan to cutoff the zombies by moving a car to close a gap, they discuss how Michonne will kill 8 zombies and Rick will kill one and move the car. The two enjoy a moment of banter as Michonne questions Rick as to why she has to dispatch 8 walkers. He makes up some BS answer about needing to be quiet about it, but we all know that Rick was just being a little lazy. So Rick goes to move the car and finds a helmeted, Army zombie who had gone head first through the windshield. Rick tried to pull the zombie out of the windshield but pieces were literally falling off. To give credit, The Walking Dead is consistently good at having heavy hitting gross out moments in their episodes. The windshield zombie was this weeks gross out and he was a doozy. Pulling him first by the foot, Rick manages to pull the zombies entire foot off. Switching it up, Rick then grabs the zombie by the pants and rips him in two. Guts go everywhere and everyone’s stomach instantly churns.
By the time Rick is done messing around with the windshield zombie, Michonne has already killed her 8 and has come over to push the car. Rick gets in the driver’s seat and realizes that the car’s brakes do not work. Michonne stops pushing and watches as the car continues to head through the gap they were trying to block. Zombies begin to swarm so Michonne jumps into the trunk. So, in another funny moment, Rick and Michonne are talking to each other through the trunk as they roll to stop and quickly become surrounded by zombies. Rick is able to get out though the vehicles sun roof, but suddenly Michonne appears as well and we have no idea how she got out of the trunk. Perhaps she cut her way through the cars backseat? Perhaps she popped the trunk and got out? Who knows?
It should be noted that during Rick and Michonne’s adventure at the carnival, there were some more scenes sprinkled in that featured Rosita continuing to be a whiny brat. The only really interesting thing that was shown was a scene where she went to confront Gabriel. Rosita went off on him for trying to talk some sense into her and convince her to wait before she tried to kill Negan all by herself. Gabriel responded in a pleasantly wise manner. Gabriel did not lecture her, nor did he yell at her. Gabriel merely reacted to Rosita in a way that was designed to be caring. To see Gabriel actually being wise was absolutely moving, considering how far he has come as a character. Gabriel is finally becoming the preacher that he should have been all along. He understands how this new world works and is trying to help others find peace in it. He hasn’t completely forsaken violence like Morgan, but instead understands the importance of being smart and clear-headed about things. Gabriel has gone from a character that you wanted to get eaten by zombies, to a character that is worth rooting for. Who ever is writing Rosita’s character should take notes from the person writing Gabriel’s.
The climax of the episode comes as Rick and Michonne escape the car and decide the split the large group of zombies into two smaller, more manageable ones. They split up and are putting in work slashing and hacking away, when Rick spots a deer nearby. Earlier in the episode, Michonne had spotted a deer and had tried to kill it. Rick figured he’d try his hand at hunting while he still had about ten zombies to kill. Rick climbs up on the Ferris wheel in order to get a shot on the deer, but changes his mind when he sees zombies going after the deer. Again, Rick falls off the dilapidated Ferris wheel and finds himself in trouble with the zombies he had yet to kill. Michonne sees him fall and rushes to his aid. When she arrives, she only sees Rick get surrounded and then the zombies are hunched over and eating something. Michonne did not see the deer and so she believes that the zombies are eating Rick.
For the first time since Glenn and Abraham’s death, The Walking Dead was able to strike a sense of true fear. There was only a split second of fear as the camera showed the zombies eating the deer. But when Michonne thought it was Rick, she did the unthinkable.
She froze and dropped her sword.
Not from fear, but from grief. Michonne, who has always been one of the absolute best fighters on the show. One of the survivors who gets things done and can lead when Rick cannot. The one character who was believed to be the rock of the group, now has a weakness. And his name is Rick Grimes. This moment was especially terrifying because of the scene from the comics where one of the characters is so stricken with grief and pain, that she walks towards some zombies and lets them eat her. There was a good couple of seconds where Michonne could have been eaten in her grief. Thankfully, Rick pops out of his hidey hole and Michonne snaps out of it.
Afer getting the guns and the food, the couple heads back to Alexandria. Along the way, Rick senses something is wrong, so they talk about it. Rick shows that he is in a good place as far as being ready for the upcoming fight with Negan. Rick explains that he has allowed himself to come to terms with the fact that more of his friends, and possibly Michonne, may die during the fight. Michonne tells Rick that she can’t lose him. And thus, Michonne’s one weakness is revealed.
In the closing moments of the show, Rock and company deliver the guns to the Junkyardigans. Rick brings them 63 guns, but they say that they need twice as many before they will fight against Negan. There is a fun little bartering that goes on between Rick and their leader. The cat statue that Rick took is comically used as a bargaining chip. After some internal debate, Tara decides to tell Rick about the Oceanside community.
Worst of all, Rosita makes a pouty trip to Hilltop to recruit Sasha for a suicide mission to kill Negan. Rosita says she memorized everything Darryl and Carl said about the interior of Sanctuary and Sasha said that Jesus made a map of the outside. Rosita gives Sasha a sniper rifle as a gift. Sasha agrees to go. The concern with this, is that Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Sasha, has been cast as one of the leads on the upcoming series Star Trek: Discovery. Many have speculated that the actress would not be able to play both characters. Setting up a suicide mission for Sasha may indicate that the character will meet her end sooner, rather than later.
Was this episode the worst of the season? No. Was it the best? No, not by a longshot. “Say Yes” had several scenes with Rosita that could easily have been taken out. The scene where she fought the fat mama zombie to get the toy gun was pure filler. Her conversations with Tara could have been half as long. Traditionally, these type of episodes that focus on only one or two characters, falls flat and ends up being boring. However, it seems as though the writers and show runners were trying a couple of new elements to make it more entertaining. The addition of some light comedy between Rick and Michonne was surprising and refreshing. The amount of humor felt like it was a timid experiment among the show’s writers. However, it would have been an error to try and overdo the humor.
Overall, this week’s episode was far superior to the boring episodes we got during the first half of the season. Yet, it was not as great as the revitalizing mid-season finale.
But then again, The Walking Dead will be hard pressed to top Rick and Daryl’s bro-hug.