Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Walking Dead! Proceed with caution, survivors. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “Say Yes”, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
Well, it’s about time we’ve had an episode devoted to Rick and Michonne’s relationship. When the two finally got together last season, it was welcomed by most fans, and made sense in terms of story and character. But the madness of Negan quickly put the kibosh on the afterglow, and in the first half of this season two people who had just found each other soon appeared like a tired old couple with serious marital issues. Thankfully, “Say Yes” gives them what is essentially a much needed getaway vacation. Of course, since this is The Walking Dead, it’s overflowing with blood and guts and one of them almost bites it.
Greg Nicotero directs this week’s episode, and his name in the opening credits has become a guarantee of two things 1.) doom for one or more of the characters, and 2.) zombies in extraordinary large quantities. The former lends “Say Yes” just the right amount of anxiousness, even in long stretches where Rick and Michonne are essentially just looking for food and weapons for their newfound best friends, the Garbage Pail Kids. It gets worrisome when Rick and Michonne start discussing who will replace Negan once they kill him. “Negan ordered the world his way. It’s up to us to re-order it once he’s gone.” Getting a little cocky there aren’t we, kids? We know what happens when you get cocky.
Sure enough, they get their comeuppance when Rick, in an admittedly sweet romantic gesture, goes out of his way to get a deer for Michonne while the two are running for their lives in a fairground that’s turned into a zombie encampment. He falls to what appears to be his death beneath a pile of walkers. She thinks he’s dead, and for a fleeting moment, so did I. The scene plays out like a miniature version of last season’s infamous Dumpstergate. Which means it’s a much better way of doing Dumpstergate, putting us in Michonne’s shoes but not dragging it out to the point where it becomes a major contrivance. It also helps the two of them, and viewers, come to realize just how much they mean to one another, especially when she drops her sword upon believing he’s gone.
Nicotero works his technical magic throughout, from the walker Rick dismembers in stages, starting with its foot, to the uber-creepy nightgown-clad zombie Rosita encounters when she’s on her own hunt for weapons. While Rick and Michonne get the character study this week, Rosita grows in both story and character. Living in a world of guilt over the lives that Negan’s taken on what she believes was her watch, she’s laser-focused on some form of redemption, even performing what could be read as a confession to Father Gabriel. Albeit an unorthodox one. “You don’t know shit about shit,” she tells him. In a strange twist, he inadvertently gives her the hope she needs to go after Negan herself, finally forging an overdue alliance with Sasha.
Tara also gets a chance to grow this week, experiencing her own moment of enlightenment. She’s clearly been haunted by her visit to Oceanside, and treats Judith as a therapist while watching the little tyke. “What makes our lives worth more than theirs? Because we want to stop the people that are hurting us? That are hurting other people?” All bets are off regarding how the militantly isolationist colony will respond now that Tara’s told Rick about their existence.
In the meantime, I’m slowly starting to care again–after many months of numbness–about who will live or die on this show. It’s all but given that Sasha doesn’t have much more time, since Sonequa Martin-Green is the lead on Star Trek: Discovery (when it eventually arrives). But will Rosita go down alongside her? Will Eugene? Is it really possible that Rick or Michonne could, per their conversation at the end of this episode, make the ultimate sacrifice?
— “Anything is possible until your heart stops beating.”
— Chili, mac, and cheese really is delicious. As anyone who’s ever eaten at Ohio’s Skyline Chili well knows.
— The walker with the machine gun takes the prize for zombie of the week.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).