A lot happens in “Say Yes,” almost all of it compelling. Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) insists that Rick and his crew bring her even more guns than the shitload they reclaimed from the soldier walkers. Tara decides to tell Rick about the Oceanside group. (Might the women at Oceanside be willing not only to join the fight, but to hand over some of their guns to the trash dwellers?) And what is with that giant female walker Rosita encounters with the bloated head and neck? Is that just normal decay or it is some new mutation they aren’t yet aware of? It’s getting a little tiresome, though, to watch Rosita (Christian Serratos) stomp around in an unchanging state of stony-faced rage, telling everyone she wants to be alone. At least she eases up at the end of the episode, recruiting Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) to help her kill Negan, even though that’s unlikely to end well.
But first and foremost, as the title of this episode implies, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) essentially proposes marriage (“The two of us, reordering things together? I want that, if it’s something you wanted”), Michonne (Danai Gurira) accepts, and the two have a de facto honeymoon, though not necessarily in that order. They almost have a premature Romeo-and-Juliet-style ending, too, when Michonne sees walkers feasting on a deer they spotted earlier, thinks it’s Rick, and loses her will to live. But just in the nick of time, tragedy morphs into yet another triumphal walker-decimation scene as Rick bursts out of the enclosure where he’s been hiding, throws Michonne the sword she dropped, and they start working his way toward each other through a herd of walkers.
The walker-infested abandoned carnival where that showdown takes place brings to mind the film Zombieland, but the location is used less ingeniously in “Say Yes” and the fights are staged less coherently. Granted, you can’t do nearly as much with carnival rides without electricity. But surely even stationary rides and booths could have provided more help or hindrance; instead, the scene focuses on how fences divide up the turf and affect how Rick and Michonne fight. And the walkers are defeated too easily: Rick and Michonne get swarmed by seemingly dozens as Rick emerges from his hiding place, yet they polish them off in no time flat and then have all the time they need to reunite, clinging together with no apparent reason to fear another onslaught of walkers while they marinate in existential dread.
That’s been the case for a while on The Walking Dead: Walkers have a habit of materializing in sudden hordes, then proving perplexingly easy to eliminate. We get that humans are the real threat, now that everyone in the post-apocalyptic world has adjusted to the fact of the walkers, but the walkers are in danger of becoming a paper tiger, conveniently absent whenever they’d get in the way of the plot and too easily defeated when they do appear.
That said, Rick and Michonne are no doubt glad that they didn’t have to spend the majority of their three-day supply run fending off the walking dead. It was lovely to see them so happy and relaxed, making love, stocking up on aged canned food and weapons, and feasting on that sweet stash of MREs, one of which, a packet of “chili and mac and cheese—to-geth-er,” Rick presents to Michonne as an unacknowledged wedding gift.
The gift for us all was this episode’s insights into what Rick and Michonne are thinking and feeling, thanks to their uncharacteristically detailed conversations about the post-Negan future, what motivates them, and the traumatic memories they’re struggling to process. Audiences also learn, when he tells Michonne that his PTSD is keeping him from sleep, that Rick has been up for more than just the one night when we saw him cradling his head as Michonne slept. That can’t go on for much longer.
That’s just one sign of trouble to come for Rick in an episode with so much foreshadowing of his death that the real shock would be if he makes it much longer—unless this is a bait and switch to prepare us for losing Michonne. The only thing I’d bet on at this point is that one of the two will last long enough to lead the pack until someone—probably Judith—who’s never known another reality gets old enough to take over, like the Road Warrior’s feral child.
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