As each series of The Walking Dead features the zombies getting more and more decayed, so it seems the pace is steadily falling apart as well. After a more Negan-heavy, Saviors-focused episode last week, I expected the momentum to continue ramping up in Alexandria. Instead, we came to a grinding halt.
The episode primarily focused on Rick (ANDREW LINCOLN) and Michone (DANAI GURIRA) out scavenging for guns, as part of their deal with the Garbage-Pail Kids in order to have them onside when the fight against Negan (JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN) fiiiinally comes around. They find the site of an abandoned carnival, with walkers roaming everywhere, that seems promising and gives us an opportunity to see the two back in their element: killing walkers.
It’s nice to see the two of them enjoying themselves, feeling free, even though in the old days this amount of walkers would have been terrifying. We’ve seen what they can handle though, and I suppose once you’ve faced other humans with active brains like Negan, there’s a lot more to be scared of than a decomposing body. The episode really pushes the relationship of Rick and Michone though, which I have to say I was a fan of originally based on their chemistry before coupling-up. However, this episode really drags for me. It stands out as being a really forced way to show the audience that these two care for each other, and that outside of these circumstances they could’ve been a normal happy couple. The idea of it is good in principle, but there shouldn’t be an episode dedicated to this; it’s not a story or subplot in itself no matter how hard it tries. What this should have been, was weaved into an existing storyline – with all the threats and perils the group face, surely the moment where Michone’s heart stops at the thought of Rick being killed (which was really well acted by her) could’ve appeared naturally elsewhere.
With Rick’s longing to stay out longer, we get the sense that he just needs a break. He’s been a successful leader, been under Negan’s boot, and now is trying to form a rebellion; the poor guy definitely needs a holiday. But after the pair’s plan of using a car to separate out the sections of walkers in the carnival backfires, and things get a bit hairy, Michone puts the brakes on that. The two separate and we get a lot of machete-slashing action that the show has been lacking, along with the odd queasy moment, like Rick attempting to pull a walker out the windscreen of his car, to have it fall apart in his hands.
Possibly part of my problem with this episode is that back in Alexandria, we mainly see Tara (ALANNA MASTERSON), who is nice but not the most exciting of characters, and Rosita (CHRISTIAN SERRATOS) who I personally don’t think can be killed off soon enough. It could only have been worse if Carl (CHANDLER RIGGS) had shared their screen-time.
Tara is probably necessary to balance out the unbearable, self-pitying sourness of Rosita, as she has a more positive outlook, even though she’s tormenting herself over whether to let Rick know about the other group, Oceanside, she found. In quite a sweet scene, she thinks out loud with Judith, and eventually convinces herself it is time to let her people know about them. Rosita on the other hand is her usual miserable self, complaining about everyone else, and acting like she’s the only person capable of doing anything valuable. The good thing about her being so awful and irritating, is she makes other previously annoying people, much better in comparison. I never used to be a fan of Gabriel (SETH GILLIAM), but I suppose that was the point. He’s definitely winning me over since he’s committed to Team Rick, and the scene in his church where Rosita comes in guns blazing, reprimanding him for saving her, he particularly shines through. He keeps his cool, and gives a nice speech on how she can basically carry on complaining or do something with the life she’s got, and fix her problems.
This leads her to run to hilltop, and make a pact with Sasha (SONEQUA MARTIN-GREEN) for the two of them to break into the Saviours’ camp and kill Negan. No matter how many times this happens, the characters of The Walking Dead don’t seem to learn that they’re better off sticking together, so I can’t see this ending well for the pair. I think Sasha has a bit more to offer as a character, but if Rosita could potentially die and we get a bit of action from it, I’d say full steam ahead with their plan. Fingers crossed Carl decides to tag along.