The Walking Dead
Road trips are pretty old news on The Walking Dead, but not since Maggie and Glenn got funky in the pharmacy have we seen so much knocking of boots on a supply run. Rick and Michonne are supposedly venturing out to find guns for Ziggy Trashpile and the Junkyard Dogs, but he keeps begging her for one more day together — out in the wild, sharing candlelight dinners with government rations, and shaggin’ like teenagers. The road trip is a cute diversion, yet I can’t help feeling the show is spinning its wheels before a full-on rebellion against the Saviors in the season’s last episode or two.
At first, the ratio of banging to supply-gathering on this excursion is way out of whack. Rick and Michonne are all sorts of lovey dovey; it’s a side we haven’t seen from him in a long time and rarely ever from her. It’s almost uncomfortable at this point in the series to see two people enjoying each other so much, emotionally and physically. (As one might expect, the more you get naked, the fewer guns and grub you find.) Luck is on their side from start to finish, though — beginning with stumbling across a pair of Saviors enjoying a sunny afternoon of golf. Rick needs batteries for their walkie; the two henchmen just happen to have a box conveniently labeled “batteries,” along with pretzels and a lack of respect for the dead (they did not pour one out for Fat Joey). We don’t see how Rick and Michonne separate the flunkies from their gear, and it seems a little risky to take them out for a relatively small haul. Won’t Negan assume that one of his indentured servants was responsible for killing his men? I guess the Saviors don’t have a CSI unit.
After that, Rick and Michonne — let’s call them Richonne — stumble across Chilton High School, which was the site of both a carnival and a major military operation that resulted in a swarm of zombie civilians and soldiers roaming the grounds. For some reason, the walkers are still armed; that’s understandable if they’re wearing a handgun in a holster, but how is a rifle still slung over a rotting shoulder? (The suspension of disbelief level in this episode: high.) The couple heads up to the roof for a full view, ignoring the fact that it’s buckled and there’s water pooled upon it. Again, it’s Richonne’s lucky day — the roof collapses, but they make a soft landing, smack in the middle of a secure room filled with RTE meals. The grub is not just spam and tuna fish, either: Rick’s romantic surprise for his lady is a bag of chili macaroni and cheese. To complete the mood, their stash apparently includes candles and a means of lighting them.
If you think about the bigger picture here, it’s really bizarre that Rick keeps asking Michonne to stay on the road a little longer. Sure, they’re living in a relative fantasyland with all the sex and food and sex and no Enid or Rosita and sex. But Rick has two kids back at A-town — good to see cute li’l Judith is still alive — and the stakes are especially high now. Time outside the safe zone is dangerous, and the clock is ticking to find guns and stop Negan before he finds Daryl, or figures out what Rick is up to, or builds a nuke with Eugene’s help. It makes more sense to see Rick awake late at night, head in hands, haunted by what’s already happened and terrified of the fight still to come. This couple’s retreat won’t last long.
Richonne’s lucky streak ends with the carnival throwdown, which begins when our heroes feel a little too confident. Like the zombie pit at the junkyard, Rick’s a little slow on the uptake when it comes to tactics. (How many body parts do you need to yank off a walker before you consider smashing the windshield instead?) Their plan goes downhill in absurd fashion: The car brakes don’t work, a zombie trips the trigger of its gun, sending bullets flying; Michonne takes cover in the car trunk. Still, points awarded for humorous couples banter in the midst of life-threatening danger.
But luck smiles on these two again. Rick unwisely climbs the Ferris wheel to shoot that deer he promised for Michonne and ends up on the ground, cornered by a gang of undead. Seems like he’s a goner when his ammo runs out and the walkers begin to feast; Michonne looks like her heart’s been torn out. Of course, we knew it was the deer they were chowing on, and Rick emerges from the scrum, David Blaine–style, just in time to slo-mo toss Michonne’s sword and commence team ass-kicking.
The episode winds down with a very different vibe in Richonne’s love wagon en route home — gone is the banter and foreplay, replaced by a very heavy convo about what’s ahead. “We’re gonna lose people,” Rick says. “Maybe a lot of them. Maybe even each other.” Michonne doesn’t like the sound of that, but dry those eyes, baby; Rick insists that what matters more than either of them surviving is building a future for Carl and Judith and Maggie’s child. Better to die on your feet than live on your knees, I believe the children are our future, etc. etc.
Oh, there’s also a subplot with Rosita, who’s officially the survivor I’d most like to see as the featured entrée at the next zombie buffet. Hey, dummy: If you go out alone looking for guns, you deserve to find a toy pistol and get eaten by the only obese walker on earth. With no luck on the gun hunt, Rosita asks Sasha to join her in a covert op to assassinate Negan that is 100 percent guaranteed to fail. Aside from the odd bond they share from having banged the same dude, why would these two team up? Sasha seems smarter than that.
Things get really eye-roll-y as the curtain closes. The love child of Spock and Bowie tells Rick that her people need more guns. This leads Tara, who’s been stressing all episode, to presumably commit to telling Rick about Oceanside at last. (Seeking counsel from Judith doesn’t work so well — by the end of Tara’s lecture, the baby shot Tara a look like, “Uh, cool story, bruh. I need my diaper changed.”) Meanwhile, Sasha agrees to help Rosita hunt down Negan as long as she gets the kill shot. Luckily, Rosita “memorized” the interior layout of the Savior camp based on Daryl’s recollection. Um, right. I’m sure that will work out just fine.
The takeaway from all this? It looks like we’ve got at least two more episodes of setup (or filler disguised as thin character development, depending on your take) before the war against Negan pops off.