Tara, like most Alexandrians these days, has a lot on her mind. Between the constant stress of the Saviors and their unwelcome visits and the sinking fear that only she knows where Rick could find the guns Jadis needs, it’s not an easy position. She could sell out her Oceanside friends to Rick, effectively putting both groups in danger—though she knows her people would ultimately win. They could fight alongside each other, and Rick would certainly try that approach, but Tara knows enough from her time with both the Governor and Rick to know that compromise doesn’t come without at least a few bodies.
Watching her mull over her decision in Rick’s tastefully decorated, pre-apocalypse tract home back in Alexandria, you can’t help but recognize the obvious privilege that Rick and his family enjoy—and everything they stand to lose. “What makes our life worth more than theirs?” She muses out loud to Judith’s curly blonde head. When it comes to safeguarding the Oceanside residents or helping the Alexandrians stand up to the Saviors, it’s hard to pick a side. A part of her will always be enticed by the idea of being the David to someone else’s Goliath, but the best intentions don’t always lead to best outcomes (RIP, Herschel), and she’s learned to assess instead of assume. In the end, though, her heart wins, as it always has.
Survival, on The Walking Dead and in human history, is a series of calculated risks, some paying off better than others. Joining Alexandria? Good Idea. Partnering with human cringe Gregory and targeting the Saviors first? Maybe should’ve slept on that one a little longer. Now, though, the stakes are so high and so real that every choice confronting Rick and the Gang is enough to bring back my teenage anxiety rash in full force—a tension that director Greg Nicotero plays to its fullest effect. There’s no shying away from what’s at stake for our lovable band of unshowered do-gooders, but that’s probably for the best.
In “Say Yes,” we find Rick and Michonne far from home, searching for guns and living out of the Mystery Machine’s seedier cousin. They’re antsy and agitated, and for good reason: all they’re finding is a few cans of peas and some godawful Hawaiian-patterned polo shirts straight out of Enron’s offsite corporate retreat—and neither of those things will please Jadis and her art school dropouts. No guns means no help, and possibly a new group of enemies. Rick wants to keep going a few more days; Michonne, who famously uttered the phrase “stupid gets you killed,” just wants to get home and make sure that everyone is exactly how she left them. Her anxiety makes sense: years ago, a run like this is how she lost her son.
Nevertheless, they continue on, eventually finding what I assume happened when the cameras stopped rolling in Zombieland. Shit seems to have hit the fan particularly hard at this small-town school carnival or, as Michonne puts it, “Something serious happened here a long time ago.” Despite the walkers meandering among the booths, the place seems miraculously undisturbed—a macabre time capsule. Some of those walkers are military, though, which means a motherlode of MREs that fall into their lap—or the other way around, at least, following a trip across a roof that hasn’t heard the word “structural integrity” in years.
The Ricktatorship is long gone, yet the responsibility of so many lives still weighs on Rick—and after seven seasons, his fatigue is starting to show
The plotting might ebb and flow on The Walking Dead (looking at you, Season 7 premiere and all of Season 2), but one thing showrunner Scott Gimple and his writers have always excelled at is structuring the show and a study in human behavior under extreme circumstances, and they give viewers a standout moment with Rick and Michonne. Over a very classy meal of chilli-mac-and-cheese-in-a-bag, the conversation steers to leadership. Michonne rightly points out that there will be a void left after Negan’s death, and someone will need to step up and unite the different communities. However, Rick seems to have come to the same conclusion we all did seasons ago: He’s not that … strong of a leader.
The Ricktatorship is long gone, yet the responsibility of so many lives still weighs on Rick—heavy is the head that wears the jaunty sheriff’s hat—and after seven seasons, his fatigue is starting to show. (He does say that he would be happier if Michonne were to lead with him, thereby obliterating any other post-apocalypse pickup line any survivor has ever tried.) “We went through something,” he tells Michonne later. “This doesn’t cure it.” And he’s right. The inevitable end of the Saviors will be satisfying, but it won’t bring Glenn or Abraham back. A time is coming, as slow and unstoppable as a walker’s shamble, when Rick and company will be without their current missions and distractions—and they’ll have to face their ghosts head on. There are no grief counselors in a wasteland.
That’s especially bad news for Rosita, who seems to be stuck squarely in the “Anger” stage of her own grief. This week, she’s lashed out at Tara, told Father Gabriel he “doesn’t know shit about shit” (debatable) and subjected herself to a walker-juice shower in a play for what ends up being a toy gun. She’s not in a stable place, let alone a great one—not that she would ever admit it. But loss isn’t something you can shove in your pocket and forget. Eventually you have to do your laundry.
Meanwhile, back on the Island of Misfit Slam Poets, Rick is finally learning to haggle with Jadis. She’ll need at least double the 63 guns already presented to her, she says—and she wants her garbage cat sculpture back. She drives a hard bargain but Rick settles with keeping the cat and twenty guns for him and his people. “Say yes,” he says, co-opting her odd, trash-kingdom slang. It’s an amicable negotiation between allies and a step towards better things, but the exchange is still enough to prompt Tara, concerned over where they will find that many guns, to finally come clean to Rick about Oceanside and its heavily armed residents.
Rosita, however, has a different takeaway from the exchange. She steals away to the Hilltop with a gun—a very large and impressive looking gun—to recruit Sasha for a grindhouse screening of Thelma and Louise Take Out Negan. Rick is taking too long, and and she wants to do something about the situation now. Sasha agrees, on one condition: She gets to pull the trigger. It’s a touching display of female solidarity but it doesn’t mask the fact that their plan is half-assed at best. One of them, or both, is not long for this world. Fools rush in where Walkers fear to tread, as the old saying goes. And while there are probably people all up and down the Eastern Seaboard who deserve to take aim at that chin in a leather jacket, the smart money’s on Maggie for the job. She is the one who’s lost the most at his hands, and it’s at her hands that Negan’s smug trail of destruction would meet its most satisfying end.
(Shower thought: where the hell is Heath? Sure, he was a bit of a whiner, but someone’s gotta miss him, right? Anyone?)
Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.