While this episode didn’t contain much of The Walking Dead’s famous action sequences, it was still fun to watch, with comedic antics of the kind we don’t see enough from Rick and Daryl, the introduction of a much-beloved character from the comics- and RICHONNE FINALLY BECOMING CANON. Richonne shippers rejoice!
But let’s back up a bit. The episode opens with what was obviously a time jump since the midseason premiere: we see a picture of Carl-with-an-eye-patch holding Judith on the wall (which begs the question, how do they have working cameras or photo developer chemicals? But whatever.), Rick getting dressed sans beard, and an older Judith playing on her own on the floor. Michonne enters Rick’s room wearing a bathrobe and towel, with a request for toothpaste from today’s run. There is a sense of comfortable domesticity about the scene: Carl is bouncing a tennis ball against the wall as a form of depth-perception physical therapy for his eye, and when Rick calls him in to ask if he used the last of the toothpaste, Michonne gently admonishes him for throwing the ball in the house. (Mothers of teenage boys across America also probably gave a collective eye roll at his, “It wasn’t me,” answer to the question about the toothpaste.) Rick, Michonne, and Carl have easily fallen into a family routine, with Michonne assisting in the co-parenting of the two kids. It’s sweet.
Daryl is set to accompany Rick on the run, and Denise asks him to pick up soda for Tara as a surprise, essentially confirming that they are indeed an item at this point. Daryl agrees after asking her what ‘pop’ is – she replies, “I’m originally from Ohio,”- and it’s another pleasant point in an episode all about the survivors of last week’s attack settling back into daily life in Alexandria. Eugene gives them a list of possible agricultural strongholds where they may still be able to find food, and Rick and Daryl set off, complete with Rick playing oldies on a cd in the car. It sets the tone for what will be a bit of a lighthearted episode.
Rick and Daryl discuss whether or not they should let more people into Alexandria in the car, and they have somewhat reversed opinions since we last saw them, with Rick believing they should continue looking for people to bring back on runs and Daryl believing they should simply search for food and head back. Rick has clearly decided to take out a new lease on life after Carl survived his eye wound, making good on his promise to, “Show him the new world.” And as much as I love unhinged Rick going all ‘Ricktator’ on people, it’s nice to see him tone down the mental anguish. Meanwhile, after the Wolves attack and being accosted by Negan’s gang on the road last episode, Daryl has decided he’d rather be safe than sorry. Both characters have valid points, which makes the conversation in the car intriguing to watch unfold.
They arrive to Eugene’s first post, a sorghum truck, and find it full to the brim with food and supplies. Deciding to leave the car behind and ride back in the truck together (which… why?), they stop at a gas station, where a man promptly, and literally, runs into them. After claiming he was running from a walker horde, they let him leave, only to discover he stole the keys to the food truck when he ran into Rick. He then distracted them with firecrackers in a barrel behind the gas station and drove off with the truck, leaving Rick and Daryl chasing after it. And so began someof the funniest sequences on The Walking Dead possibly EVER, with the man, Paul Monroe aka Jesus, leading Rick and Daryl on a series of Dukes of Hazard-esque hijinks, which end with them chasing him through a field in circles, him ending up on the roof of the truck, and them accidentally sinking the food truck in a lake. Yep.
Jesus is shown to be a fast talker, skilled fighter, and escape artist, essentially conning Rick and Daryl out of the truck before beating them in hand to hand combat and escaping numerous times. It’s a switch to see our hardened favorites being not only taken but alsobested by a new character, and a welcome change- they can’t be on their game ALL the time, and two months of settling into the mundane at Alexandria (as revealed by DanaiGurira on The Talking Dead) has them relaxed. It’s worth wondering if they stay in one place long enough, will they become as soft as they initially accused the Alexandrians of being when they first arrived? And will that, by default, mean that the leader of The Wolves was right, and that, to survive, people belong on the road, and not secluded in communities?
I like to think that the Wolf was wrong. I enjoyed this episode, and I loved seeing the cast have some fun for a change. If anyone deserves to have some down time to catch their breath, it’s Rick and Co., andit’s nice to see comedy amidst all the death and destruction we usually get. I also enjoyed the introduction to the Jesus character and the familial bonds of Rick, Carl, and Michonne. And speaking of the*bonds* between Rick and Michonne…
RICHONNE IS CANON!
It was hinted that Rick and Michonne’s relationship, one that has long been a favorite among the fandom, had blossomed over the time jump in the earliest scenes of the episode, when she was comfortable being in his room in a towel and bathrobe. But the final scenes are what sealed the deal, with the two relaxing on the couch in the house where she obviously lives with him, Carl, and baby Judith. After small talk wherein they both revealed they didn’t want to talk about their respective days, they hold hands… then kiss… then it’s full on ‘Zombie Apocalypse and Chill.’ And it is AWESOME!
Rick and Michonne have had chemistry since the moment they met, with her providing an inner strength and support system that Rick relies on heavily in his decision-making. Michonne has also been a surrogate mother figure to Carl since at least season four, which was only reinforced earlier in this season when Rick reveals Michonne is one of the few people that can still make Carl laugh and that he ‘needs her.’ The writers have been strengthening their relationship for a long time, and it was a relief to finally see them take that next step onscreen. Carl also implicitly reveals that he already views her as a mother figure in a scene shortly before she and Rick kiss, where he tells her he would be the one to kill her if she ever changed- just as he did for Lori. Morbid, but that’s love on The Walking Dead.
I have to say, one subplot that didn’t make sense with the comedic tone of this episode, and the one that led to that conversation between Carl and Michonne,was that of Spencer trying to find and kill the zombified version of his mother, Deanna. When Michonne sees Spencer creeping into the woods while she’s on guard duty and follows him, she catches him roaming around with a shotgun and a shovel. At the same time, Enid (who the writers really need to give something to do, other than be a petulant, moody teenager) and Carl are having a date of sorts reading comic books, and they come across Deanna first. Recognizing that Spencer should be the one to kill her, and no one else- similar to how he was the one to put down Lori after Judith was born- Carl cripples Deanna in the woods and leaves her there for him to find.
When he does, Spencer stabs her in the back of the neck and he and Michonne bury her. It is a somber plot point that doesn’t mesh well with the antics of Daryl, Rick, and Jesus, or the legitimizing of the love relationship between Michonne and Rick, and, honestly, it’s hard to care much about Spencer or Deanna. We were introduced to MANY Alexandrians in season five and the first half of season six, and it became hard to keep them apart if they weren’t in constant and direct relation to Rick’s group, like the Andersons. Not to mention Deanna’s grandiose plans coupled with a lack of actual preparedness for disaster was partially responsible for what happened in Alexandria, and she was never really that sympathetic of a character. The entire time they were roaming around the woods looking for her all I could think was: Why do we care?
In addition to trying to get us to care about characters that haven’t received the proper development, I still maintain that one of the weakest points of the show are the obvious plot machinations (Rick and Daryl stop at least four times instead of just driving the supply truck straight home, for example) that the writers utilize to move the characters where they want them to go. But all in all, I thought this was a great episode, and while I loved seeing Richonne finally play out onscreen, I also adored the comedic chemistry between Andrew Lincoln as Rick, Norman Reedus as Daryl, and Tom Payne as Jesus.Hopefully they become a bit of their own crew within our main set.
What do you think will come next in the Grimes family household? Michonne making pancakes? See you all next week!