Romantic comedy is not a label I would affix to very many episodes of The Walking Dead.
But this week's episode played out like a couples retreat for Rick and Michonne. They're on a quest to find guns, but they also find a cheesy yet effective way of strengthening their relationship.
The collective power couple of “Richonne” can take on anything — even a carnival full of walkers.
After a brief montage of house searching by day and making love by night, Rick and Michonne track a deer to a small carnival, crawling with walkers. Normally this would be an easy pass — but many of the walkers were military, still carrying their impressive arsenal of weapons. Even more fortuitous, they fall into a collapsed building and find pallets and boxes of army rations and supplies.
If you were hoping for a feel-good episode, this is about as close as we're going to get. The two share a meal, and their hopes for the future. Michonne is looking ahead, beyond the war with Negan: “Negan ordered the world his way. It's up to us to reorder it when he's gone.” She points to Rick as obvious leader material, but Rick wants Michonne at his side.
Rick also wants to spend a few more days in a safe room full of food, away from all the pain and misery they've experienced lately. Normally Rick is uptight, lawful, and responsible. Here he's very laissez-faire, like a stressed businessman on his first vacation in years.
In the morning they set out with a plan to assault the tiny dilapidated carnival, which looks like it arrived pre-packaged from a Stephen King made-for-TV movie. Michonne draws the walkers away while Rick grabs a car to plug up a gap and create an easy killing tunnel.
At this point The Walking Dead teeters dangerously close to Screwball Comedy territory when the car has no brakes. Michonne is forced to jump into the trunk after an army-walker's gun is caught on some pipes, causing him to fire wildly in their direction.. Zombies soon surround them but instead of tense action the scene plays out in comic relief, with both our heroes making quips about their stellar plan.
The action gets back on track when they escape and flee through the carnival. They split up to make the walkers more manageable and use the low fenced perimeter of the rides to stop and kill them. Solid tactics. They even call out numbers of defeated foes, like Legolas and Gimli in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Rick climbs up a ride and spots the deer they saw before. For some reason the deer is completely oblivious to the horde of walkers bearing down on it. Rick is distracted and falls. Michonne screams and runs over, hearing desperate gunshots as the walkers close in and feast on Rick.
Michonne completely freaks out, dropping her sword and seemingly giving up on life in that instant. Does her entire sense of being revolve around Rick now? I fear the writers course-corrected her initial standoffish independence way too much. Now that she and Rick have been in a stable relationship for awhile her character is basically just an extension of him.
Rick's fine, obviously. He jumps out of a nearby hiding place and throws Michonne her sword (how did she get that far from it?). They quickly mop up the rest, revealing that it was the poor deer that was feasted upon.
They load up on the dozens of high-powered guns to take to the junkyard people whom they had made the deal with (I believe the internet is calling them 'junkies'). But Jadis, their leader of few words, says it's not enough. They'll need nearly twice that amount to fight the war against the Saviors.
Our group is frustrated but Michonne and Rick remain optimistic. Rosita, not so much.
Rosita has mostly been a whiny, angry pain all season. She hit peak annoyance this episode. She goes to yell at Father Gabriel for trying to talk her down from killing Negan. She vents her impatient frustrations with Tara. After Rick negotiates to get some guns back (so they can find more guns) she steals a sniper rifle and travels to the Hilltop to find Sasha.
The two women aren't fond of each other but they share a common goal – killing Negan. Rosita has memorized the inside layout of Negan's fortress from Daryl. Sasha had Jesus draw her a map of the outside. They know this is very likely a way one-way ticket, and they can't be caught alive. Both agree that Rick and company are taking too long trying to gather people and supplies, so they decide to set out on an assassination mission. I can't imagine it'll go well, but at least it gives them something to do.
“Richonne”: Rick and Michonne aren't exactly in the top ten of TV couples, but it's still nice to see a stable, loving relationship built on trust and respect in the zombie apocalypse. Michonne has completely absorbed the comic-book version of Andrea, though I'm concerned they've made her too Rick-dependent in the process.
Tara: Tara goes through a bit of a crisis in a funny little scene where she babysits Judith and unwraps her issues with keeping Oceanside a secret. By the end of the episode she finally tells Rick she has something to say – she knows exactly where they can find a bundle of guns and some potential allies.
Rosita: As mentioned above, Rosita is annoying as hell ever since Abraham spurned her for Sasha, and was then murdered by Negan. If she was less self-reliant she'd be a huge liability for the group. Instead she can simply go off and do whatever, and it looks like she's going to do exactly that, with Negan in her sights. Maybe some good can come of that, but I doubt it.