Reviewed by John Hussey
This latest season has certainly tested the survivors of The Walking Dead. Negan has literally pushed them to new limits, whether it be endurance, breaking point, or pure depression and determination. As established in “New Best Friends” Rick managed to strike up a deal with the Scavengers, to which if he manages to bring them lots of weapons they will in return fight for him in his war against Negan. “Say Yes” was dedicated to that search, with Rick and Michonne taking centre stage.
At first I kind of found their relationship sudden, and a little bit forced. But in perspective it’s a development that has been building for many seasons now, and it was sweet to have an episode dedicated to their love for one another. In many ways “Say Yes” was a sweetening journey as these two love-birds found every excuse to spend more time with one another (resulting in many intimate encounters). This episode reminded me of last season’s “The Next World” in which the depression is lifted (just for a bit) to allow for a moment of light-heartedness.
But that’s not to say that “Say Yes” was all smiles and laughter. It did have some deep moments, and even a few moments of peril. Still though, it was nice to have the first half of the narrative feel warm, and sentimental as Greg Nicotero concentrated on Rick and Michonne’ grow, allowing Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira some of their best dynamic moments thus far on the show.
I really like with The Walking Dead how it’s extremely difficult to think back to the very first episode, “Days Gone By”, because so much has changed in terms of both the characters and the narrative. Both factors have gone through radical changes due to repeated challenges, some of which cost both factors dearly.
In terms of both Rick and Michonne, they have both come a long way and have suffered greatly in their journey of survival in this apocalyptic world of death and misery. But it is sweet that they have found one another and this episode greatly emphasises how much they care for one another. In fact, many scenes depict them like two teenagers in love as they simply enjoy the moment and play around with the idea of being together. The entire journey is almost like a game to them, despite them still taking it seriously. When it came to the roof caving in underneath their feet, they simply laughed it off because that was the kind of mood they were in.
Fast-forward through the episode and there’s a clear emotional shift as things become more dangerous and the childish behaviour is quickly thrown to one side. Despite victory being close at hand, i.e. Rick and Michonne have found a huge supply of food and weapons, they still have to deal with the walking dead and their subtle approach quickly fails. I really enjoyed the carnival setting. I don’t know why but it just added to the atmosphere, and I suppose it reflected on the fun vibe of the episode.
It was clear throughout most of the Walker segment that there wasn’t any clear danger. The tone clearly stated that (despite the dangerous odds) that Rick and Michonne would be fine. Because of this, however, the usual tense atmosphere was lost on me and made me feel too comfortable. Comfortable is not usually a word I would associate with The Walking Dead, so something is clearly not right. This whole “fun” vibe made it feel too safe, almost like a gimmick because Rick and Michonne are main characters and therefore are untouchable. Thus they are able to escape a surrounded car with ease and then take on a horde of Walkers without any real effort.
Though it was entertaining to watch for sure, it lacked any real impact other that showing off that both Rick and Michonne are badasses, and that they are more than capable of dealing with the undead. But rewind the clock back to Season Six when the horde invaded Alexandria and you had a completely different situation where survival seemed impossible, and Rick and Michonne didn’t seem to be as invisible and capable as they were here. It’s a small gripe (I know) but in a show about gritty realism I just found it hard to believe that these two characters made it out with so little resistance.
Also, I had my hopes up for a Walker using a gun (which we briefly got) but sadly that awesome idea was quickly slapped in the face and tossed to the side like a discarded wrapper.
“Say Yes” became really intriguing when Nicotero cleverly shot the scene depicting Rick’s apparent death. Now, it obviously wasn’t going to happen but I couldn’t have been the only one that had a moment of doubt (just for a second) simply because Nicotero is a genius as director. In that moment of distress Michonne actually breaks down. It’s a really shocking moment and it led me to instantly believe that this would be here downfall. She now had a weakness and that weakness could easily be exploited. Michonne drops her iconic katana and prepares to bow-down to the oncoming Walkers. Like Houdini, Rick miraculously appears out of a box unscathed and gives Michonne her edge back.
This is a revelation that shocks Michonne to the core and makes her ponder on its lasting effect. And then we get a great insight into Rick’s current mind-set, and it really does make you open your eyes and see him differently. It turns out that Glen’s death has been plaguing him. Though it seems completely obvious, hearing it from Rick’s mouth makes it all the more sadder. You’re reminded of the connection they shared, and most importantly that it was Glen that saved Rick from the tank in Atlanta. Rick now feels guilty that he couldn’t return the favour in his hour of need, and instead was forced to watch his shocking demise.
I love how he comes to the new thought that they no longer matter. It is about the future, and this future must be secured by whatever means. They must learn to survive without their fallen friends and loved ones, continue the fight in their honour. This makes Michonne worried as she can no longer bare the thought of a future without Rick, but the Deputy tries to make her see sense because it would be up to her to lead the community and to help rebuild the world in the wake of Negan’s tyranny.
Elsewhere in the episode we had the annoying development of Rosita. You know my views on this cat-face little bitch by now. “Say Yes” really pushed my button when it came to her scenes. She’s such a selfish, and unreasonable, character now. I just don’t get where she’s coming from anymore. If anyone should want to pick up a gun and point it at Negan’s head it would be Maggie. She lost her husband and is now carrying his child knowing full well Glen will never be able to see his offspring grow-up, just as the child will never have a father. Rosita, on the other-hand, is pissed that her ex-boyfriend died. Seriously? That’s your reasoning for wanting to risk everyone’s safety you selfish, fucking imbecile. Hurry up and drop dead so I don’t have to look at your sad, pathetic face anymore.
Honestly, every single one of her scenes now has her bitching about not having weapons, and then bitching about Rick’s leadership because their not killing Negan fast enough. Let’s think hypothetically for a moment. Let’s say her plan miraculously succeeds and she manages to kill Negan dead. Then what? Does she just think the Saviors are going to bow down and give up the fight? No is the answer!
The Saviors are brainwashed to believe they are Negan and if he died it would only provoke them to retaliate, perhaps become more psychotic and vicious, resulting in more death and carnage. But of course little Rosita doesn’t care if she dies. Well that’s fine and dandy but what about all of the other poor bastards that die because of your fucking selfishness you bitch?! Honestly, I’m done with her character now. I just want to bash my head against a brick wall to make the headache go away.
Even Father Gabriel (and his words of wisdom) tries to put Rosita in her place. Yes he admits that he was meddling when he told Rosita to stand down with her plan to kill Negan, but then he was thinking about the greater good. Despite not fully understanding the situation (which Rosita tries calling him out on) he knows well enough that Rick and the community needs Rosita to fight the war, but will she see it that way? Of course not. She’s too far up her own arse to listen to sense anymore. Rick, please will you just shoot her in the fucking head? Or better still, Negan, do the same to her as you did to her dear Abraham. Maybe then she might see some closure.
Of course we also had Tara’s dilemma of whether or not to tell Rick about Oceanside, the community (ran by woman) that she encountered in “Swear”. Despite the community housing plenty of food and ammunition, Tara promised Cyndie that she wouldn’t tell anyone about Oceanside if she helped her escape. On the other-hand hearing the news that her beloved, Denise, was tragically killed by the Saviors in her absence (along with Glen and Abraham), thus giving her motivation to break that promise in order to finally put a stop to the death and chaos Negan has delivered to the many communities in this surviving world.
Worryingly, Tara pondered on the outcome of Rick approaching Oceanside and how it would probably end with battle, which would ultimately lead to more unnecessary death. Despite her many worries Tara decided to finally tell Rick in order to bring him closer to swaying over the Scavengers (who asked for more weapons after Rick and Michonne delivered the first batch). So things are certainly looking more and more interesting as The Walking Dead builds-up to the all out war between Rick and Negan. Here’s hoping that Rosita, and her new accomplice Sasha, don’t fuck things up in the meantime.