There were three major developments on Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Say Yes,” involving the overall “Grimes v Negan” arc of the season.
First and foremost, by the end of the night Rick’s crew was in far better shape to take on the Saviors than they were last week, having found a lovely arsenal of 63 military grade weapons in a hopeless place. (A high school carnival turned quarantine zone turned zombie-infested wasteland.)
The second development, however, was that Rick admitted to Michonne that he’s not feeling quite so battle-ready this time around; at least not compared with Terminus or the raid on the Saviors’ compound last year. He knows that killing the Saviors is necessary, but the trauma of Glenn’s murder has him losing sleep — and trying to put off the fight for as long as he can, so he can spend what might be his final days with his loved ones.
The third development proved that Rick’s fears of losing people are entirely warranted, because Sasha and Rosita are planning to do something very, very stupid that will inevitably get a whole lot of people killed. Not Negan, of course, but definitely other people who deserve it a whole lot less. It’s almost like they haven’t been watching The Walking Dead for the past six years, and therefore don’t realize that Rick Grimes’ way of doing things is the non-lethal way 100 percent of the time. I’d say they should ask Shane, Andrea, Spencer, the Anderson family, or Sophia what happens when you don’t explicitly obey Rick’s instructions, but they can’t. All of those people are dead.
The episode began with Rick and Michonne unsuccessfully scavenging for guns in the suburbs. Which was a tough break, sure, but they also had sex in a whole lot of dead people’s homes, so the trip wasn’t a total wash. (ASIDE: Maybe it’s just because these characters spend so much of their time living in abject misery, but Danai Gurira’s peppy post-coital Michonne is easily my favorite Michonne. Her “just had sex” enthusiasm is infectious; I’d shoot a deer for this woman, too.)
Michonne wanted to cut their losses and head back to Alexandria, but Rick — for reasons we later learned were due to his fears of them dying in the wars to come — insisted they spend another day or two out on the road together.
This proved to be a great decision, obviously, since Rick was the one who made it. Not only did they get the chance to steal some supplies from a group of Saviors, they also quickly found the salvation they were looking for — at Chilton High School, a former military quarantine zone that had clearly gone bad. (ASIDE: This is also the name of Rory Gilmore’s prep school from Gilmore Girls, but it’s clearly not the same place, as Paris Geller would never allow her alma mater to be overridden by zombies.)
Rick and Michonne first spent a night eating quarantine food and talking about their feelings — both agreed they should co-rule the Virginia colonies after they take out Negan — and then set their sights on taking out the military walkers to scavenge the guns they had died holding.
All of these walkers were currently roaming through the dilapidated remains of a doomed Chilton High carnival. This set piece should have made for a really badass, imaginative zombie-slashing sequence, but The Walking Dead didn’t really use the carnival backdrop to its full potential at all. Rick and Michonne’s attack was fairly straight-forward, to the point where I’m wondering if producers re-watched Zombieland the night before they shot this and just decided why bother.
Regardless, Rick and Michonne got their guns, and at least one of them was truly happy about it. Rick then told Michonne everything he’d been feeling about Glenn’s death and going to war with the Saviors, which actually seemed a whole lot healthier than the jingoistic fervor the Grimes Gang felt before their big fight last year. Rick knows it’s impossible for all of them to survive the Saviors, and he feels like total crap about it, but he knows it’s worth it if Carl, Judith, and the other youngsters can one day enjoy a happier future sans Negan.
Rosita went off on her own several times to look for guns, but was entirely unsuccessful. She also hastily stitched up her own face wound and declined Tara’s healing cream — and when a girl that gorgeous stops worrying about skin care, you know some serious shit is about to go down.
Rosita stormed into Father Gabriel’s church and tore him a new one, blaming him both for Spencer and Olivia’s deaths and for Eugene being taken. (Though if she saw how quickly Eugene went to the dark side, maybe she’d consider letting that one go.) Gabriel had asked her to hold back on shooting Negan in the midseason finale, but by Sunday night, the priest had noticeably changed his sermon. Instead of talking Rosita out of her rage, he essentially explained to her that her continued survival was a gift, and she needed to find the best way to make herself useful.
Thing is, after the core Grimes Gang soldiers (minus Maggie, who I’m not quite sure is even on this show anymore) brought their new arsenal to Jadis and she said “not quite,” Rosita’s plan to be useful became — again! — ”I’m going to go behind Rick’s back and kill Negan myself.”
She easily recruited Sasha; handing her what I think was Abraham’s old rocket launcher (how did Negan not take that?) and promising her that she could take the shot.
The only other thing that really happened in “Say Yes” was that monologuing to Judith about the Oceanside colony convinced poor, sweet Tara to fess up to Rick. She still fears that the warrior women will say no and turn their weapons on the Grimes Gang, but she also knows that the Saviors are terrible enough to justify this risk.
So with three episodes to go before the Season 7 finale, my bet would be on an Oceanside vacation, a final plea to Ezekiel’s Kingdom, and one more miserable episode in the Sanctuary before the fight. Walking Dead typically saves its biggest battles — or at least its biggest character deaths — for premieres and finales, so a lot of what we’ve seen in Season 7B thus far has felt a bit like wheel-spinning.
Still, waiting for battle has brought us interesting character moments, like Eugene’s turn to the dark side and Rick and Michonne’s beautifully evolving romance. The Rosita plot line has thus far been less successful, but I’m hoping her big moment with Sasha will somehow manage to justify her colossal increase in screen time. If it doesn’t, I know a whole lot of Carol and Daryl fans who will be more than willing to riot.
Photo: Courtesy of AMC.