Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched episode 12 of season 7 of “The Walking Dead,” titled “Say Yes.”
It’s date night in the zombie apocalypse.
Alone time can be difficult enough to find when you’re a couple with children, let alone when you have to protect them from walkers and Saviors, but Rick and Michonne are able to acquire it in the form of an extended supply run. This may not be your idea of typical romance, but Rick savors every minute, and the two even get to hit the carnival. Well, a carnival of carnage at least.
“Say Yes” picks up with the search for the guns needed to coax Jadis and the Scavengers into all-out war. Little progress has been made in the two days of Richonne’s excursion — until the couple stumbles upon the remnants of a makeshift army camp on the grounds of a high school with an abandoned carnival behind it. Both the soldiers and the civilians were a part of some massacre — from the looks of the bound walkers, the troops may have turned on those they were supposed to protect. But thanks to some fences, the reanimated corpses are still around and fully strapped.
Rick and Michonne plot their attack from atop the high school, and it appears their good fortunes have soured as they plummet through the dilapidated roof. Instead, they fall to a soft landing and find themselves surrounded by pallets of Army rations. It’s time for celebration, so the two put off their gun extraction until the next morning and enjoy a candlelit dinner. It’s refreshing to see the two working together, with the clothesline of the midseason premiere serving as a mere appetizer for this episode, and even enjoying some levity. At the direction of showrunner Greg Nicotero, “Say Yes” opens with a Vince Gilligan-esque montage of Rick and Michonne scrapping together goods and copulating. It’s a beautiful scene and offers an immediate respite from the exhaustion of last week’s “Hostiles and Calamities.” (Catch up on last week’s recap here.)
This is still “The Walking Dead,” though, so the good feelings can’t last forever. Rick and Michonne run through plans A, B, and C trying to clear all the walkers. That last one seems to work, with Rick and Michonne splitting and holding up inside the barriers of two different rides to kill the walkers outside the low fences. But Rick gets a little too cocky and takes a break from clearing walkers to climb up the Ferris Wheel and attempt to shoot a deer that’s wandered nearby. It’s soon surrounded by walkers, and Rick gives up, only to fall off the ride and expose himself. By the time Michonne comes up, Rick is out of sight and the walkers are feasting upon an unseen mass. Believing the worst, she goes catatonic and drops her sword. We know better than to believe Rick really got got, but for a moment it seems possible that Michonne may just freeze up and get herself killed. Maybe she even wants to die because losing Rick would be too much to stomach. Fortunately, Rick pops back up and tosses her the sword. The rest of the walkers are cleared, and their guns collected.
The arsenal is presented to Jadis, who’s dismayed with the fact that all 63 guns (!) haven’t been cleaned and oiled. She wants even more guns before she’ll enlist her troops, leading to another round of negotiations with Rick. Alexandria’s fearless leader hits her back with her own line from “New Best Friends” and gets her to give up 20 of the guns so he can find more. Stumbling upon an entire regiment worth of guns may have been a little too convenient to believe, but Jadis’ lofty demands are an effective way of slowing things down without the oft-frustrating stalls that plague the series. They also serve as added pressure for Tara’s moral dilemma.
Rosita spends the episode lashing out at others as she has all season, and her less-than-courteous conversation with Tara once again puts her in a position to lie by omission and pretend she’s never seen the Oceanside’s cache. Tara works through her guilt in a less-than-subtle monologue with Judith (though, to be fair, sometimes you need an audience that won’t speak back) and seems set on keeping her secret. That is, until she realizes the Scavengers want even more guns, and she seeks out Rick for an off-camera revelation.
In a less rational development, Rosita also snipes at Gabriel and somehow blames his meddling for her failure to kill Negan. She ignored his advice and shot at Negan anyway. Her miss was a colossal screw-up that got herself scarred, Olivia killed, and Eugene kidnapped. So why come combatively at Gabriel and say he was wrong? Whatever nonsense is running through her head continues as she recruits Sasha to go rogue for another assassination attempt. Surely, this won’t end well. And we’ve got a new frontrunner for the show’s most frustrating character. (What’s Carl been up to for the past few episodes?)
Rosita’s petulance aside, the Matt Negrete-penned “Say Yes” is another fun and efficient episode that plays upon this half-season’s strengths. I thought war would have come sooner, but the steps leading there have been mostly logical and largely satisfying on their own. Rick and Michonne make an excellent team, and we can only hope they won’t be split apart by the looming war. Between her and Jadis, Rick hasn’t had many better partners to share scenes with. Michonne is quite literally his better half, and “The Walking Dead” is better for their romance. Just don’t expect any more dates soon.