The Walking Dead S07E12 “Say Yes” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- And we’re underway – Rick and Michonne out in the woods, clearing a house. Both armed, interestingly, with silenced pistols. They get what they can use, pack it up, have enthusiastic sex and on they go.
- Turns out they are on a scavenger run, living out of a van and picking up what they can find.
- They’re… happy. Happier than they’ve been in a long time. As Michonne explains, they’re fighting the fight. It’s better than what they had before. They’re actually having fun, enjoying the life they choose instead of enduring the life they’re allowed. It’s really very sweet.
- Back at Alexandria, Rosita is busy treating her scar when Tara shows up. She was planning on helping Rosita but Rosita is done waiting for other people. The conversation turns to the coming war: Tara thinks they’ll be fine; Rosita wants to go to war, right now. So much so that she decides to go out on a scavenging run herself. Which totally won’t end badly.
- Back at Mom and Dad, they’re making camp for another night. They hear something, Rick snaps awake and they head out a little way to investigate. It turns out it was a deer. Rick reminds Michonne he owes her a deer and so they go hunting.
- What they find is a compound.
- A former military compound.
- They investigate and discover indication of something very bad happening at the compound back at the start of the collapse. There are high calibre shells everywhere and they both draw the same conclusion; the guns they need may well still be here.
- Out in the world, Rosita’s search for weapons leads her to a small cabin, a Walker and.. .a water pistol.
- Rick and Michonne climb a roof and take a look at the full scale of the compound. It’s a survivor’s camp built around a fun fair, one that fell, and the walkers are a mix of soldiers and civilians.
- And they’re still armed.
- They realise they can hit the Walkers from range. Laugh with relief and… the roof caves in beneath them.
- They land, safely, bust up laughing and realise they’ve landed in the supply store. One packed with food. Motherlode 2.
- Rosita returns to Gabriel and is just FURIOUS. She blames him for the fact she couldn’t shoot Negan, for everything that’s happened. Gabriel, being Gabriel, takes her apart in the kindest gentlest way possible. “Anything is possible until your heart stops beating,” is pretty much the mission statement for the show.
- Rick and Michonne discover they haven’t just found food they’ve found RATIONS. A full on candle lit dinner ensues. It’s adorable.
- Michonne pushes them forward, past what happens after the war. Rick plans to go on and she makes the point that someone needs to be in charge and Rick should do it. He, remembering his Farmer Rick days, is not even a little interested. But Rick and Michonne both being in charge? That’s something they both want.
- They really are utterly adorable this episode. PLEASE DON’T KILL THEM.
- That night, Rick doesn’t sleep. He sits, head in hands, terrified about what’s coming.
- Back at Alexandria, Tara is caring for Judith. Well, actually she’s zoning out playing with her bracelet. And also using the baby as a sounding board for whether or not to tell Rick about Oceanside. Tara’s terrified that if she tells everyone about Oceanside, she’ll get innocent people killed. Judith is a very good listener, and Tara, well Tara looks like she’s made a call she really doesn’t want to…
- Back at the fair, Rick and Michonne start their run. They realise that half the Walkers are blocked in by a partially-broken fence. Rick goes to get a nearby car to block it and leaves Michonne with the remaining eight Walkers. She messes with him good and hard about it and Rick, with a mostly straight face, retorts that this needs to be done quietly.
- What follows is possibly the world’s first body dismembering pratfall. The Walker stuck through the windscreen just flat out refuses to come out in one piece. Rick’s, “Oh COME ON!” expression is priceless.
- Then things get worse.
- The brakes don’t work on the car. A nearby Walker’s gun goes off and they have no choice but to get in the car. It rolls to a halt, they climb out of the sun roof and fight their way clear. Chatting away quite happily as the Walkers descend on them, they split the group up and pick them off one by one.
- Then Rick sees the deer. And, climbing the static Ferris wheel, he prepares to shoot it.
- He hesitates as he sees Walkers close in on it, the wheel gives way and he falls.
- Right into the path of over a dozen Walkers.
- Michonne sees him go down, runs over and stops, horrified as she sees a corpse being fed on by a circle of Walkers. And we get the horrible feeling that the show is about to pull some bullshit as, grief stricken and numb, she drops her katana.
- The Walkers see her.
- The Walkers head over.
- And Rick who, of COURSE wasn’t dead, busts out, throws her the katana and they take the remainder down.
- Then she throws herself into his arms. Sobbing.
- The herd cleared, they go body to body, picking up weapons. LOTS of weapons. Including several very, very serious guns.
- And Michonne is still very, very far from okay.
- On the drive back, despite the incredible victory they just scored, Michonne is silent. Finally, Rick pulls over and levels with her. He’s haunted by what they couldn’t do, consumed with guilt about Glen in particular. He levels with her. They’re going to fight. They’re going to lose people. Maybe each other. It’ll still be worth it.
- Michonne, tearing up, says, “I can’t lose you.” Rick responds by telling her that what they’re doing now, making a future, is living. And if he goes down, Michonne will e the one who leads Alexandria.
- They return to the Junkyard where Jadis haggles over the guns. They need at least twice more. Rick stares her down, wins the negotiation and they leave with 20 guns for themselves. Michonne tells Rick he has a few more days before what happens next and the message is clear; “We can live for a while yet, before we go to war.”
- Rick visits a visibly troubled Tara who was on her way to see him. She levels with him. Because Tara is brave and awesome and because Judith is a good listener.
- Rosita shows up at Hilltop. She asks Sasha for help. The conversation is silent but both women know what they’re talking about: Negan.
- Sasha agrees to help, on the condition she gets to fire the killshot. And Rosita hands her the sniper rifle she made sure didn’t go to the Junkyard.
- Rosita memorised everything Carl and Daryl told Rick about the inside of the compound. Jesus made Sasha a map of the outside. Sasha levels with her; they can’t be taken alive. This is a one-way ticket. And they’re both fine with that.
Hidden behind the just ridiculously charming “Rick and Michonne have adventures” plot, “Say Yes” does three things which are all ambitious and very nearly impossible to do. It lands two and a half of them.
The first is the way it explores how comfortable we get in liminal or transitory emotional spaces. There’s a saying, “the second before the bullet hits the bone” that speaks to this. You know you’re about to not be fine but right now, you’re fine. Or fine enough. It’s a complex emotional issue that can tie people to terrible situations or give them the strength to break free of them.
That’s where Rick and Rosita both are this week. Being out on the road is relaxing because, for Rick, it means they haven’t got there yet. He knows what’s coming, he knows what’s led them to this point and he knows his role in it. He’s made as much peace with that as anyone could but, even then, he’s taking the time to enjoy himself for perhaps the first time in two years. There’s another saying – “Eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow we die”. That’s pretty much where Rick is.
Rosita is very different and, well, we’ll talk about a suspicion of ours in The Random section below. She’s quietly become the most beaten down of the characters and that, here, leads to a breaking point. Rosita has no one other than Sasha who really knows what she’s going through and she banks, successfully, that Sasha is just as uncomfortable as she is. Like Rick, they’re in the liminal space between emotional events. Unlike Rick, Rosita has no intention of staying there. She wants to take the hit, and seems to welcome death if it means Negan goes too.
The second near impossible thing the episode does is be a comedy. Seriously, much like the excellent, “The Next World”, this is a road movie with a small cast and a lot of genuinely funny moments. Rick and Michonne’s relaxed, carefree approach to their work is just flat out hilarious, not to mention very sweet. They know exactly what the other is capable of, trust them utterly and have no problem amusing themselves as they murder the corpses of the planet’s dead. It’s very funny, very sweet and horrific all at once and features the best work from Lincoln and Gurira in a couple of seasons. They’re a really sweet couple too, but not in a way that feels false or unearned.
And that’s what makes half of the last impossible thing the episode tries to do work. The episode very clearly, very deliberately, evokes the circumstances of Glen’s first “death”. Again we get two characters trapped on top of a small space. Again we get a body being fed on by a circle of Walkers. Only this time, of course, Rick lives and everything’s fine.
Except nothing’s fine.
The scene could, and has, been criticised as the latest in the show’s growing fascination with PT Barnum-esque tricks. Some people think it feels cheap. Others have talked about a meta game where they think the show is setting us up to think Rick or Michonne will be killed in the season finale.
We disagree. We think it’s there to emphasise Rick and Michonne’s love and just how much it terrifies them. It’s also there so Rick can make that speech about how it’s about the next generation now. We also think it’s there to make over the step change the show has been sneaking past us for a season now.
It’s about community, about the idea of something bigger than just you. The sense of safety that comes from even one person being on your side. It’s why Eugene and Dwight gravitated together last week. It’s why Gabriel is so certain Rosita is needed. It’s why Tara breaks her promise to keep quiet about Oceanside. It’s not just about these characters anymore. It’s about what they can build.
For all that, it’s still a cheap shot and if it annoys you, you’re not alone, it annoyed us too. But once again, the show feels like it’s building to something huge. And the fact its characters sense that too, and are frightened, and working anyway, just makes them more heroic. Complex, clever, emotional TV and another season highlight.
- The opening. No mess, no fuss, no unneeded shots. Rick and Michonne living their lives, doing what they do.
- The artistically veiled military Walker is a nice touch.
- Rick and Michonne straight-up giggling their way through the episode is lovely.
- Tara talking to Judith like an adult is one of the funniest, most genuine, sweetest things this show has ever done.
- The fairground sequence is not only, we choose to believe, am affectionate salute to Zombieland; It’s also a great action sequence and does a lovely job of showing both just how terrifyingly good Rick and Michonne are at what they do, but how calm they are.
- Genuinely great Walkers this week. Especially the one that keeps coming apart in Rick’s arms.
- Gurira and Lincoln. Never less than impressive but flat-out brilliant here.
- “It’s easier to be dead and if it’s my fault you’re alive, well I’m just gonna have to live with that.” Much more Gabriel being good-naturedly belligerent please.
- “You can certainly blame me for the fact you have a life but after that, what are you going to do with it? How are you going to make what needs to happen, happen? Anything is possible until your heart stops beating. Certainly more than yelling at a fool.” Just perfect work from Gilliam and Serratos here.
- “It’s chilli. And mac and cheese. TOGETHER.” Rick Grimes, the only man on Earth who could make an RTE sound alluring.
- “You got your eight, I can push.” Yeah, THANKS Rick
- “I think we overshot.”
“You think or you know?”
“I know.” We would watch an entire season of these two sparring.
- “It’s not about us, it’s about a future. If it’s me that doesn’t make it’s you who’s gonna have to lead the others forward because you’re the one who can.”
“How do you know?”
“Because you led me here.” Such a sweet way to say such a terrifying thing.
- The deer was… yeah. Let’s move on.
- We really hate to be picky but… weren’t the Saviours due back pretty much any day now? If Rick and Michonne left as soon as the Saviours did they would have had a whole day before they turned up again. If they left the following day, then they and their van full of rations and guns would have been on the road at the same time. Either way, there didn’t seem to be much urgency in Alexandria given that they “owe” the Saviours again.
And The Random:
- So, Rosita and Sasha are both off to kill Negan.
- In other news, Christian Serratos, who plays Rosita, is pregnant. Congratulations!
- In other other news, Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Sasha, is the lead on the new Star Trek show.
- In the immortal words of 20th century crime fighting hiphop act C&C Music Factory: “Things that make you go hmmmmm…?”
- Especially as, earlier this week, BUZZ had the chance to talk to several cast members in preparation for the season finale. Don’t worry, those interviews are coming very soon. When they do pay very, very close attention to what Christian Serratos says about possible exits for her character. There’s nothing definite in there but… she does seem to have given it an awful lot of thought…
Review by Alasdair Stuart