This is a spoiler-free review. Come back after the UK broadcast for additional spoilery bits. For information on how to watch it, click here.
If the Shakespeare theme were to continue in this season of The Walking Dead, instead of the tragedy of Macbeth or deceit of Hamlet, Say Yes is more a Comedy of (T)Errors – this isn’t forced at all (Ed.) – as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) hunt for the guns they need, several days’ travel away from Alexandria.
Although battling the undead, both characters bring some slapstick humour and comic dialogue to the screen, while even some of the walker deaths are farcical. Throughout, Richonne demonstrate the qualities of a truly happy couple, while back at Alexandria, Rosita (Christian Serratos) continues to be moody and angry – only happy, it seems, blaming others for the choices she has made.
Maybe because it looks like their luck is changing or maybe it’s just being alone with the one you love, but both Rick and Michonne look completely changed when they’re out on the road. They laugh together, share playful repartee and show a genuine affection for each other; you can hear the change of tone in Michonne’s voice. Being far away from the Saviours, they can afford to let their guard down and be honest with one another. This new sense of fulfilment and purpose will be needed for when this tale inevitably turns back from comedy to tragedy.
In contrast, Rosita is still full of anger, unable to let go of her emotions or believe in Rick and his plan. Tara (Alanna Masterson) rightly points out that Rosita’s rage would be put to better use against the Saviours, rather than snapping at her friends. This only encourages Rosita to go rogue. She doesn’t show up for guard duty and instead conducts her own search for guns, although she isn’t looking for the cache that would satisfy the takers, just the one that she can claim for herself.
Could both Richonne and Rosita be taking Negan too lightly? Rosita believes she can avoid the swarms of Saviours and take out her target with one shot, seemingly forgetting that the last time she was face to face with Negan, pulling the trigger at close range, she still missed her target.
Richonne are already talking about what to do after it’s over. None of them have forgotten about what happened when they first met Negan – it’s what fuels Rosita’s urgency and stops Rick sleeping at night – but when they’re still not organised and still looking for guns, they could be getting too over-confident.
Although the episode is full of moments to make you smile, as the chemistry between Rick and Michonne blossoms, The Walking Dead feels like it’s just going through the paces, as we build up for a fight. There are plenty of walker attacks, but even the visceral tearing of flesh is starting to feel like we’ve seen it all before, inciting more groans than great moments. When Rosita and Tara are just used for plot exposition, the character development of Richonne is time better spent. Their relationship isn’t quite Romeo and Juliet, but they are two star-crossed lovers who would die for each other and, as we learned back in season six, if you find happiness, you’re more than likely to be met with tragedy.
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Entrails and innards (spoilers)
– Having most of the show set in a carnival, they missed an opportunity for a zombie clown. It was an interesting change of location, set in the daylight with zombies showing they are still a danger and a major part of the series. The slaughter is more going through the motions with the undead, though, with Richonne confident they can clear the carnival, joking about taking on eight single-handed… until they get a chilling reminder of the danger larger groups can pose.
– It may have been too soon for The Walking Dead to show another fake-out death scene, even if this one was much far more obvious than Glenn at the dumpster. It allows the comedy of the episode to turn back to the seriousness of the situation, revealing that both Rick and Michonne want the same thing – a future, even if one or the other doesn’t make it.
– Finally, Tara has told Rick about Oceanside. After her heart to heart with Judith, which served no purpose other than to remind us what we already know, Tara decides she needs to tell Rick. We don’t see how he reacted, but with everything seemingly going his way, Rick will probably take the diplomatic approach. Although it’s an initially cagey encounter, everything will work out, because that’s what’s happening in the back half of this season.
– If only Rosita had waited another day, she’d have known that Tara told Rick about Oceanside and may not have put her suicide pact in place with Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). They are suffering from a blinkered view, thinking that they only need to take out Negan and not have to worry about his army. They could be the downfall of Rick’s plan and they could very well end up captives or victims of the Saviours with their emotional and rash thinking.
Photo: Gene Page / AMC