This week’s episode of The Walking Dead focuses mainly on Rick and Michonne, as they scavenge for supplies, fight against walkers and make love in the back of a run-down van. Not too much happens, which is a fitting description not just for the episode but for the season as a whole. Season seven is crawling along at a snail’s pace, though thankfully the caliber of nothingness has lifted in the last few episodes. Rick and Michonne’s journey takes the show into the romantic comedy/buddy cop genre for just an episode, which is fun while it lasts.
In ‘Say Yes’, we finally get to see Rick and Michonne as a couple. When they coupled up in early season 6, it was the culmination of three seasons worth of affection, trust and mutual respect. Unlike most shows, The Walking Dead based Rick and Michonne’s relationship on mutual respect rather than sexual tension. However what this means is that the viewer has never really had a chance to see Rick and Michonne act as if they truly are in love. Rick and Michonne’s relationship gives us a break from the dense melodrama of The Walking Dead and actually gives us opportunity to have fun – the pair laugh, joke and have sex. They kiss and rib each other about how many walkers they can take on. The tête-à-tête between Rick and Michone sparks like fireworks. There are, of course, moments of deep emotion to be felt in the episode too – Michonne believes for one brief moment that Rick is lost to a herd of walkers. She is paralyzed by her grief, and Dunai Gurira does a stunning job of portraying this pain, albeit temporarily as Rick emerges unscathed.
The premise of ‘Say Yes’ is Rick and Michonne’s scavenging journey out on the road and sadly, it feels as if they’re looking for everything bar something for themselves, whether if be food for the Saviors or weapons for Jaydas’ group. It’s hard watching our heroes succeed, only to realize that they will never reap the rewards of the supplies themselves. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, and ignites a longing for the days at the prison where finding supplies felt like a personal victory.
Crammed into the episode are subplots that pale in comparison to Rick and Michonne’s road trip. The interaction with Jaydas’ group is horribly awkward; they speak in broken sentences as if this post-apocalyptic world is hundreds of years from now, not less than ten. In an episode where easy, lax dialogue between lovers prevails, this group of trash-dwelling people who speak like fools just doesn’t feel like it fits in. Also, Rosita and Sasha team up to take down Negan with a sniper rifle at the end of the episode – it’s a good moment for girl power as its empowering to watch two women take charge in a world where all the communities are led by men, and yet they are not fighting back. However, it’s such an overwhelming moment of false conflict. Have we seen an assassination attempt on Negan before? Yes! Did it fail? More than once! The episode tries to portray this moment as an exciting turn of events, but any astute viewer knows where this plot is heading.
Tara’s internal struggle over the location of the Ocean Side community is peppered throughout the episode, too. Her confession to baby Judith is perhaps a little bit contrived, but works to show how much Tara is struggling with it. “What makes our lives worth more than theirs?” she asks, trying to figure out what to tell the Survivors about the location of Ocean Side amongst the countless exclamations of “we need more guns!” and “where can we find more guns?”
There are four episodes left before season seven ends. ‘Say Yes’ is, undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the season to date just for its examination of Rick and Michonne’s relationship in the context of their mundane lives now. But I know that we won’t get another episode like this one – we don’t have any room left in the season for moments like Rick and Michonne eating dinner by candle light. Something, anything, needs to happen next week, and keep happening in the weeks after so that we don’t get to episode sixteen and wonder what happened all season.