Three episodes into Season 7B, and there’s a lot of grumbling in fan-ville about where Scott Gimple is taking The Walking Dead. Numbers are down, some favorite characters are gone or drastically changed, and there’s a bit of Negan fatigue among the faithful. Below, I’ll be taking a look at the previews released by AMC this week, talking about what I think they suggest we’re in for on Sunday, and speculate further as to what the rest of the season may have in store for us. Hopefully, the dark humor and character development of last week’s episode will translate into an uptick in the show’s trajectory – it’s always at its weakest when there’s not a lot of narrative momentum (read: all of Season 2).
[Spoiler Warning: This Sneak Peek of The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 12 “Say Yes” includes promotional material from AMC, discusses recent episodes, assumes a knowledge of everything that has happened in the series to date, and will speculate on future events. Read on at your discretion.]
Airdate: March 5, 2017
Directed by: Greg Nicotero
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Matthew Negrete (written by); Frank Darabont (creator); Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard (series of graphic novels)
Let’s begin with the brief episode synopsis on IMDB: The group scavenge for supplies; Someone in Alexandria must make [a] morally changing decision.
Well, despite the grammar errors (what is “morally changing” anyhow?), it does little to illuminate what we’ll be seeing in the episode. Certainly, we’ll be moving the focus away from the Sanctuary and Negan (not to mention Eugene and Dwight), and refocusing on the aftermath of Rick and the gang’s meeting with the very odd junkyard collective introduced in Episode 710 (yes, technically they were “introduced” way back in Episode 707 “Sing Me A Song”, but I hardly count a foot and lower leg as a proper introduction). Rick, Michonne, Rosita, Tara, Father Gabriel, and Aaron are still out on the road. There was some disagreement over whether they were going to take what few supplies they had back to Alexandria before scavenging, so we’ll see the resolution of Rosita and Tara’s set-to.
The more interesting question is, who faces moral changes? Gabriel seems to have had a bit of a crisis when last we saw him, and he found some new inner strength (although to be honest, his taking one of the junkyard crew at knife-point was about as passive-aggressive an overtly aggressive act as I’ve seen. He looked so…uncomfortable!). Most of the main characters are either on the road (the aforementioned group), in The Kingdom or nearby (Morgan and Carol), at Hilltop (Maggie, Sasha, Enid), captive in the Sanctuary (Eugene), or somewhere on the road (Daryl, Sherry). Who does that leave back in Alexandria? Carl? It could, of course, be a bait-and-switch – it may be that Rick and the group go back to Alexandria, and that it’s one of the group members facing the moral quandary. While that makes the synopsis a little disingenuous, it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve tried to mislead us going into an episode.
Now let’s take a look at the videos AMC has released for the upcoming episode. First, the “On the Next Episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead” video:
We start with Rick and Michonne in a van. Michonne says, “We should get back,” to which Rick replies, “Just a little more, okay?” He gives her a cheeky smile. “Just a little more” never bodes well – Christopher Walken’s Nicky, Terry Jones’s Mr. Creosote – nope, one more or a little more rarely turns out well. Cut to the two of them overlooking a fairground crawling (walking?) with walkers. They smile at each other, and we cut to Rosita, walking toward a mobile home and then sitting on a porch, saying, “Rick and Michonne need more guns, more people more time. I can’t just wait.” It looks as though she’s speaking to Tara, based on the arm of the flannel shirt we see. Cut to an action sequence montage: Rick and Michonne climbing out of the sunroof of an old wreck, then jumping inside the barrier of a kid’s swing ride; a grotesquely squidgy looking female walker, coming out of what appears to be the mobile home Rosita was approaching earlier, and Rosita backing off with a look of shock and horror in her eyes; Rick leaping and crawling, grabbing his pistol off the ground, as Michonne goes to work with her Katana; Rick in close-up, saying, “It’s not about us,” continuing in voice-over as we see him climbing a Ferris wheel, “anymore”; Michonne yelling, “Rick!” while holding her bloody sword standing in front of fairground slide – she looks as though she fears he’s about to get bitten; Rick behind the wheel of a vehicle with a smashed out and bloody windshield; the two of them together again, Michonne holding a pistol with a silencer attached as Rick slams open a door into a darkened room; cut to the interior as she passes him; then back to Rick in close-up, “It’s about our future.”
This is what I’m reading from this short, 30 second glimpse into the episode. The group has split up, with Rick and Michonne responsible for returning the supplies to Alexandria, and Rosita and Tara staying out to scavenge. We don’t see Aaron and Father Gabriel at all, so your guess there is as good as mine – I think they might head to Hilltop to try to round up some food for Alexandria, as their supplies are running very thin at this point.
So Rick, for whatever reason, decides to try to pick up some extra supplies on the way home. Here, as is often the case, Michonne is the voice of reason, but, as is also often the case, Rick decides to ignore it. Seeing an old carnival, they decide to stop and look for supplies. What do they think they’ll find? Stale popcorn and candy apples? The two bite off more than they can chew, and Rick ends up in a bad situation because of it. Remember, he’s only hours past getting his leg and hand speared by the armored walker in Episode 210 (although he looks surprisingly spry jumping from the vehicle hood – suspension of disbelief!). And the building they go inside? This is actually answered in the Sneak Peek video I’ll discuss below; as is often the case with these promotional videos, the sequence of events in the montage are not necessarily in chronological order, nor are they always of the same scenes/incidents. The building they’re going into isn’t actually at the carnival at all.
Meanwhile, Rosita tries to explain herself to Tara. This is a welcome change from sullen angry Rosita. Don’t get me wrong – I love badass, angry Rosita, but lately she’s just rude to all of her friends. She’s not going to be able to kill Negan all on her own – the last time she tried, she got one person killed, and another taken hostage. Her anger is welcome, but she needs to be less selfish about it if she’s to stay a part of the group. I do worry about her, “I can’t just wait” statement. She’s going to end up getting herself or others killed. The walker she faces looks like another of Greg Nicotero’s masterworks, but shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for the ladies.
Next, the Sneak Peek video just released by AMC:
This is a quieter scene than the last, focusing entirely on Rick and Michonne. They come up to a chain-link fence which is partially obscured by hanging plastic. Rattling it with an axe, they attract the attention of a walker in military uniform, carrying an automatic rifle on its back. “It’s guns like that, it’s why we’re out here,” Rick says, as Michonne draws her katana. Inside the compound, Michonne shoulders the weapon as Rick looks at spent shell-casings. I’m not an expert, but I believe the one he picks up is a 5.56mm standard NATO size. He sniffs it (to see how long ago it was fired?), and stands up. The two survey the scene inside the compound, curiosity and concern on their faces, and they start walking further inside. Michonne says, “Something serious happened here. A long time ago.” Rick replies, “Yeah,” holding up the casing, “these are serious rounds, might be serious guns here, too.” The two of them walk off-camera.
So here, we get a little over twice as much video (1:14), but really see a while lot less. Rick’s face is not cut up, as we see in the previous video at the fair-grounds, so this scene likely comes earlier in the episode. Taken together, this is what I figure is happening with the two of them. They’re heading toward Alexandria to return the supplies retrieved from the junkyard collective, when they see a fenced-off area they haven’t checked before. Inside, they find a cache of weapons (maybe food as well), and this buoys their spirits. This would explain Rick’s smile, and Michonne’s return of said smile, when they’re in the van and he says, “Just a little more.” He’s optimistic, because they’ve just scavenged some good stuff, and so they decide to make one more stop on the way home. That’s when things go all sideways. Because, hey, it wouldn’t be The Walking Dead unless things went a little sideways now and again.
I predict that no one will die this episode, although there will be plenty of peril. Rick and Michonne have great chemistry together, and now that they’re on the same page again, it’ll be good to see an episode focusing on them a little more. I think that Rosita and Tara are far more on the same page than Rosita realizes just yet, so it’ll also be interesting to watch them develop their friendship a little more. Certainly, Rosita is a hard nut to crack, but she’s going to need to adapt or die. Getting others killed is something the group can ill-afford. This episode will result in the group taking one more step in the right direction in order to be able to confront Negan’s group. I know that people are growing impatient (maybe we all have a little Rosita inside us), but they are seriously out-manned and outgunned right now – Rosita hit that right on the nose.