Shane Ryan and Josh Jackson review The Walking Dead each week in a series of letters.
First off, welcome back from SXSW. Did you get to hear Nine Inch Nails in Austin at all? No? Well, good news, because they blared the song “Somewhat Damaged” to start last night’s episode (“Try”) of The Walking Dead, and while I can’t say I loved the music, the title was certainly apt. Because Josh, I think Rick is somewhat damaged. And by somewhat, I mean totally and completely.
Let’s start with the shock at the end of the episode, when Michonne KO’ed him after his crazy/bloody rant about surviving. Can I just say that I think she did the right thing? And that, deep down, I blame Carol for Rick’s slow descent into near-insanity? He was the one who exiled her the first time she got all “ends justify the means” on everyone, and while she proved herself in subsequent seasons, she’s back to being the fully batty psychopath from the prison days, with her sinister speeches to little kids and her insistence that Rick has to kill someone who he really doesn’t have to kill.
Look, we all think Pete is an asshole. I think that’s a given. We all think that Pete needs to be away from Jessie, like, yesterday. But sorry, Deanna is right—the dude is a surgeon. That’s not nothing in the apocalypse, and while Rick may be the catalyst needed to make certain important changes, rushing into a house, starting a huge fistfight, and then screaming at everyone in a half-mad style. We should have seen this coming when he handled his gun almost lovingly last episode, as he fantasized about murdering Pete, and from the deranged look in his eyes and his slower-than-normal reactions. He’s going off the wall, Josh, and he’s been going there for some time.
Which didn’t make Michonne’s clubbing any less of a surprise. I just assumed all of Rick’s gang had his back, but there are subtleties to the alliance I didn’t see coming. The one thing I couldn’t help but notice is that nobody had Rick’s back after she made her move—deep down, I think they can sense that declaring all-out war on Alexandria isn’t the right thing to do, either from a humane or a practical standpoint.
Continuing the theme of somewhat damaged, Sasha is on a suicide-by-zombie mission, essentially going on the kind of spree that would only be allowed in this world, and taking very few precautions. She’d be a goner right now if not for Michonne and Rosita, and seeing her ensconced in that tower makes me think that she’s going to be picking out living targets before long. But that’s the difficult reality of their world, isn’t it? Because sometimes, you need a Sasha in the tower.
Rick’s not completely wrong either—maybe I’m not understanding who these Alexandria people have waiting in reserve, but the healthy men and women of fighting age all seem to be lunatics, cowards, or abusers, and it’s amazing to me, as Glenn pointed out, that idiots like Nicholas are still alive.
All of which is to say, I’m torn about what we’re going to see in next week’s finale. There will be some kind of judgment made on Rick, and Deanna will either re-assert her power or have it stripped completely. There’s no easy answer here, and while I can’t say I totally agree with what Michonne did, I can’t quite disagree.
So how about it, Josh? If it came down to it, are you Team Rick or Team Michonne? How’s this one going to play out?
First of all Team Michonne is going to have way cooler T-shirts. But even without the better merch, yes, I think she did the right thing. Rick has given a lot of speeches on this show, and last night’s was the most…off point? Because until he started opening his mouth and waving that gun, he was in the right. He didn’t even start the fistfight. Pete took the first swing. If Deanna wants to talk about how this is civilization, then you don’t let the wife-beater live in that house, surgeon or no.
But Rick’s rant had nothing to do with Pete’s abuse. He just wanted to talk about how soft everyone was and how his group were the survivors and knew everything. He was the opposite of inspiring and sounded drunker than Pete. A few moments longer and he was probably going to get another phone call from Lori. Michonne needed to knock him out before he ruined everything for his people.
And where was Carol in all of this? I was expecting her to come to Rick’s aid and shoot Pete. In the moment, I was kind of hoping for it, but that was before Rick’s crazy talk where he was about to start a poorly planned coup. So where does this leave the survivors for the season finale?
Hopefully Michonne’s actions reacquire some of Deanna’s trust in our gang, and hopefully Rick comes to his senses and apologizes for his gun-waving delirium. There’s some legit PTSD going on in that man, and Alexandria needs him. But Glenn and Michonne and all the others need Alexandria even more. Especially now that Carl has his first crush. How adorable was that tree scene? Nothing sets the romance like a herd of walkers roaming by your hollowed-out truck.
We’ve got a 90-minute finale ahead of us, and I can’t imagine it’s all about repairing relationships. Surely these walls are going to be put to their first test.
And we need more from Daryl and Eric—who is the psychopath carving Ws on foreheads?
But is that what the group actually needs? A common enemy to rally against? And with Rick’s fall from grace, who should be leading the newcomers to Alexandria? Michonne? Glenn? Eugene?
Well-put: Lori is definitely on line one.
Also, can you think of a drunker-acting sober character than Rick Grimes in TV history? I think you’ve finally pinpointed his mannerisms—the bewildered stares, the slow, confused speech, and the semi-scary half smile when an idea finally maneuvers its way through his thick skull. I think the wife from Togetherness has a little bit of that going on, but not nearly at Rick’s level, and otherwise, I’m drawing a blank. I think Rick takes the (rum-soaked) cake.
I, too, was ready for some interference from Carol—this was the perfect chance for her to kickstart the rebellion she seems to desperately want. But maybe she’s in full instigator mode right now, with her casseroles and her clever little smile. She’s like the Iago of Alexandria, and Rick is her Othello, stupidly letting her extreme ideas influence his behavior until he totally discredits himself. Let’s hope it stops short of that, because I can’t see the whole gang going along with Deanna if she decides to turn on him and either keep him in jail or send him out into exile. Speaking of which, I think we saw a bit of foreshadowing in Rick and Deanna’s conversation about Pete—she said she would never have him killed in the same situation, and I bet next week will put her pacifist philosophy to the test.
As for Carl’s new girlfriend, I agree it’s adorable, but let’s study this young lassie’s name and see if the writers are giving us any hints about her ultimate goodness. On to Wikipedia, where it turns out the name “Enid” is Welsh, meaning “purity,” and became popular after the Tennyson epic poem Idylls of the King. There, Enid is the faithful wife of a knight named Geraint, who gets the crazy idea that she’s cheated on him and makes her go on an epic quest with him, where he nearly dies and finally returns home believing in his wife’s goodness. So keep an eye out for that, I guess?
More importantly, who is this psychopathic “W”? Someone suggested last week in the comments that it was an upside-down “M” for Morgan, but last night it seems like Daryl and Eric discovered the man’s trail, and he’s the kind of dude who ties people up to a tree and leaves them for zombie bait. Unless Morgan has taken an awful turn, I don’t think he’s our man. Give it to me straight, Josh: Do you comic readers know the answer already? Are you playing coy, you informed bastards? Either way, I think we either need to see him next week, or Morgan, or somebody.
My prediction for the 90-minute finale is that Rick will be exonerated, and the Alexandrians and their new charges will have to unite against the barbarians at the walls. Everyone will have a part to play, including crazy sniper Sasha. And I really hope they stick the landing on this one, because this has been an excellent half-season, and it deserves an excellent ending.
Please don’t die, Daryl Dixon,