Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 12: Say Yes

This week's The Walking Dead gives us the last relatively "lighthearted" episode of the season, as I have a feeling the next four episodes are going to become increasingly grim.

In Say Yes, Rick and Michonne go on an extended road trip to find guns for the upcoming Negan War. Man, how messed up are these character's lives, that scrounging for weapons in the zombie-infested wilderness feels like a vacation from their troubles?

At first glance it seemed like there was some forward story momentum in this episode, as Rick and Michonne find and deliver a poop-ton of guns to Jadis. But instead of finally agreeing to fight, she tells Rick it's not enough, making the entire episode moot! Frustrating!

When the back half of this season started, it seemed like the Rick vs. Negan storyline was finally gaining some momentum. I stupidly thought they'd start the War Against Negan right about now, at Episode 12, and then end the season at a pivotal point in the conflict. HA!

I see what they're doing now. They're going to LOST this half of the season. You know, piss around and kill time like Lost used to do, so the writers can have Negan's army show up at Alexandria's door at the end of Episode 16. 

Since there are only four episodes left in the season, here's how I predict things will play out. We'll get an entire episode of Rick talking the Oceansiders into joining his fight. Then the week after that, something will bad will happen between the Kingdom and Negan, which will finally convince King Ezekiel to join with Rick. Then we'll probably get an episode in which Sasha and Rosita try and fail to kill Negan, which will cause him great vexation. And then in the season finale, he'll attack Alexandria.

Stay tuned to see if my predictions are correct.

There was lots of cool and disgusting zombie action this week, especially the scene in which Rick literally pulled a rotten zombie into pieces as he tried to dislodge it from a windshield. We've been hanging out in the human settlements so much lately that there haven't been a lot of zombie scenes, so it was good to finally see them return.

There was some ominous foreshadowing this week, as the series seemed to hint that either Rick or Michonne are going to die in the upcoming war. Naturally this sent the internet into a frenzy, as worried fans expressed their outrage at the possibility. C'mon people! There's no way in hell they're going to kill off Rick, and frankly anyone who thinks so is an idiot.

I seriously doubt they'd kill off Michonne either, as that would be a significant departure from the comic. Now Sasha and Rosita? They're both gone, especially Sasha, since she's starring in the perpetually delayed Star Trek: Discovery. Rick and Michonne are safe though. The writers are just trying to worry everyone.


The Plot:
Rick and Michonne go on an extended supply run, trying to locate guns for their weirdo "allies," the Scavengers. They spot a couple of Negan's Saviors goofing off, hitting golf balls next to a van. Cut to Rick & Michonne driving the van after apparently killing the two Saviors. Rick enjoys the Savior's pretzels.
Back in Alexandria, Rosita removes the stitches from her face (she was sliced by Arat, after trying to shoot Negan back in Hearts Still Beating). She tells Tara that Rick & Michonne aren't gonna find any guns, and heads out on her own to find some.

Michonne tells Rick they should head back to Alexandria, but he's reluctant to return, seemingly enjoying this little "vacation." Later they stop to rest, and Michonne spots a deer in the woods. She and Rick pursue it, and come to a large, fenced in area.

Rosita finds a dilapidated house, and spots a gun in the doorway. As she reaches for it, Henrietta from Evil Dead II attacks. She kills the horrifying walker and picks up the gun. She's disgusted when she sees it has an orange tip, and realizes it's a toy.

Rick and Michonne enter the fenced in area, and find what appears to be an abandoned school. They climb up on the roof of the building to get a better look, and see a large field behind the school, complete with a carnival (?). Dozens of civilian and armed Army walkers mill around the carnival. 

Suddenly the roof collapses and they fall through. Instead of being killed or breaking their legs, they land on a huge supply of army supplies and weapons. Jackpot!

Rosita returns to Alexandria and yells at Father Gabriel for some reason. Apparently she somehow blames him for making her miss when she tried to shoot Negan (?). None of this makes any sense, but let's just go with it or we'll be here all day.

That night Rick & Michonne enjoy a dinner of MRE's inside the school. She says once they kill Negan, someone will need to be in charge, and suggests Rick. He gets all "Aw, shucks" and says not him, but she insists he'd be good at it (because of course his "leadership" has never gotten anyone killed before). He suggests they work together to reorder the world.

Back in Alexandria, Tara watches Baby Judith, the daughter Rick's apparently forgotten about. She has a "conversation" with Judith, trying to decide if she should break her promise and tell Rick about the Oceanside community, who'd be a big help in the coming war with Negan.

The next morning, Rick and Michonne get busy cleaning up the carnival so they can load up the supplies and guns. They decide to use an old car to block a gap in the fence and prevent more walkers from getting in. While Michonne takes out dozens of walkers with her sword, Rick opens the door of the car. He's surprised when he finds there's a walker sticking through the windshield (something he couldn't have possibly missed from the outside). As he tries to pull it out of the windshield, its rotten body tears apart. He eventually frees it, and he and Michonne push the car.

Unfortunately the car's brakes are out, and it sails right through the gap in the fence, into a horde of walkers. Rick jumps into the car and slams the door, while Michonne hides in the trunk. The car's surrounded by hungry zombies in seconds. Luckily for them the car has a sunroof, and they pop it, stand on the roof of the car and simply leap over the horde and behind a small fence.

Rick runs to a ferris wheel, that's protected by another small fence. Now protected by this fence, he can stab multiple walkers in the brain in relative safety. Michonne kills more of them out in the open (this was a crowded school carnival!). Suddenly Rick sees the deer from earlier, which has now turned into a horribly fake CGI effect. For some reason, he starts climbing the ferris wheel so he can shoot the deer (?).

Unfortunately part of the wheel collapses, and he falls into the crowd of walkers. Michonne runs up and sees the walkers seemingly gorging themselves on Rick. Yay, another fakeout death on The Walking Dead! This takes the wind out of Michonne's sails, and she drops her sword to the ground, apparently ready to give up and die, which is complete bullsh*t.

Rick then pops out of a nearby box (?), throws Michonne her sword and the two finish killing the last of the walkers. They then begin gathering all the supplies and guns.

Later as they're driving along, Rick notices Michonne's upset over his near death. He tells her he hasn't been sleeping, as he's been thinking about everyone they've lost. He says they're going to lose even more in the coming war, but that's OK. Even if they lose each other, it'll be worth it to be free of Negan. Michonne disagrees, saying she can't lose him. He tells her she can lose him, because it's all about the future. Obviously this ominous exchange is supposed to make us worry that Rick's going to be killed off soon, but anyone who believes that is an idiot.

Cut to the junkyard, where Jadis, the weirdo leader of the weirdo Scavengers, looks over the sixty three guns Rick and Michonne found. She says it's not enough, and they'll need double that number before they'll join his war. Rick says he'll find them, but he's keeping ten for his people. They haggle for a bit and eventually settle on Rick taking twenty guns (?).

Back in Alexandria, Tara decides to tell Rick about Oceanside.

Rosita goes to the Hilltop and asks Sasha to help her kill Negan. Sasha says she'll do it on one condition— that she gets to take the shot. Rosita agrees, and points out that this is likely a suicide mission for both of them. Sasha says that's fine, as she's leaving to star in Star Trek: Discovery soon anyway, er, I mean that she's memorized everything that Jesus, Carl and Daryl told her about the Sanctuary's layout.


• Rick & Michonne spot a couple of Saviors goofing off near their well-stocked van at the side of the road. A second later we see our heroes driving down the road in the Savior's van, enjoying their pretzels.

I assume Rick & Michonne must have killed the Saviors before taking their stuff. If they just knocked 'em out and left them at the side of the road, they'd eventually make it back to the Sanctuary, tell Negan what happened and then he'd come gunnin' for Rick.

How do we feel about this? Are we OK with Rick and Michonne murdering two men in cold blood for their supplies? Are we supposed to think it's OK because the men were Saviors? Is the show using the True Lies Defense? "Yeah, I killed a bunch of people, but they were all bad!"

I can't believe ALL the Saviors are murderous psychopaths like their boss. Surely there are a couple decent ones somewhere in the Sanctuary.

This wasn't killing for survival, which would be justified. It's killing for convenience. Rick and Michonne are supposed to be above that. Doing so makes them just as bad as Negan.

By the way, let's hope they buried those two Saviors so Negan never finds them. 

• During a rest stop, Michonne spots a real, non-CGI deer. As she reaches for her gun, She quietly starts to track it, and Rick wakes up and asks what's going on. She tells him she's hunting a deer and to stay quiet.  Rick then says, "Hey, ah'll come with!" and proceeds to TROMP, TROMP, TROMP along behind her. Seriously, it's like his feet weigh a hundred pounds each and he's wearing cymbals on the bottom of his shoes.

• The first time we saw Alexandria back in Season 5, the wall surrounding the community was held up by supports struts on the OUTSIDE. I pointed out that this seemed like a very bad idea, as a large enough horde of walkers could simply push the wall inward. Or someone like Negan could knock out the supports and bring down the wall that way.

This week I noticed that it looks like the supports are now on the INSIDE of the wall, where they belonged from the start. This is the first time I've actually spotted this, so it's possible it was retconned sometime before now. 

They know I'm watching...

• I was honestly surprised to see a couple of sex scenes (tame as they were) in this episode. It's rare that we ever see any sex on The Walking Dead that when it does appear, it's almost shocking. 

It's the usual Hollywood attitude. Pull a rotted, writhing zombie in half? Sure, why not? Graphically crush the skulls of two men with a baseball bat? Why, that sounds just fine. Show two people in love share an intimate moment? Laws no! Won't someone think of the children?

• Tara wrestles with her conscience by chatting with Baby Judith, who just sits there and stares silently at her. Shouldn't Judith be talking by now? Babies generally start forming short, simple sentences when they're between eighteen months and two years old. Judith looks like she's two if she's a day. She should at least make some gurgling noises. 

Is something wrong with her? Maybe that's why she's always so quiet and never shrieks when they're trying to hide from walkers.

• Inside the school, Rick & Michonne find a couple pallets full of Army MREs, which stands for "Meal, Ready to Eat." An MRE is a self-contained field ration developed by the U.S. military. They were introduced in 1981, replacing the previous canned military rations. 

MRE's contain a main course, side dish, bread and an FRH, or Flameless Ration Heater. The Army is constantly working to improve the flavor of MREs, and there are currently twenty four different entrees (including vegetarian meals). They have a minimum shelf life of about three and a half years. And that's one to grow on!

• I'm very confused by this school that Rick & Michonne discover, as nothing about it makes a bit of sense. There's a small carnival in a field behind the school, which is fine, as that's something schools sometimes do to raise money. But the carnival's filled with dozens of walkers that are a mix of civilians and armed soldiers. A few of the civilian walkers have their hands bound together. 

Here's what Rick & Michonne have to say about the situation:

Michonne: "Something serious happened here. A long time ago."Rick: "Yeah. These are serious rounds. Might be serious guns here, too."

Rick: "Soldiers, civilians, all those rounds— there was a fight."
Michonne: "Maybe it was the walkers. Maybe just other people."
Rick: "They're still wearing their guns."

Piecing together all this info, I came up with the following scenario: In the very early days of the zombie apocalypse, a school decided to have a carnival. For some reason it was invaded by armed soldiers, and the civilians fought back. They lost, and the soldiers took over the carnival and tied up many of the civilians. Then a horde of walkers attacked, and somehow overran the soldiers, despite their formidable firepower.

There's still a lot about this scenario that doesn't make any sense. First of all, why the hell was this school holding a carnival in the first place? We know from
Fear The Walking Dead that the zombie apocalypse didn't happen instantly. It wasn't like the Mary Celeste; it spread across the country over a period of many months.

So I guess the Principal of this school though, "Eh, I know there are reports of zombies in the area, but we've already written the check for this carnival, and I say we go ahead and have it, apocalypse be damned!"

On the other hand, maybe whatever happened did occur instantly. At one point we see there's a walker trapped inside the carnival ticket booth. Was the ticket taker killed by one of the soldiers and then turned? Or was the booth surrounded by walkers, so the ticket taker just sat quietly inside for weeks until he died?

One last oddity about this carnival before I promise to move on: Why the hell aren't there any kid zombies milling around? Are we supposed to believe there wasn't one kid that showed up for a school carnival?

Like I said, nothing about this entire scenario makes any sense.

• Speaking of the ticket booth walker, director Greg Nicotero said on Instagram that it was an homage to the poster for the 1982 horror film Creepshow. Eh, seems like a bit of a stretch or a coincidence to me, but I guess he oughta know.

• Rick's cockiness was infuriating in this episode. The whole time he was clearing out the carnival, he was strutting around like an idiot, being reckless and taking stupid chances. 

Last time he was this cocky was when he took out the satellite station and thought he'd killed Negan. And we all know how THAT turned out, don't we?

• Did The Walking Dead producers switch special effects companies or something?

A couple weeks ago in New Best Friends, Rick climbed to the top of the "Up up up" (oy), and we were treated to one of the worst greenscreen shots I've seen since The Bugaloos or Lidsville.

This week we get a scene of Rick staring at the most ridiculously fake-looking deer possible, realized through the miracle of circa 1997 CGI technology. Yeah, it's that bad.

Honestly, the actual scene wasn't a whole lot worse than this.

What the hell? We saw a real, live deer earlier in the episode when Michonne spotted it in the woods. So why not use that one again? Is it really that hard to get a deer to stand in a field for a few minutes?

So did they recently switch effects companies? Or did AMC severely cut their the budget, and shots like these are all they can afford now? Whatever they did, they need to undo it, but quick!

• When Michonne thinks Rick's dead, she immediately gives up, dropping her sword and practically giving herself over to the horde of walkers. 

BULLSH*T!!! I don't buy that for a second. Over and over, for five seasons now, Michonne has been a pillar of strength on the show, someone who does whatever it takes to survive. There's no way in hell that she'd just shut down and give up like that. The entire scene was a grave disservice to her character, and if I was Danai Gurira I'd have told the writers to shove their script up their asses.

• Rick's surrounded by walkers, and seemingly eaten alive. Then a few seconds later he pops out of a crate like a Vegas magician's assistant, picks up Michonne's sword and tosses it to her. It flies end over end through the air, she catches it and then starts slicing up walkers.

Anyone who did NOT think of Evil Dead II at that moment just ain't trying.

• Speaking of Evil Dead II, when Rosita's out searching for guns, she runs into a fat, bloated lady zombie.

I am 100% sure that was an homage to Henrietta, the fat, bloated Deadite from Evil Dead IIWriter/Producer/Director and Makeup Artist extraordinaire Greg Nicotero worked on the film wayyyy back in 1987, so I'm betting he was having a bit of fun referencing it here.

• Rick literally risks life and limb to find guns for Jadis and her troop of weirdo mimes or whatever the hell they are, so they'll join his war against Negan. She take a look at the pile of sixty three guns, sniffs & says it's a start. She then tells him her people will need twice that number before they agree to fight. Instead of slicing her head off right there like he probably should, Rick agrees to her demands.

Has Rick ever thought about asking these nimrods for some sort of proof that they're an effective fighting force? Because they all look about as dangerous as an interpretive dance troupe. How about a demonstration of their fighting abilities before he wastes any more valuable time on them?

• After Jadis says the sixty three guns aren't enough, Rick says he'll find more, but he's keeping ten for himself. Jadis says no, and the two of them start haggling over how many guns Rick gets to keep. Here's how the negotiation goes:

Rick: "
We're keeping ten for ourselves, to find more."
Jadis: "Five."

Rick: "Ten."
Jadis: "Six."

Rick: "Ten."
Jadis: "Nine. And the cat back (Rick stole a cat statue from her a couple weeks ago)."

Rick: (pauses) "Twenty. I keep the cat. We get you the guns. We fight together. Say yes."
Jadis: (as the hamster wheel inside her head spins) "Yes. More soon. We fight."

Wha....? What the hell? Why does she suddenly agree to letting him have twenty guns, after originally saying he could have five? Does Jadis not understand how negotiation works? Did Rick use the Force on her? Why does literally nothing about the Scavengers make even an ounce of sense?

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