Rick and Michonne's honeymoon excursion to find more guns gets upended
Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Every time I see deer on The Walking Dead, I get nervous. Most of the time it’s not even subtle — you see deer and Carl gets shot (season 2), or Michonne sees a deer carcass and has a bad time with Negan (season 7), or Daryl’s hunt gets overwhelmed by walkers and soon the entire encampment is, too (season 1). So, when Michonne spots the spry creature while out with Rick in search of guns for Jadis, I’m already thinking the worst is waiting for them up ahead. Thankfully, it doesn’t turn out to be Glenn-level bad, but it still suggests everyone should run as quickly as they can in the other direction whenever they see this sign.

Richonne are making a honeymoon out of their mission for the junkyard crew. (Has anyone come up with a better nickname for this colony yet?) They get up early to drink coffee by a campfire; they have relaxing drives on the open road; they loot cabins and cars by day and make love at night — until Rick is reminded they are, indeed, on a mission. After stealing a truck from two golfing Saviors (a moment that is treated with nonchalance but, again, makes me nervous for what will surely get back to Negan), Michonne mentions they have to eventually return to reality, but Rick wants to prolong their bliss.

At Alexandria, Rosita’s patience is waning. She snaps at Tara when she brings over ointment to treat her stitched-up scar, wanting to take action against Negan instead of waiting around on a porch. Tara says, “Maybe you could just save all this for them,” and she’s got a point; they can tear each other to bits after they dispose of Negan. But at the same time, Rosita is acting like many of us in the past, impatient for the coming war. Their contained tiff ends when she vows to go off on her own in search of guns.

That’s when the deer comes across Michonne’s path. She’s stoking a fire as Rick sleeps in the car when she spies the animal. She stirs Rick, and they follow it into the woods but find instead a soldier-turned-walker hobbling around behind a fence with a gun strapped to its back. Making quick work of it, they find bullet casings littering the ground, a sign that something major went down, and perhaps the weapons that left the residue are still around somewhere.

Rosita isn’t having such luck. She finds a one-level home and makes her way for what looks like a gun lying in the doorway when she’s spooked by an overweight walker. Rosita slashes at its throat, covering herself in blood and puss-like fat, but it turns out to be for nothing: The gun is merely plastic.

Shortly after, Rick and Michonne climb on top of a roof and find the remains of a carnival: Walkers are wandering in and out of tents, circling the forgotten stuffed game prizes, trapped in an endless purgatory of waiting in line for rides, and one’s even stuck in the ticket booth. Michonne laughs as she fires bullets at the bottles of a ball-toss game and agrees they can clear out the space and grab the guns. The moment is paused when the roof creaks and caves in, dropping them into the storage room below. After a beat, we hear the faint sounds of their laughter. It’s a small but touching moment between a couple who are still finding joy in the middle of such trials.

NEXT: More signs

Inside, their luck continues to get better, as the room is filled with canned and pre-packaged food. Michonne remarks it’s “a sign” that they fell through the roof, and there are more mentions of signs through the episode: The deer is a sign that recurs throughout the series, and Tara later sees her shell bracelet from Oceanside as a sign that the colony is meant to work with Alexandria.

Rosita, too, is looking for a sign, but also hope — which circles back to the vanishing deer, perhaps a symbol of hope and perseverance (or the loss of it). She storms the church to blame Gabriel for dissuading her from going after Negan before. He points out that he only gives advice to those who come to seek it, as she seems to be now. He offers that extraordinary things are still possible as long as the heart is still beating and refers to how he meddled at great risk to keep Rosita alive.

Meanwhile, Rick and Michonne are enjoying a candlelight dinner when she asks what happens after they’ve found the guns, recruited Jadis, and overthrown Negan. She says a reordering will have to take place so the colonies can coexist and suggests Rick should be the one to spearhead it — only he doesn’t want to. Almost as if he’s declaring his love for her, he asks Michonne if she’d want to reshape the world together, and to the calming strums of the soundtrack’s guitar, she accepts. In lieu of a ring, Rick offers a bag of chili and mac and cheese (“together!”). He suggests again that they can prolong their mission, and later that night, we see him sitting up in bed, haunted by something.

The next day, they begin clearing out the carnival walkers. Michonne lures some behind a dumpster, while Rick attempts to wedge a car between a fence to wall off the herd in the field. The first deterrent is a walker jammed through the car’s windshield; Rick tries to pull it out, but its limbs are mushy and pull apart easily. The second deterrent is the brakes; with Michonne pushing the vehicle from behind, Rick realizes he can’t slow it down. The third deterrent is a walker tangled in poles jutting out from a truck; it keeps leaning forward, which in turn triggers the gun to fire at Michonne, who’s forced to hop inside the trunk for cover. As if all that noise didn’t already make them clear targets, the car slides straight through the fence gap and lands them in the middle of a herd.

I blame the deer.

They’re able to climb up through the sunroof and hop over the guards into the pen of a swing carousel. They start picking off walkers, but the barricade quickly gives, forcing them to sprint through the carnival. They knock over the strength tester to hold off the herd but decide to split up. Michonne heads for the slide, while Rick hops over to the Ferris wheel, with both teasing each other along the way: “You wanna go?!” “Nah, we can do this.” “Yeah, I know we can.”

NEXT: That damn deer

Rick continues his playful taunts, saying that he’s killed more walkers than Michonne, when he sees that damn deer grazing by a collapsed ride. He climbs the Ferris wheel to get a better look and aims his gun at the animal as walkers descend upon it. He lowers the pistol, but the bars give way and he falls towards them. Michonne frantically runs to help as he scrambles for his weapon and fires into the walkers, but they’re too close. When Michonne reaches the pen, she’s frozen in horror, as the dead are feasting on a body. She drops her sword as she realizes her love is dead — but it’s okay; he’s not. The walkers were actually eating the deer. Rick pops out of a crate.

I didn’t believe Rick actually died, since he’s such a crucial part of the story and (more importantly) a fan favorite. But in the moments of confusion, I decided it would be a bold move for the show to kill off the main character, if that was indeed what happened, in the manner that it did. When Rick came out unscathed, my relief was drowned out by groans because, while it wasn’t strung out over multiple episodes, it had echoes of Glenn’s near-death last season.

So, they slay the rest of the walkers, hug it out, gather the guns, and attempt to unpack these emotions in the car ride home. Rick admits that he hasn’t been able to sleep because he keeps thinking about Glenn (sorry, Abraham) and how he wasn’t able to save the man who initially saved him back in season 1. He says they’ll lose people by fighting Negan, and maybe each other. Michonne, still shaken by the carnival scare, says she can’t lose him. Rick argues that she can and has to be able to, just the same way he can survive if he lost her. If he were to fall in battle, he says Michonne has to be the one to lead the group because she was able to show him the way to fight back. It’s an emotional moment: Michonne, once so stoic and fierce in the heat of battle, now has so much to lose. (Be sure to check out executive producer/ director Greg Nicotero’s thoughts on this moment, which he shared with EW here.)

Guess the honeymoon is over.

When they reassemble with their group at the junkyard, Jadis is inspecting the gun supply. Surprise! It’s not enough. They probably should’ve nailed down what exactly they meant by “a lot of guns” in the first place. Jadis wants double the amount, so Rick is getting the few more days he so badly wanted. Rick barters with her for some of the weapons so they can find more. Jadis says they can have nine, but they have to give back the wire cat statue that Rick lifted during their first visit. That cat, perhaps a symbol of who the group was before Negan, isn’t going anywhere; he demands they keep the cat and 20 guns so they can all fight together in the future. “Say yes,” he says — another sign of the man Rick was before losing so much — and she agrees.

Upon their return to Alexandria, Rick notices Rosita’s absence and goes to Tara, who confesses she has to tell him something. That means we can expect a trip to Oceanside. Rosita, it turns out, took Gabriel’s advice, but not in the way he probably wanted: She arrives at Hilltop to ask Sasha for help assassinating Negan, offering a sniper as a symbol of their partnership.

Setting aside the trivial jab she threw at Sasha at The Kingdom, Rosita says Rick still won’t move against the Saviors because he needs “more guns, more people, more time, more excuses.” (Is this latest demand from Jadis a ploy to prolong the plot when it could be more concise? It feels that way, so I feel your pain, Rosita.) They close out the hour by admitting the plan will likely result in their own deaths, so maybe we should start prepping a couple grave plots. At least Sonequa Martin-Green has Star Trek: Discovery.

Episode Recaps

The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

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