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