Normally, the penultimate episode of any season of The Walking Dead
is designed to set up the finale. Those episodes can be good. They can be bad. But they're always about moving all the final set pieces into place for a crazy, batshit finale the following week.
While that happens in this episode, at least with regards to Rick's slow and then quick descent into madness, there's also a whole other plotline that just seems designed to take up time during the rest of the episode, even if it feels thematically similar to Rick's plotline. (And don't get me started on the randomness of the continuing adventures of Darryl and Aaron.)
Rick Goes Crazy
Sometimes, it very much feels like The Walking Dead is now taking place in another universe. Just look at how everyone reacts to death now: Carol, for instance, bakes a tuna casserole and struggles to write a condolence card for Deanna.
The grieving mother, unfortunately, doesn't react well to her gift. She burns the condolence card and leaves the tuna casserole outside on her front step.
Some time later, Deanna reviews her interrogation tape with Nicholas over what happened to her son, which is intercut with Glenn telling Rick the exact opposite (but the truth) of what Nicholas is saying. "They did this, it was them," Nicholas says. "These people are not like us -- they have to go." But Deanna isn't too sure as she finishes re-watching the tape.
Rick starts to wonder if it's time they take the place, but Glenn wants them to make it work because Noah really believed in the place. Rick also has other things on his mind: namely, his feelings for Jessie and what to do with her abusive husband, Pete.
When Pete catches up to Rick that night, Rick simply says to him, "Keep walking," as he holds his gun tight, trying to avoid straight-up murdering him.
Rick visits Deanna at Aiden's grave the next morning to see how she's doing and he realizes she knows that Pete is beating his wife -- but she's reluctant to do anything since Pete's the town doctor. She says she's willing to exile him, but Rick thinks he needs to die.
Later that day, Rick confronts Jessie about what he knows about Pete. She says Pete will stop and things will get better. Rick tells her he's afraid Pete will kill her. "Why do you care?" Jessie asks, telling Rick that she can take care of herself.
When Rick leaves, he has to steel himself. He sees kids playing in the community and he can't let what he knows go unanswered. Rick heads back in the house and tells her that Sam asked Rick for a gun to protect his mother.
"If you don't fight, you die," he tells her, "And I don't want you to die." He promises to keep her and her boys safe, but he needs her to say yes. Jessie first wants to know, however, if Rick would do this for someone else. He tells her no and that gets Jessie to say yes.
Pete then enters and asks Rick to leave. Jessie tells Pete that he needs to leave, not Rick. Things start to get tense really fast and quickly turn into a fist fight between the two men. The fight goes through a house window and everyone in the community comes by to watch as the two duke it out in the street.
Pete at one point gets the upper hand and has his hands around Rick's throat, but it eventually switches. Carl tries to pull his dad off of Pete, but Rick is about to strangle Pete to death until Deanna comes by and yells at him to stop.
Rick then goes full-on crazy. He pulls a gun on Deanna and practically everyone. "We know what needs to be done," he says. "We have to control who lives here." Deanna agrees, and Rick, with blood all across his face, says, "Your way is going to destroy this place [and] get people killed."
And then Michonne punches him in the face, knocking him out.
(I can't be the only one who thought for a second that someone was going to kill him, right?)
Sasha is Going Crazy
In the episode's other major plotline, Michonne is getting up when Rosita comes in to tell her that Tara isn't fully recovered yet and she thinks Sasha spent the night in the guard tower (no doubt still suffering from some serious PTSD-related issues). Michonne and Rosita then head out into the woods, and I suddenly realize this is the first time in a long time Rosita's ever had anything to do!
Michonne and Rosita come across a dead walker and realize Sasha is out there hunting. When they catch up to her, she tells them she's going to take all the walkers on herself. And sure enough, there's about 20 in front of them just then and she kills all of them with single shots to the head. Michonne starts flashing back to her own memories of being a badass walker killer and starts to join in -- as does Rosita.
Sasha is almost killed by one of the walkers until Michonne shoots it in the head. Sasha is, well, less than grateful. She then lets her guard down and tells them she's guilty of telling Noah that he wouldn't make it. She storms off and makes it back to her guard tower later, taking out walker after walker trying to attack the town wall. Will that wall still stand come the season finale?
Other Odds and Ends
-- After a less than a minute long appearance in the previous episode, Daryl is back and he's on the road with Aaron. They come across another walker with a 'W' on its forehead. This one is tied to a tree and was eaten by walkers. There were actually quite a few walkers with 'W's' on their heads in this episode.
-- Carl gets his first actual love interest on the show. Too bad I have no idea what her name is! (Please tell me in the comments.) She and Carl hide out from walkers in a tree in the woods and get really close to kissing. She also says what is arguably one of the more on-the-nose lines in the history of shows about walkers: "It's their world ... we're just living in it."
-- At one point, Glenn confronts Nicholas over what really happened back on the run. Nicholas claims he's done more for the community than Glenn knows. This doesn't really go anywhere. Will Nicholas be any factor in the show next time? Probably not, given what Rick did.
-- My cable went in and out for a few seconds during the Carl scenes and Michonne/Sasha/Rosita scenes. I think I still captured everything, but if you think I missed anything important, let me know in the comments!
The Walking Dead
airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC.
(Image courtesy of AMC)