REVIEW The Walking Dead 712 – “Say Yes”

I wasn’t ready for this week’s episode of The Walking Dead — mostly because I wanted something more like last week.

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The hour is mostly concerned with showing us what happens on a supply run — territory we’ve covered several times this season (and the series as a whole). It’s a zombie rom-com romp with Rick and Michonne. Some lines and moments are incredibly goofy; the tone was insanely flat for me.

The cold open, however, is an incredible series of images set mostly to no sound at all. It’s primal and engaging, but I could shake the nagging feeling that we were moving backwards after last week’s shivering momentum towards something fresh and new.

The episode looks surprisingly artful, lingering on certain camera angles and not cutting as firmly as the show does normally. Directed by Greg Nicotero, this episode has more in common with season 5’s farewell to Tyreese than any episode of late. However, the written word doesn’t complement this style of directing whatsoever. The writing is predictably hollow at this point in the season as the plot piddles closer to the end of the “arc.”

Once the episode gets to the carnival scenario, it’s at least visually different than anything we’ve ever seen previously on the show. A place like this would’ve been the perfect time to inject humor into the season and add a bit of levity with a small piece of the cast. Instead, it’s just a backdrop for the show to meet its “walker kill quota”.

(Random aside: what the heck was up with that weird looking CGI deer at the carnival? Jeez, I knew Shiva sap the budget, but I didn’t think she’d drain it dry.)

Normally, I’d welcome such a subdued episode. These are the kind of moments I’d gush about and say, “this is why I love this show”. While “Say Yes” places some characters in unfamiliar situations and we see conversations between people who seldom interact on-screen, the storytelling is empty and vapid. The powers that be even go as far to offer a ridiculous fake-out death, further proving that the show has lost all respect for the hardcore viewer.

I liked the callback during the segment where Rick and the gang visit the Trash Bag Jedi again. It ties in directly to the title of the episode and is the sole redeeming tiny scene. Even that moment is sadly forgettable in context of the full hour. This is the worst “back half” I’ve ever witnessed in TWD history. Historically, the show has been able to course correct any sort of misstep in the season — leaving me anxious and excited for what’s to come. It will be nothing short of a miracle if I continue watching past the season 7 finale.

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