AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 9, Episode 4: “The Obliged”
Directed by Rosemary Rodriguez
Written by Geraldine Inoa
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Warning Signs” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “What Comes After” – click here
Michonne (Danai Gurira) is thinking about life before all the domesticated living. While Rick (Andrew Lincoln) sleeps, and after the day of work’s done, Michonne goes out to chop zombies with her sword, as if to prove to herself she’s not getting weak.
One night, she finds a man hanged from a tree and she’s attacked by a walker. She uses a baseball bat to kill it, and holding the weapon in her hands calls to mind the brutality of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and what it means to live a life of violence. She feels the lure of that vicious world, like when she was out there alone, animalistic and wild.
Then there’s Maggie (Lauren Cohan), raising little Hershel in this tortured world and doing the best she can as the leader of Hilltop. She’s headed off again, leaving Jesus (Tom Payne) in charge, planning to go visit Negan like she talked about with Daryl (Norman Reedus). Her buddy Jesus isn’t sure it’s the best course of action.
Things at the bridge aren’t stellar. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) doesn’t have a great report on the progress for Rick. He does have good news about the hordes nearby – named after Shakespearean characters, “Tybalt” and “Cordelia” – remaining separate, which is good for safety and the bridge’s construction.
Worse news— Carol (Melissa McBride) is taking her crew back to the Kingdom. Things are going to shit in a lot of ways. Carol’s a realist, she knows they can’t force the situation with the Saviors. Poor Rick’s feeling the pressures of constantly having to be the one to run this new society. He finds out Maggie’s on her way to Alexandria, and Daryl offers his pal a ride intending to delay his arrival.
On the road, he and Daryl get into a fight before tumbling into a hole in the ground. Puts them in a proper position to hash out their differences. Daryl calls Rick out, believing the former sheriff disrespected Glenn’s memory by not killing Negan— Rick hasn’t brought up the fact Daryl was the one who unintentionally got Glenn’s head caved in. Each have their points, difficult as they are to swallow.
Michonne gets word Negan’s on a “hunger strike.” She goes down to feed him herself, trying to explain how they’re “reordering the world.” He has a decidedly more nihilistic view on life. We hear more of his old life and how his wife got cancer. Things get too personal for Michonne when he mentions her child.
At the garbage dump, Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) has Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) tied up, leaning a walker over him to let it chomp into his flesh. She decides at the last minute to stop, and knocks him out.
Carol’s gearing her people up to head for the Kingdom, when Jed (Rhys Coiro) and his Savior friends pull guns on them. He’s figured out Oceanside is killing his people. Everything’s close to getting fatal when Carol kicks a bit of ass. Rick and Daryl hear guns going off. They work hard trying to get out. Ironic— baring the harsh, once unspeakable truths to one another’s only brought them together as one stronger.
Michonne confronts Negan again. She makes clear they aren’t alike, despite his insistence. She gets no pleasure out of killing. Or does she? A compelling place to find her, after the episode’s opening scene. She thinks Negan wants connection. It’s more likely him trying to sow seeds of doubt. He gets particularly upset when he hears Lucille’s out there, somewhere, without him. Fucking freak.
“I live for the living.”
Rick and Daryl find new trouble once walkers start sliding into the hole with them, as they both try to climb the sides using roots for leverage. Soon, the hole’s filling up. Dead hands reach out at the pair, and more zombies fall into the pit. Rick makes it up top, but Daryl’s struggling— one last push and they’re both out, safe again, at least for a little. Rick plans to lead a massive horde away on his own. He does in spite of Daryl, who’s almost more worried for his friend now than ever.
When Gabriel comes to he’s alone at the dump, and Anne’s nowhere to be found. She left him a goodbye note before disappearing. This won’t be the last of her. Will this plot somehow connect to how Rick leaves the series? No absolute confirmation Mr. Grimes is going to die until we see it happen.
Speaking of our man, he’s on horseback drawing the horde when he runs into an even bigger one. The perfect time for his horse to buck him off, landing him right on a concrete slab and taking an iron rod.
Is this it? Are we seeing the end of Rick in the making? Or is trusty Daryl keeping an eye on his friend nearby? Let’s hope. Regardless of the possibilities, it’s confirmed Rick is on the doorstep of his exit. Maybe he WILL die. Next episode is his last, one way or another. Not impressed if this is how he’ll go out.
Great episode! Loved the stuff between Rick and Daryl, as well as the focus on Michonne/Michonne+Negan. The Walking Dead still has fire in its belly. Maybe the shake-ups here between Rick and Maggie’s supposed departures will be a kick in the ass the series needs.
If Rick dies it may be hard to continue on, though. In reality, this series has kicked the shit out of its fans, and not in an emotional storytelling way. Ever since the Who-Did-Negan-Kill? debacle things have steadily gone downhill. Can the show be redeemed? Not sure. Father Gore will stick the show out until the end. Doesn’t mean he has to dig it!
“What Comes After” is next.