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Tuesday, March 12, 2024

“The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” Episode 3 Review – This Series Continues to Surprise and Delight

Coming off an exceptional second episode last week (which featured an awesome nod to Dawn of the Dead, a stand-out performance from newcomer Matthew Jeffers as Nat, and the wonderful full reunion between Rick and Michonne), “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” Episode 3 (“Bye”) finds Michonne still undercover within the CRM as a consignee. She’s under strict orders from Rick to pretend to be a “B,” when it’s clear Michonne is anything but. Watching Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira play off the dynamic of reunited lovers acting like complete strangers is endlessly entertaining, and another testament to how strong the duo are as performers. 

Michonne can only play innocent for so long, as her natural skills fending off the undead become clear during the frequent walker killing sessions that consignees are required to do at the CRM’s walls. Michonne punctures walkers one by one in sequences filled to the brim with that classic Walking Dead gore. Despite the show’s core focus on the CRM’s hierarchies, The Ones Who Live still finds time to give fans that expected zombie goodness. Another standout sequence sees Rick and Michonne push a device that emits distractive noises into a horde, all while ghastly fog entombs their surroundings. Clever camera placement grants viewers a first-person perspective as the hunk of machinery rams down walkers as the duo push it farther into the woods. How romantic!

Earlier in the episode, a rotting corpse tries to push itself into a subway turnstile, so much so that the metal bars split its body into several pieces, allowing a shambling group of walkers to finally pass through the entryway. The walkers look better than ever in The Ones Who Live, reaching a state of decomposition that brings to mind Rick Baker’s incredible zombies from 2003’s The Haunted Mansion (yeah I just referenced 2003’s The Haunted Mansion). Human features are slim to none on these cre​​atures, with bone and gnarly rotting flesh infesting most of their gruesome faces. 

Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) plays a much bigger role in this episode, appearing in several scenes alongside Lincoln’s Rick. A mini-flashback recounts Grimes encountering Jadis for the first time since his helicopter rescue. Despite saving his life, Jadis is still up to her old tricks – using Rick’s captivity in exchange for her entry into the CRM’s city. For a character that was often critiqued and less well-liked in the original series for her strange antics, it’s great to see McIntosh truly reach the final form of Jadis, weird quirks and all. From the garbage dump, to the Civic Republic Military, Jadis is another great example of a classic The Walking Dead character that has gone through an enormous amount of evolution throughout the series. The tension between Grimes and Jadis is heated, as she is the only person within the CRM who knows of Rick and Michonne’s past. Any attacks against Jadis will result in her exposing the entirety of Rick’s old group in Alexandria, a fate that would surely result in death and destruction. Rick is able to get in a jab about Jadis’ treacherous new haircut, a moment of comedy that strikes perfectly in an otherwise heavy, dark series. 

Another great tidbit from the recent episode happens when Michonne stumbles across an artwork vendor in the city featuring the same artistic style that was on the broken cell phone with her and Judith drawn on it. One of The Walking Dead’s most intriguing questions finally has an answer; Rick had commissioned an artist in the CRM’s city to illustrate Michonne and Judith multiple times on broken phones in an effort to reach them. One of these phones eventually made its way onto the boat that Michonne uncovered in Season 10, signaling to her that Rick was still alive and beginning her journey to find him. Michonne chats with the artist, who mentions that Rick had also wanted him to draw a boy but he could never get it right. Michonne is quick to reveal that “the boy’s” name was “Carl,” with a slight smile on her face. It’s a short and subtle moment, but the emotion still shines through thanks to Danai’s performance. It’s great to see the show acknowledge the loss of Carl, as his shocking removal from the series still continues to be one of the more drastic decisions the original series made. 

The main tension from the episode comes from Rick’s desire for Michonne to flee the CRM…without him. Grimes devises a surprisingly easy escape plan for Michonne, omitting the fact that he won’t be coming with her. Michonne, who will not leave without her beloved, ignores her window for escape and confronts Rick. He desperately believes that the only way she, and the rest of his family back at Alexandria, will be safe is if someone remains at the CRM to make sure they don’t go after her. After years of trying to escape, Rick is broken in a way we have not seen before. He believes escape is out of the question for him, and Michonne is desperate to break him out of this state of mind. Will the CRM be the villain to finally break Rick Grimes? Rick was previously at his lowest when Negan murdered Glenn and Abraham in front of him in cold blood, but Grimes was able to come back from that. Michonne hasn’t lost her edge and dedication to surviving, and hopefully she can bring that side back out of Rick. 

To make matters worse, recently promoted Commander Pearl Thorne (Lesley-Ann Brandt) is getting suspicious over Michonne’s potential threat to the leadership in the CRM. A tense sequence sees Thorne interrogating Michonne, while a stressed Rick watches from behind her. Thorne begins to unsheathe her knife from behind her back, and Rick grabs his pistol from its holster. While Thorne doesn’t end up attacking Michonne, Rick’s reaction shows that he’s willing to blow his cover if Michonne’s life is on the line. Stellar editing emphasizes the uneasiness of this effective scene. 

Later on in the episode, Thorne has Michonne in her gun’s sights during an off-site mission, only for Rick to throw a walker in front of Thorne’s point of view. With Horne’s suspicions growing to a dangerous high and Rick’s refusal to join in on an escape, Michonne goes to her last resort. While taking a copter back to base, a thunderstorm rocks the flying vehicle. As the storm intensifies, Michonne slides open the copter’s door and pulls Rick out with her! Hopefully, Michonne was equipped with some sort of parachute or else this could be up there with one of The Walking Dead’s biggest “jump the shark” moments. 

From a production stand-point, The Ones Who Live continues to be cinematically superb. Sam Ewing’s score elevates moments of tension and emotion with some seriously beautiful motifs. Smooth editing blends together time jumps effortlessly, keeping the pacing fast and always engaging. Night and day scenes alike are lit beautifully, creating a diverse visual palette that the flagship series often lacked with its constant woodsy terrain. “Bye” seems to wrap up a mini-three episode arc, hinted at by their connecting titles: “Years,” “Gone,” “By” (a reference to the flagship series’ pilot “Days Gone Bye.”) Overall, The Ones Who Live continues to surprise and delight three episodes in. With these first few episodes completely covering Rick and Michonne’s journey and reunion, the remainder of the series is free to explore exciting new narratives with the apocalypse’s favorite couple. 

4 out of 5 skulls

The post “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” Episode 3 Review – This Series Continues to Surprise and Delight appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



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