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Tuesday, March 19, 2024

“The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” Episode 4 Review – Danai Gurira Writes an Exceptional Hour of TV

What We,” written by Michonne herself, Danai Gurira, is the fourth episode in AMC’s “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.” Serving as an emotional climax for Michonne and Rick’s journey, the episode unravels much like a play (which makes sense given Gurira’s background as a playwright). Confined to an abandoned apartment building in the wake of Michonne pulling Rick out of a helicopter, the long-lost lovers finally have some alone time to talk things over. 

What follows is a beautifully written, dialogue-heavy episode that is heightened by dynamic blocking and set design. Much of the episode finds Rick and Michonne arguing over their next steps, pacing and moving around the small apartment they’ve found themselves in. Despite an exit-plan at their fingertips, Rick seems hesitant to travel with Michonne back to Alexandria. Michonne, rightly frustrated, argues with Rick, spiraling the conversation into circles. Grimes is allegiant to the Civic Republic Military and truly believes he can do some good for not only his community, but for the world.

As the episode progresses, Michonne’s frustration with Rick rings just as true for her as it does for the viewers. Despite Michonne’s constant pleas for the man she once knew to return to his children, Rick keeps circling back to his supposed need to remain at the CRM. It’s clear, even more so this episode, that Rick is a shell of who he used to be. Beaten down by years of failed escapes and separation from his family, “The Brave Man,” as RJ Grimes calls his absent father, is not so brave anymore. In a post online, a fan pointed out that the Rick Grimes we once knew essentially did die on that fateful bridge back in season 9. And they’re not wrong.

While Rick and Michonne’s physical reunion was granted to viewers almost immediately in this series, the emotional reunion between the two iconic characters was only truly achieved in this episode. Preventing Rick Grimes from returning to his former glory with a simple snap has proved to result in a much more dynamic, intriguing, and believable narrative for the long-absent character. Michonne finding Rick was only one step of the battle, with Rick finding himself being the toughest hill to climb. Andrew Lincoln once again showcases a masterclass of acting as Grimes cycles through his damaged psyche, desperately trying to figure out how to connect with Michonne. Gurira matches Lincoln’s emotional performance, evoking Michonne’s desperation and anger with authenticity. Letting Gurira take over writing duties for this specific episode proved extremely beneficial given the emotional legwork the character trudges through in this particular installment. If there’s anyone who can understand Michonne the best, it’s Danai Gurira. 

Despite the stellar writing and episode flow, “What We” is not free from a few so-so moments. A chandelier conveniently lands on Michonne, forcing Rick to stay back to rescue her as a shambling horde comes his way. It’s understandable why this sequence occurred, but with so many other ways to place Michonne in peril, the convenient crashing of a chandelier onto her leg comes across on the goofier side. It’s the type of fake-out dangerous moment the flagship series would too often pull on characters we surely knew would not meet their demise. Earlier in the episode, Rick and Michonne’s descent from the helicopter is shown. The visual isn’t super convincing, and the sequencing of shots that follow feels disjointed – clearly meant to hide a restrictive budget. It’s a rare moment of low-quality that sticks out amongst an otherwise polished, elevated looking show. 

On the other hand, “What We” is full of incredible stand out moments. As Michonne changes out of her wet clothes, Rick notices her “X” scar for the first time, a mark fans of the flagship series will remember. Michonne and Daryl’s fateful encounter with a community of murderous children proved to be one of Season 10’s darkest episodes. A somber dialogue occurs later in the episode, offering longtime fans another moment of Michonne filling in Rick about one of the many impactful moments he missed during his absence. The real revelation comes when Michonne mentions Rick’s “Children” and a look of subtle shock washes over Grimes’ face. Michonne breaks the news about RJ, their child that Rick never got the chance to meet.

Even after the revelation, Grimes still refuses to just leave with Michonne, forcing her to try even harder to break his spell of delusion. The constant back-and-forth between these apocalyptic lovers plays out against the framing of a beautiful rectangular window. As the episode progresses, the apartment building itself begins to collapse into rubble, a consistent visual motif for a relationship that is on the rocks. 

After an elongated sequence of several walker kills, close calls, couple bickering, and some hilarious jabs (Michonne mocking Rick by calling him “Commando”), the duo finally return back to the apartment room and connect on a physical level. The scene is shot like a fantasy, backlit by a warm circular light and serenaded by Sam Ewing’s beautiful original score. Intimate framing showcases the emotional reaction of the characters, emphasizing the importance of this long-awaited moment and the rekindling of their love. “You’re still lying to me, you’re lying to yourself,” Michonne says in the aftermath of their romantic moment. The walls are down, and Michonne is ready to pry the old Rick Grimes out of his decaying shell.

With the building at the brink of collapse, Michonne orders Rick to stay back until they decide exactly what they are doing next. “They’ve taken so much from us, why give them anymore!” Michonne pleads to Grimes. And finally, Rick Grimes spills his guts as Andrew Lincoln puts on an intensely raw performance crying through the following poignant monologue: 

“Tell me what is really going on here? What did they take from you?” Michonne asks. 

“Carl…They took Carl. I lost him again,” Rick reveals with a tenderness in his voice. 

“I’d meet up with Carl in my dreams. And that’s how I survived up here. Kept me alive. And then one day he was just gone. He just left. But then I started dreaming of you. And there you were. You and I fell in love in different ways. And it kept me going. And then you were gone too. I couldn’t see your face anymore just like I couldn’t see Carl’s. I can’t live without you. Without you, I die. And I figured out how to do that. I know how to be dead and live now. You can’t just come back here, make me come alive again if I don’t know if I won’t lose you again. What if I lose you and I can’t figure out how to die all over again? I need to get ahead of it Michonne.”

As Ewing’s somber music swells, nostalgic shots of Rick walking along the fields with Carl play out and the core heart that kept Rick fighting for all of these years becomes emotionally apparent yet again.

In a full circle moment, Michonne hands Rick a broken phone with artwork of Carl on it, a visual reminder of a face Rick longed to remember and a great payoff to Michonne stumbling upon the phone artist in the CRM city. Much like how a broken phone with artwork on it brought Michonne back to Rick, the same has brought Rick back to Michonne. Rick’s monologue also elegantly ties in the entire show’s motif of “The Walking Dead,” as Grimes cries to Michonne about how he has learned to “be dead and live.” The entire sequence is one of the show’s (and possibly the series’) best, featuring Emmy-worthy performances from both Gurira and Lincoln. 

The killing of Carl back in Season 8 still remains one of the boldest and somewhat baffling decisions the core show made, but much like how the series turned Carl’s loss into a motivator for Rick to restore a brand new world, the power of Carl’s memory is able to ground Rick back to his emotional center. For a flagship series that can sometimes all too quickly move along after the tragic deaths of its main characters, the overall writing arc for the loss of Carl has proved to be beautifully crafted.

United yet again, Michonne and Rick make a mad dash out of the collapsing building, disposing of walkers and making out along the way. The  production design of the decaying hallways call to mind the corridors of the hospital Grimes first woke up in, perhaps a slight nod to this moment being yet another “rebirth” for the character. As the duo drive away from the collapsing building in a nearby truck, it’s evident that the apocalypse’s power couple is finally back, and together no one can stop them. 

4.5 skulls out of 5

The post “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” Episode 4 Review – Danai Gurira Writes an Exceptional Hour of TV appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3804785/the-walking-dead-the-ones-who-live-episode-4-review-danai-gurira-writes-an-exceptional-hour-of-tv/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-walking-dead-the-ones-who-live-episode-4-review-danai-gurira-writes-an-exceptional-hour-of-tv

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