Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 12 follow.
It's no surprise that the latest Greg Nicotero-directed episode is a well-balanced, emotional and intense hour of zombie drama.
The Walking Dead is rolling on all cylinders. Well-balanced episodes, finally building towards a potentially massive payoff, have filled the four most recent Sunday nights since the AMC series returned, making the sometimes tough-to-endure first half of Season 7 worth it.
The "Say Yes" episode was packed with both levity and reality checks. Rick Grimes and Michonne ventured all around the outskirts of Alexandria on a longer-than-planned scavenging mission, with a few extra-curricular activities taking place in the back of a van to help pass the time. They weren't the only characters in the episode, though. Father Gabriel, Rosita, and a few other faces fans are hungry to see popped into Episode 7x12, providing the balance many episodes in Season 7 have been lacking.
First of all, the dialogue in Say Yes felt a notch above your standard conversations on The Walking Dead. It wasn't the complex or deep chatting that stood out which Matt Negrete really nailed. It was the simple moment between Rick and Michonne in which he hands over a bag of chili, macaroni, and cheese. The "come on," finally solidified some chemistry between the two characters who are flat out enjoying each others' presence, at this point.
At the same time, the couple wasn't taking any threats on their lives too seriously. After falling through a ceiling, they spent a few moments to laugh on the ground rather than make sure the room was clear. Outside, they joked about taking on a few walkers and when they were trapped inside of a car with no way out besides being total walker bait, they still kept their cool and offered a couple of quips to each other. Years ago, this type of thing would be an error in the writers room. Now, it's a sign that the survivors know how to handle zombies with ease and anyone who has made it to this point means business outside of the Safe-Zone walls which might be why a conversation regarding some sort of future with Rick leading the charge came up.
Still, Michonne had a stark wake-up call when she thought Rick dead. It's a necessary reminder for both the characters and the audience watching them that these people are not safe. This time, Rick narrowly escaped the walkers for a chemistry-building showdown against walkers with his girlfriend serving as a tag-team partner. No, no one ever actually thought the show went ahead and killed Rick, but the reminder of taking this world and its threats seriously was the important element of the sequence. It all prompts a touching moment which sees Rick open up about his history with Glenn and how it is keeping him up at night. The Walking Dead hasn't felt so nostalgic since he told her about Shane.
It wasn't Rick and Michonne who had all of the development on Sunday night, though. Tara continues to emerge as an important member of the Alexandria community. She finally spills the knowledge of Oceanside to Rick after a few well-played and well-written moments with Baby Judith. The growth won't stop at giving Oceanside up to Rick, though. She is fully aware of what will happen if her group approaches their group and that knowledge will keep her at Rick's side in the final four episodes of the season.
On the other hand, Rosita and Gabriel both saw a touch of expansion to their depth but both went in the same, negative direction this time around. Rosita has become a nuisance to the episodes despite saying the things audience members were yelling during the first eight episodes of the season. Her constant belittling of Tara is making her into the show's biggest heel rather than hero as she finally sets out to accomplish the one thing fans want more than anything: Negan. Yet, we're still not rooting for her. Then, it turns out she missed her shot at him the first time around intentionally as she followed advice from the priest when it came to allowing Negan to live. Gabriel, however, shows no remorse for Olivia or Spencer's lives as Rosita heeding his words is what cost them, rather than Negan. At least we know Rosita's frustrations are coming from a place of guilt while Gabriel's lack of it is discouraging.
Speaking of annoying, Jadis and her junkyard gang are proving to be just that. Not only are they demanding twice the amount of 63 guns which Rick quickly delivered but the word choice in their communication is baffling. Somehow, this group has adopted a dull language in preserving their apocalyptic lives which is less acceptable than King Ezekiel keeping a tiger by his side.
With four episodes remaining in Season 7 of The Walking Dead, its Say Yes episode sends us barreling towards an explosive finale. Without the dark, slower first half, the payoff which appears to be set up for the next four weeks is completely in place following Episode 7x12. Rosita and Sasha are on a self-sacrificing mission to assassinate Negan. Rick is being lead to the source of his much-needed guns, finally beginning to see a future beyond the war. And, let's not forget, Dwight might have reached a breaking point back at the Sanctuary.
Watch out, Negan.
MORE WALKING DEAD: Did We Just Meet The Whisperers? / Gallery Of Rick And Michonne Getting It On / Another Sign Michonne Is Taking Andrea's Place / 'Say Yes' Recap With Spoilers / Nicotero On Sasha And Rosita's Mission / The Sixteen Candles Tribute In 'Say Yes'