TV Review: The Walking Dead - Season 9, Episode 4

Season 9, Episode 4: The Obliged

PLOT: Michonne has a chat with Negan while others argue over his fate.

REVIEW: A couple days ago, I revisited some episodes from early in the third season of AMC's The Walking Dead, and it was fun to go back and see how much of a brooding badass Michonne (Danai Gurira) used to be. These days she's living a happy life with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), helping him raise his young daughter and becoming a leader at the Alexandria community, helping rebuild structures and civilization. She's still one of the best characters on the show, but seeing how she used to be really made me miss the ass-kicking Michonne of season 3. So while watching the season 9 episode The Obliged, I was glad to find out I wasn't the only one who missed that version of the character. Michonne apparently misses her old self as well. On restless nights, she leaves the bed she shares with Rick, grabs her sword, and goes out to kill every zombie she comes across. That was a fun sequence that got the episode off to a great start.

The rest of the episode didn't live up to that Michonne sequence for me. For the most part, it felt like one of those episodes where the show spins its wheels while building up to something bigger. Its centerpiece was a philosophical discussion between Michonne and imprisoned villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and I can't say that conversation held much interest for me. The hero and the villain debating whether or not they're truly the same deep down inside is something we've seen many times before. But oh my God, Michonne used a baseball bat to kill a zombie earlier, so maybe she really is a female Negan!

The best thing to come out of the Michonne and Negan chat was the final moment, when Negan gets emotional over the idea that his beloved baseball bat Lucille might be lost forever.

Meanwhile, Rick caught word that Hilltop leader Maggie (Lauren Cohan) was out to get some delayed revenge on Negan, and his mission to intercept her was derailed by the fact that he caught a ride with the wrong person - his buddy Daryl (Norman Reedus), who is siding with Maggie on this "Negan needs to die" issue. When Rick and Daryl decide to fight over this disagreement, they tumble into a pit and get stuck in there for most of the episode. Of course they do, because the writers need to kill some time for some reason. So we get Rick and Daryl talking while standing in a hole.

A side plot that momentarily had me very interested was a scene in which Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh), the artist formerly known as Jadis, threatens to feed her almost-love-interest Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) to a zombie. As that rotting flesh-eater got closer and closer to being able to chow down on Gabriel's face, I began to really wish it would. The death of a side character, one I've never connected with all that much, coming out of nowhere might have saved this episode for me... But the episode was not saved. Instead, it fell down further with some of Negan's former followers declaring that the war between communities, the overly drawn-out story that ran this show into the ground last season, is back on. Hopefully this renewed war won't last more than a couple minutes.

Maggie didn't make it to Alexandria in this episode, but there was another hint at how she's going to be leaving the show, as we know Lauren Cohan only has a couple episodes left before she moves on. But first Rick Grimes / Andrew Lincoln is going to be leaving the show. Next week is his final episode, and while he was left in a very bad situation in the final minute of The Obliged, I'm not buying that he's going to get feasted on by zombies because of a skittish horse and some inconveniently placed rebar. That can't be how they're going to finish the story of Rick Grimes.

Before ending up in that bad spot, Rick had to get out of the pit he was sharing with Daryl, and was I imagining an homage that wasn't there or was Daryl's exit from the pit purposely reminiscent of INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE? I hope it was intentional, because if so that would be a bright spot in an episode I found to be pretty dull overall.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: The Father Gabriel scene would have taken the win if the zombie had gotten the chance to snack on him. But since Gabriel got out of that scenario unscathed, the best zombie moment was Michonne's killing spree at the beginning of the episode.

GORY GLORY: There was some nice gore on display while Michonne was slicing up walkers. The first zombies she kills in the episode are having a very messy supper when she finds them, and there was an excellent effect when one of the several zombies she kills gets its head cut in half.

FAVORITE SCENE: Although that last shot of Rick was an epic one, the opening sequence with Michonne pulls off the hat trick this week.




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