♪”I was in the pit, you were in the pit, we all were in the pit…”
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode follow…
Aside from the very end, when Rick and Daryl escaped the Pit of Despair, dodging plummeting walkers on the way up (almost Tomb Raider-style), and then Rick went to head off Herd-icane Tordelia, there wasn’t much to “The Obliged.“
The way last week’s episode left off, it seemed like Maggie and Daryl were headed to Alexandria right that minute. Which I was admittedly concerned about because – well – Daryl was carrying that heavy gas can and those wire handles can dig into your palm like a sonofabitch. Seriously. I didn’t know how he was going to shlep that thing all the way.
As it turned out, the two simply crafted a plan to visit Negan. Or, more to the point, Maggie did. Daryl stayed behind completely to snoop on Rick and make sure he either didn’t catch wind of it – or to make sure his warnings went unheard.
By the way, who was that s***ty tween girl on the lawn chair? Had we met her before? She was like every rotten little sister in old ’80s comedies. Also, she was kind of awesome. And, because I’m a lunatic, I thought it’d be cool if she were somehow Clementine from the Telltale games. Just like a quick scene featuring Clem, with her ballcap, being secret snide to Rick. Just the most amazing Easter egg ever. Anyhow, I liked that part. She definitely had the Clem spirit. Because Clem would be 100% behind killing Negan.
Despite its moments of action, which were moderately cool – especially Rick getting impaled (BYE, RICK!) – “The Obliged” really broke down into two lengthy conversations. A necessary one between Daryl and Rick where they actual got into some serious specifics about their current issues, and then sort of a heightened TV-type conversation between Michonne and Negan (who they mostly kept in darkness because it’s not like we enjoy seeing Jeffrey Dean Morgan act or emote or anything) where they both inferred intimate information based on abstracts like they were FBI profilers trained to read people.
Negan spoke a little bit about his past and how he was thankful his wife wasn’t around to make him care about someone, and then he tried to put that s*** on Michonne’s shoulders and she wasn’t having it. Then Negan hinted at…his daughter? Right? The baby girl who Rick and Daryl found last year? I think. I mean, he could have been talking about Lucille the bat, like Michonne thought, or it could be that he called his bat Lucille because of that baby. Or his wife. Either way, he says “Lucille.” He wants to see “her.” It could very well be that he’s attached a huge amount of emotions to that bat. Still, it’s cryptic. It’s one of those instances where you, as a viewer, just want the characters to say the things they mean. Why be weirdly coy about it?
Daryl and Rick’s conversation, though interrupted due to the Saviors attacking Carol’s gang, finally seemed to be getting close to a mutual understanding. Which is why it sucked that there was no real resolution. Sure, they both said they’d die for one another and they got to have that “Grab my hand, brother” moment, but then they got separated and now Rick’s gonna bite it. It’s probably the last they ever see of one other and they only really started to have this conversation. Now, thanks to TV happenstance, they don’t get to finish it, which is the hardest part of most conversations. Rick might die, or get captured by who knows what, and the others will probably spare Negan out of respect for Rick. And the cycle of just honoring whatever the last person to die wanted will continue.
It’s frustrating because I really wanted the two of them to leave the dang pit and then have to actually figure out what to do next. Would Rick agree that he was being a pain in the ass and that leaving Negan alive was a blatant insult to the dead? And that honoring Carl, who wasn’t even killed by Negan, wasn’t more important than respecting those who died by Negan’s hand? Or was he still going to push back and try to stop Maggie? We’ll never know because – you know – random, and convenient, chaos!
Daryl shined a bit brighter this week thanks to the pit scene. He actually had to say the things he was thinking out loud, in more than one or two sentence bursts. With Daryl probably taking over as the new lead-type person, after Rick’s exit creates a vacuum of sorts, Daryl’s going to have to become an actual character. Sorry, Daryl lovers, but he can’t just keep being the guy who doesn’t shower. Or at least, that can’t continue to be the most interesting thing about him. He needs to rise up and become more than a grimace and a crossbow. I think he can do it. There’s a full character under the filth, I know it!
“The Obliged,” basically, set us up for a bunch of things that…will pay off next week. I’m having a hard time believing that a drip like Jed could get the drop on Carol. Carol once took out an entire complex filled with armed cannibals. Please, let’s not retcon her actual badass survival abilities now by making her weaker as the seasons go on. And we should also probably stay away from any messaging involving “you get weaker the more you care about people.” We’ve been hit over the head with that for years now.
Though, for sure, Anne couldn’t bring herself to allow “buckethead” to chomp Gabriel’s neck. Because she cares for him so much. Yes, the most passionate, gripping love story on the show – Anne and Gabriel, who hooked up two days ago – swallowed up a bunch of screen time this week as she spared his life (I guess one gives this mystery group “A”s who’ve been bit already?) and then took off. Like…she already did last season. And Gabriel just woke up in the trash heap, all sad and dejected that the greatest romance of our, or any, era had come to an end.