The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Episode 4 Review – What We

March 18, 2024

This The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live review contains spoilers. The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Episode 4 The second season of The Walking Dead tends to get dismissed by critics and fans as one of the lesser seasons. It was slower, set primarily in one location, and there was turmoil behind the […]

The post The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Episode 4 Review – What We appeared first on Den of Geek.

This The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live review contains spoilers.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Episode 4

The second season of The Walking Dead tends to get dismissed by critics and fans as one of the lesser seasons. It was slower, set primarily in one location, and there was turmoil behind the scenes regarding Frank Darabont’s battles with AMC. While Hershel’s farm gave the show some of its more iconic moments, it’s not held in the same regard as the preceding season, or some of the ones that follow in its wake.

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I’m as guilty as dismissing this season as anyone, but one thing it did that latter seasons didn’t was lean heavily on the emotional toll surviving has on the people who are scratching to make life after the zombie apocalypse livable. There are moments, even episodes, where this emotional trauma is explored, but as The Walking Dead grew more and more popular, those moments grew less frequent and were explored less. The fourth episode of The Ones Who Live, “What We,” takes elements from the first three episodes of the series and digs down deeply. We’ve seen how Rick and Michonne have spent the past eight years, and now it’s time to see just how badly damaged they’ve been by their long estrangement and their shared efforts to reunite.

To call it a bottle episode is dismissive. Certainly, there’s one major setting, and most of the episode contains little in the way of special effects (by the standards of the average Walking Dead Televisual Universe show). However, most bottle episodes aren’t this interesting, or this gripping. “What We” feels like The Walking Dead taking a stab at doing a spinoff of the Richard Linklater Before trilogy, not wallowing in the usual zombie action or soap opera frippery. It’s almost certainly going to be polarizing, but it’s one of the most captivating, emotionally-deep episodes of television from this universe, and it’s all down to the powerhouse that is Danai Gurira.

She’s always been a striking figure, with one of those naturally interesting faces that draws in the eye, and The Walking Dead has always leaned on her ability as an actress to sell emotional depth without showing emotion openly. She’s great at the ability to be impassive or stone-faced while having a lot going on behind her eyes. In this episode, she’s given the opportunity to show off more of her acting range, and she makes the most of it. Shows like The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live aren’t the kind that win acting Emmys, but she will certainly be in the running for Saturn awards this year.

Rick (Andrew Lincoln, no slouch himself in this episode) and Michonne come up for air after taking the Nestea plunge out of a moving helicopter into a body of water and find themselves in, basically, a modern home. There’s a smart thermostat, a Roomba, and all the lights seem to be activated by people in the vicinity. It’s the perfect place to take a breather after, you know, falling out of a helicopter. For Rick and Michonne, who are carrying around a lot of baggage from the previous episode, that chance to catch their breath is a great chance to use that breath to pick at one another to figure out just what in the world is going on in their relationship and why Rick is so dead-set on pushing Michonne away after she worked so hard and got so many people killed trying to get him back.

The conflict starts almost immediately between the two, with Michonne sneaking her way around verbally to letting Rick know that she won’t be the one who tells his children how he refused to come back when she did all that work to find him. Rick digs his heels in, pushing Michonne away again, always citing the need to protect them from the CRM and, if possible, to change the trajectory of the ravenous beast away from Alexandria and everyone he knows and cares for. Michonne pushes back on his claim, time and time again, calling it bullshit over and over again. He’s lying to herself, and he’s lying to himself, and she’s the only one willing to call him out on it. Rick, apparently, didn’t know about RJ and that’s why Michonne hasn’t brought him up to his father yet, but she’s willing to use him as a club when necessary to try and guilt Rick into coming back physically and mentally.

Rick pushes back, hard, telling Michonne that he told her to hide who she is from the very beginning, and she refused, drawing attention to herself at every possible turn by breaking the zombie kill record and saving Thorne during the incident with the R-DIM back at base. At every turn, he’s tried to keep her safe and ensure she can still leave, and at every turn she’s made that more and more difficult for him. Jadis saved his life, and Jadis knows all about Alexandria, and she’s using that to keep herself safe from Rick and to keep Rick involved in the CRM. Killing her won’t make the threat of the CRM go away. In Rick’s mind, it’s not if the CRM turn their attention to Alexandria and company, but when.

Michonne knows first hand what happens when you catch the CRM’s eye, and it’s usually poison gas from a low-flying helicopter. But she spent a year (!!!) recovering from the mustard gas attack with Nat, and she won’t go home empty handed, especially now that the crashed remains of the helicopter wedged in the side of the very building their sheltering in give Rick and Michonne a perfect chance to escape. A flaming helicopter wreck where the corpses can get up and walk around after death doesn’t leave any physical evidence for someone interested in looking to find.

It’s the perfect cover, and Rick refuses to take it. Michonne fights, pleads, and reasons, but Rick stands firm. He’s got to go back, and she’s got to go home. Nothing will change his mind, to the point where she gives up and storms out of their shared refuge. Director Michael Slovis mainly focuses on his actors in this episode, and aside from a little zombie killing conflict between Rick and Michonne, this moment where Michonne stalks to the end of the hallway and pauses to let one tear escape while Rick hovers, his hand on the door as he tries to talk himself out of going and stopping her, is one of the episode’s emotional highlights. I can’t say enough good things about both actors in this scene in particular, and Gurira’s single tear is staggering in its power in that moment.

Of course, Rick relents and goes after her, just in time for the CRM to show up and fire a missile into the side of the building where the helicopter has crashed, because they don’t leave evidence behind. That shatters the glass of the building and allows the walkers to slowly come in like the tide, forcing Michonne and Rick to work together to fight off the zombies. It’s awkward and stilted, their cohesion is gone. The two fight their way to relative safety in the building gym (stumbling across the corpse and suicide note of the owner who tried to rebuild the world in his own way), and after another conversation, Michonne comes to a realization; this isn’t the guy she used to know.

Except, it is, because during the escape from the gym when the chandelier crashes down and pins Michonne’s leg, trapping her, Rick refuses to leave her side and the two finally work together without snapping at one another to get her free and head back to the safety of their previous room to gather their wits again and consummate their renewed relationship in one of the most explicit Walking Dead sex scenes. In the aftermath, after talking about RJ, they finally get into just what’s keeping them apart. Michonne talks about her traumatic events; Rick does the same and finally admits that the only way he could keep going on was to figure out how to turn himself into one of the walking dead, a living version of the very zombies that plague their world. Without his family, he died, but didn’t die.

But Rick and Michonne, together, can do anything. He’s got a new chance at life, a new chance to be with his family, and Michonne is going to make sure they keep that safe together and love one another as hard as they can until they can’t anymore. Rick and Michonne, renewed and revived, steal an electric car and head towards Alexandria, leaving behind the collapsing remains of their respite from the CRM.

It’s a sweet moment that, thanks to Danai Gurira’s sharp script and the incredible work of the two actors, feels earned. Rick had to work through some things, and it took every ounce of Michonne’s strength and stubbornness to keep him from giving up before he found that moment of clarity to realize what he really wanted and the bravery to risk the pain of loss to feel again. Gurira’s background as an award-winning playwright really shines this week, and her script really gave both actors a lot to work with, and both rose to the occasion admirably.

A well-deserved respite from the stress of the apocalypse for Rick and Michonne, a brief respite from the day-to-day slash and stab of life on The Walking Dead for the viewers, and one of the finest episodes of television since the halcyon days of AMC’s last surviving flagship show.

The post The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Episode 4 Review – What We appeared first on Den of Geek.

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