The Walking Dead 904 – The Obliged
Rick’s vision for a unified society is slipping through his fingers. With the coalition starting to crumble people are beginning to return to their respective communities and his attempts at keeping his dream alive are being sabotaged from within. Call it a mild revolt or a soft coup Rick’s vision is being rejected and to complicate matters even more Maggie is off to meet Negan. Rick is completely against that idea but he soon finds that his wish to stop her from engaging their former adversary is falling on deaf ears. Daryl is also part of the plot to sabotage Rick’s plans. After a duplicitous offer to help Rick intercept Maggie is exposed, Daryl and Rick soon find themselves at the bottom of a large pit. Cue the metaphors whenever you’re ready.
The moral dilemma surrounding keeping Negan alive is tearing everyone apart. Oceanside’s desire to avenge their loved ones, Maggie’s unresolved justice for Glenn and the deaths of countless others at Negan’s hands has people disillusioned with Rick’s course of action. Rick’s argument that killing Negan would only make him a martyr and lead to more killing is a valid one. Holding Carl’s last wish and working to fulfill it is a noble gesture but to the others it comes across as selfish.
Negan is fully aware of how things work on the outside. Even behind bars his power is undeniable as is his penchant for being able to read people. His probing conversation with Michonne hits some delicate spots revealing some of her backstory and solidifying the imagery in the pre-credits scene. Sometimes the difference between people can appear to be as wide as a chasm but in reality, with a few turns here and there the differences can be razor thin.
The Obliged has a lot of moving parts. Rick and Daryl discover the pitfalls of a friendship in decline, The Saviors take matters into their own hands now that the truth concerning their missing members and Oceanside is out in the open and Negan’s reliance on Lucille is startling to say the least. Plus there’s Maggie’s quest to kill Negan and the situation between Father Gabriel and Anne. With all of that to digest it’s also a set up for Rick Grimes’ last episode next week.
It’ll be the end of an era when Rick steps into the shadows but getting him there seems a little contrived. Falling off the horse and finding himself at a crossroads filled with walkers makes for a decent cliffhanger but one that also elicits a groan or two. After everything Rick’s been through, after all of the close calls he’s dodged this is how he begins his exit? Hopefully next week’s “Rick Finale” will hit the right notes and satisfy everyone but one has to wonder what’s in store for a franchise that’s lost the leads from both of its shows in less than a year.