The Walking Dead: Season 9, Episode 4 ‘The Obliged’ Review



Let’s hope next week’s flashback laden affair can at least remind us of a time when the show used to be consistently good.

Okay, people. We’re down to Rick Grimes’ final two episodes. I know we’re supposed to be anxious/upset, but I mostly just feel relieved. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Speeches and Motivations

The episode opens with Michonne vacillating between her role as mom and basically a top government official. She’s great at both, but clearly itching for something more…an itch that she scratches by grabbing her katana blade in the middle of the night and whacking some walkers. This seems pretty harmless in my opinion. We all need some “Me Time” now and again. Since this is The Walking Dead, however, it ends up foreshadowing a contrived major character flaw.

Speaking of character flaws, Maggie might finally be taking things a little too far. While I agree with her that Negan deserves to die (and that Rick is being a hypocritical idiot for letting him live), I don’t think she should be grabbing a crowbar and marching over to Alexandria to do the job herself. Jesus feels the same way, but is unable to convince her not to go.

Meanwhile, Eugene tells Rick that the bridge project just isn’t going to work like they’d hope. He tries to apologize for not being a better engineer, but Rick stops to tell him that he tried his best and he’s still proud of them. Next, he finds out from Carol that she’s leaving to go to The Kingdom…which Rick responds to by telling her that he thinks she’s awesome. If you didn’t know Rick was going to die next week, then the individualized motivational speeches were a dead giveaway.

Rick later gets word from Jesus of Maggie’s death march toward Negan’s prison cell. Daryl offers him a ride, which turns out to be a ruse that leads them out in the middle of nowhere (comparatively). Rick and Daryl get mad at each other, scuffle, and fall into a pit. This gives them a perfect opportunity to rehash all their usual arguments about what to do with Negan, which gets a tad bit more interesting when Daryl reveals that he knew about the Oceansiders killing Saviors.

Lunch and Manipulation

Back in Alexandria, Michonne learns that Negan has gone on a hunger strike. Because Rick is an idiot, she takes it upon herself to berate him into eating. Negan takes this face-to-face opportunity to become a trailer park version of Hannibal Lector and probe Michonne for personal information–which he promptly uses to piss her off.

After gaining a few sympathy points by opening up about his wife, Negan makes the asinine declaration that him and Michonne are “the same” because they are both warriors who aren’t currently getting the opportunity to fight. This observation completely glosses over the fact that Michonne isn’t a psychopath and still has people in the world that she loves. Negan counters by saying she’s afraid to end up like him (i.e. all alone and with no one to love or fight). Michonne counters by not telling him where his baseball bat Lucille is. Negan responds by slamming his head into the wall. At this point in the show, I wanted to do the same.

Salvage and Salvation

Back at the trash heap, Jadis/Anne has Gabriel tide up and about to be eaten by a walker, which is apparently the price of admission for wherever the helicopter is coming from. Gabriel says he forgives her. Jadis rewards this by not killing Gabriel and knocking him out, instead. When Gabriel wakes up, he finds a note that basically says “You’re great, but I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel…” and cries.

Pit Fight

Carol and her Kingdom friends are ambushed by Saviors, who are understandably pissed about the Oceansiders killing their friends. Jed, the head Savior (apparently), makes the colossal mistake of calling Carol a “weak little woman.” Despite having a gun (which he stole earlier in case you didn’t remember), Carol still kicks his ass. Unfortunately, the fight (which features other people firing guns and apparently not hitting anybody) draws the attention of some walkers–which walk straight into Rick and Daryl’s pit.

Rick and Daryl overcome their disagreement to climb out and defend each other. Daryl then suggests they let the walkers go over the crumbling bridge. Rick sees a random horse and decides to lead them away, instead. Not only is the bridge too important, but the plot demands it.

As Rick rides away, the horse spazzes out and tosses him directly onto a piece of exposed rebar. As he groans and looks around for a magical dumpster, all that meets his eyes are two converging hordes of walkers.

The Verdict

Unfortunately, scenes from next week’s episode already show that Rick un-impales himself and rides around on a horse while hallucinating a clip show of his best moments. I’d like to take this moment to point out that one of my tweets from earlier tonight (which was supposed to be sarcastic) looks like it might end up being painfully true.

All snarkiness aside, though, this episode would have had a much greater impact if we didn’t know Rick was going to die next week…at least, I think it would have. Between the motivational speeches and round 10 of Daryl vs. Rick moralizing, there was a surprising lack of urgency in such a major moment being set up. Add in Negan’s ridiculous attempt to rattle Michonne via some blatantly false equivalency, and we are once again left with another lackluster episode.

Let’s hope next week’s flashback laden affair can at least remind us of a time when the show used to be consistently good.

The Walking Dead: Season 9, Episode 4 'The Obliged'
Is it good?
Even with the show's main character setting up his final episode, The Walking Dead continues to shamble slowly down the drain.
Michonne continues to be awesome as a mom, a leader, and a warrior.
The resulting Michonne and Negan's screen time together is pretty contrived, but the actors are still great.
Just because Negan and Michonne are excellent fighters who enjoy combat, doesn't mean they are "the same."
Even if there weren't promos everywhere for Rick's final episodes, it would be painfully obvious that he was going to die soon.
Rick and Daryl argue for the millionth time about their respective moral codes, this time inside of a pit.
4
Meh