Image credit: Gene Page/AMC
ERRAND OF MERCY I don't usually go in for "shipping," the process of lustfully hoping that two characters on a show will hook up. But am I the only one who kinda wants to see Rick and Michonne get together? They're both clearly brutally damaged PTSD victims dealing with the zombie apocalypse in their own way -- Rick by developing a God Complex and trying to protect everyone, Michonne by shutting out everyone else and focusing on her own well-being. It would be like if a cowboy hooked up with a samurai. In other news, I'm pitching Cowboy Loves Samurai as a reality series to A&E.
On the Main Street of Smalltownville, Rick and Co. discovered an impressive array of anti-zombie machinery. Using very basic household products, and a few cute little animals as bait, someone had rigged up a Rube Goldberg system of Walker Traps. ("And here, we can't even fix that hole in our back fence" is what Rick should have said.) The gang couldn't admire the machinery too much, though, because gunshots rang out throughout the street...and a man on a rooftop, covered head-to-toe, held a rifle on them.
Now, another thing that is very hard to screw up: A sniper battle. I think this is because the whole idea of a sniper takes the inherent excitement of a gunfight and adds in lots of Hitchcockian tension: A sniper scene is usually about 99% tense anticipation and 1% actual gunfire. (Recommendations for further viewing/playing: The final sequence in Full Metal Jacket, the underrated Jude Law-vs-Ed Harris Enemy at the Gates, the epic sniper dual in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and the arcade game classic Silent Scope.) So I was intrigued to see how Rick, Michonne, and Carl -- who all had short-range equipment -- would handle the attacker. Michonne managed to run up to the rooftop in a couple seconds -- she's clearly been taking Parkour lessons. Meantime, the urban sniper ran down to street level, and was immediately shot by Carl. (His dad had told Carl to run for the car. I'm starting to think the only way to get Carl to do what you want is to say the exact opposite.)
There was a nice moment between Rick and Carl after the fight, when Rick told his son: "I didn't want you to have to do that." Rick knows that Carl has already had to perform unspeakable acts, but he still wants his son to hold onto whatever bit of innocence he has left. Fortunately, the urban sniper had on a bulletproof vest. And, in an intriguing twist, he had a face we all recognized: It was Morgan, the suburban dad from way back in the series premiere, who saved Rick's life and gave him the 411 on how to survive in the post-zombie America.
They carried Morgan upstairs to his loft HQ, noting a series of traps along the way: Blades under the welcome mat; a tripwire at the top of the stairs with a bloody axe awaiting an unlucky newcomer. Morgan's apartment looked like a survivalist's most beautiful nightmare: The walls were covered in guns and graffiti'd messages. The messages were written in different colors -- someone found a pack of Crayola Multi-colored Chalk! -- and were all some variation on "No TV and No Beer Make Morgan Something Something."
Michonne thought it was best to leave Morgan unconscious on his bed. "He tried to kill us, and we didn't leave him to the walkers. He's had a good day." But Rick wanted to stick around. Morgan helped him; Rick figured he needed to return the favor. Meanwhile, Carl perused the Graffiti and found an extensive map of the town, including a note about "Rick's House -- Burnt Out." We've mostly gotten to know the characters on The Walking Dead in their new, post-zombie surroundings, and it was interesting to see how Carl's face fell when he realized his old home was completely obliterated from this world now. He kept away the tears by offering to go on a mission for Baby Judith: They could get a crib from the local Baby Store. Michonne offered to go with him. She told Carl not to run off on his own. Predictably, Carl ran off on his own.
NEXT: Rick and Bizarro-Rick, once again