Sunday, December 4, 2016

Walking Dead recap: Season 7 Episode 7, "Sing Me a Song"

The Hitchockian opening scene of tonight's episode of The Walking Dead, “Sing Me a Song,” makes clever use of Michonne's (Danai Gurira) inscrutability. Walking down an initially empty country road and whistling “The Farmer in the Dell” to attract her prey, Michonne is the epitome of the existentially alone western hero she personifies more than anyone else in Rick's group as she sets a walker-lined trap whose purpose is disturbingly opaque. The close-up of the sword and walkie-talkie she leaves behind as she drags a body down the road is a particularly unsettling bit of misdirection: Is she planning to commit suicide by walker? And even if she's doing something else, like setting things up to make it look as if walkers got her so she can go underground, how long can she survive without that sword?

Luckily, this isn’t just one of those weeks-long incidents of psychological torture The Walking Dead has trained its audience—those of us, that is, who haven’t been driven off by those ordeals—to be braced for: We later learn what Michonne is up to, and it’s a relief to see her alive and unbowed. It still looks as if she may be on a suicide mission, though, since it’s hard to imagine anyone singlehandedly dispatching that canny and well-defended psychopath without getting killed in the process. Or maybe she’ll wind up as another one of Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) captured enemy-warrior collectibles, joining Daryl (Norman Reedus) at the Sanctuary while Negan works on breaking their wills just enough to make useful soldiers of them.

Meanwhile, Carl (Chandler Riggs) makes his own kamikaze attempt to murder Negan, but succeeds only in killing two of his men and getting captured by Negan, who embarks on an elaborate cat-and-mouse campaign of intimidation, alternately toying with the kid and lashing out with terrifying ferocity. Like the long pan over the captive walkers outside and up the grim gray walls of the main building as Negan mock-genially offers to give Carl a tour of the Sanctuary after his arrest, “Sing Me a Song” is both informative and evocative, packing a lot of plot and a little character development into its 90 minutes while keeping the suspense amped up.

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