[Editor’s note: Spoilers follow for “The Walking Dead” Season 9, Episode 7, “Stradivarius.”]
So much of the first half of Season 9 of “The Walking Dead” has been focused on writing out Rick Grimes, leaving precious few episodes left to establish the new time-jump status quo as well as build to a satisfying cliffhanger for the mid-season break. Instead of maximizing that time, “The Walking Dead” has shifted back to auto-pilot, meandering around with very little drive until the November finale. The creative surge the show displayed early on this season is quickly dwindling.
It seems that Michonne’s change of heart last episode wasn’t “I’m being an asshole and I should be kind,” so much as a “I guess I could help these newbies find a new place to live since my kid guilted me into it, but I still distrust them and everyone,” and her stank attitude is even less fun this week. Even worse, Michonne seems to be the key reason that Alexandria is so cut off from the other communities.
Aaron and Jesus — who have to meet secretly lest they piss off Alexandria’s Head of Security — discuss how Michonne would never approve of Alexandria participating in the Kingdom’s upcoming fair, meaning Alexandria is really the only disconnected community, and it’s Michonne’s fault.
Yes, Michonne has enough sway over Alexandria’s ruling council that she can swing votes however she wants (including last episode’s decision to kick out the newbies), which is super cool because Michonne was the one pushing for representative government in the first place!
Look, the show recognizes how difficult Michonne is being, since seemingly every other character is scheming behind her back, but it’s zero fun to see her depicted this way. The worst part is we still don’t know what happened between the communities to have caused this rift. Michonne is hesitant to see Maggie again but doesn’t realize she’s run off with Georgie, a fact that seems to be pretty common knowledge among the survivors (poor Siddiq has to break the news to her). Everything about this storyline makes Michonne seem like an idiot. Her inevitable change of heart can’t come soon enough.
Michonne’s paranoia comes to a head, this episode when she presumes Luke has a weapon and accidentally slices his priceless Stradivarius violin in two. Luke, you see, preserves any musical instruments he can find in order to ensure that art survives. The sentiment is appreciated, but the speech Luke gives about early man is utterly cornball. Still, it’s better that than “Survival is the only reason for being” we usually get.
Meanwhile, Carol eventually convinces Daryl to return from the wilderness so that he can look after Henry while he’s training at Hilltop. Daryl’s been living wild (with a cool new dog!) because he still thinks Rick might be out there, having never found a body and all. There’s not a lot of meat to this story, beyond a nice moment where Henry tells Daryl he should return for Carol, because she misses him. Of course, the moment Daryl returns to Hilltop he agrees to leave to help search for the missing Eugene, but at least he’s part of the team again.