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Written By:

Rich Cross
The Waling Dead: The Ones Who Live, Season 1, Episode 3, Bye

If there’s a theme linking all of the different plot threads of The Ones Who Live as the first (and perhaps only) season reaches its midpoint, it’s mistrust. Suspicion and scepticism are rife in a network of relationships connecting individuals across the civilian and military strata of the Civic Republic. While key leaders in the CRM, including Major General Beale, have identified Rick as a potential future leader, only Jadis is initially aware of the true capabilities of new arrival ‘Dana Bethune’.

In flashback, consignee Rick is intercepted by a civilian-era Jadis in Millenium Park in the walled-in city. She reveals that, as head of the Scavengers, she traded the injured Rick into the CRM’s clutches and that she is now set on a future career in the ranks of their militia. Years later, Jadis remains fixated on the risk that Michonne and Rick now pose to the stability and security of the CRM, but for her own selfish reasons she’s keeping her knowledge about the pair’s relationship hidden from the authorities.

Although under intense scrutiny from all sides, Rick still pulls together an audacious escape plan. When that mission ends with an unexpected twist, he’s forced to rethink. The pressure mounts as Michonne’s evident talents as a fighter and a survivor become increasingly obvious to her handlers. When Rick and Michonne are posted to the Cascadia Forward Operating Base to clear insurgent walkers ahead of a major CRM conference, the frustration that has been mounting between many of the key players finds an explosive outlet.

The initial dynamic between Jadis and Rick was shaped by the bizarre nature of Scavenger culture: the improvised language, the weird social markers, and the freaky rituals. Now that Jadis has reinvented herself, as a military enforcer and power broker in the CRM, the faceoff between these two implacable alphas has acquired more substance. Pollyanna McIntosh and Andrew Lincoln are clearly enjoying this shift in their characters’ relationship, and their scenes together spark with energy as each threatens to derail the other’s plans by exposing their secrets to CRM commanders.

While Jadis and Rick trade threats, the intimate connection between Rick and Michonne develops fresh tensions that are just as hazardous to their survival. Michonne has been struggling to reconcile herself to Rick’s apparent acquiescence to his incarceration, while he’s been preoccupied with the need to keep her safe. The script for Bye, by Gabriel Llanas and Matt Negrete, takes their growing disconnect and finds ways to further corrode their mutual trust. Danai Gurira continues to breathe new emotional texture into her performance as Michonne. Her incredulity at the changes in Rick is matched by Lincoln’s trademark intensity as Rick dismisses her concerns and demands she follow his lead. Naturally enough, neither of these stubborn survivors is prepared to acquiesce to what they see as the other’s foolhardiness.

Bye includes some excellent set-pieces, the best of which are a loyalty-testing showdown between Sergeant Major Thorne and Michonne in the ruins of Lincoln Financial Field and the handling of a walker breach in the fences of that CRM forward command centre. There are more insights too into the evolution of CRM culture, including a little more screen time for Terry Quinn as Major Beale delivers a politically-charged eulogy at the funeral of Lieutenant Colonel Okafor. There are emotionally charged beats, too, most affectingly when Michonne is reminded of the depth of Rick’s commitment to her and his children after meeting the artist whose carvings on the casings of redundant tech played such a critical role in her search for him.

Director Michael Slovis manages the action, the revelations and the personal schisms with equal attention. But this is an episode the success of which relies on the strength of the performances of the plot’s three central characters. And it’s the irreconcilable tensions between them that make the drama crackle. The story wraps up with a shocking turn of events that Lincoln describes as his favourite endpoint in the entire history of The Walking Dead. It’s audacious and thrilling, and, most importantly, it ensures that the second half of this season cannot unfold in the way that the first half suggested it would.

New episodes of THE WALKING DEAD: THE ONES WHO LIVE premiere on AMC and AMC+ in the US each Sunday


Read our previous reviews of THE WALKING DEAD: THE ONES WHO LIVE below:

Season 1, Episode 1, YEARS
Season 1, Episode 2, GONE

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