Season Nine, Episode Two: ‘The Bridge’
Everything in this episode is a metaphor. The title alone – The Bridge – gives lit majors and non-readers a clear signal that this episode is all about joining groups and systems together. Some pairings are not going to work; several Saviors have gone missing, their ethanol delivery vanishes, and there’s more than one fight between Rick’s group of outlaws and the actual thugs from the Sanctuary.
There’s a lot of talking in this episode. It falls to the women to think about philosophy and the idea of common law. Years earlier, Deanna, who was the founder of the Alexandria community, told Michonne to start creating and enforcing laws. While I sometimes miss the Michonne who stalked through the forest with a walker on a leash, I am impressed with her new calm and prescience. Michonne meets with Maggie, who is angry and exhausted as she grapples with justice and necessity at Hilltop. She’s already hanged Gregory for his role in the attack on Enid and herself, and Maggie needs to punish Earl for his drunken involvement. But Earl is their blacksmith and his skill is invaluable. Michonne waits for Maggie to see logic.
“Some people can be redeemed,” Maggie reasons, “but others can’t.” Maggie is a pragmatist who favors a more exacting punishment in their new community.
Michonne wonders, “But who makes that decision?” It’s clear both women will have to find answers as the bridge that’s being built will connect all the communities as they trade for goods and survival. A common law will also have to bridge them.
Meanwhile, the metaphorical bridge is being delayed by slow construction on the real bridge. Saviors make poor workers – creeps remain creeps even after surviving a zombie apocalypse – and a surprise walker attack leads to a typical walker battle with arrows, axes, and a nicely shot series of logs pulping zombie brains. One of the walkers looks an awful like Dwight, but I’m still holding out hope that Dwight and his wife are having pretzels and beer somewhere. Aaron is terribly injured, which leads to another conflict between Daryl and Rick. The real and metaphorical bridge is Rick’s entire worldview. Daryl wants to sever the connection to the Saviors. A fight between the longtime allies is clearly on the horizon.
B stories include Carol trying on a wedding ring, and wisely refuses to hear the King’s speech about the ring. There’s a fun little romance between Anne and Gabriel. Turns out he’s an Episcopal priest, which means the collar can come off. It’s great to hear Anne, no longer Jadis of the junkyard, speaking in full sentences and still creating little animals. And once again, Anne hears a helicopter in the distance. She tells Gabriel that she has secrets that she will not share. The helicopter must be one of them.
The episode begins and ends with Rick talking/confessing to someone, and if you suspect it’s Negan – bingo. We hear his infamous rasp and see his shadow. His view of the bridge? It’s a monument to the dead, and Negan still lives.