Romance is a weird thing. Add sex and it gets even weirder. There’s all these courtship rituals and social norms and sometimes a lack of basic human decency. Now if we add a layer of walkers and decimate North America’s population, the prospect of finding and sustaining love gets even worse. Enter this week’s episode of The Walking Dead. Let’s look at the romances on a scale from alright now [with a head nod] to c’mon now [with a head tilt] to what the fuck is going on here?
So finally Tara and Denise kinda sorta consummate their slow burn flirt that’s been going on for a few episodes now with a kiss. What we know of Tara’s romantic life is not the stuff of Hallmark cards: Sam in the pre-apocalyptic world and Alisha in the walker world, who has killed during the attack on the prison.
So it’s kind of nice to see her in a somewhat normal adult romantic relationship. What do I mean by that? She’s known Denise since Grimes and gang arrived in Alexandria. They’ve had an increasing amount of on-screen interactions. Tara has “checked-in” on Denise in the “hospital” and offered her pep talks, general support, and a healthy kind of friendship.
So when Denise kisses Tara, it makes sense. When she says a moment later “Being scared sucks,” that makes sense too and we’re left with the feeling that she’s talking about so much more than whether or not she can save Scott’s life or whether the walkers will eventually make it through the wall. Denise is trying to be brave in a work that makes that near impossible.
Contrast with this possible budding romance is Maggie and the ghost/memory of Glenn. Until AMC reveals that Glenn rolled under that dumpster and has been living there, we have to assume that Maggie is a widow. But Maggie didn’t see that. Maggie doesn’t know what happened to Glenn. She has the figurative weight of her pregnancy (which she finally confirmed) and the uncertainty of her husband’s fate haunting her.
But we’ve seen this before – after the Governor’s attack on the prison Glenn and Maggie were separated as each searched desperately for the other. That Maggie wants to search for him makes sense, but… she ultimately doesn’t and that makes considerably less sense.
Okay, Maggie, you’re like, “These motherfuckers did not just paint Glenn’s name on the newly consecrated memorial wall; he’s been gone for like 2 hours!” You’ve crafted weird rebar flashlight spears from what looks like the unguarded armory. You got Aaron out here with you – he’s trying to work out that “I-lost-the-bookbag-and-led-the-Wolves-here” guilt. You’re in the sewer, knee deep in zombies and excrement. You are so overwhelmed with grief that you forget your name is Maggie “I clear prisons in the 300 formation” Greene and almost die when a walker that is literally held together by shit and mud attacks you (don’t think I don’t see you constructing motherhood in some shady ass ways, AMC).
After all that, you just pop in those head phones and start listening to your “I miss Glenn mix” instead of looking for him?
The mix is really just this song on repeat
As BNP Editor-in-Chief put it:
“Maggie lived through how many years of the apocalypse, she can’t make it past the sewer grate for her bae?”
And then [sigh] we have Rick “I know no boundaries” Grimes and Jessie.
So when I first met my partner, there were not literal, figurative, or sexual fireworks. I kind of thought he was a jerk. He definitely thought I was (Spoiler: I am). I share that to say that I understand that relationships evolve and grow. BUT… [so many sighs] What we’re seeing has morphed from a evolution into a what-not-to-do segment that HR developed to avoid assaults and lawsuits.
Let’s backtrack to season 5 right quick: No one can deny that Jessie and Rick have some sort of chemistry.
From their first interaction, when Jessie introduces herself, there’s attraction. Acting on this, Rick kisses her on the cheek at the surreal “Welcome to Alexandria: The Magical Place that Zombies Forgot” party that Deanna throws for the newest arrivals. Jessie doesn’t stop him or seem upset by the kiss; she’s married, but she doesn’t seem like that’s a dealbreaker for her in terms of flirting. (And since I don’t have a transcript of their vows or know what agreements they do/do not have in place, I’m gonna STFU on any moral high ground that one might be tempted to take).
Buuuuut after Carol, Rick, and we in the audience find out that Jessie’s husband, Pete, is abusive, things get complicated. And by complicated, I mean that Rick begins to consistently overstep Jessie’s stated and/or implied boundaries. I get that Rick is riding high on his savior complex and just wants to help her through the use of violence and his magical penis, but Jessie literally tells Rick that Pete is her husband and then CLOSES THE GARAGE DOOR IN HIS FACE.
So, obviously Rick goes home to think about this and figure out how he can be supportive of Jessie without superimposing his assumptions about how best to handle the situation, right? Nope. He breaks into her house to continue asking her to let him kill her husband (so they can be together.) That last part is silent like the first G in “knight in shining armor.” This is when Pete and Rick get into an all out brawl which leads indirectly to Pete’s death at Rick’s hands at Deanna’s house. In season six, Rick offers to teach Jessie how to shoot and she’s like “Nah, I’m good. Rosita is teaching me. And also stay the fuck away from my kids.”
Um… Jessie says, “Tell me there’s more [than this situation/end of the world scenario” and Rick kisses her. And Jessie kisses him back. And we are firmly in Rom-Com territory, where if you just persist long enough and despite logic and law, you can “get the girl.”
It seems relevant to note that Jessie and Rick have absolutely nothing in common. Nothing. Rick has been in the wilderness and Jessie has been in an $800K per home gated community. They have no shared experiences. They have no real friendship. They aren’t equals; Jessie will be another thing (like Judith, Carl, and Lori) for Rick to protect and in doing so prove himself worthy and Alpha.Which is to say, AMC writers, you had other options for love interests and you made a boring and predictable choice.
And, perhaps most tellingly, Jessie has just gotten out of (a generous choice of wording) a relationship with a horribly abusive man, received no therapy or counseling, and the person she’s most attracted to is Rick. Hmmm.