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The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Recap: Cabin in the Woods

Photo: AMC

The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, like any good ramp-up, says good-bye to one villain and sets our heroes on the path towards a final confrontation. When Jadis catches up with fleeing lovebirds Rick and Michonne, a romantic road trip turns into a romantic thriller, complete with a car chase! The episode also marks the unexpected return of The Walking Dead’s Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel. The Ones Who Live is a love story, after all, and once upon a time, Jadis/Anne had a love as well.

It’s time for yet another visit to the The Walking Dead Historical Society because I bet many of you are wondering what Father Gabriel Stokes is doing in this episode. So, at the end of The Walking Dead season eight, Jadis reverted to her given name, “Anne,” and moved into Alexandria. She started a relationship with the Episcopalian priest in season nine. (This was wild even then because Jadis held Gabriel hostage back in season seven. I’m in no position to give post-apocalyptic dating advice, but kidnapping seems like an obvious red flag.) However, she was already working undercover for the CRM. Jadis needed to deliver them a dead A to fulfill her end of the bargain. When Gabriel realized that she was up to something, Jadis proposed that they run away together. He turned her down, choosing Rick over her. Realizing that Gabriel was an A, Jadis considered killing him as her ticket into the CRM … but couldn’t go through with it and broke up with him via note: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. I need to go fast.” As we know, Jadis traded Rick for entry into the CRM instead. Then, in the second season of The Walking Dead: The World Beyond, she re-emerged with the haircut and name we see in The Ones Who Live: Warrant Officer Jadis Stokes. Clearly, since she chose his last name as an alias, Gabriel has been on her mind.

What we learn in “Become,” episode five of The Ones Who Live, through a series of flashbacks, is that Jadis/Anne has remained in contact with Gabriel. They’ve had a standing picnic date in the Virginia woods for the last three years. She never revealed details about the CRM’s location, purpose, or name. She never told him that Rick was alive. Gabriel never told her that he was at the time dating a fellow TWD main character, Rosita (Christian Serratos), either. It ***** to learn that he was keeping secrets from both women. But he continually showed up because Jadis needed someone to talk to about her evil deeds. She needed confession, if you will. At their last meeting, Gabriel tries to get Jadis to stay and save Jadis from the CRM with love, the way Michonne saved Rick. But the CRM’s hold on Jadis is too deep and she almost kills Gabriel for, like, the third time in their shared history. The way the episode is edited wants us to believe that she did **** him, but spoiler alert: he lives to die another day.

These flashbacks also make an interesting point about The Ones Who Live’s dynamic duo. On their second meeting, Jadis asks Gabriel about “Rick’s wife,” and Gabriel questions why she’d refer to Michonne that way when technically they weren’t legally married. Gabriel reveals that Rick had asked him to marry them on the bridge. Gabriel even found a ring he wanted Rick to have to give to Michonne before they were separated. Gabriel gives Jadis the ring for some vague season, which, plot-wise, guarantees that the ring eventually finds its way to its intended recipient.

Meanwhile, in the present, the episode kicks off with Michonne and Rick driving cross country in their little yellow hybrid truck and thoroughly enjoying their quality time together. They make it to Wyoming and discover a stash of instant ramen branded “Tasteful Noods” in a van. (Even the food is ***** on this show!) Rick shops for souvenirs at a Yellowstone National Park gift shop and grabs her a travel-sized toothpaste, referencing the romantic gesture that brought them together in the first place. “You found your moment,” Michonne remembers when he hands her the tube of baking soda and spearmint. They find keys to a cabin in the gift shop and set out on foot. On the journey, they encounter three hikers who (unsuccessfully) try to rob them. Rick and Michonne are practically buzzing during the encounter, I should say. They make it to the cabin and proceed to get cozy.

But not too cozy! The next morning, Rick and Michonne are woken up by Jadis, who followed their discarded ramen wrappers in her helicopter from Oregon to Wyoming. Holding two guns on them, Jadis forces Rick and Michonne to zip-tie themselves to a twin bed. She monologues about needing to **** them so that they won’t inadvertently lead the CRM to Alexandria and put it in harm’s way or something. They’re not buying. The second Jadis goes to fire her guns, Rick and Michonne break free from their bonds and counter-attack. Jadis escapes (but not before getting axed in the torso by Michonne), and Rick and Michonne pursue her by car.

After a brief chase, they force her to crash but get waylaid by walkers, allowing Jadis to vanish into the park. There, she runs into the trio of hikers from the day before. Jadis is now badly injured and weighed down by her uniform. Symbolism! She convinces the hikers to help set a trap with her in exchange for a place at the CRM.

Following Jadis’ ****** trail, they catch up with her in a nature museum where a long-gone community created shelters by hanging sheets from clotheslines. It’s the perfect labyrinthian place for Jadis and the hikers to hide. Alas, once again, the three hikers are no match for two experienced badasses like Rick and Michonne. They don’t last more than thirty seconds in a physical fight and are almost immediately bitten by calcified walkers roaming the museum.

Rick and Michonne get into a game of cat and mouse with Jadis, who resumes her villain monologue. She chastises Rick for losing faith in the CRM’s mission. Faith that, mind you, he never really had. He was this close to the Echelon Briefing, she says. This close! Screaming “Trust me” at Rick with her eyes, Michonne pretends to re-offer the deal Rick struck with Jadis in episode three: Michonne goes home, Rick stays, and the CRM never finds out about Alexandria. Can we just do that? Jadis agrees, then pulls a hidden gun on Rick. Nice try, Miss Thing, because here come the three zombified hikers! One of them takes a good chomp out of Jadis, and it’s game over.

As Jadis slowly succumbs to her injuries, she rambles about the people she’s lost. Shades of Anne finally start to show. She hands Rick the ring Gabriel gave her and tells them that her dossier on Alexandria is at the Cascadia base in Oregon. Destroy it and go home, she says. But Michonne proposes a different, risky as **** plan: also stealing the Echelon Briefing and learning the CRM’s deepest, darkest secrets so that they can lead the Civic Republic of Philadelphia in a rebellion. There’s no way they will do all of that in one episode, so for Michonne’s sake, I really hope these are the building blocks of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live season two and not a substantial, tragic mistake waiting to happen.

That’s the end of Jadis, one of the trickier antagonists in The Walking Dead Universe. She lived many lives and died wishing she had remained in her first life as an artist. Rick puts a bullet in her head so she doesn’t turn. Is this a fitting end for the character? I’m not sure. I’m mostly just relieved that she’s gone before trying to reinvent herself a fourth time.

I’m not thrilled about Michonne going back on her convictions to go home to their kids. However, with Jadis dead, they have no choice but to destroy that dossier. Might as well try and be big **** heroes while they’re at it. Plus, a television show will not throw around buzzwords like “the Echelon Briefing” and never show us what that entails or reference an upcoming military summit, expecting us to believe it won’t be the set piece in the final episode.

And at least there’s this: in the woods, before taking off in Jadis’ helicopter to return to the CRM, Rick finds his moment to propose to Michonne. “It’s a broken world,” he says. “You’re the only thing that puts it back together. Until my last breath, I am yours.” Rick Grimes has made a lot of speeches in his day, and this might be the first time he’s ever sounded over-rehearsed. Hat’s off to Andrew Lincoln for that performance detail. Another lovely detail is that after he gets down on one knee, Michonne joins him. They are equals. Elsewhere, in another wood across the country, Father Gabriel waits for his yearly picnic with Anne … but we know this time she’s not coming. Only one love story makes it out of the episode with some semblance of a happy ending, and I hope it lasts.

Sweet Nothings

• “I was in love with my son’s best friend” is such a funny thing for Rick to say about crushing on Michonne back in the day. He’s not wrong; Michonne and Carl did bond first on The Walking Dead. But she’s an adult woman. You do not need to frame it like that, my guy!

• I’m sure everyone online will be very normal about how easily Rick and Michonne got in and out of those zip ties. That won’t awaken anything in the fandom at all.

• One big takeaway from this series is that the CRM should invest in a therapist.

• When Jadis talks about having killed a “confidante,” I believe she’s referring to her mentor, Staff Sergeant Jennifer “Huck” Mallick (Annet Mahendru), who turned on the CRM before her death on The Walking Dead: The World Beyond. Their fatal fight is featured in Jadis’s montage of memories before she dies.

• So is, fun fact, the moment in the season seven finale where Jadis tries to demand that she get to have *** with Rick after Michonne. What a strange character she was.

• I’ll leave you with a hopeful theory. As of The Walking Dead series-finale, RJ and Judith live in a community called The Commonwealth, not Alexandria as Rick and Michonne currently believe. This is significant because, in The Walking Dead comics, Michonne reunites with her long-lost family at The Commonwealth. The Ones Who Live opened by adapting a piece of the TWD comics that previously never made it to the screen: Rick losing his hand. Maybe we’re in for another homage to the source material in the finale.

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