Issue 86 is a quiet story spent on reflection, dealing primarily with Rick, Michonne and Andrea. Now that the battles are finished for the immediate future, the community has time to pause and regain its footing as winter settles in.
Walking Dead is still unwinding from the No Way Out storyline, so this month focuses on character and positions a couple of backgrounders for greater focus in issues to come. Nothing exciting happened here, but there were some good conversations dealing with Rick's new outlook.
Carl's movement appears to be a normal part of his coma, and indicates no change at all, according to Denise, who insists Rick get some rest. He finally agrees and finds Michonne at Morgan's grave.
She's wishing she hadn't been so mean to him, and he regrets he didn't have a chance to say good-bye after all the man did for him in the early days of the outbreak. Michonne confesses she was growing closer to him and had harboured some hope of a life together. But she quickly realizes that was foolish and can't believe she allowed herself to think that given their circumstances.
Rosita shows up on Eugene's doorstep, given he's the only one left from their original group whom she's known the longest. He's surprised to find her wanting to move in with him.
Rick begins implementing some of his grand plans—moving cars in a maze around the community and planning for trenches and reinforcing the walls. Andrea is teaching some of the townspeople to shoot, and they walk together, musing on how far she's come since they first met.
She wonders what Shane might think of her if he could see her now, prompting Rick to reflect on his friend for the first time in a long time. He hasn't allowed himself to think about him, or even Lori, given how difficult it is. Shane remains his best friend, despite all that he did.
He admits he hasn't really been there for Andrea, despite that they're so close. It was his error in putting Carl first above the community, when the larger group actually provides the best support for his son. He wants to build something to last, so that Carl will still live there when he's thirty. He looks out over the town with her, seeing the potential.
It could be some time before we get a sense of Carl's condition—last issue was just another tease, which could start to wear thin. Rick's behaviour continues to evolve from maintaining a bedside vigil to focusing on the community at large and seeing his inspiration come to fruition. At least it will give him something to do rather than sit with his son every month.
With this new pause in the danger, everyone seems to be reflecting on their lives, and we get a nice chat about Shane, which was quite effective. Andrea and Rick share the longest history and both have lost their loves. I'm still wondering if they will be thrown together at some point. I'm not sure if Andrea believes everything he says (given a couple of looks she gives him in the panels as they walk). In contrast to his optimism, we get his conversation with Michonne, who is angry with herself for being distracted with the possibility of a life with Morgan beyond day to day survival.
We also get to see some other townspeople for a change, so more characters appear to be in the cards. Eugene finally gets some attention since his deception was revealed. He likely has lots of ideas to offer the group, so it's welcome to see him be brought back into the story.
The questions remains where the next storyline will be driven from—whether from without or within. It would still be nice to see what's going on elsewhere in the country, but if the series remains embedded behind the walls of the town, everything will have to come to them.