Whose Episode Is It?
Rick’s, primarily, although most of the major players have
their moments, too. Even Tara and Noah get some lines! Not Eugene, though, who
has apparently gone mute since the group re-unified.
A Shred of Humanity
Since “The Walking Dead” is survival horror, it
only has so many cards it can play with its plotting before it starts repeating
itself. So the writers really needed to make the most of their “The
Ricketeers meet genuinely nice people” idea. The good news is that the
episode succeeds admirably. This is possibly the best episode of the season so
far, because it sets up so many intriguing possibilities for the future, while
remaining entertaining and engaging on its own.
The Ricketeers enter Alexandria, and it’s exactly as Aaron
promised, and then some. Turns out the community was specifically designed
pre-apocalypse for self-sustainability, so it has solar-powered electricity,
running water and lots of supplies. The town is run by Deanna (Tovah Feldsuh),
a former Ohio congresswoman who is perceptive enough to know that her town
could use some serious muscle in the form of Rick and his crew. A good chunk of
the episode is given over to the Ricketeers just trying to adjust to a stable
life again, starting with Rick finally showering and shaving off his gnarly
beard. (There’s a great moment early on where a pre-showered Rick leaves a
grimy handprint on Deanna’s spotless window sill, to show just out of place he
is.) Carl gets a great moment when the neighborhood kids offer him the choice
of playing video games or pool, and he’s so overwhelmed he can’t even respond.
It’s genuinely surreal to see Rick and the others walk down normal suburban
streets, and even more surreal to see Rick back in a Sheriff’s uniform at the
end of the episode, and the characters feel that way, too. Side note: Very
excited to see if Michonne also gets a uniform next week.
Walking Dead: The
Deanna insists on interviewing each of the Ricketeers in
turn and filming their conversations, so snippets of their interviews pop up
throughout the episode. It’s a little silly on the surface, but the clips are mostly
just used as an effectively direct way of figuring out where each character’s
head is at, and the format doesn’t overwhelm the episode. Rick is quick to tell
her not to trust people, since in the zombie apocalypse, people only see you
for what they can take from you.
Most of the others are hopeful about the future — meanwhile,
Daryl spends his interview pacing back and forth, holding a dead possum. Daryl,
really cementing his role as the Wolverine of the group, seems to want nothing
to do with Alexandria. It’s possible that Deanna’s insistence on people
remembering what they were before is not to Daryl’s liking. Or it could be that
after Beth’s death, Daryl’s just too far gone. Either way, if things go south
in Alexandria, Daryl will probably be at the center of it. At least we get a
nice moment of levity when Carol hassles him about taking a shower.
Speaking of Carol, she further proves she’s the best by
going FULL-BLOWN UNDERCOVER, pretending to be a helpless, wide-eyed housewife
as a front for scouting the town. She seems to be acting a little off once the
team enters Alexandria (notice how awkwardly she takes off her rifle), but then
in her interview she starts wistfully remembering her awful, abusing husband,
and you immediately know what’s up. It’s a great bit of character work.
All Around the Town
Rick meets a nice woman named Jessie who cuts his hair for
him and seems to scream “love interest,” until it’s revealed that
she’s got a weird, lurking husband who scowls at people from his porch in the
dead of night. One of Carl’s new friends is Enid, who’s also from
“outside” and still new to town, who makes secret excursions beyond
the city walls for an as yet to be revealed reason. Deanna’s son Aiden is in
charge of supply runs, but he’s also into macho posturing, like chaining up
walkers to use as “pre-game” target practice. He’s immediately put in
his place by Glenn, who recognizes Aiden for the poseur he is, and even gets to
deck him once Aiden takes the first swing. Deanna again proves her intelligence
and good taste by commending Glenn for punching out her own son. Deanna’s
This seems like the sort of episode that would be light on
gore, but then in the tussle with Aiden’s chained-up walker, Tara, winds up
pulling the zombie’s skin off its back like she’s unwrapping a Christmas
How Far Is Too Far?
While the people of Alexandria don’t seem to be hiding some
dark secret (and they better not be, because then it’s just The Governor all
over again, and who needs that?), it’s obvious that they’re soft and
complacent. Deanna seems to recognize this, which is why she’s recruited Rick
and the others, but Carl and Carol both express worry that Alexandria will make
them soft. Rick puts those concerns to rest at the end of the episode, when he
tells them, “We’ll make it work. And if they can’t make it, then we’ll
just take this place.” That’s a cliffhanger you can get behind.