First thing’s first: this was a solid episode of The Walking Dead. I was a big fan of what last week had to offer, but having now taken a step inside of Alexandria, I am very much pleased with where things are going and what steps are being taken to get us there. Many of the characters have had a chance to show what they are feeling about their new surroundings and others will surely get their moments as well. That said, it is always hard to say goodbye to members of the show we have grown to know so well. This is why I say, with a heavy heart, that I admit it will be tough to continue watching this world knowing that Rick’s beard is no longer with us.
Okay, so I may not have been charting its growth nor could I even tell you when it really started to seem like something of an issue (though if I had to guess, the death of Hershel is a pretty telling moment as to when I really started to notice the beard), but Rick’s beard was getting pretty unwieldy and seeing him commit to a shave and a haircut (two bits!) ideally signals a possible change in the status quo of the show. The Walking Dead has done a fine job in teasing out what this new town could bring to our heroes. Yes, I can understand the idea that Alexandria could still be a seemingly normal community that is hiding some kind of dark secret or past, but I am more willing to accept the notion that this is a new place for Rick and the gang to be able to stay for a while.
Not everyone agrees though. Rick is more or less on the fence, wanting to trust in the deal that is being offered his way. Michonne definitely wants this to be the real deal. But then you have Daryl, Carol, and Carl; three people who contribute plenty in the way of good advice (and remember when we all hated Carl?). Carol is more or less with Rick, but seeing her put up an act in order to get a good job, well that makes her a clever girl. Carl identifies the problem pretty quickly. Assuming these people are on the level, he knows they are weak and worries if he, his father, and the rest would become weak too were they to really stop being the effective unit they functioned as in the wild. Daryl simply is not having any of it.
If there is one aspect of this episode that I felt distracted from things, it was the reoccurring ‘filmed segments’. I say this because it gives us the inside look that we could gather without having to see it. The first makes sense and the way it leads us to Carol’s segment is clever, but this show does good enough by Daryl to make it clear what is on his mind, without the need of this sort of segment. As we check in with Daryl, we find that he refuses to shower, keeps holding onto the things that signify him as a warrior, and does not allow for his face to have anything but a grimace on it.
Daryl is not necessarily wrong in wanting to keep his guard up. Something that makes this episode and the nature of Alexandria work so well for The Walking Dead is the idea that it is in fact a legitimately good place for people to live. Our group is not used to something like that. Sure, there may be some looming threat that will need to be introduced, whether it is an internal or external enemy of some kind, but the show is much better for actually allowing a good thing to come to our heroes and the show to provide a threat based are the idea that things are good due to them actually being good, with no other shoe to drop, for a change.
Again, that could change and another shoe could drop, but look at how careful this episode is in its reveals. The group enters to find a calm community of people. There are a few big houses awaiting our crew. We are introduced to Deanna, a level-headed leader that used to be a congressperson. There is a sense of order here, without the sheen of people who are too nice or conditions that are too perfect. It is nice that Rick and the gang have the ability to shave and shower, but having the group stay together for the first couple nights and not be questioned about it makes for an even more positive surrounding. We are not hearing about rules and overbearing structure, we have people that understand the circumstances enough and doing their best to be accommodating and friendly.
We will see some obvious drama occur. Glenn, Noah, and Tara deal with a couple of alphas that believe to know what it is to take down zombies and gather supplies for everyone. Carl already has another teenager he may be able to open up to. Rick getting haircuts from another man’s wife is always a good source of tension (I guess). These are all things that will end up going somewhere, but it all feels like a part of the potential new lives these characters will be having for what is hopefully an extended number of episodes.
I remember season 2 and the long time spent on the farm. There was also my issue from last season where seeing everyone walking through the woods again and again grew tiresome from a visual perspective. I can keep those things in mind, but I feel The Walking Dead has a good enough team working on the show at this point to make a new community as a semi-permanent setting work. With Constable Rick and Michonne on duty, there is a chance we could see some real progress be made in terms of what kind of storylines our characters are involved in, which do not lead to everything going to hell and Rick and the gang heading up the road again. We will see, but for the time being, The Walking Dead has actually decided to make me feel optimistic about things.
- Zombie Kill of the Week: The Grimes family double kill, during their walker slaughter outside the abandoned house.
- Deanna’s line about becoming a poker player made me laugh in a good way.
- Creating a scene of tension for Carl that involved choosing between pool and video games was a wonderful way of showing how complex his character has become.
- Carol the Den Mother is a hilarious look in-context, but I love how this show is using our knowledge of her character to let us in on what she thinks of Alexandria and how she is playing things for the time being.
- Aidan getting punched by Glenn was fun, but Daryl taking down the other guy to protect Glenn: that’s love for your family!
- “If they can’t make it, then we’ll just take this place.” – Rick is confident that weakness will not ruin his group and knows how to make it if the going gets tough.
- So who took Rick’s backup blender gun?
- Thanks for reading and feel free to hear what myself and a few other fans of the show have to say about the series on the The Walking Dead TV Podcast.