So, there are two things we should start with for this week’s episode of The Walking Dead. First is another unfortunate death, as last week saw the demise of Rick’s beard, and this week we unfortunately witnessed the death of Buttons, the horse. He was a good horse and will be missed. Moving on, sure, Rick is getting creepier, Sasha has issues, and Carol told the spookiest bedtime story I had heard since The Babadook, but how nice was it to see our heroes all washed up and dressed up for a party? Not everyone was fully embracing the new surroundings, but “Forget” was another fine episode that made for an intriguing look at our outsiders stepping back in.
To start with the bad, while I understand what Sasha is going through, given the recent death of the two people closest to her, most of these scenes ultimately meant very little to me. This is not due to anything Sonequa Martin-Green is doing as an actress, as her performance is strong enough to get across the required amount of emotion, but watching one thinly-defined secondary character mourn over the deaths of two other secondary characters can only take one so far. It especially does not help when you consider how little we know about Sasha. Checking in with her is fine, but at the same time, one can only take so much, even with only a couple main scenes involving her in this episode. It is not as much an issue with some of the others, as they are frankly more memorable, but I honestly don’t know how much there is to gain with her character at this time. Considering only so many episodes are left, it makes me wonder what kind of results all this may have, beyond having a competent lookout in the tower.
Some other elements were a little bothersome as well, but they are aspects that come with the territory of this series at this point. The writing is always a bit wonky, which is reflected in the Sasha portions. Few people on this show seem to speak like real people, which I have come to accept, but it can be trying with inessential storylines that have little in the way of nuance to go with them. Similarly, we are once again seeing some heavy-handed imagery, which is not unusual for the show, but can still be a bit much. Whether it is Michonne hanging up her sword or the true meaning of a horse that can’t be caught (until he is), The Walking Dead loves to attempt thematic visuals, but rarely finds a way to say something new.
Let’s move on though, as “Forget” has a lot of great stuff in it. Rick is a big part of that. I like Andrew Lincoln and he has certainly put in his hours in the series to make for a competent, though occasionally bland character. He has had his ups and downs, but I am currently really enjoying this version of Rick. We now see him as the town constable with the hots for Jessie, but just a few episodes ago, he was practically the villain in the way he treated, the then unknown, Aaron. Now, not everyone knows who Rick was or is currently, but we, as the audience, are being treated to seeing a man who wants to make this Alexandria thing work, but is not above having back up plans and showing emotion towards the life outside of the wall. The final scene of this episode is a terrific representation of Rick’s mind, as there is no definitive answer, but we do get some ideas that he is collected in ways that are not ‘normal’.
Speaking of ‘normal’, we get to see how much of a schemer Carol is, as she uses her established fake persona to develop cute relationships, but really work as an invisible presence to the various people around her. I really enjoy this new side of Carol, who can fake a smile in front of these strangers, with more thought out plans playing out behind the scenes. This week we get the idea that she can bake some cookies, but we get an even better idea of how threatening this woman can be if caught in certain situations, and she does not even need a gun. Listening to Carol describe to a young boy how terrible things will be for him if he tells her mom about what he saw was the kind of twisted delight that I could use more of on this show. Seeing some grisly walker deaths and finding a bit of dark humor in them is one thing, but having a character like Carol use her wits in these sorts of ways is another equally effective one.
Lastly, there is Daryl. Incidentally, the top of this show (following the cold open) featured Rick, Carol, and Daryl discussing how to prepare and get secret guns ready. Daryl has the best arc here, regardless of how quick it may seem, as we not only see him reject the gun eventually given to him by the end of this episode, but The Walking Dead actually finds enough reasons to make his character earn the right to make that sort of choice. While shortcuts in logic and character building were taken before and are still sometimes problematic now, given the ensemble cast featured on this show, Daryl is one of the oldest characters of the series and we understand a lot of what he does. It helps that he is pretty consistent (as opposed to Rick), but Norman Reedus and Ross Marquand have some solid bonding time as well. Watching these two actors interact in a way that felt natural is a nice step for a show that is at odds with its dialogue a lot of the times. By the time the scenes between Daryl and Aaron wrap up, I can only describe them as moving, because there is a sense of growth there, which was much appreciated.
So getting back to that party, everyone did look nice and I can only hope we get to check in on the others. It is one thing to pull these people out of the wild, but it is another to allow us to know what it means to be at odds with what one knew versus what is now the present. Michonne and Sasha are among those that have been given the chance to share those feelings in their own ways. One is more impactful than the other (regardless of my qualms with the visual) due to knowing the character more. It will be hard to see this show try and find a way to squeeze everyone in, but at the same time, until some inevitable problem for Alexandria shows up, some sort of balance of letting us see our survivors dressed up nice and letting us know what it means for them would help in rounding out what has been an overall nice development for the series so far.
- Zombie Kill of the Week: Some good ones with Daryl and Aaron, but Daryl smashing a walker’s head against a dead ram’s horn takes it.
- I’m continuing to really enjoy what Tova Feldshuh is bringing to this show as Deanna, as she is making the character effective in the way it needs her to be: Calm, collected, but not without a sense of understanding of law and order.
- No one tell anyone about Carol’s secret recipes!
- A walker with a “W” likely means he was a wonderful man…no?
- Jessie’s doctor husband was not a dick this week, so we were all wrong for thinking that last week right…oh wait, he has a just cause, given that Constable Rick is moving in on the mother of his child…just sayin’.
- Seeing Abraham clean and dressed up was the most worthwhile of the group.
- I loved the music cue at the end!
- 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.