“Try” is the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead’s fifth season and it leaves us in a curious position that will have to amount to some kind of major confrontation between Rick’s group and the Alexandrians in next week’s 90-minute finale. That has been the setup for the past few weeks now and aside from some gripes here or there with some of the characters that we have been checking up with, I have been a big fan of this change of pace for the series. The Walking Dead is much more confident in building story arcs now than it has been in the past, and even while the show will always be at odds with how to best deal with having such a large cast, it at least knows how to make each episode quite watchable.
Dealing directly with Rick, “Try” is a good example of what The Walking Dead is capable of in terms of showing how escalating tension can take the audience somewhere and have it payoff in ways you were not expecting. Last week Rick was made aware of the Pete/Jesse situation. Given the already established feelings Rick has for both Jesse (kissy kissy) and Pete (punchy punchy), let alone the mental state that Rick has shown signs of in his time since arriving in Alexandria, it makes a level of sense for this episode to have us watch a major event occur so quickly.
I have been explaining how much of a fan of Rick’s character I have been since the introduction of Aaron. The current Rick is unhinged in a sense, but holding it back based on hope that something good has come his way for a change. In the weeks since, we have seen Rick respond to this new sheltered life, understanding that he has mixed emotions about being away from immediate danger. It takes away a sense of power that I am sure he has felt during his time as the man keeping his people safe. The power he currently has is serving as a watchful protector of people that have no idea how hard it is outside of their gates. With that, one could see how Rick has been slowly shifting over time.
It would be unfair to out and out call Rick the actual antagonist, because we, as the audience, have a level of understanding why he is acting the way he is. If anything, this is exactly what I would have wanted out of this show’s portrayal of the Governor, but it failed at that twice (both in the Woodbury arc and his “from bearded to tank runner” arc). In regards to Rick, he is not the antagonist, because he has not done evil, but you can see how the power can corrupt in some senses. In Alexandria, he has only wanted to help in the ways he knows how and the show has given him ample reasoning to be concerned for Jesse, even if we have also been shown Rick having desires for another man’s wife, before he had the ok coming in the form of the husband being a wife beater.
With all of this in mind, by the end of “Try”, when Rick has done plenty to either freak Jesse out enough to have her agree to his plan or to have convinced her that he’s as amazing as Rick thinks of himself as being (honestly Jesse is decently acted by Alexandra Breckenridge, but written a bit too loose to get a better grip on what she’s thinking), we see the street brawl that gets us to an exciting close. Along with being a well shot fight scene (complete with an over-the-top shot of the red balloon taking off into the air), we get to see the rest of the town react. While I wish there was more time in earlier episodes to show our ensemble doing more to incorporate themselves into the town, as to get a better idea of what it is like to live in Alexandria, seeing this setup for what will put Rick’s group at odds with everyone is interesting. But then the question becomes what sides some people will take.
Michonne caps off this episode brilliantly and it is not just because she knocks out Rick, as he babbles about his Rick-tatorship being the only way to proceed (again). This whole season has given us a Michonne that’s reflected on her time in the wild and is ready to find a home where she can hang up her sword and live as a person again. Compared to listening to a bloody man with a gun rant about how to best stay safe, it is no wonder Michonne would rather believe in a town that seems to have most things under control, give or take a jerk that lies about what happens on supply runs. Where things go from here could be interesting, because as much as I have said it may come down to Rick and co. vs. the Alexandrians, Michonne may just be in the interesting position of bringing some of her people to the side of presumed peace.
But then again, I really don’t know where this will go. There are a few too many balls in the air to really know the direction of the finale completely. We still have walkers with “W”s carved on their foreheads. Sasha’s struggles are still a thing, apparently. Daryl and Aaron may find something super cool (or terrible) we have to get excited (be worried) about. Carol is still cooking up a storm, but we don’t know how long her act will last. Father Gabriel is a wild card I don’t want to worry about, but expect to see him screw something up for others. Glenn is dealing with the jerk guy who has Rick’s secret gun. And we now have Carl and the thoughts about whether or not he can work up the nerve to ask a girl on a date. We will see how all of this turns out next week in the finale, so stay tuned.
- Zombie Kill of the Week: Lots of headshots this week, but I did like Rosita breaking a walker’s leg to knock it down, then finishing it off with a knife to the face.
- True to form, even in death, Aiden brought nothing but harm to those around him with his “Runmix”.
- I continue to enjoy seeing Glenn as basically the season 1/2 version of Rick, at this point.
- The show continues to want me to care about Sasha and her issues, but even while it makes sense for her to have issues, the work done still has so little weight to it.
- Enid has a nice knife, as Carl points out. Wonder if that will come back…
- For those who haven’t been seeing Rick’s dark side as clearly, watch how this episode frames him in various shots, the use of shadows on his face, and the more overt things like his barely holding a grip on reality, as he looks at the peacefulness around him. There is some quality work done earn the position of Rick going too far, even when he makes good points. Kudos to Andrew Lincoln as well.
- 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.