by Thom Yee
Subtlety? Discretion? Strategy? Characters acting sensibly? What’s happened to The Walking Dead?
While not a lot happened in this week’s episode, there was a lot going on on more personal levels as our heroes decompressed and relaxed just a little a bit into the seemingly very real possibility of normalcy. Particularly towards the earlier parts, the episode really felt like a great, big, comforting bear hug from your therapist, like the moment when the hardened, emotionally distant protagonist who’s clearly been through a lot finally feels comfortable crying in front of people.
Sort of like this…
… only zombies are still everywhere. It’s not your fault, Rick. It’s not your fault you had to kill Shane. It’s not your fault pretty much everybody left from Woodbury died after you took them in. It’s not your fault everybody left after the prison blew up headed straight into a cannibal cult. It’s not your fault you machete’d the cannibals’ leader to death. You really couldn’t afford to waste the bullets.
The Alexandria Safe Zone represents a genuine change of pace for the show, one that calls for a very different, much more nuanced type of storytelling from the showrunners, and frankly I don’t know if their up for it. Mercifully, “Remember” is a relatively strong first step in our newest chapter as we learn about how this gated community came to be. Basically, Alexandria is really just one of the few places where opportunity properly met with preparedness, where Deanna, a strong, level-headed leader emerged, people with the proper backgrounds built a safe, surrounding shelter, and resources, including water, electricity and food, were comparatively plentiful. They had an unusually strong foundation to build on, and from the moment Deanna started describing things to Rick, I couldn’t help recalling the immortal words of Jeff Winger:
You’ve just stopped being a study zombie-survival group. You’ve become something unstoppable. I hereby pronounce you… a community.
Up until now our heroes have had to be on edge to the point that the characters themselves have frequently and openly questioned their own humanity. It’s a funny kind of peculiar watching them adjust to relatively normal circumstances, their interactions guarded if not outright hostile. Abraham’s gruff, overly dramatic and borderline ridiculous “Who’s Deanna?!” almost feels like an attack, and possibly even funnier than the line itself, is the fact that it’s just about the only thing he says all episode. The majority of our cast is held silent, with no lines and no significant parts to play throughout the episode, leaving “Remember” to rest almost solely on the shoulders of Rick, Carl, Daryl, Carol and Michonne. Now that we’re in a relative safe zone, it’s interesting to contemplate that we now have the possibility of the more extraneous cast members leaving the show simply by integrating with the community rather than through violent death or exile.
As we proceed deeper into Alexandria, our leads slowly remember what normalcy was like, where Rick remember what it was like to have a job as he (and Michonne) emerge as the new Alexandria town constabulary, Carl gets to play videogames and wonder about girls, and Daryl relives how on the outs of society he’s always been. Key to the group’s feeling out process is Carol, who wisely chooses to play possum, playing up her naturally unintimidating appearance for all its worth, claiming to have taken on a matronly role in the group, claiming to miss her long-dead husband, and immediately offering to work with the community leagues. It’s a smart play for one of the group’s most dangerous and strategically aware members.
As with all seemingly normal society’s, however, we soon learn that underneath the warm, inviting top layer of Alexandria lies a dark, seamy underbelly of melodrama, as when Rick meets Pete and his overtly aggressive “Welcome to Alexandria” during a nighttime stroll or when Glenn knocks Aiden (Deanna’s son and Alexandria’s supply-run leader) on his ass for his incompetence in how to approach walkers. It’s all almost laughable at this point in the series, as I started to wonder if The Walking Dead was slowly turning into NBC’s The Slap. Then Rick went back to check on the gun he stashed before entering Alexandria only to find it missing. That’s not good. That’s definitely ominous. Then Rick and Carl killed a bunch of walkers. And we’re back.
Unlike last week’s “The Distance” and the debut of Aaron (whose presence is definitely missed throughout most of “Remember”), we don’t get a lot to go on with Deanna and her community beyond the surface, even as good vibes generally abound, and for a lot of you, that’s inevitably going to lead to unease, some of you wondering about how safe the group is in their new home, and some of you wondering if it’s in fact our group who are, in fact, the real monsters and the ones that Alexandrianites should be fearing. No doubt that’s something the show will be exploring with its remaining episodes as our heroes’ struggles shift more and more from the external to the internal, as matters of civility and decorum make an unheralded return, and this world can once more be shattered by domestic disputes just as easily as zombies and governors and marauders and cannibals.
The Walking Dead — “Remember” final score: 8
Items of Note:
- Look at Aaron’s bruise! That’s hilarious! One punch!
- So do they always park their vehicles outside the gates? That seems impractical.
- That tray of guns didn’t look too sturdy. Like one could’ve fallen off and accidentally fired.
- .. they chose gimp-leg Noah to go on supply runs? Questionable, because… and I’m trying to put this delicately… gimp legs don’t run right.
- Again, what happened to using long-range weapons? Rick uses his little knife when he’s still got that machete strapped to his belt.
- Haven’t seen Morgan in a while.
- Sexy-time Rick is thinking about sexy time: