OK, going into this week’s The Walking Dead, I’m still trying to forget the image of fan-favorite Carol in that powder blue sweater and, earlier, spouting nonsense about joining Alexandria’s Junior League. It’s just a ridiculous transformation that a recent viral video mashing up the episode with a Seinfeld laugh track. Well, soon enough, the powder blue is gone, only to be replaced by a flowery beige thing.
I know, this isn’t Project Zombie Runway (but what a brilliant show that would make). Clearly, Carol has more on her mind than thank you notes, retreating into a shell of her former self to disguise the threat she is to the Alexandria Safe Zone.
The episode opens with Sasha unable to sleep in the comfort of someone else’s house. It must be odd, though, staring at the pictures of the certainly dead inhabitants. Early the following morning, she ventures out of the gates with a rifle and a collection of photos to use as target practice. This certainly not insane activity must count for some sort of closure after Tyreese’s death. She continues to shoot away, trying to drown the snarling walker sounds in her memories with the sound of shattering glass. Turns out, she’s doing it all on purpose – she’s becoming something of a walker hunter, a one-woman army to eradicate the walkers from the earth.
Next, Rick (starting to regain some stubble after shaving off the beard completely last week – an omen???), Carol, and Daryl shoot down a zombie with the letter “W” carved into its head. Hmm. OK. Next, Michonne dons a police outfit after she was tasked by Deanna with keeping order in town, and Daryl is followed by Aaron out in the woods. Inside the walls, there’s a lot of time dedicated to showing Deanna the value of guards and patrols as Rick advises her to avoid the threat from other humans. Finally, the town is planning a party. Carol simultaneously plans to bake cookies and slip out of the compound during the party. That’s my Carol, badass baker. You can even get her recipe here.
Before the party, Daryl and Aaron stumble upon a wild horse, named “Buttons” by town kids. The horse is scared off by a pack of zombies, and they spend much of the episode hunting it down. Aaron tries to urge Daryl to share with the town, to let them get to know him. Given Aaron’s homosexuality and the Internet rumors that Daryl is indeed gay himself, you can’t help but wonder if the pairing was intentional.
Once the party begins, the threat of normalcy starts to creep in again. Rick, in particular, starts to feel extremely comfortable again, sharing some booze with Deanna’s husband after a discussion over who saved humans best. Rick’s ease isn’t shared by everyone, though, as many of the survivors feel incredibly out of place without the constant zombie threat. Daryl avoids the party completely but is invited into Aaron’s for spaghetti with an ulterior motive behind the invitation… No, it’s not what you’re thinking. It’s to build a bike for Daryl to use as Alexandria’s second recruiter, replacing Aaron’s injured boyfriend Eric. Daryl agrees to undertake the role. Maybe there is something there between them…
Carol sneaks out of the party to rain the armory only to be followed by Sam, Jessie the stylist’s son, who threatens to tell his mother. We are then treated to an epic Carol scene where she calmly explains to Sam that, should he tell his mother, she will kidnap him, take him outside of the walls, tie him to a tree, and leave him to be zombie bait. She very explicitly describes what the walkers will do to him, and it terrifies the little boy into silence. She offers to reward his silence with more of her famous cookies, but I’m not so sure little Sam would ever eat anything baked by Carol again, which is a shame. Those must be some damn good cookies.
The theme of community and rebuilding runs strong through the episode. The Alexandria contingent last week and again this week reference a loss of an old life and a rejoining of others into a new life. Apparently, they even stamp themselves with a scarlet “A” (presumably for Alexandria) to mark someone as “one of us.” It’s a nice, different theme for the show to explore. After spending years finding new people and ripping them away, I appreciate conversation around other humans celebrating their survival. I wanted something different from this season, and this is delivering. I’m not going to complain (as others have) that these turn of events are becoming a little dull. What’s the alternative? To become repetitive? Judging from next week’s previews, the peace is soon to be short-lived.
Oh, and “Buttons?” Yeah, he was mauled by zombies and put down by Aaron. Good times.