Once in a very long while, the most ominous things about The Walking Dead aren’t necessarily the snarling zombies lumbering toward the camera. This week’s episode opens with such a zombie, staggering in the wilds outside of Alexandria. Yet, it’s the activities within – Carol’s baking of a simple casserole and Deanna’s outright rejection of it – that truly define the mood of the episode.
It’s not that Deanna, mourning the recent loss of her son Aidan, rejected it, per se. It’s that she took the note of sympathy Carol beautifully scribed and burned it inside the house, watching the flame eat away into the stationary. This small act of defiance on Deanna’s part is proof positive that things are about to come a-crumblin’ down in Alexandria.
The episode continues as Deanna pours over Nicholas’s false recounting of the Aidan’s death and the ensuing chaos at the warehouse. The scene is juxtaposed against Glenn sharing the truth with Rick, particularly the gory details around Noah’s sad passing. That’s a nicer way to put it, isn’t it? Sure beats “Noah’s ripping from limb to limb by a hungry hoard of zombies.” Anyway, the unease continues in Alexandria as it has been building for a few episodes now.
The unease is underscored by the situation between Pete, Jessie, and Rick. Thanks to Carol’s urging, Rick begins taking steps toward addressing the spousal abuse between Rick and Jessie, eventually brining the situation to Deanna who is well aware. Turns out Pete is a valuable surgeon, and they’re willing to overlook the inconvenience of Pete’s beatings (admittedly, something we’ve never actually seen). When Rick suggests separating Pete and Jessie, Deanna challenges him, asking what he recommends if Pete doesn’t comply. Rick replies as only he can – they would kill Pete rather than exile him. This discussion can only further strain Rick and company’s place in Alexandria, particularly since Gabriel threw them under the bus last week for being ruthless, amoral killers. Well, yeah. So?
Later, Rick confronts Jessie about the situation, expressing his concern over her safety, but she proclaims she can take care of herself. He ups his game by telling Jessie that her son, Sam, asked for a gun to protect her. What mother would ignore that? When Pete arrives on the scene, Jessie asks him to leave, but Pete angrily confronts Rick and provokes a fight that seemingly ends with Pete thrown out the front window of his own house.
Other events of the episode include Carl and his new girl friend Enid (a friend that’s a girl, people. He’s like 14, right?) meeting cute in the woods as zombies lurks outside. They eventually hide in the hollow of a tree and watch a hoard walk by. He briefly, quickly touches her hand as they hide but doing nothing else, proving he is as afraid of her as he is of the zombies. She finds that kinda cute. Awww… Also, Glenn confronts Nicholas about the deaths at the warehouse and says, “That’s on you, man. That’s on you.”
Most alarming is Sasha’s continued lapse from sanity as she evolves into a mindless zombie killer. Michonne becomes concerned and seeks her out in the woods, finding her zombie target practice. Later, they are nearly overrun by zombies as they pick them off one by one. Sasha’s mental state will undoubtedly factor into the inevitable rift between the native Alexandria residents and Rick’s group of survivors. As Sasha says, even Michonne can’t help her now. She’s too far gone.
Largely absent from recent episodes – well, absent in terms of Daryl badness – Daryl and Aaron continue looking for survivors but stumble upon some freshly eviscerated humans, one of which was tied to a tree for zombies to feed upon. Another letter was carved in her head similar to one we’ve seen before. There is clearly something intensely sinister going on here.
The episode wraps with Rick and Pete’s fight escalating in the streets of Alexandria. Rick ultimately pulls a gun on the crowd, launching into a sermon about how Alexandria’s residents – led by Deanna – are going to ruin the stability of their environment by pretending life is at is was before. Just when he seems to be punching a one-way ticket out of the Safe Zone, Michonne suddenly knocks him unconscious, following through with her previous desire to find stability and safety again rather than rot and risk her life on the open road. She symbolically put her sword away a few episodes ago, and it hasn’t come back out again.
All of that is good and well, but just how long can Sasha continue to keep walkers off the city walls? Guess we’ll find out next week.