In the really real world, my day job is, in part, helping homeless people find low-income housing. There’s a curious and tragic dynamic to that element of my line of work — so many of those who we house simply don’t work out, despite being so desperate for a life off the street. A home is a dream to them, but a dream that they’re frequently afraid to realize. They often live with minimal possessions, not wanting too much change too fast, still visiting their old haunts, still eating the same food, sleeping on the floor and staying on the street for most of the day despite their new home. There’s a sense of paranoia, of distrust, an almost feral flicker to their eyes, as if something about these new confines will fail them as so many other things in their lives have failed them, and it will all come crashing down, sending them back into the life that they tried to escape. Better not to try, not to trust, better to just stay on the street, rather than to see everything come apart on you.
It’s that feeling that this week’s episode of The Walking Dead captured so perfectly. Rick and his new group finally arrive in Alexandria, and everything about it is clean and safe and friendly… and utterly terrifying. From the moment they walk through those gates, their guard is up — perhaps even more than when they were wandering the wilderness. Trust comes hard, and trust in such a radical change creates a real, visceral fear in their very guts, and each actor showed it brilliantly. Even when they wanted it — and some of them clearly did — there’s a wild-eyed jitter to them. Even as Michonne confidently states “We’re ready for this. All of us,” you can also see her posture stiff and awkward as if she’s selling herself on that statement as much as on her interviewer.
“Remember” was a fantastic and intense episode, setting a whole new stage for the group. It felt right to be there, and it was that feeling of rightness that felt so wrong. Their days in the wilderness, fighting and scratching and clawing, relying on each other and nothing else, were grueling and horrible, but if nothing else, they could trust that nothing was trustworthy. Coming back to the world after so much time? As Glenn perfectly stated, “we were almost out there too long.” They may not ever be ready for such a change, no matter how hot the water or plush the beds.
Things We Loved:
- The idea of an actual politician in charge, selling them on the community, was actually quite clever (and a little bit disconcerting). I thoroughly enjoyed Tovah Feldshuh’s portrayal of Deanna, a wise, friendly leader with a vein of harshness hidden in there, but also a masterful manipulator and clever strategist.
- The looks on their faces when they re-discover such minor conveniences that now seem like gifts from god. A hot shower, a shave. Video games. Clean clothes. A haircut. Books. Art. Each of them reacted to these things differently — Rick with gradual acceptance, Carol with healthy dose of winsome suspicion, Carl with almost shock. Yet each character takes it differently, and each new take was wonderfully depicted.
- The contrast between Carol and Daryl. Carol embraces this new life, but she does so with such wicked cleverness that it made me love her all the more. From her faked memories of her bucolic life before to her suburban mom clothing, Carol just becomes more and more enjoyable with each opportunity. Meanwhile, Daryl is a wild dog. Remaining unclean, glowering, unbowed, if anything he retreats even further into himself.
- Carl (part 1): “They’re weak and I don’t want us to get weak too”
- The music. There was a marvelous juxtaposition of haunting, dread-filled music that contrasted well with the bright and pretty neighborhood. Making even the most unassuming things seem ominous, it gave a creepy, Stepford vibe to the episode.
- Carl (part 2): His strange father-son bonding moment with Rick. Each of them back in the wild, each pursuing their own mystery (Carl searching for the girl, Rick for his gun). But when they come across each other, they cut through a group of walkers like a single, well-oiled machine, and there’s no more doubts from Rick about Carl, and no more hiding from Rick. I really like their new dynamic stemming from Carl’s maturation.
- Glenn gets the moment of the week, trying his best to keep himself contained when he confronts the madness of the scouts, but also taking no shit when push literally comes to shove. That said, Michonne gets the line of the week when she instantly gets in the runner’s face when he bounces back up and whispers “You want to end up on your ass again?” with a quiet, deadly confidence.
- “If they can’t make it, then we’ll just take this place.”
Things We Didn’t Love:
Nothing. I enjoyed this episode from start to finish and I cannot wait to see where this story takes us.