Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 12: Remember

To the walled community of Alexandria – and Daryl shoots a possum. He brought dinner.

It looks like the Alexandrians are not a fan of possum

Inside the walls they’re asked to disarm. Rick objects – and has Sasha snipe a zombie just to remind everyone how dangerous they are.

The leader of the community is Deana Monroe, ex-congresswoman who films interviews with several of Rick’s group. Alexandria was an eco-friendly gated community for the rich before the outbreak and Deana, along with several others, sheltered there pretty much from the beginning. It’s sustainable so it has electricity and running water. She wants Rick and his group to help their community survive – touching on how he has killed people to save his people, his family and how she wants that protection. He advises her to close the gates and not let people in – because people will use her.

Rick makes a decision to stay – though there’s a nice moment when Deana opens the possibility it isn’t his choice

Which means they give up their vast arsenal (albeit Carol getting a nod from Rick) to Olivia, the stores lady before being shown to two houses they can live in (Rick is amazed by the space). The house is like going back in time to back before the walkers – it even has running water

Rick has a shower, fully amazed by it, and shaves off the epic Beard. Newly shorn and shirtless he greets neighbour Jesse who is super happy to help cut Rick’s hair, completing the transformation. Rick is stunned and slightly horrified by how much she trusts him. She also mentions her sons she wants to introduce to Carl.

Trust doesn’t go both ways and Carol and Rick decide, despite having two houses, they’ll all stay in one so they’re not split up. Carl’s still on high alert, drawing a knife when he hears something in one of the rooms. Michonne and Rick have a cute moment (after she spends 20 minutes brushing her teeth) because she’s never seen Rick clean shaven before; she understands the caution but is still optimistic about Alexandria. Deana also drops round to marvel at how close knit Rick’s group is despite their very diverse backgrounds. She’s also handing out everyone jobs.

Michonne’s interview reflects her optimism while Glenn’s shows his almost desperate need to make Alexandria a home and fear of what the road is doing to them.

Daryl fits in far less – still carrying around the dead possum to the video interview. While everyone else cleans up, he skins and guts it. He lurks in corners and tries to avoid the Alexandrians. He refuses to clean up even when Carol scolds him (which is hilarious).

Rick goes to explore and nearly panics looking for Carl running through the streets and crashing into Jesse’s art work before she reassures him that Carl and Judith are visiting an elderly couple who lost their kids and grandchildren.

Carl is introduced to Jesse’s two sons and Enid, a girl who also came from outside. Carl is utterly bemused and tongue tied at the very idea of playing computer games. Just in case we’ve forgotten the troubles Carl has, his interview reminds us that Carl had to kill his mother. Later with Rick Carl says he likes Alexandria – but the people are weak and he’s afraid they will become weak as well.

Carol, meanwhile, tells the most amazing lies in her interview. She presents herself as a den mother with nothing to add to the group who was being sheltered; she presents her old relationship as idyllic and even says she misses her husband and the best way she can help is to be involved in the community helping with kids (preferably with no flowers around). She gets a job feeding people.

Both Carl and Rick leave Alexandria. Rick going out the front gate while Carl follows Enid who sneaks over the wall, though he loses her. Again we see Rick draw a gun when he sees movement, then calm down when it’s “just” a Walker. Walkers aren’t a threat. He tries to find the gun he hid – but it’s gone. He does run into Carl though and they slaughter some walkers. Rather than try to protect Carl, Rick gives him a weapon and even stands back to let him kill the last walker.

Aiden (Deanna’s son) and Nicholas takes Glenn, Noah and Tara out on a supply run. But he treats it as a game being far too enthusiastic about the whole thing and way too eager to make sure everyone follows his orders. And per of his orders – and his game – involve taking a Walker alive and taunting it because it killed people – as if it were capable of understanding revenge. When his antics nearly get them bitten, Glenn kills the Walker.

Aiden has an epic hissy fit and they go back to Alexandria. Aiden insists on chasing Glenn down to try and assert how he’s in charge but Glenn won’t back down. Aiden turns it into a physical fight and gets knocked down hard. Nicholas tries to intervene and Daryl knocks him to the floor (Rick pulls him off Nicholas and then stands in the way while Daryl paces back and forth). Aiden gets up and tries to attack again only finds Michonne standing in the way. He wisely decides to stop.

Deanna makes a big speech about Rick’s people being part of Alexandria and not to treat them like outsiders, making her son back down. She also tells Rick she wants him to be their Constable, since he was a sheriff and protector – and she wants Michonne to be as well. Both accept. Daryl stalks off. She also thanks Glenn for knocking Aiden, her son, down. Glenn walks away

We close with a repetition of Rick’s warning that they should keep the gates closed because people are always looking for what they can take from you. And Rick, newly uniformed, talks to Carol and Daryl; they’re staying, they can settle in. Like Carl, Carol is afraid of becoming weak – but Rick is sure they’re too hardened for that; and if Alexandria doesn’t work for them, they can easily take the place. Neither Daryl nor Carol object.

Oh this episode had so much to address.

One thing that is abundantly clear this episode is how lucky the people of Alexandria are, how sheltered they’ve been and how much that contrasts with Rick’s group. There were a lot of excellent scenes of sheer culture shock as Rick’s group tried to adapt to life which has become so utterly alien to them; perhaps personified by Rick’s own transformation and the death of the Beard. So many weirdly brilliant moments – like the woman walking her dog when a few episodes ago Rick’s group were eating dogs. Or that Jesse can actually spend time on art work. Or that anyone cares about haircuts. Or just how manicured and tended all the lawns and trees are.

The character’s reactions are also excellent – I find Daryl the most fascinating. Odd though it may seem, he has probably benefited from the apocalypse. No longer under the thrall of his terrible brother, he now has a supportive group, a kind and loving family (there have been numerous indications through the series that Daryl’s family was abusive). Even his skill set – the hunter gatherer with essential survival skills became something vital and important; now he’s back to being the country bumpkin carrying road kill. He’s being returned to a civilisation that didn’t – and maybe still doesn’t – value him.

Carol - on a positive spin I would say she’s returned to civilisation and, like Daryl, is having culture shock so grasping back at the person she thinks she should have been before it all falls apart. Personally I think she’s more going under deep cover ready to unleash her terrifying wrath on Alexandria if it turns on them and leave nothing but a smoking crater in her wake. Especially when she tells Daryl to shower to “keep up appearances.”

I think Michonne is the most earnest – her hope is really strong in the scenes she’s in. She’s not a fool or unsuspicious – but Michonne needs this to work. She and Glen are the ones pushing most to make Alexandria work; they’re not just hanging around to see if it’s safe, they want to make it safe, are determined to make it work for them. Though even that determination has little patience for foolishness that threatens them all

I also think it’s clearly, nicely subtly, how much Alexandria needs Rick’s people. As seen by their foolish run and capturing a Walker, they have no concept of how to survive beyond their walls. It’s chance alone that has saved them from running into a group like the Governor’s which would annihilate them; they need Rick’s group to teach them how to survive in this world because their luck cannot last. Even the trust Jesse shows Rick is something alien to Rick – and so dangerous in this world. Carl said it clearly – the people of Alexandria are weak. And can there be more proof of Carl’s development and how Rick has changed in his treatment of him than Rick letting Carl fight side by side with him, giving Carl a weapon?

Of course, equally they’re at risk. One thing that is clear is that Rick is on the side of his group – not anyone else’s. In some ways this is the first step on the same road as the Governor or Terminus: do whatever you must for your own group. And if that means conquering Alexandria, then so be it. More chilling is who he says this too – both Daryl who isn’t fitting in and Carol who we know is… practical. But add that to Glenn talking about them being “out there too long” and we can see that Glenn worries about what they’re becoming – which is yet another look at what “becoming weak” means.