Horses were harmed in the filming of this episode, Carol tells the worst bedtime story ever, Sasha discovers a new found loathing of dinner parties and several unexpected members of the Grimes Gang are drinking the Alexandria Kool-Aid and are ready for seconds.
We’re only two full episodes in, but already the Alexandria storyline is fast becoming one of my favorites of the entire series.
We’ve seen Rick and company deal with the loose cannon Shane, the moral thumping of Dale and Herschel, Andrea’s waffling and barely surviving The Governor, but it’s becoming increasingly more apparent the one obstacle the Grimes Gang may not be able to overcome is a return to a normal life. And dinner parties and pasta machines.
Much like Chris Kyle in “American Sniper,” Sasha is experiencing some serious PTSD. Given her losses in just this season alone, it’s hard to blame her for being more than little on edge and seemingly having a bit of a death wish. While she’s alone in a desolated area using some long gone Alexandria residents’ family portraits for target practice (naturally) Sasha hears walkers at every turn waiting to gnaw on her arm like brother Tyrese or just become a full-on meal like Bob.
Carol is enjoying going undercover as the dowdy housewife while looking for any vulnerabilities in these wussy civilized Alexandrites. She’s secretly sneaking off from her vitally important cookie baking responsibilities to debrief with Rick and Daryl, who are starting to wave a bit when it comes to their long-term plan of taking over the place if these guys won’t get in line with the new sheriffs…er constables in town.
Since the Alexandria employment office is having the worse time finding a job placement for him, Daryl is off on his own in the woods again when he comes across Aaron. Further proving how out of touch with the walker world the Alexandria camp is compared to Rick’s crew, Aaron is amazed that Daryl can discern a human from a walker. The lack of moaning helps a lot Aaron. He wants Daryl’s help in bringing in a horse the kids have seen roaming free. Just as Daryl is about to lasso the horse, a pack of walkers arrive to satisfy the fan base that wouldn’t consider it a true “Walking Dead” episode without a few exploding walker heads. Like last week, the action felt forced and unnecessary, but Aaron proved he was a decent shot and could have Daryl’s back in the wild. Sadly, the horse gets caught by the walkers and they chomp down for a quick lunch.
Back behind the walls, Deanna is having a solidly attended dinner party/meet and greet with The Grimes Gang. Rick meets Deanna’s husband, Reg (Steve Coulter), who watched the tapes and is genuinely impressed with Rick for keeping his crew alive through so much. Rick’s walls are starting to come down a bit as he accepts a drink from Reg. From there, Rick doesn’t at all have another mildly flirtatious interaction with Jessie (Alexandra Breck) before her husband, Pete (Corey Brill) reintroduces himself seemingly not remembering his creepy first meeting with the new constable.
Jessie encourages Rick to remember what’s been lost, but to also appreciate the new life they have within Alexandria’s walls now. As Rick considers it, he spots Carl hanging with some of the neighborhood boys joking around like a normal pre-teen. While he could teach Carl how to survive in a world of walkers, having fun was never part of the lesson plan and Rick seems pleasantly surprised Carl has fit in so well. As Jessie hands Judith off to Rick, he leans in and kisses her on the cheek. Jessie doesn’t seem too upset about it. Killing prisoners, countless walkers and poor old Gareth is one thing, but Rick Grimes Home Wrecker may be too much for the audience.
Jessie’s son, Sam, has a stamp and he gives Rick the scarlet “A” symbolizing he’s one of them now. Or is he? Sam is looking for more cookies and Rick assures him, his pal Carol can whip up some more just for him soon.
Some of the other members of Rick’s group are a bit more awkward in the social setting. Abraham doubts he’ll be able to make it until Rosita shows him the beer. “I’ll try,” he responds in the episode’s best exchange. Noah is likewise unsure of everything, but Maggie and Glenn assure him he’s with family and they’ll all make it through this together. Looks like Tara, Gabriel and Eugene’s invitation got lost in the mail as they all missed the episode.
Daryl skips the party, instead taking Aaron and Eric up on their invite for a spaghetti dinner. There, Aaron reveals something in his garage he thinks will be particularly interesting to Daryl – a motorcycle. It’s for Daryl to carry out his Alexandria job: helping Aaron as an Alexandria recruiter since he knows the difference from good and bad people. Daryl’s down for the gig.
While the others are occupied at the party, Carol is on her invisible secret mission mode of going into the city supply room and stealing some guns. Only problem is Sam followed her in hopes of getting cookies. Carol assures him he can get more cookies provided he keeps what he saw a secret. Sam says he has to tell his mother, but Carol tells him he will be tied to a tree far outside the city with no one but the walkers to hear if he says anything. If you thought Carol wasn’t hardcore before, check this scene out and say that Melissa McBride doesn’t deserve some serious Emmy consideration for the work she’s done this season.
Back at the party, Sasha freaks out watching too many people enjoying themselves and without a care in the world. She yells after being asked her favorite meal. It’s a different world Sasha. No one’s judging you for enjoying veal anymore. The next day, Sasha is ready to get back on the watchtower and Deanna gives her the bullets and some friendly advice to get over her B.S. AMC must have recently approved the show’s use of the s-bomb as the last few episodes the writers have used them in a just because now we can kind of fashion.
At secret rendezvous mission point, Carol has the guns for Rick and Daryl, neither of whom are all that excited about the prospect of preparing for the worst now. Daryl refuses his gun saying he’s going to follow their suggestion and just try to make it work. Like Rick, Daryl doesn’t want to just say he’s growing more optimistic about Alexandria and his place in this new society. Rick takes the gun, but instead of using it to help the Alexandria Takeover, he seems more likely to use it on Pete to free up Jessie, who waves and shows off her “A” stamp.
Rick and his group seem poised here to live long enough to see themselves become the villain by destroying the peaceful existence currently enjoyed by the citizens of Alexandria. Can anything bring them back from the brink?
This storyline has been immensely fascinating as we watch Rick’s gang struggle to deal with the happiness they’ve earned after years of tragedy. They’ve become conditioned to expect it can’t last, but in Alexandria, they’ve found a paradise they’ll do anything to preserve even if they’re the ones that end up ruining it in the end.