At the outset of tonight’s episode, a bloody Walker heads towards Alexandria, stomping on one of the family’s pictures in a frame along the way. Back in town, Deanna listens to her deceased son’s “RunMix” CD with her remaining son and husband, while Carol prepares a pastabake as an offer of condolence (which Deanna does not accept). Meanwhile, Sasha takes her massive sniper rifle up to the watchtower and tries to keep her shit together. During this time, the bloody Walker is still approaching the town’s gates … until Sasha takes it out. Daryl does some Walker hunting of his own with Aaron, and the two come across another survivor in the woods.
It’s a tale of two stories as Glenn and Nicholas tell conflicting accounts of how Aiden died. Now who do you think Deanna is likely to believe? Until she decides, she grounds the two of them: no guns, no journeying outside the walls. Rick, however, fully believes Glenn and tries to impress upon him the fact that the Alexandrians don’t know what they’re doing, and that their smaller group will not answer to their incompetent rules. Glenn takes a page from Noah’s book and says that they need to make this work. Rick’s got other things on his mind, like Jessie Anderson, and killing her husband, Pete.
Though Carol is convinced that this needs to happen, Rick doesn’t seem so sure just yet. The sheriff wanders out to the water’s edge, where a lone red balloon is tied up (conjuring images of Stephen King’s It), and Pete checks up on him. Rick gives the wife-beater a cold reception and tells him to keep walking.
While a sleepless Michonne ponders her laundry basket and new law enforcement uniform, Rosita lets her know that Tara’s doing okay, but Sasha was up in the watchtower all night and hasn’t come back. They go out to look for her – in civilian clothes – and it’s quite clear that their short time as citizens of Alexandria have already started to soften them; they start at the sound of a branch breaking, and Michonne has left her sword behind. Rosita remarks that Abraham went catatonic when he lost the hope for a cure, and that Sasha responded in a similar way when they found Alexandria. Food for thought. They happen upon two more dead Walkers who have presumably been executed by Sasha. Soon, they come across Sasha and a sizable group of Walkers. Sasha’s bloodlust leads the three of them right into the middle of the pack. Michonne starts to have her own flashbacks as she and Sasha start blasting away at them – all good until you run out of ammo. Rosita lends a hand (and a foot) by taking the fight to the Walkers melee style. After nearly getting bitten, Sasha finally breaks down at the thought of losing Noah.
Rick finds Deanna looking over freshly dug graves in their town. She challenges him about his plans for Pete, which she seems all too aware of. Rick wants to warn him or execute him while Deanna wants only to exile him. He can’t accept that decision since it puts the town in danger. The two agree to disagree, for now. Rick takes the issue directly to Jessie and says that the abuse has to stop. Jessie agrees, but tries to explain it away, though apparently it’s a recurring issue with Pete. She questions Rick’s motives and kicks him out, saying they can take care of themselves. Rick suffers a bit of a panic attack seeing all the relatively normal Stepford activities going on outside. He storms back into her house and tells her that her son Sam asked for a gun to protect her, and that she needs to fight, and to let him help her. He admits that he’s helping her because he can’t allow her to die, and she decides to stand up to Pete as soon as she realizes that the Alpha male is now on her side. The altercation escalates until Rick throws Pete out of the front porch window. More on that in a minute.
Like father like son, Carl is traipsing through the woods, creepily tracking Enid – the girl from town – but she catches on rather quickly. She leads him on a romp that’s likely to end all Bridge to Terabithia for one (or perhaps both) of them. Sure enough, they happen upon a lone Walker in the woods. The girl sets a timer and throws it away from themselves so that it draws the Walker when it goes off; neat trick. Their run through the woods is a rare moment of freedom and fun for the two of them, so of course this will all end horribly. Since they hide together in a hollowed-out tree to let a Walker horde pass by, this easily could be the last we ever see of them, but it’s a sweet moment of youthful romance … despite the rotting fleshbags with Ws carved into their heads stumbling by.
Though Deanna may be dragging her feet in deciding what to do with Glenn and Nicholas, Glenn makes his position quite clear to the cowardly killer. While it’s a necessary scene, having Glenn back Nicholas into a corner makes me fear for his safety as this turncoat has already been shown to throw his friends under the bus if it means he can save his own skin. Sure enough, we soon see Nicholas unearthing a hidden handgun.
Back in the woods, Daryl and Aaron come across a scattered pile of Walker parts: limbs and legs, leading Daryl to suspect that whoever did this took the rest of the bodies with them. They find the bloody, naked body of a blonde woman tied to a tree with her abdominal cavity ripped open. She too has a W carved into her head; Daryl puts her out of her misery as she turns.
Closing out tonight’s episode, Sasha trains her scope on the citizens of Alexandria, who are all fleeing away from (or towards) the fight between Rick and Pete. Glenn storms in to help, but Nicholas is right behind him. Pete has the upper hand for a second until Jessie interferes and he slugs her out of the way. Carl tries to stop his dad and he gets a similar backhand. When Deanna finally stops him, Rick draws a gun on the lot of them and starts to have a breakdown. He says that his team knows what needs to be done and they do it, which is why they live. Rick tells them that their way of living is done, but Deanna isn’t so sure. And while Rick is busy monologuing, Michonne coldcocks him and knocks him out. I hate to say it, but it needed to happen.
So after plenty of run-ins with ne’er-do-wells in each of their past attempts to establish a community, have our heroes finally stumbled upon a place that’s actually civilized? With the exception of a few bad apples within the walls of Alexandria, everyone else seems to have their acts together. Is the fact that these people haven’t been living the hard life surviving on the road enough to condemn them to a rule by a wild, violent, and bloody leader? I guess the real question is, in a town with an established leadership, a cooperative workforce, and substantial defenses, has Rick finally become the real threat?
Rating: ★★★★ Very good — Damn fine television
(An explanation of our ratings system follows here.)
“We’re truly sorry for your loss.” You can keep your casserole, Carol.
Deanna: “You don’t know what I see, Nicholas. And I see a great deal.”
Carol: “If the Walkers hadn’t gotten Ed, I wouldn’t be standing here right now.” Rick: “Yeah, you would.”
Pete: “Hey Rick, you okay, man?” Rick: “Keep walking.”
Rick: “People die now, Deanna. Times like this, you can decide who and when, before it’s decided for you.”
Glenn: “People like you are supposed to be dead, but these walls went up just in time, so you’re not.”
Enid: “It’s their world, we’re just living in it.”
Okay, so reality check: Where is all this ammo coming from? You’d think they’d be busy making their own by this point.
Let’s put this to a vote: Is Rick’s obsession with protecting Jessie chivalrous or self-serving?
Rick: “We have to control who lives here!” Deanna: “That’s never been more clear to me than it is right now.”