Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 12: Remember

As I predicted last week, this episode marks a new direction for The Walking Dead that'll change it forever, as Team Rick finally finds a safe haven. Well, sort of safe. As safe as anything can be in their world.

It was fascinating to watch the main characters, all of whom have been surviving in the wild for so long, trying to deal with the luxuries and amenities of civilization again. Carl in particular seemed to have trouble relating to normal teens again. I guess killing your own mother after she dies giving birth to your sister will do that to a kid.

I don't particularly trust Deanna Monroe, the leader of Alexandria. There's no way she let a group of violent mercenaries like Rick & Co. into her community out of charity. She's got an ulterior motive, one which probably involves protection— most likely from a rival group.

Once again we see that at this point there's very little difference between Rick & Co. and most of the other groups they've encountered. Sure, we know what's happened to Team Rick that's made them this way, but to an outside observer they probably look like a psychotic murder gang.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Picking up where we left off last week, Rick and company enter the Alexandria Safe-Zone. They're told they'll have to give up their weapons, but Rick refuses to do so until he talks to their leader Deanna.

The group meets with Deanna, who interviews (and records) each of them individually. Rick tells her she and her people have grown soft behind their walls, and warns her to keep the gates closed against marauders.

The group finally agrees to give up their weapons and are given two empty houses, complete with electricity and running water. They take advantage of the amenities, showering and shaving for the first time in months. Except for Daryl of course, who's got to be smelling pretty badly by now. They still don't trust the Alexandrians though and refuse to be split up, staying together in one home.

Rick meets his neighbor Jessie, who offers to give him a much-needed haircut. This is met with disapproval by Jessie's husband, who I'm sure won't be causing any trouble in future episodes. Carl meets some kids his own age, but has forgotten how to simply "hang out." One of the teens is a morose young girl named Enid, who definitely has a secret.

Glenn, Tara and Noah join Deanna's son Aiden on a supply run. Aiden is much less experienced than Rick's people at killing and avoiding walkers, and his actions almost cause Tara to be killed. Back at Alexandria, Glenn confronts Aiden which results in a brawl. Well, make that "Aiden takes a swing at Glenn, who effortlessly hands him his ass." Deanna breaks up the fight and says the new group are now equals, and appoints Rick and Michonne as the police force.

Later Rick meets with Daryl and Carol. They all agree that civilization has made the Alexandrians weak. Rick says that if the residents can't learn to protect themselves, then he and his group will just take over.

Thoughts:
• Last week's episode ended with Rick hearing the laughter of children coming from the other side of the Alexandria wall, and finally accepting that Aaron and his group weren't going to try and eat them. I joked that it would be funny if he went through the gate and saw that the sound of the kids was coming from a tape player.

Welp, in this episode Team Rick goes through the gates and guess what? No kids! So where was the laughter coming from?

• In the comic, the leader of Alexandria was a man named Douglas Monroe. Here he's had a gender change and is now Deanna Monroe. This is the 2010s after all, and above all else we have to be diverse and all-inclusive. I'm honestly surprised the producers stopped there and didn't make Deanna an African American Muslim lesbian anti-vaxxer amputee who believes in equal rights for the dead.

• Deanna interviews all of Team Rick and videotapes their responses. That's something I never thought I'd see on this show talking head interviews, ala The Office or The Real World.

Note that Daryl brought the possum he killed to his "interview."

• Deanna tells Rick that Alexandria has its own solar grid, cisterns and sewage treatment plant. Well that was certainly convenient!

She also mentions that Northern Virginia was evacuated early in the zombie crisis, so they've never encountered many walkers or even people. Again, that was certainly convenient, and helps explain how the hell they were able to erect walls all the way around the community without being constantly gnawed on by walkers.

She also admits that she's done some bad things herself, but doesn't elaborate. Did she kill someone? Banish them for not playing along? Set a glass on her antique table without a coaster?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that Deanna knows Alexandria is soft and weak, and wants to add Rick and his group for protection, most likely from some other community that's becoming a threat. She's not fooling anyone she's not bringing them into the fold out of the goodness of her heart.

• Deanna tells Rick that it's precisely 3:37 pm. He immediately sets his watch, revealing that he's been guessing at the correct time for months.

So how does Deanna know the exact time? She says she's been living in Alexandria since the early days of The Fall, so I suppose she could have been wearing the same watch every day since, and kept it wound and accruate. It still seemed odd to me though.

• Rick tells Deanna that she should keep the gates closed and not let anyone in, ever. He says there are people out there who measure you by what they can take from you.

Who's he talking about here? People like the Governor? The Termites? Or him and his own group?

• Rick takes a long, hot shower, probably the first one he's had in... months? Years? He then shaves off his abundant mountain man beard. A couple things here.

First of all, a few months ago fans were losing their sh*t because they saw photos of a clean shaven Andrew Lincoln, taken before the season had finished filming. These people were absolutely convinced this had to mean Rick was being killed off, and Lincoln no longer needed his beard.

Readers of the comic knew that theory was bushwah, and that the real reason he shaved was because this Alexandria storyline was coming up next.

Secondly, I've mentioned this next point again, but it bears repeating. It's nice to know that even in the middle of a horrible zombie apocalypse, even after Rick's very humanity has been chipped away bit by bit until he no longer feels anything, he still has the time and motivation to do some manscaping.

Back in the first season, Rick sported quite a crop of chest hair. Now his entire torso is smoother than a baby's bottom. And he didn't do the pruning in this episode either— his hairlessness was first seen back in Season 4 in the episode Claimed. Whatever real world reason Andrew Lincoln may have had for shaving him entire body, he's making Rick look like an idiot. I don't know why this bugs me so much, but it does. I think because it's such a blatant and ridiculous continuity error.

• Rick meets his new neighbor Jessie, who offers to cut his hair. I'm assuming she's being set up as a love interest for Rick, despite the fact that she's married.

Rick meets her husband briefly, as he sits menacingly on his shadowy front porch. He has the charming ability to say "Welcome to Alexandria" and make it sound like "F*ck you." I wonder if he's the doctor Aaron spoke of last week? In the comic Alexandria had a doctor who wasn't a very nice person, but the community tolerated his behavior because they needed his expertise.

• As the entire group huddles together in one house, we see Carl reading a book that says "Wolf Fight" on the back. A couple episodes ago we saw graffiti in Noah's old neighborhood that read "Wolves Not Far." Is that some more foreshadowing? Possibly for the group who chopped up the walkers?

• Michonne exits the bathroom and says she couldn't stop brushing her teeth. Just last week I was wondering about that how has this group has been dealing with their dental health all this time? Are they brushing regularly? Probably not. Poor tooth health would be a bitch in a zombie apocalypse.

• Deanna interviews Carol, who mentions how much she misses her big, dumb, lovable husband Ed. She then says she's a "people person," asks if there's some social group she can join, and starts dressing like Barbara Billingsley. She's definitely playing Deanna here, putting on a "soccer mom" act so she can infiltrate the community and find out what's really going on.

This of course puts Deanna's claim that she's "good at reading people" in serious doubt.

• It suddenly struck me in this episode that Carl's getting a little too old to be wearing that sheriff hat. He could get away with it when he was nine or ten, but as a gawky teenager, it ain't working.

• Carl meets some teens his own age, including a girl named Daria, er, I mean Enid. She's a typical snarky teen who recently joined the community and just happens to occasionally scale the wall of her fortified village and venture into the zombie-filled woods alone.

She's definitely got a secret. I'm guessing she's the one who stole the gun Rick hid in the woods last week. I also wouldn't be surprised to find out she's some kind of spy or scout for another nearby group.

• Rick sneaks outside in order to inspect Alexandria's perimeter. He walks past the walls, which are all braced with slanted steel beams on the outside. Isn't that backwards? Wouldn't you want the braces on the inside, to protect the walls from outside things trying to knock them down?

If the braces are on the outside, all a Governor-type psycho would have to do is crash his truck into a couple of them and boom! The wall falls down and you've got instant access to the community.

Far be it from me to argue with Deanna's architect husband, but putting the supports on the outside just doesn't seem right.

• Deanna's son is named Aiden, because he's an incredible douche and that's the douchiest name the writers could come up with (Sorry, Aidens of the world). He's the leader of the Supply Run Team, and is the episode's Designated Asshole™. You know, a character who acts like a jerk for no other reason than because the script says so, to make life tough for the hero. Think Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter books.

• Glenn, Tara and Noah are chosen for supply run training. Really, Noah? The kid with the messed up ankle? Shouldn't he be on dishwashing duty or something until his leg heals or the doctor can reset it?

• Glenn has a little scuffle with Aiden, after he almost gets him killed. Deanna breaks up the fight and shouts to the populace that Rick and his people, who've been in Alexandria a grand total of two days, are now equals, and appoints Rick and Michonne as constables.

Favoring these violent newcomers so quickly doesn't seem like a particularly good idea on Deanna's part, especially for someone who, as I said before, claims to be an "expert" at reading people.

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