It’s time to say goodbye to the beard and hello to new beginnings this week on The Walking Dead. So, is Alexandria all it’s cracked up to be or just another Woodbury 2.0?
Let’s bitch it out…
Ding dong the beard is dead. If nothing else happened in this episode, let us at least rejoice in seeing Rick (Andrew Lincoln) shed that epic face-sweater. Fortunately, ‘Remember’ is one of the series’ best offerings – and that’s primary because the focus is squarely on Rick throughout the episode. We may get introduced to some new characters like Alexandria Head, Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) and painfully obvious potential love interest Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), but at the end of the day, this one is all Rick. Considering the absolutely horrendous humans the group has encounter thus far, it’s important that the requisite time is taken for Rick to feel things out. It would feel too contrived and convenient if the group just drank the Kool-Aid in a matter of moments. But there’s a fine line between conveying believability and having the episode drag out. Thankfully ’Remember’ tactfully manages that line by giving us just the right amount of tension to remain realistically suspicious, but also enough evidence to consider Alexandria as a viable place for the group the settle.
The clincher is Rick’s final lines of the episode – even if the town doesn’t turn out to be as idyllic as it appears, we don’t have to worry about the Grimes gang. They’ll take it by force if necessary. There’s a slight tinge of arrogance to Rick’s statement, but it carries the weight that’s necessary for our buy in. The group hasn’t completely forgotten about all the events that came before (and what that’s meant for their evolution), but there’s a desire to go beyond merely surviving and settle down in a community.
Narratively speaking Alexandria offers much more sophistication and possibility – things don’t seem to be marked distinctly in black and white as we’ve seen in say Woodbury or Terminus. We have the necessary douchebag by way of Aiden (Daniel Bonjour), the overly friendly Jessie, her creepy, (and likely misogynistic) husband and the not-sure-if-she’s-trustworthy, smooth talking leader, Deanna. These are tropes that we expect to see when encountering a new group, and laying them all out there conveys a kind of self-awareness and economy that’s reassuring to us the audience. It feels like we’ve gotten these predictable plot elements out of the way, so now we can focus on further developing them, playing around with these expectations and maybe even subverting them. The verdict is still out on Alexandria in terms of its real intentions, but what makes ‘Remember’ so effective is its ability to keep these familiar elements fresh and intriguing.
- In an episode that focuses primarily on Rick, it becomes painfully obvious who the dead weight is in the Grimes group. Would any of us REALLY notice if Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) just magically disappeared without an explanation? Same goes for Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) & Co. And even though we got some moments with Tara (Alanna Masterson) she proved pretty invisible throughout the episode dontcha think?
- I loved Rick’s speech during his video interview where he summed up what it’s like ‘out there’ and the kind of people that he’s encountered. Whoever wrote those incredibly concise yet potent few lines deserves an Emmy.
- I’m not sure what’s to be said about the decidedly suburban community being the most utopian settlement. Do we all desire houses that are right out of a Pottery Barn catalog?
- Carol (Melissa McBride) continues to get the gold star for most improved character. In the limited screen time she has, she proves that she’s one of, if not the smartest member of the group- hands down. #whoruntheworld
- I get that the little zombie killing bonding sesh between Rick and Carl (Chandler Riggs) was meant to hammer home that we need not worry about our boys getting ‘soft’, but to me it read like a pathetic attempt to inject some action in the episode in order to keep the online whining about pacing to a minimum.
What did you think viewers? Are we at Alexandria for the long haul? Can we trust Deanna or is she just another version of The Governor? Who do you think took Rick’s concealed blender gun and for what purpose? Will Morgan (Lennie James) EVER show up again? Give us your theories in the comments section below.
A gentle reminder that we adhere to a SPOILER FREE zone. Please keep any plot points from the graphic novel that may potential spoil the direction of the show to yourself.
The Walking Dead airs at 9pm EST, Sundays on AMC.