This week on The Walking Dead we focus on the secondary characters as they adjust to Alexandria, and lose yet another member of the Grimes family along the way. How did it all go down?
Let’s bitch it out.
The inevitable focus back on the secondary characters takes precedent this week, and although I sighed the sigh heard all over the world when the episode opened with (YAWN) Father Gabriel (Seth Gillam), I was surprised these tier two protagonists managed to set so much in motion this week. I haven’t concealed my dislike for Gabriel, but he actually brought up an interesting conundrum – what if the characters that we’ve been following around for five seasons are just a bunch of a-holes? Should we continue to hold on to the assertion that the Grimes gang are ‘good people’?
We’ve been conditioned (on television especially) to believe that our main protagonists are ‘good’, but with the recent proliferation of serialized narratives and more complex characters, following anti-heroes certainly isn’t something new. We only need to think of Walter White, Don Draper, Dexter Morgan, Tony Soprano, Frank Underwood – the list goes on. We root for these characters because we spend so much time with them, even though they’re clearly flawed. As the moralistic lines between good and evil become blurred, the best kind of television arises – narratives and character motivations that make us think, causing us to reflect inwardly at how we conduct our own lives.
I’m not certain that Gabriel’s little freak-out to Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) was meant to spur such existential questions, but it caused me to do a quick survey of what Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group have done over the past few seasons. Although I maintain that in such a world, ‘good’ and ‘evil’ don’t function in distinct buckets, but I’m starting to question whether or not Rick is migrating further into the ‘evil’ end of the spectrum. When Carol (Melissa McBride) asserts that Jessie’s (Alexandra Breckenridge) husband Pete (Corey Brill) must be killed because he’s beating Jessie and their son Sam behind closed doors, I couldn’t help but have get a bad taste in my mouth. The subsequent close up of Rick’s throbbing veins and outward, hyper-masculine stance as he implied agreement gave me pause about who I should be rooting for in all of this.
It’s understandable why Carol feels so decisive, being unable to reconcile her own experiences with domestic abuse, but Rick’s propensity to take human lives is distressing. If Pete is indeed beating his wife, punishment is in order, but execution? We have to remember what the world has turned into, and outside the walls of Alexandria, disposing of Termite/barista Gareth (Andrew J. West), child-rapist Marauder Joe (Jeff Kober) or full-on psychopath The Governor (David Morrissey) seems justified and even necessary, but coming into Alexandria and just ‘taking it’ because they can, starts to feel tyrannous. After the show has set its audience up to be so mistrustful of humans, it’s quite the shift to have us transpose that same suspicion on the very characters we’ve been rooting for all this time. The subtly of Rick’s potential corruption doesn’t feel like a hackneyed tack on to change things up, rather, further enhances the depth of The Walking Dead, which is unexpected of a show about zombies. I’m intrigued to see what happens next.
- I would be remiss not to talk about the loss of Noah (Tyler James Williams) who gets torn apart and we, along with Glenn (Steven Yeun) are forced to watch in horror. It’s been a while since we’ve seen such a graphic death, and seeing it happen to a character as pure as Noah unsettling. We didn’t get to know much about Noah, but his short time on the show made his death more tragic than say Bob (Lawrence Gillard Jr.) or even Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman). I fear Glenn will have difficulty holding onto whatever moral compass he has left after that loss.
- Even with all of my talk of the Grimes gang unjustifiably taking over Alexandria – the community isn’t without fault. Just before Aiden (Daniel Bonjour) dies, he confesses to Glenn that it’s Alexandria standard to leave people behind rather than helping. We get another taste of that when Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) experiences the same thing at the construction site. Is it cowardice or survival? Does it then justify Rick & Co. to take Alexandria over?
- One thing that continues to irk me is Jessie. Not only is she uninteresting and forgettable, the chemistry between Jessie and Rick is non-existent. Their conversations and strained flirtations over destroyed owls are literally vomit inducing. More significantly the inclusion of a domestic abuse storyline simply to propel the narrative is in poor taste. I may enjoy the narrative outcomes in terms of our protagonists, but I wish the show were more tactful in how it brought that about.
What did you think viewers? Do you think Deanna is going to throw down after learning about what happened to her son? Will Rick convince everyone in his group to take Alexandria by force? Will Rick murder Pete? How do you think Daryl (Norman Reedus) is doing out on the road with Aaron (Ross Marquand)? What will Michonne (Danai Gurira) have to say about all of this? Does anyone care if Tara (Alanna Masterson) eats it? Are we now impressed with Eugene (Josh McDermott)? Sound off in the comments 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.