Assimilation still eludes our Atlanta group. Sasha is on edge. In a quiet place like Alexandria, she has time to think about Bob and Tyreese and Terminus and all the other horrors she has seen. Daryl wasnt accustomed to the suburban lifestyle even before the world went to hell, so he is having a hard time adapting to it now. Michonne is cautiously optimistic. She wants Alexandria to work, but I cant help but wonder if her hesitation in accepting the town is more due to Ricks hesitation than her own. Even after dealing with Woodbury, she seemed ready to trust Aaron, but cant shake her loyalty to Rick.
Carol, Rick, and Daryl have a confab out by the shed where Rick originally hid his gun. They make a plan to smuggle some guns out of the pantry – just in case. Carol, still playing the hausfrau role, feels invisible to Alexandria. Shes of no consequence, poses no risk. After unlatching the pantry window during the day, she sneaks back that night to steal guns from a footlocker that Carol surmises has never even been opened. Before they head back, a walker wanders out, and Carol shoots it down. Interestingly, there is a W carved onto its forehead.
The centerpiece of tonights episode is a party at Deannas house in honor of the new recruits. Everyone is anxious about it, but by the end of the party, (almost) everyone has started to relax. Abraham and Rosita are skeptical – until they see Deanna has beer. Noah is nervous, but Maggie and Glenn remind him that he is part of their family and help him socialize. Rick meets Jessies husband, Pete, and younger son Sam. He also sees Carl socializing with a couple other boys his own age, and Carl actually seems like a normal kid. The attraction between Rick and Jessie is palpable, and when Jessie brings Judith over to him, they chat for a few minutes and Rick leans in for a kiss. At the last moment he diverts to her cheek, but there was definitely more there. It doesnt help matters that things between Jessie and Pete are definitely strained. Sasha is clearly suffering PTSD. Between the noise, the people, and the conversation, she snaps, yells at a woman who was enquiring about her favorite meal, and storms out.
During the day, Daryl goes out hunting. It looks like he still has not showered at this point. He comes across Aaron and is initially suspicious that he was being followed, but agrees to let Aaron come hunting with him. As they move through the forest, they come across a horse that Aaron admits he and Eric have been trying to catch for months. The kids in Alexandria named him Buttons. Daryl decides to try his hand at catching the horse, and approaches slowly. The horse whinnies a little when he approaches, but doesnt run – at least not until the whinnies draw forth a small horde of walkers. The guys kill them and pursue Buttons. They find him again, but are set upon by more walkers. Aaron and Daryl each save the other one, forming a bond. Unfortunately, it is too late for Buttons – the zombies are ripping him apart. The guys kill the zombies, then Aaron has the honor of putting Buttons out of his misery.
Later that night, Daryl makes the attempt to go to the party: he peeks into the window, then leaves. Aaron sees him from his porch and invites Daryl in for dinner (he was never going to go to the party; Eric is his excuse). Daryl slurps down spaghetti like a giant three-year-old, then Aaron reveals why he really invited him to dinner: motorcycles. It seems that whoever lived in this house before built motorcycles. Aaron collected parts as he found them, not really knowing what he needed. He wants Daryl to build the motorcycle, and join him as a recruiter (he doesnt want Eric out there anymore). Daryl knows how it works out there, and he is good out there, but he doesnt belong there. Plus, Aaron knows that Daryl can see the difference between good guys and bad guys. Daryl agrees: Ive got nothing else to do. Thanks. This is high praise from Daryl.
Carol slips out of the party to go liberate the guns. But someone follows her: Sam. He thought she was going to make more cookies. She promises she will, but only if he doesnt tell anyone he saw her there. Sam doesnt like that, and thats when things turn dark. Carol tells him a horrible story about how, if he tells, one morning he will wake up and find himself strapped to a tree in the middle of nowhere, where the monsters will rip him apart while he is still alive, allowing him to feel every agonizing bite. Of course, he can also keep his mouth shut, and that will never happen to him – and he will get cookies. The kid is terrified but the choice seems clear. So not only does Carol retain her hard edge from life on the streets, but she has gone dark. Really dark. I mean, I take great pleasure in scaring children, but even I probably would not have gotten into such gruesome detail.
The next day, Rick, Carol, and Daryl meet again in the woods and pass out guns. Interestingly, Daryl declines. This is him trying. Carol and Rick each take one, and I assume they bury the rest. The trio heads back into the compound and go their separate ways. Rick sees Jessie and Pete walk by, and gives them a friendly smile and wave, but as their backs are to him, Rick fingers his gun. He does nothing, but clearly his yearning for the touch of a woman has left him teetering between good guy and creepy guy. Alone again, he hears a banging against the wall. On the other side, a zombie mindlessly walks into the steel wall, over and over, like a robot caught in an infinite loop. Rick leans against the wall like he is trying to connect with it. This one move, more than anything else he has said or done, tells me that he was indeed out there too long. Hes changed, and hes not going to make it in a new civilization.
You can check out a clip from Episode 5.14 of “The Walking Dead,” titled “Spend,” in the player below.