Rick’s crew finally enters Alexandria. It’s not an easy transition. As Glenn so artfully puts it, “We need to make this work. We were almost out there too long.”
Alexandria’s leader is Deanna, a former Ohio congresswoman. She and her family were trying to get back home to help her state when the outbreak began, and the army directed them to this planned community, with its own solar grid, sewage filtration, basically everything it needs to sustain off the grid. The army was supposed to come back, but they didn’t. There were supplies in the community, and a huge construction site nearby allowed her husband, a professor of architecture, to build reinforced walls around the community.
Rick’s group are the first people they have invited in in a long time. Each member is interviewed on video (for transparency). But Deanna needs people who had lived out there, and after a few days in the community, that becomes apparent. Community members walk around like nothing horrible is going on outside the gates. The people of Alexandria clearly have not had to face zombies or marauding humans. Deanna admits she has “done things” which translates into exiling three men who “didn’t work out;” in her mind that was as good as killing them.
Everyone’s guns are collected. They still belong to them, they are just not allowed inside. They can check them out when they leave the compound. Knives, swords, and crossbows are still okay. Everyone is given a house – to Carl, it looks like a mansion. They are clean, well furnished, with electricity and running water. Rick is suspicious when the group is “split up” over different houses, so for the first few days, everyone sleeps in Rick’s house. Everyone enjoys a shower and clean clothes, except, of course, for Daryl, who refuses both. In fact, he won’t even go inside the house at first. He just sits on the porch, keeping a watchful eye. Rick finally shaves that cactus off his face, and a pretty young mother, Jessie, gives him a haircut.
Jessie’s eldest son, Ron, is about Carl’s age and is eager to meet him. He also meets Mikey, and Enid, a quiet girl who arrived a few months ago after having lived on the “outside.” She has clearly been emotionally destroyed by the world outside. Carl is fascinated by her, either because she is the first girl his age he has seen since puberty kicked in, or because Enid can’t seem to decide if she wants to stay in Alexandria or not – Carl follows her as she sneaks out of the community, but loses her in the woods.
Kids go to a makeshift school: young kids in the morning, older kids in the afternoon. Everyone is given a job. Carol, strangely, slips right back into the role of housewife, claiming she had nothing to offer Rick’s group but to be the “den mother.” She also claims to miss her dead husband, Ed, every single day and makes no mention of his abuse or her dead daughter. She is tasked with cooking for the elderly (who are smitten with Judith – she is the first baby anyone has seen in a very long time). Glenn, Tara, and Noah are added to the scavenging team, led by Nicholas and Deanna’s son, Aidan. Aidan warns – semi-jokingly – that he can be a douche, and he insists everyone on his team follow his lead. Recently, they lost several teammates (necessitating new ones) to a zombie attack. They let their fear get to them and they were killed. Aidan is proud to say they got one of the roamers and tied him up in the forest to act as a warning to all other zombies (which shows just how far out of touch these people are). Aidan leads the group to his trophy, only to find it has escaped – an easy feat when your flesh is rotting away and you feel no pain. The guys whistle for the missing zombie, which freaks out Glenn, Tara, and Noah, but it brings the walker around. Noah prepares to shoot it, but Nicholas stops him as Aidan tries to tie it back up. The thing is slippery and heads towards Tara, who can’t quite get a grip on it long enough to stab it in the head. Glenn jumps in with the save – and Aidan freaks out.
Back in Alexandria, Aidan has a temper tantrum and demands new people on his detail – people who will do as they are told. Glenn snaps back, and the two bicker loudly, a crowd gathering around. Glenn has had enough and punches Aidan, which would lead to an escalation if Deanna weren’t there to break it up. She publicly shames Aidan and Nicholas and reminds them that Rick and his group are members of the community, to be treated as equals, and sends them to her office for a harsher reprimand. But before she goes, she thanks Glenn for knocking her son out. She also names Rick and Michonne constables, roles which they both accept: Michonne happily; Rick warily. Later, before his first day on the “job,” Rick assures Carol that if things don’t work out, they will just take the place.
So the group is staying. It looks like Rick is steadily heading down the “villain” path that they have been setting up for him. I think Glenn was wrong; I think Rick had been out there too long. Not that he was out there longer; just that he had a shorter distance until he got to the end of his rope. For anyone, Alexandria would seem like paradise. But for Rick and the crew, it is too good to be true. He and most of the group have been fooled too many times: Woodbury, the prison, Terminus. Michonne is probably the most hopeful of all of them, ready to believe in this place where they can shower and get a full night’s sleep. Maggie had no lines in this episode, but I sense she is going to start pushing Glenn for a baby. Carol seems to have completely lost her hardcore edge, the edge that allowed her to kill Karen in the hopes of protecting the rest of the community, the edge that allowed her to kill Lizzie because she was too mentally unstable. All it took was a cardigan and a job as a cook, and suddenly she is a doormat again. Both she and Carl worry that Alexandria will will make them soft and complacent, like so many of the residents there seem. Rick assures her: “That won’t happen. It’s not in us anymore.”
So what do you think? Was this an optimistic ending? Can there be peace in Alexandria, a chance at a real life? Or was Rick warning that if things don’t work out, they can always “take the place” a sign that that will happen sooner than later? I’m waiting for Rick to go full Governor and just be totally evil.
You can check out a clip from next week’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” titled “Forget,” in the player below.