Warning: Spoiler Alert
In another blessing of continuity from The Walking Dead Gods, this week we again pick up right where we left off. The group is gathering at the gates of Alexandria, with Aaron and Eric limping through first. It’s a typical slow, deliberately crafted Walking Dead shot. All of a sudden, a crash and rustle of movement stirs in the weeds beside the road. The entire group draws on the disruption, and Daryl puts an arrow throw the offence’s source—a possum rooting through some rubbish cans. The Alexandrites are horrified, but Daryl’s used to shocking polite sensibilities. He grabs the dead thing by the tail. “Brought dinner,” he proclaims.
Just inside the gates, the gate worker tells the group to disarm. They, of course, protest. Rick reiterates that the group won’t be surrendering their weapons until they speak to the person in charge. Aaron vouches for him, wants them taken straight to Deanna. As they’re discussing things, a walker begins to amble up the street. Sasha raises her rifle and puts it down through the bars in the gate. No more words. The group remains armed as they walk into Alexandria. Rick muses aloud that Alexandria will, indeed, need Rick Grimes.
Next, we find Rick in a very nicely furnished sitting room. Books on shelves. Lace curtains. The whole schmear. Hairy and filthy, Rick looks out of place. For his part, Rick looks like he can’t believe that a place so clean and well-maintained still exists. It’s hard to blame him.
A short, pale woman enters, dressed in the clothing you’d expect any business-elite woman in her mid-50s to wear at home. She introduces herself as Deanna Monroe. Rick states his name and continues to size her up. Deanna gets right to business. She wants to talk to Rick, and she wants to film the talk for the sake of transparency. She asks what Rick was before the world ended. Rick is sure it doesn’t matter. She isn’t.
Deanna begins to give her background—she was a congresswoman representing Ohio. She and her family were trying to get back home during the crisis but they were stopped by the Army and rerouted to the neighborhood where they now sit. It was a subdivision, planned to be self-sustainable with solar power, cisterns, septic tanks, etc. The wall outside came from construction materials from a nearby shopping center. Her husband, an architecture professor, started to put up the walls with the help of their sons. Soon, more people came and the wall was completed.
They’ve been inside the walls the entire time. That’s why they need people like Rick and his group—they need people who have been on the outside to help them survive. Rick, still amazed that a place like this can even exist, looks at Deanna as he tells her he thinks they should keep the gates closed.
Deanna inquires as to why, continuing to interrogate him with the patient, even manner of a lawyer or psychiatrist evaluating a client. Rick knows he’s being watched very carefully, but he doesn’t hesitate in explaining that, on the outside, it’s all about survival by any means necessary. Any people you come across measure you by what they can take from you. Deanna asks if he means that their group should not be allowed in Alexandria. She explains that she’s considering taking them in on the word of Aaron, and Rick interrupts. He doesn’t know Aaron, he states, but Deanna should know that Rick has done
whatever he needed to do to survive, including killing people. He’s killed people so that his family, his entire group, would be safe, and so he could stay alive to continue to support them.
Rather than being bothered by Rick’s confession, Deanna states that his family seems very important to him, and anyone should be so lucky as to be a part of a family like his. She continues to explain that all of northern Virginia was evacuated when the crisis began, so there haven’t been many people or walkers (called “roamers” in Alexandria) to deal with. But, regardless, they’ve lost people within their community. And she, herself, has “done thing.”
Rick asks what she’s done, and she solemnly confesses that she exiled three people from the community because they “didn’t work out.” She knew it was as good as a death sentence but she did it anyway.
Rick might slowly be warming up to Deanna. She isn’t all smiles and charm like The Governor was, or skittish and creepy like Garrett from Termius. She’s frank, but chooses her words carefully. Rick, at least, is intrigued by what a community like Alexandria could want from his group.
Deanna replies that they need people with survival skills. The world has changed and they need people who understand it as it is now. The people of the community deserve a chance to raise their families, and Rick’s group can help them do that. And, in turn, Rick’s family should have a safe place to live. She has absolute confidence that his group will be an asset to Alexandria.
Rick is still suspicious. Deanna smiles. She’s good at reading people, she says. (And, as a career politician, that’s probably true). And if she hadn’t won reelection, she was going to become a professional poker player. Rick scoffs, but Deanna sharply tells him she wasn’t kidding. She points to her watch. It’s 3:37pm, she reminds him. She understands he’s skeptical, and respects his right to be, but the time has come to make a decision.
Rick lifts his arm and begins to wind his watch. The click of the gears turning is nearly deafening as he sets it to the correct time.
And so Rick and the group decide to stay, for now. They disarm and turn their weapons in, which they’re allowed to have any time they leave the compound but not within its walls. The guns are laid in a giant plastic bin and wheeled off in a cart, which seemed like a terrible idea to me because there was about 15 barrels rattling around like they weren’t deadly weapons. Alexandrites aren’t too good with proper weapons discipline, it seems.
Aaron leads the group to two large, northern Virginia, expensive-suburb houses. The group has both, Rick can pick whichever one he’d like. The community has been notified to give them a wide berth as they settle in, and Aaron takes leave to leave the group a chance to look at their surroundings.
Rick and Carl enter, finding the house to be furnished with upholstered couches that don’t have any blood or guts on them, and clean towels and blankets as far as the eye can see. Rick stumbles into the shower as soon as he finds it.
Out of the shower, he wipes the steam from the mirror to examine his reflection. He doesn’t look as though he recognizes it. There are shaving tools laid out on the counter. Rick starts to trim away at his beard, then shaves it off entirely in what I am absolutely referring to as the fourth character death this season. (So far: Bob, Beth, Tyreese, and now Rick’s Beard.)
A neighbor lady knocks as Rick is finishing his shave. He stumbles to the door to find a blonde woman with a basket of supplies for them. They make some awkward small talk about his obvious fresh shave, and she volunteers to cut his hair.
She was a stylist, she explains, and she has Rick sitting before her while she wields scissors at his righteous mass of curls. She begins chatting in the way a stylist would have before the world ended—what her life is like, how many kids she has, etc. She has a boy, Ron, who is Carl’s age, and she wants to introduce them. Rick is okay with this, even if he chokes up a little as he tries to comprehend the normality of the situation.
The episode takes us to a cut of Daryl’s interview with Deanna. He refuses to sit, and is still clutching the possum from earlier by the tail. Deanna doesn’t seem to be disturbed, and Daryl doesn’t feel the need to be any more personable or friendly than he ever is. She asks him why he wants to stay. “The boy and the baby deserve a roof, I guess,” he replies. “And you?” Deanna pushes. Daryl grunts and leaves.
He returns to the group’s houses and begins to gut and clean the possum on the front steps. Carol and Carl take a peek inside the other house, which is just as clean and furnished as any other they’ve seen here. Carl hears a slow thumping from upstairs. He follows the noise to a door at the end of the second story hallway, drawing his knife as he opens it.
He finds no walkers or murderous spies, though. Just a room filled with teenage paraphernalia like comic books and CD liner notes.
The group begins to settle in for the evening. They all feel more comfortable sleeping in the living room of the bigger house. Michonne emerges after brushing her teeth for twenty minutes. I can’t even imagine how good that would feel but I think it’s close to heaven. Buoyed by her clean teeth, she checks in with Rick. Being safe is smart, but she has a good feeling about this. And, she doesn’t add, she might be a little worried that being too paranoid will blow their chances at staying here.
Deanna knocks at the door just then to see how they’re all settling in. She seems a bit surprised at the sleeping arrangements, but the considers that it’s smart. It’s even heartwarming, she continues like a career politician, that people from so many different backgrounds can become a family like they have. They’re a family that will be welcomed in the community, and in the community everyone has jobs that she assigns them.
Rick asks if she’s going to give him a job, and she responds enthusiastically. She has a job figured out for Rick, and Michonne, and almost for Sasha, but not “Mr. Dixon” just yet. I wonder if her invocation of Beth’s sarcastic nickname for Daryl stabbed him in the heart as deeply as it got mine. It’s hard to tell from Daryl’s reaction, though. He gives a dissatisfied grunt.
The group slowly drifts to sleep, but Rick lies awake. It’s a huge adjustment to go from roaming the wild with walkers everywhere to sleeping in a subdivision. He goes to the kitchen and removes a knife from the drawer. He’ll probably be safer if it’s nearby.
The next interview we see is Michonne. If the community is what it appears to be, she says, it’s exactly what they’re looking for. They need it. They’re ready for it, she asserts. Deanna confirms, “All of you?” Michonne takes a split second to steel herself before replying, “All of us.”
The next morning, the group is headed out to the neighborhood to explore a bit. Daryl declines to go, and Rick understands but hangs back a minute to talk to him. He and Lori used to drive through neighborhoods like this and dream, he says. Daryl points out that he’s living in this neighborhood now. Rick nods, and moves to follow the group.
But, it’s a subdivision, and they’ve gone around a corner and he can’t see them anymore. Rick panics like a herding animal panics when its lost its flock. He runs headlong down the neighbors yards and barrels into a pile of metal in someone’s driveway. It’s the stylist’s driveway! Rick hastily explains that he can’t find Carl and Judith and Jessie (the stylist) smiles and shows him the most likely place they would have gone.
They find Judith, Carl, and the rest of the group on the porch of an elderly couple’s home. Everyone seems taken in with the baby, for obvious reasons. Jessie offers to introduce Carl to her son Ron, and Rick moves to retrieve Carl from the group on the porch.
Carl and Ron walk along the second story hallway to Ron’s room. There’s a group of teenagers in there, playing video games and listening to music. Ron rattles off all the stuff to do in the neighborhood like he’s a normal teenage boy welcoming someone who just moved nearby because his dad got transferred. Carl is a bit overwhelmed, but Ron quickly senses it and tries to cover for his mistake. There’s one girl in the room, Enid, and she’s from the outside, too. It took her three weeks to talk. She hasn’t said a word since Carl walked in, but lifts her eyes and brusquely tells Carl, “Pull it together, sport.” Carl produces the comic book he found, Ron takes it and apologizes—they didn’t realize anyone would be moving into that house so soon. The comic book, it’s learned, is Enid’s. The rest of the group doesn’t seem to be interested in it.
We flash to Carl’s interview, which is conducted while he holds Judith on his lap. He tells a bit of the story of how he lost his mom. Not just that he lost her, but that he had to kill her.
Carl is laying in his bed like any other teenager. Rick enters, and asks how the visit went. It was okay, Carl says, but he’s bothered by the people in the community. They’re weak, and he worries that if the group stays they’ll become weak, too. Rick grunts in agreement.
That night, Rick again can’t sleep. He takes a quick walk around the neighborhood, and runs into a neighbor who’s smoking on his porch. He introduces himself as Jessie’s husband in the kind of way that Rick is used to people talking to him. He looks suspiciously at the man and turns back towards his house.
He may have managed to sleep a little that night, but he starts awake the next morning.
Carol invokes the person she was for her interview with Deanna. In her old life, she’d wash clothes, clean the house, and have dinner on the table for Ed when he got home (and oh, how she misses that stupid wonderful man!) She became the groups den mother, and they were kind enough to protect her out on the road. She conveniently leaves out the part where she first kills two sick people, teaches children how to fire guns, and becomes Our Lady Badass to save her group several times over.
She emerges from her house in slacks and a cardigan, looking less like Our Lady Badass and more like Our Lady Lemonade Social. She’s off to make casseroles for the people who can’t cook for themselves. She tells Daryl where she’s headed, and admonishes him for his still-rough appearance. She wants him to take a good long shower and take the vest off so she can wash it. They’ve got to keep up appearances, and if she has to she’ll pull out Our Lady Badass and hit him with a hose.
Glenn’s interview reveals that he feels that the group needs to make Alexandria work for them. When asked why, he replies that they were almost out there too long.
Tara, Glenn, and Noah are met later that day by Alexandrites Aiden and Nicholas, who introduce themselves as supply-run-type-people. It quickly becomes obvious that they’re wanna-be-cowboy-jerks. They also have bad weapon discipline, demonstrated first by referring to the weapons they checked out for today’s outing as “sweet biscuits.”
And they run things about as well as you’d expect someone who calls a weapon a sweet biscuit to run them. They pop off about how tough they are, willingly calling themselves douchebags and assholes but insist that they’re in charge to keep people safe. No one from Rick’s group is impressed. They’re even less impressed when they hear that the group recently lost three people, and that they’ve tied up the walker who killed one of them as kind of a violence piñata. As they approach where it was kept, they see it escaped, and they begin looking and calling for it. Glenn tries to dissuade them, but Nicholas and Aiden insist. Of course it comes stumbling out of the woods, and of course Aiden and Nicholas barely evade it, and the whole scene ends when Glenn spikes it through the head. Aiden and Nicholas are incensed that Glenn killed their toy, but Glenn doesn’t want anything to do with those chumps. Neither does Tara and Noah.
Rick is taking his own stroll around the compound, checking the security of the walls and going on a field trip to retrieve the blender gun from the last episode. He comes along to the house, but the blender gun is gone. He’d been trailed by a few stumbling, worse-for-wear walkers during this time, and as he kneels and wonders who took his gun and why, the walkers begin to advance. Lucikly, Carl (who has been chasing Enid after watching her climb over the security wall by his house) shows up, and the two participate in some zombie-apocalypse-father-son bonding.
Glenn et al have returned to the compound, and Glenn is none too pleased with what he saw from Nicholas and Aiden. Things quickly come to a head, and Glenn tries to convince Aiden that he doesn’t want to fight. Aiden continues to get shove-ey, and Glenn employs his hard-earned ass-kicking skills to dodge Aiden’s punch and then lay him out. The rest of the group has convened by this point, and a fair melee breaks out, ending with Daryl knelt down on top of Nicholas, a minute away from snapping his neck.
Deanna interrupts, calling for everyone to quit fighting. She hears Aiden and Nicholas’s protest that Rick’s group shouldn’t be allowed in, but she dismisses them. She declares that Rick and his family are now a part of the community and equal in every way. She sends Aiden and Nicholas to turn in their weapons and then wait for an audience with her, and she does NOT seem like she’s going to be very happy when she talks to them.
She then turns to Glenn to thank him for knocking Aiden on his ass. She offers Michonne and Rick positions as constables within the community. She tells Rick that he needs to go back to what he was before. Daryl doesn’t wait around for Deanna to not offer him a job. Rick and Michonne accept Deanna’s offer.
Later that evening, a clean-shaven, recently-trimmed Rick Grimes descends the stairs in his house dressed in a constable’s uniform. Jacket, tie, the works. Everyone smiles, but Rick deflects, saying he’s only trying it on for size for now. Daryl doesn’t seem to be impressed, but Daryl will also respect Rick Grimes, even if he does turn back into a cop.
Rick tells the group they should begin to settle in and get comfortable. Start sleeping in the bedrooms. Acclimate to the community. Carol wonders if it won’t make them weak, if they do so, but Rick doesn’t think there’s weakness in any of them anymore. And, he adds, if Alexandria goes bad, they’ll just take it for themselves.
The Story Continues Next Sunday Night at 10:00 pm on AMC.