Warning: Spoiler Alert
Life on the inside is hard, too. I don’t think anyone expected that re-assimilating into a community would go easily, but I also don’t think anyone was prepared for just how safe-and-sound and blissfully ignorant Alexandria actually is.
Sasha wakes one morning, and it almost looks as if she’s glaring at the family photographs of smiling strangers before her eyes even focus. This world of knickknacks and furniture and is incomprehensible to her. She heads to the weapons lockup to check out her gun and spend some time outside the walls. It’s early—first light, really. The woman who works at the lockup, Olivia, is awake and chattering away like a particularly annoying songbird. Sasha, who has killed a pack of wild dogs without blinking an eye, is shocked by Olivia’s energetic senselessness. The kind of blind, friendly personality that Olivia displays has been eliminated in Sasha’s world. She can barely choke out replies to Olivia’s nattering as she walks away with her rifle.
In the forest, she finds a clearing and sets up the pictures for some target practice. She fires a round, the glass shattering and the picture itself knocked onto the ground. She looks around, making sure she’s not being watched. Another shot, and another look-around by Sasha, who is becoming increasingly more agitated at the endless silence she hears. She continues to take a shot, pause, and take another, but eventually she begins shooting in fairly rapid progression. Glass splinters, the muffled clack of the silenced gunfire slices through the air, and walkers begin to growl as Sasha’s breathing deepens.
Except there are no walkers. Just Sasha sitting on a stump amid a pile of shot-up framed photographs. It’s not the satisfaction she’d hoped for, it appears.
“Come and get me,” she mutters.
Rick, Carol, and Daryl are also outside the walls. They’re meeting up at the overrun shanty-ish house where Rick hid the blender-gun. The three of them are simply unable to deal with not having firepower under their control, and they begin to plot to raid the weapons lockup. Nothing extreme, necessarily, but the lockup is so poorly guarded, and they’ll be so careful with using them, that it would be irresponsible to not take a few weapons just in case things go to hell. It’s a caution they can’t afford not to take.
Rick wants to keep everything strictly between the three of them. He wants the rest of the group to really make an effort and assimilate, but he also knows the three of them are the best suited to take care of this kind of thing. Daryl agrees, and Carol nods. A walker approaches, and Daryl raises his bow to take aim, but Carol very precisely empties a clip into the thing before ending it. Daryl and Rick appear a bit confused—her marksmanship couldn’t possibly have gotten so bad? Carol explains, “You said you were taking me shooting. Can’t go back with a full mag, now, can I?” Carol, Our Lady Badass, wins again. But there’s a “W” (or an “M”) into the head of that walker, punctuated by the bullet hole in the thing’s forehead. It’s troublesome enough to make raiding the lockup an unavoidable necessity.
Rick and Carol head back to within the walls, and Daryl stays out to go hunting. Rick meets up with Michonne, who is customizing her police uniform into something she can fight in. narrow back, lots of movement in the arms. They’re the new constables, and they need to discuss their roles in the community. They’re strangers, yet they’ve been handed authority over the others. Is that wise on Deanna’s part? If it is, or if it isn’t, how does it affect them, exactly? The kind of walls they’ve built up around themselves to survive life on the outside are hard to tear down. Michonne, for her part, really wants to try.
They have a meeting with Maggie, Sasha, and Deanna in Deanna’s parlor. Deanna is unveiling more of her plans for Rick, Michonne, and Maggie. Rick and Michonne are the keepers of the peace. They look after the children, patrol the walls, take care of internal disputes. Maggie’s role will be more political. Deanna talks about her dream for the future of Alexandria and, eventually, civilization. Maggie and Michonne are enraptured and in agreement, but Rick begins to tune out and glance out the window, checking the perimeter as much as he can.
Deanna catches him almost immediately. Whether or not she’s a full-of-shit politician remains to be seen but she sure isn’t an inept politician. She knows how to read people. She really wasn’t kidding about that professional poker player thing. She very sharply asks Rick if he has a problem, and he stumbles to deny anything is wrong, but eventually he begins completely change the subject from the future government of mankind to immediate security needs. The patrols need to be enforced several times over, at the barest of minimums. When it’s revealed that there are no actual lookouts in the watchtower, everyone from Rick’s group insists that 24/7 watchtower shifts begin immediately. Sasha volunteers for every shift possible, but Deanna isn’t so sure she wants Sasha in that role right away. Why does Sasha want these shifts so badly, Deanna asks. Before Sasha can reply, Michonne and Maggie interject that Sasha is the best shot on the crew and could be a major asset to the community in that regard. Deanna seems impressed, but assigns the first watchtower shift to her son, Spencer.
Oh, and she’s having a party this evening to welcome them all to the community and she wants everyone to attend. Meeting adjourned!
And everyone from Rick’s group (even Michonne, who wants this to work very, very badly) kind of exchange a look like “is this lady for real?”
Rick leaves the meeting, walking past a house where Carol is talking recipes with other wives. She breaks away from the women and runs to catch up with Rick. They smile and nod and speak in hushed tones as they fine-tune their plan to take a few guns from the poorly guarded, poorly maintained weapons locker. They just need to slip someone into the room to leave the window unlatched and they’ll be in business. But who? Everyone’s watching Rick and especially Daryl so closely, and they can’t involve any of the others. Carol’s invisible, though, and she knows it.
The locker happens to be in the community storage with the other rationed supplies. Olivia keeps track of all the recipes and is really excited by all the things Carol talks about making. A group of men come in, asking Olivia to let them into the weapons lockup because they need to address a security concern at the wall before tonight’s festivities. Carol tentatively follows them into the room, regarding all the metal and powder-and-oil smell gingerly. One of the men looks at her as she fidgets with her cardigan. He smiles. “Are you afraid of guns, ma’am?” he asks. Carol laughs and replies that, while she’s handled some before on the outside, she’s sure no expert. The man smiles again. He’d be happy to take her shooting any time. Carol smiles back. She’d sure like that.
She pauses to look out the window, then turns back to Rick as the two leave the room. Being invisible has its own advantages, she confesses. The latch on the window is open.
Carol, Our Lady of Crafty Badassery.
Out in the woods, Daryl is tracking quietly when he hears a slight noise through the brush. He draws his bow and calls for the person to come out. Aaron, hands raised and very calmly, stumbles into Daryl’s sight line. He’s pretty impressed Daryl can tell the difference between walkers and people just by the noise. To Daryl, this is like being impressed that he can tie his shoes or clean a gun. Daryl doesn’t draw off of him and demands to know why Aaron is following him.
He wasn’t following him, he explains. He was out hunting as well but he’s not nearly as good at it as Daryl is. He asks to tag along, and Daryl accepts as long as he keeps up and doesn’t make too much noise. They soon come upon a horse, rolling around in a clearing. Aaron admits he’s been trying to capture the horse for months and bring it in, but he’s been unsuccessful. Daryl nods as Aaron babbles about the horse being named Buttons by one of the children who saw it near the gate one day. He readies a rope and slings his bow over his shoulder. Aaron is impressed by Daryl’s confidence as he approaches the horse. He’s done it before, Daryl explains. The group has, at least. But the thing about these horses is that the longer they’re out there, the more they become what they really are.
Truer words rarely spoken.
Daryl makes eye contact with the horse, then approaches with a slouched posture and soothing voice. The horse regards him, but stiffens and backs up slowly. Daryl talks to the horse, trying to convince him that he understands him and is therefore trustworthy. You used to be somebody’s, Daryl concedes, but now you’re just yours. And that’s okay.
He reaches to throw the rope, but some walkers have gathered around them and begin to try to eat everybody. Aaron and Daryl dispatch them quickly and then follow the horse as it runs away.
As they track the horse, Aaron continues to talk at Daryl. Daryl is different from the people in Alexandria, and Aaron knows what it’s like to feel different from people in your community, too. He relates how he and Eric have been made to feel like outsiders, how they’ve been insulted by really well-meaning and nice people, how they’re used to having to prove themselves somehow. But, that stuff has gone away since he’s let the community get to know him. People are afraid of what they don’t understand, and they do really stupid things when they’re scared. And Daryl should give the community a chance, too. Daryl isn’t so sure. He’s seen a lot of people do a lot of terrible things, and they weren’t afraid of anything. But Aaron is willing to bet those people were afraid, too.
Inside Alexandria, the group is attending Deanna’s party. Rick is wearing a shirt with buttons and everyone is clean and drinking alcohol out of glasses. People are wearing blazers. It’s an intensely different kind of scene than Rick is used to, and the whole experience leaves Rick reeling for a minute. Deanna greets them, holds out her arms to Judith, and chattering about what a bright future she’ll have. Rick recovers quickly, and nods along with Deanna’s hopes.
Abraham and Rosita entered. Abraham is wearing a shirt with a collar and sleeves. That alone is worth the whole episode. Neither of the two look particularly impressed, but Rosita points out the beer. Abraham is more on board.
Deanna then drags Rick off to meet her husband, Reg, and the two discuss how impressive building the wall was versus keeping people alive without a wall. They call it a tie. He offers Rick a drink, but Rick declines. “I’m good,” he says. Reg sizes him up, and it’s like they’re at an actual damn country club. He holds out the bottle to Rick. “But you don’t have to be!” he says lightly. Rick reels again, and recovers just in time to laugh before things get too weird. Rick gratefully accepts a glass of whiskey.
And we’re back to Daryl and Aaron tracking the horse. They’re losing light fast, and the walkers are beginning to stir a bit more. They decide to approach the small flock of walkers stalking the horse from behind, picking them off from the sides and working their way it. It works fine until they realize the clearing is also littered with walker torsos with still-functional heads. Aaron has a close call, but Daryl manages to save him. The two recover, but only in time to see the horse get overtaken by walkers and eaten, brutally and with intestines everywhere, in a matter of seconds. Aaron and Daryl move in to eliminate the walkers who are distracted by the horse feast they’re having. When the last of the walkers is taken care of, Daryl nods to Aaron to put the horse down. Aaron does without flinching, but without much of any other reaction, either.
I normally like to deal with concurrent story arcs within an episode separately, but the dichotomy between these two scenes was one of the most striking things I’ve seen a television show do recently, and it’s worth experiencing in exactly that order.
Inside Alexandria, the party continues. Noah is a little freaked out and wants to leave, but Maggie and Glenn assert that he has to stay and spend time with family. Jessie introduces Rick to her husband Pete who seems kind of like a jackass. The pairs are sporting red “A”s stamped onto their hands. Jessie says hopeful things about society and their chance at civilization that Rick can’t seem to bring himself to agree with. But he seems to very much appreciate Jessie is talking to him, even if her words are hippie nonsense.
He checks the perimeter of the room again. Carl is talking to some kids and looking like normal teenager. One of Jessie’s sons approaches and kid-babbles at Rick about cookies. And he notices Rick doesn’t have a stamp and becomes rather distressed.
A stamp? Is this finally the crazy-bomb that’s going to drop and reveal these people as nut jobs?
Nope. He’s just a kid with a toy stamper who likes stamping things. Rick accepts the stamp without much protest.
Daryl and Aaron arrived back in Alexandria safely. Daryl had dressed to go to the party, and stands outside the window for a bit, before deciding to head back home. He passes Aaron and Eric’s house, and Aaron calls to him from the porch. Daryl kind of assumed Aaron would be at the party, but Aaron clarifies—he couldn’t go because of Eric’s ankle, and he’s not very sorry he’s missing it. He badgers Daryl to come in and have dinner. At the mention of spaghetti, Daryl acquiesces.
Daryl plows through the plate of spaghetti, and Eric is more than a little amused at his, um, rustic table manners. Eric, trying to seem like everything is normal, starts talking to Daryl about maybe certain things he could pick up “in his travels.” Daryl is confused. Aaron is disappointed. Eric has spilled the beans.
Aaron leads Daryl into their garage. He has a ton of bike parts and a bike in there, but he admits he doesn’t know how to assemble or work on any of it. But Daryl knows. And he wants Daryl to have a bike, because he wants Daryl to be the one to go out recruiting with him. Eric isn’t suited for it, but Daryl is wise and skilled and knows a good guy from a bad guy.
Daryl is exploring the garage as Aaron explains, looking at parts and inspecting the tools lying around. He’s listening closely, though, as Aaron assures him that his role is going to be valued and appreciated. Daryl figures he’s got nothing else to do. Which, obviously, really meant “this is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me thank you.”
Carol has slipped away from the party and is making quick work of the weapons lockup. A shocked child’s voice rings out behind her, “What are you doing?!”
Carol turns around and realizes she knows the child from their brief introductions around the neighborhood. He begins babbling like a scared child about wanting more cookies and telling his mom and Carol realizes that this is the soft, squishy brain of a child who has never had to kill a walker and has never seen anyone get eaten alive.
She proceeds to offer him cookies if he stays silent, and threatens him with sudden and total abandonment in the middle of nowhere, where no one will hear him scream, as he’s tied to a tree and monsters feast on him alive.
I think maybe that kid crapped his pants a little. He agrees. Silence and cookies for him.
Rick is looking for Judith at the party and finds her in Jessie’s arms. She babbles some more about hope and babies and Judith fusses for Rick. Rick begins to babble back a bit, explaining that maybe he understands that there is a little bit of stability in the world. They are in the middle of performing the baby-swap when Rick reaches down and kisses Jessie on the cheek.
Um, Rick? If you’re that drunk, maybe you shouldn’t be holding that baby.
Meanwhile, Sasha has arrived but isn’t coping very well. The party is loud and the women have her cornered and are blathering on about recipes and housecleaning tips and Sasha can barely stand any of it. A woman introduces herself and offers to make her favorite meal as part of her welcome to the community. Sasha can barely reply that she doesn’t have a favorite meal before the woman chatters ahead, saying she’d worry she’d make something Sasha doesn’t like and then she’d feel terrible.
Sasha flips. “That’s what you’re worried about?!” she screams.
Party’s over. At least for Sasha.
The next day, she’s at the gate with her rifle propped up beside her. Deanna marches up to her and thrusts a box of ammunition in to her hand. She doesn’t know quite what’s wrong with Sasha, and it troubles her. Sasha doesn’t care. This life they’re living cannot be real. Deanna, offended to her core, calls that bullshit and walks away.
Rick, Daryl, and Carol have met back at the shanty house to divvy up the guns Carol managed to swipe. Daryl declines. If he’s really going to try, he doesn’t want to have a gun. Easily said for a dude with a crossbow, but still a good step for him? Rick and Carol load themselves up.
Inside the wall, Michonne has hung her sword above her very-impressive fireplace.
Once Rick returns inside, he sees Jessie and Pete stroll past, smiling and waving. Rick returns the wave, and glares at Pete as he slips his arm tighter around Jessie.
But Rick is soon distracted, and follows a noise up to the wall. There’s a walker on the other side. Rick pinpoints the walker’s location. An aerial shot shows the two creatures pressed up against opposite sides of the wall, listening to each other breathe.
It’s not going to be a smooth transition for anybody.