|Could this be a symbolic crossroads for Rick as a character?|
My favorite show about the hopeless fight for survival during the apocalypse is back!
The point of this episode is that people have to change, and not only the original residents of Alexandria, who have to learn to fight and shoot and start being proactive about their survival. Rick has to change, too, and boy howdy, he absolutely does not want to change. Morgan coming back into his life was big time symbolism that Rick needs to get back in touch with the man he used to be at the beginning of the series. It might be too late for that.
Rick did try, or at least he went through the motions to make it appear that way. He didn't kill Carter when Eugene literally stumbled over the "let's kill Rick" murder plot. But later, Rick told Morgan that he knew Carter wouldn't make it in this world, anyway, and voila.
Morgan and Michonne were upset when they realized that Rick had killed Carter. It's not that Rick shouldn't have done it -- Carter was dead anyway, and his screams were endangering Operation Gauntlet and the lives of everyone in Alexandria. It was that Rick killed Carter exactly as if he were a walker, and showed absolutely no compassion whatsoever for him. Interesting that Rick spent most of this episode with many band-aids on his face, almost as if he was wearing a mask.
With Deanna a grief-stricken figurehead, Rick is now convinced that he is the only one who knows how to keep the people of Alexandria alive. The thing is, Rick may be a natural leader, and he may have outstanding survival skills -- but he was dead wrong about a solution to the problem of those thousands of quarry walkers. That herd. Every time they showed it, I thought wow, this is absolutely nuts. Moving that many walkers out of the neighborhood en masse was like transporting a live nuke with loose wiring on a truck with bald tires. There was just too much that could go wrong, and obviously, something did. Why didn't they even talk about other possibilities? What about Molotov cocktails and great big bonfire at each end?
Daryl wants to continue recruiting, and Rick said no. Pete should have been buried within the walls for the sake of his children Ron and Sam, and Rick said no. I think these are both big mistakes on Rick's part. He needs to listen to people, not just impart survival wisdom and give orders. Carter was the only one who was seriously questioning Rick's plan, and look what happened to him.
I think there is still a good man inside Rick. He's still the guy who just asked Morgan to move in with him, and gave him baby Judith to hold. Rick honestly wants to keep Pete and Jessie's son Ron alive, but didn't realize that Ron isn't going to listen to the man who executed his father and who obviously has romantic designs on his mother. Rick's hard line has probably just lost him whatever chance he ever had with Jessie. Not that I want Rick with Jessie. I'm a Rick/Michonne shipper, big time.
The stuff that isn't about Rick and Morgan
The action at the tractor place highlighted the confusing relationship that now exists between Glenn and Nicholas. Glenn is such a good guy. Who else among our characters would have let Nicholas live after what he did? And now Nicholas appears to have become Glenn's acolyte. Maybe he'll save Glenn's life someday. Or possibly the opposite, since this is The Walking Dead. (I also liked how Maggie compared what Glenn did with Nicholas to what Glenn also did with Tara, who was one of the Governor's people.)
There also seems to be a strong and oddly touching relationship forming between Abraham and Sasha. Abraham was in such a bad place last season after he learned the truth about Eugene, but now he seems to be on his way out of it. And he's determined to bring Sasha with him. Lovely. I enjoyed all of their scenes together.
I also liked the fence-building scene where the Alexandrians were terrified because walkers strayed into the build, but our guys showed them how to take out the walkers without a fuss, without firing a gun to draw more. It was a simple, well shot demo of the difference between the two groups.
Black and white
Cinematically, this had to be one of their best episodes. The division between the black and white scenes and the ones in vibrant color made it easy to tell what was happening when. The Walking Dead is so stark anyway, and the black and white was not only a call back to classic zombie movies, it made the scenes at the quarry and in the woods something special. Epic, even.
Since I'm praising, I also thought the shot of the broken Deanna sitting by a puddle of her husband's blood was excellent. So were the burial scenes within the Alexandria walls with the church tower visible on the outside, some obvious symbolism that God isn't with them. Rick also rejected Father Gabriel as a member of the away team. I get that -- Father Gabriel is so squirrelly and unreliable, but he's wearing his turned around collar again, so again with the God-isn't-with-us symbolism.
And I just loved the clusters of party balloons at the check points, red at the beginning all the way to green at the end. Sasha and Abraham in the lead car with the parking lights made it feel like a parade, too. Such a contrast to the images we usually see on this show. Well done, Greg Nicotero.
Bits and pieces:
-- Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha) and Lennie James (Morgan) have been added to the main cast credits. Martin-Green absolutely deserves it. What she did with Sasha's loose cannon grief last season was excellent. And everything is better with Lennie James in it.
-- I loved that Morgan saw Carol for who she really is. Nobody else has.
-- Lots of new characters. Heath, Scott, Annie. Heath stood out because of his wild hair and his courage during the Glenn-led mission at the tractor place.
-- I loved Josh McDermitt (Eugene) in this episode. One thing this show has always lacked is a little comic relief, and Eugene makes me laugh. For some reason, Carol doing her happy homemaker bit makes me laugh every time, too.
-- Carter showed a lot of courage when his incipient mutiny was discovered, and said that it was all him in order to protect Tobin, Olivia, Spencer and… who?
-- The walkers disintegrate a little more every season. This time a lot of them had bones coming through. Ick.
-- Glenn asked Maggie to babysit Deanna. He was right that it's an important job. You know, maybe Glenn should be running things. I've thought that before.
-- Thanks to Aaron, Daryl has a badass bike again.
-- A little talk of the W's. I'm sure we'll hear more soon. Maybe they're the ones behind the horn sounding.
-- We have a new baby actress playing Judith, for obvious reasons. Carl being six feet tall when he's still supposed to be twelve or thirteen is bad enough.
-- DrNanaMom, our Walking Dead reviewer, has bowed out, and I'll be doing it this season. Thank you so much for covering this show for five seasons, Doc.
Notes from Talking Dead:
This week's guests were executive producers Scott M. Gimple and Greg Nicotero and actor Ethan Embry (Carter). A couple of tidbits: Gimple said that he no longer wants to be specific about how long it's been for the characters since the pilot -- probably because Carl is way too big now. And Chris Hardwick announced that The Walking Dead's midseason will begin February 14, and that Talking Dead will be covering every episode of the spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, starting next spring with season two.
Rick: "I know this sounds insane. But this is an insane world."
This scene began and ended the episode, first in color, and at the end in black and white.
Abraham: "Damn straight. We'll do it live!"
Was that a little homage to Bill O'Reilly?
Eugene: "Holy shit."
Tara: "Thank God. Nothing happened to your hair."
Eugene: (to Heath) "I fully respect the hair game."
Morgan: "Back when you were in that place where I lived, did you take one of my protein bars?"
Michonne: "No." (except I remember that she did)
Morgan: "See, I could have sworn there was one more peanut butter left."
Michonne: "That's how it is, isn't it? You always think there's one more peanut butter."
Heath: "This was supposed to be a dress rehearsal."
Glenn: "I'm supposed to be delivering pizzas, man."
Carol: (to Rick, about Deanna) "She's in charge. But you're in charge now."
Abraham: "That was a mess. And Pete, his face just... blowing up like Pompeii, right when we were cheek to cheek. I still think I got some of his brains in my ear."
Sasha: "What the hell are you doing?"
Abraham: "I'm just grabbing the bull by the nut sack. I'm living, darling. Just like you."
I thought this was an excellent premiere with a lot of interesting set-up and a killer cliffhanger. Four out of four peanut butter protein bars,
Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.
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