We seem to be having an exceptional sixth season so far. While this episode wasn't as amazing and/or shocking as the last few, it continued what might be a series course correction toward optimism. Unless they're lulling us with false hope.
An actual love scene! It was even timed well, because I was ready for it. I've always found Andrew Lincoln attractive, and early in the episode I was thinking about how hot he looked now that he's no longer "psychotically bearded" and the band-aids are nearly gone. And Jessie has changed; I like her now. She walked into her own kitchen and didn't even hesitate to drag that bloody body out the door. And then she actually stabbed a walker in the eye, and it was a woman she knew. (On Talking Dead, Chris Hardwick said the walker was Betsy, who was married to the David who died in "Thank You". Betsy had committed suicide; her wrist was cut.)
Jessie has come out the other side. She saw that she needed to change in order to survive, and she told her friends in Alexandria that they needed to change, too. I totally get her attraction to Rick. He's the alpha male of Alexandria, and it's instinctual to gravitate toward a strong mate who will help you and your children survive. Rick will never beat her, and he'll kill or die to protect her. She could do worse. Yes, he executed her husband, but nobody's perfect.
While Jessie was turning into a Carol-in-training, poor Sam was so completely traumatized that he wouldn't even come down the stairs for a plate of cookies. And I don't believe that Ron has adjusted to anything. He ran to Rick in order to rat out Carl about Enid, and then... he asked Rick to teach him to shoot? Come on. An angry teenager who just lost his father isn't going to change that quickly. I hope Ron doesn't decide to jump Rick at some future point, because killing the man who beat her is one thing -- but if Rick has to kill her son, this budding relationship will be over. I even expected Ron to show up and freak out while Rick and Jessie were all over each other in the garage.
On a more positive note, I absolutely loved Dr. Denise figuring out how to help her latest patient (Scott) when all she really wanted to do was go home and read War and Peace. (Nothing symbolic about that title, huh?) Denise ambush-kissing Tara was one of the most adorable scenes they've ever done on this show. Hey, I thought they were setting up Denise with Eugene. This is better.
Tara: "What is it?"
Denise: "It's the end of the world."
Tara: "No, it's not."
Denise: "Yeah. Being afraid sucks."
While the Alexandrians were experiencing their trial by fire, Deanna, their former leader, was very much a reflection of her community. Initially wandering around in a state of mourning and shock, Deanna was jolted out of it when her son Spencer lashed out at her, blaming her for pretty much everything except the fall of civilization. But like Alexandria, Deanna rallied. She may not know that walkers won't go down unless you get them in the brain, but she has decided that she wants to live. That's most of the battle, right there.
Deanna told Rick that Alexandria needs him, not her. I think Alexandria needs both of them. Rick can hopefully keep most of them alive now that people are actually listening to him, but a community also needs someone smart to plan, to think about future sustainability. Deanna is good at that.
I thought maybe Spencer, who was justifiably proud of taking out that Wolf truck and saving the wall, had finally grown up after he managed to talk down the panicked raid on the pantry. But then he went back and raided it himself. (Spencer bullshits well; he's a shoo-in for elected office.) The second time through this episode, I noticed that the walker that attacked Deanna was much taller than she was, much like Spencer. I am betting that wasn't a casting coincidence. Deanna defeated her son's defeatism. Or maybe she just couldn't reach the walker's head.
The more I see of Aaron, the more I like him. At the beginning of the episode, Aaron backed up Rick, reminding everyone that if Rick hadn't tried the "lead them away" gambit, all of the horde would be at the gate instead of half. (Forty deep instead of twenty.) Aaron told everyone that he'd found his backpack with one of the Wolves, and what it meant -- and took the blame, even though it wasn't his fault. And Aaron wouldn't let Maggie go outside the walls alone, even when he knew that going with her could mean his own death.
The emotional core of the episode was Maggie's pregnancy reveal. It certainly explained why she didn't go with the rest of Rick's A-Team to deal with the walker megahorde, and why she gave up when she and Aaron reached that gate in the sewer. She is desperate to find out what happened to Glenn, but she isn't going to throw her life away. She knows Glenn wouldn't want her to do that.
In the end, Maggie and Aaron took Glenn's and Nicholas's names off the fence, much like the producers took Steven Yeun's name out of the credits. I'll admit I'm frustrated with the producers for continuing to play with us regarding the fate of one of the show's most beloved characters. Maybe what the producers ultimately do with Glenn will reflect the direction they plan to take this show. Will The Walking Dead continue to tell us that humanity is ultimately doomed? Or will the survivors find hope and come out the other side?
Notes from Talking Dead
The guests were Alexandra Breckenridge (Jessie) and Zachary Levi (Chuck, Heroes Reborn). Breckenridge was worried that the fans would hate her now that she's with Rick, and she shared that after that love scene, which everyone knows is uncomfortable and awkward to film, the sound department played the song, "Let's Get It On" to break the tension. Chris Hardwick said that there should be more sex during an Apocalypse, and I agree. Zachary Levi said what I was thinking, that Deanna and Rick should lead together. Levi also said he thought Glenn was alive, but what Gimple said about us seeing something of Glenn again might have meant the baby.
For the next three weeks, Talking Dead will air an hour late because Into the Badlands will be airing directly after The Walking Dead. The trailers for Into the Badlands haven't appealed to me and I'm very tired of seeing them. Am I the only one?
Bits and pieces:
-- We didn't see how Rick got out of the RV situation. I wonder why?
-- The Carl/Ron shoving and slapping match was almost comical.
-- Aaron suggested to Maggie that Aaron or Erin is a good name for a baby. He may have been teasing, but that may have been set-up. If Aaron dies before the baby is born, I bet it'll happen. Let's go for the poignant.
-- Deanna wrote "Dolor hic tibi proderit olim" on the plans. It's from Ovid and means, "Someday, this pain will be useful to you."
-- Sam has what I think of as "TV kid hair". He really needs a simpler and more adult cut. Except that they probably want him to look younger than the actor is.
-- Things I could do without: OMG, those two sewer walkers. Totally gagworthy. On this show, that's something.
-- What was that blood dripping down the fence? Had to be important or they wouldn't have showed it to us.
Rick: "The walls are gonna hold together. Can you?"
But will they? Twenty deep? I am remembering the fence going down at the prison. Take nothing for granted.
Rick: "We don't bury killers inside the walls."
But if that were true, most of the cast couldn't be buried inside the walls.
Jessie: "I used to not want to see the way things are. It's not that I couldn't, it's that I didn't want to. But this is what life looks like now. We have to see it. We have to fight it. If we don't fight, we die."
Next week, I am assuming all of the action will shift to Abraham, Sasha and Daryl. Will it include Glenn? Or will they make us wait three more episodes until the mid-season finale?
Three out of four pantry raids,
Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.
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