I kept laughing throughout this episode, even though I could actually feel the approaching doom.
The opener was just a little bit Groundhog Day. Olivia opening the garage door and perusing the mason jars. A confident Father Gabriel on patrol. Eugene at the gate, Sasha on the tower. Morgan practicing Aikido. Carol smoking, and holding that rosary from the previous episode. I thought I'd accidentally rewound or something.
Actually, it is a typical day in Alexandria, this episode. They do what they need to do to survive. Someone in the community dies, because there is always death. They prepare for war, because war is coming now. This is the price for keeping Alexandria, for not living outside of the walls.
The focus was on two of Alexandria's best and brightest, who each came up with an excellent idea: Denise located a cache of untouched drugs, and Eugene found a way to make bullets. They've both been noncombatants until recently, and I think the point of this episode is that they should have remained so. Self-defense training, yes, and they'd both gotten much better at defending themselves, but even skilled and experienced fighters can get bitten or shot. Daryl never should have agreed to take Denise outside of the gates, no matter how much she wanted to go. Especially since Daryl and Rosita would have scavenged all of the drugs in the apothecary, anyway.
It was so sweet seeing Denise challenge herself, though. We learned more about her: that her parents were alcoholics, that Daryl reminded her of her twin brother Dennis, and that she was tired of being afraid. How sad that her determination not to be afraid anymore was what killed her. What a waste. I liked Denise. I liked her a lot.
There was a lot of foreshadowing. Rosita started it by complaining about babysitting Denise. There were photos of children on the store counter, an overturned stroller near the car with the cooler. Interestingly, there was also the walker with the cast on its leg in the apothecary, and a crutch on the ground, also near the car, not to mention the baby shoe in the sink full of goo. I thought Denise would be attacked while sitting alone in the truck, or when she braved that walker in the car just to check out the cooler for Orange Crush. By the time she got that unexpected arrow through her eye, I was thinking maybe she'd make it, after all.
Like Denise, Eugene is one of Alexandria's most valuable resources because he keeps coming up with excellent ideas that might save them, and making bullets in a machine shop is a winner if the Alexandrians are going to become professional mercenaries. It's unfortunate that Eugene's recent successes as a fighter went to his head, though. Like some otherwise smart people, Eugene doesn't consider fighting to require a special skill set -- but it most certainly does. Eugene may have bitten Dwight in the worst possible place at the best possible moment, but I hope this particular stand-off made Eugene realize that he will never be the soldier that Abraham is. (For a moment, I thought we were going to lose Denise and Eugene on the same day.)
This week's Most Obvious Symbolism was probably the toy soldier that Daryl took from Dwight. Daryl was probably right that he should have killed him, because some of the Saviors got away and Dwight suggested that they know where Alexandria is. The Saviors are going to come and take anything and anyone that they want. The Alexandrians can't be making bad decisions like Daryl just did when he let Denise go outside the walls. Alexandria may have just acquired a whole lot of drugs, but they lost their only doctor.
And unfortunately, they also lost Carol. The massacre at the slaughterhouse was too much, and Carol can't kill any more. I'd almost think that she was planning to scout out the Saviors and take them down alone if her crisis of conscience hadn't been so obviously genuine. I'm probably stating the obvious, but I do not want this to be the last time we see Carol. Come back, Carol! Tobin will miss you!
-- Since Morgan created an actual jail, I bet we'll see it in use by the end of the season. I have to give Morgan credit for sticking to his principles.
-- Rosita is sleeping with Spencer, and he's willing to make her a romantic dinner of beef jerky stroganoff. She did not seem enthused.
-- As I said, this episode made me laugh out loud several times. Eugene hitting the walker with the lead-covered head, and Abraham calling it "Timmy." Half of what Abraham and Eugene said to each other. Daryl deliberately aggravating Denise by grinding the truck's gears. (Daryl can't drive stick? How is that possible?) Occasional levity is perfect. It doesn't detract at all from the heaviness.
-- I liked the moment when Denise sat outside the apothecary, looking at the dead bodies in the parking lot. Merritt Wever made me see them as more than set dressing.
-- Sasha said yes to Abraham. Again with the Joss Whedon syndrome, that one of them will die soon. Somebody important is going to die. You can just feel it. Abraham? Glenn? Carol?
-- Eugene and Denise both called dibs on taking out a walker. I hereby declare that dibs are stupid when lives are at stake.
-- Not that I care, but what happened to Dwight's face?
-- Things I could do without: the walker outside the gate with the pole through its jaw. And the baby shoe in the sink, hinting at a drowned baby, hush hush hush. I was dreading the possibility of an actual walker baby. Not ever, hopefully. Wouldn't it be too hard to create? Animatronics? CGI?
-- Do the writers have a thing about eyes? There was the Governor, and of course, Carl just lost an eye.
Notes from Talking Dead:
The guests were Josh McDermitt (Eugene), Christian Serratos (Rosita), and the ultimate Walking Dead fan, an English teacher named Greg Raiewski. They tried for Merritt Wever (Denise), but she wasn't available. The "Dennis" keychain was on the coffee table entwined in the doll hands.
As one might expect, there were a lot of dick-biting jokes and double entendres. Josh McDermitt is quite funny. Christian Serratos talked about Merritt Wever, and how the show has a "catch and release" situation going on with great actors. Raiewski did some off the cuff literary analysis, talking about the baby and child imagery. Congratulations to Talking Dead for choosing a teacher as the ultimate fan. At the end of the show, Chris Hardwick gave Raiewski one of every gift they've given away so far, and it was a lot of gifts.
Daryl: "The ones that took you and Maggie. What'd they do to you?"
Carol: "To us? They didn't do anything."
Abraham: "I see you tied back that Tennessee waterfall there."
Eugene: "I won't lie. I liked it. I may very well miss it. The feeling of the billowy curtain catching the breeze some days was straight up bliss."
But see, he didn't cut his hair. He just tied it back. A little suggestion that Eugene still hasn't changed enough.
Eugene: "You don't spit game, you are game."
Eugene: "As with any RPG, tabletop, electronic or otherwise, the key to survival is allowing oneself to be shaped by the assigned environment."
Abraham: "You about ready to spill the pintos on what the hell we're doing here?"
Eugene: "Yes, I most definitely, almost certainly, think I can do that here."
Eugene: "I had full control of the situation."
Abraham: "You'd had better luck picking up a turd by its clean end."
Such a wordsmith, Abraham is.
Denise: "He was brave. He was angry, too. It's kind of a dangerous combination."
Daryl: "Sounds like we had the same brother."
Ah, Merle. I don't miss you.
Denise: "Oh, man. I threw up on my glasses."
So that the glasses would be elsewhere when the arrow arrived. Harder to film.
Abraham: "I apologize for questioning your skills. You know how to bite a dick, Eugene. I mean that with the utmost of respect."
Abraham: (to Sasha) "It could be thirty years for us here. That's still too short."
That's so romantic.
Three out of four personalized key chains,
Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.
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