With actual homes and plentiful resources, Alexandria seems like the perfect place for Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group to remain. Can they put aside their hardened personas and return to the people they once were?
One of the biggest praises critics have said about The Walking Dead as of late is how it’s become so focused on character growth. The show will always take pride in its relentless zombie killing, but now it’s the cast who are the stars and not the unending blood and gore. “Remember” is a great example of this. Very little time over the hour was spent killing walkers or even having the undead around. The threat of imminent death was actually gone for once. In its place we have Rick’s group barely trying to adapt to this extremely idyllic society. They have, to put it mildly, been in the shit for way too long. Whether or not they can adapt to this new community was the big question going into this episode. It’s wasn’t long before we got our answer, thankfully. They can adapt, but will always be ready to take over if necessary.
No one should be surprised by Rick’s end episode proclamation that they will seize control if Alexandria goes to hell. Alexandria’s benefits are apparent from the moment our protagonists walk through that gate. The place is exceptionally well-maintained and is kept afloat by a solid system. But as Carl (Chandler Riggs) so quickly points out, everyone here is exceptionally weak. Most of them have stayed behind the walls this entire time and don’t actually know how to survive. According to Alexandria’s leader Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh), a former Congresswoman, that’s why Rick’s group was brought in. They know how to live in this world better than anyone. Alexandria is simply a bubble that makes people complacent. Deanna is smart to notice that. Her community may have lived for this long, but once conflict inevitably arises with the dead, none of them will be able to handle it.
That’s detailed in spades when Glenn (Steven Yeun), Tara (Alanna Masterson), and Noah (Tyler James Williams) are brought out on a mock supply run. Their group leader Aiden (Daniel Bonjour) believes that he knows how to survive, but when we watch him and Nicholas (Michael Traynor) try to tie a walker up as a message, we see that he clearly doesn’t. Aiden almost believes that everything is a game. He’s stupidly careless and walks right over Glenn. Of course, we all know that Glenn is beyond hardcore, so watching him try and defuse, and subsequently deck, the hotheaded Aiden was amazing. These people know absolute jack about surviving in this world. Everyone on this team can teach Alexandria a thing or two about walker killing. It’s obvious the community needs Rick’s group for protection just as much as Rick’s group need a place to live. “Glad we came” indeed.
Speaking of walker killing, this episode actually didn’t need it. Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) dropping that walker as the gate was closing was perfect. It represented them leaving their daily struggle behind. As we passed the halfway mark with nary a walker in sight, I was prepared for this to be one of the least violent episodes ever. That would have sent a great message. Alexandria is here, it’s safe. There’s no better way to show that then not having any other killing. The Aiden scene deserves a pass because it resulted in Glenn being awesome. The Rick and Carl battle? Not so much. As cool as that was, it was extremely unnecessary. Almost as unnecessary as that new girl Enid (Katelyn Nacon) climbing over the fence. What, you’re just going to have a character sneak out of Alexandria and not address it right away? If Carl’s going to ask about it next week, this should have waited. Also, was that Enid in the window by the gate? That’s never addressed either.
“Remember” saw the introduction of several comic characters, which was both nice and expected. I find it interesting that they gender swapped the leader of Alexandria, probably to get some more diversity. Deanna is the TV version of Douglas Monroe, who was a Congressman. She can easily fit the role though so it works perfectly. Olivia (Ann Mahoney), Alexandria’s supply woman, had a quick introduction as the gun collector. Whoever cast Alexandra Breckenridge to play Jessie deserves some award. She looks exactly like her comic counterpart, which made me happy. Rick also met her husband Pete (Corey Brill) during a late night walk. Very little about Pete was revealed, but you get the sense that he’s some kind of hard ass. He wasn’t exactly kind to Rick. This fits in line with his comic character as well, so that was also a fine bit of casting there. I look forward to how he handles Jessie’s obvious affection for Rick.
The absolute tonal shift of “Remember” was great. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I actually laughed. This episode had some funny moments! Carol (Melissa McBride) sheepishly putting her massive gun on the cart. Olivia commenting on how she should have brought a bigger container. Daryl (Norman Reedus), who refused to shower and skinned a possum on a nice porch, was a regular jokester with two enjoyable one-liners. He really set the tone in the beginning when he held up his dead possum and said, “We brought dinner,” and that was only eclipsed by his comment that Carol looked ridiculous in a nice sweater. Oh, and Carol threatened to hose Daryl down herself. They’re already bantering like an old couple. Speaking of Carol, her talking about how she was a “den mother” is worth noting. She’s clearly leaving her absolute decimation of Terminus secret and not showing her full hand.
I don’t know if we’ll get more of them next week, but those individual interviews between Rick’s group and Deanna were pretty telling. Only a few characters got their moments in the spotlight, which meant that the rest of the group was pushed off. I don’t remember a single line spoken by Rosita (Christian Serratos), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), or Maggie (Lauren Cohan). I can’t recall ever seeing Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) either. Was he even in the house? I’m sure he was, but the fact that I never noticed him is bizarre. You’d think these people would have a few words about a priest being around.
Change is obviously coming to The Walking Dead. For the first time since the premiere, the horrific world filled with undead was pushed to the side. It has been replaced with an idyllic community and kids playing video games. Now everyone has to adapt too. Most are able to, including Carl who is hesitant to even play games, but they’re all stuck waiting for the other shoe to drop. The fact that Rick is now shaven and cut is proof that things are different now though. Him and Michonne (Danai Gurira) are even Constable. They are responsible for upholding whatever sense of law this world still has. You can bet that will generate a lot of conflict, and I look forward to seeing how this all plays out on screen.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.