A review of tonight's “The Walking Dead” coming up just as soon as I get involved in the Junior League…
Well, that was both promising and somewhat unexpected.
Last week, in the middle of praising “The Distance,” I also expressed reservations about the group's impending arrival in Alexandria, since the nature of “The Walking Dead” means that no paradise can stay that way for very long. “Remember,” the first full episode set inside those big metal walls, seems to confirm much of what Aaron promised about the place, but it also suggests that if the situation goes pear-shaped, it'll be Rick's fault.
As Alexandria's leader, former congresswoman Deanna, character actress Tovah Feldshuh gives the place quick credibility, even if Rick and Daryl and Carol(*) all remain paranoid about their new hosts. Watching the group (or, at least, the half that got lines of dialogue this week) try to adjust to their new surroundings was like watching someone try to domesticate an animal that had gone feral(**). Daryl was the most obvious example of it, but none of them seemed entirely comfortable with suddenly having all the amenities of the Days Gone Bye, whether Rick enjoying a shave and a haircut or Carl getting to hang out with other kids and play video games.
(*) I quite enjoyed Carol playing the role of mousey homemaker – aka, herself in season 1 if her husband wasn't an abusive bully – around Deanna and the other Alexandrians.
(**) In other words, it was “The Leftovers” season 1 in extreme miniature.
The Alexandrians were a mix of welcoming, like Jesse the friendly hairdresser (whose surly husband, rightly jealous of Rick, was perhaps the episode's element most evocative of Days Gone Bye), and troublesome, like Deanna's cartoonishly smug son Aidan. It's a tricky thing with a character like that, since the idea is that Deanna's whole family have been sheltered from the worst of the apocalypse due to luck, timing, and her husband's architectural ingenuity, so he can get away with being overconfident in his abilities in a way that most people who have been alive this long can't. And the fact that Deanna is aware he's an idiot who needs to get knocked on his ass spoke well of her. But he still seems like more comic relief than I think was intended.
And the closing discussion between Rick, Daryl and Carol put a whole new light on his earlier comments to Deanna about how they should have never opened their gates. I can imagine that experiencing the Governor and the Termites in relatively short order would make Rick paranoid and protective enough of his own people to become exactly what he's afraid of – not a cannibal, or even someone who will stage gladiatorial combat between humans and walkers, but someone who could take over a perfectly happy and functional community and make it much darker because he's convinced he knows better than anyone else. And with this group at his side, and what seems in this episode to be a fairly small and clearly weak Alexandria population, it doesn't seem like it would be very hard to stage a coup if he wants to.
Some other thoughts:
* I'm not entirely following the business with the gun Rick stashed in the blender last week, and was missing this week. Was this his way of testing whether the Alexandrians were watching him all the time, or something else?
* If Carl's future love interest Enid can get over the wall and back again so easily, how safe is the place really from human invasion?
* Did Rick actually have a shower when the group crashed at the CDC? I recall Lori enjoying one, but couldn't remember if this was the first time he'd had a real one since the apocalypse.
* Both of this week's zombie encounters were fairly brief and not as whack-a-doodle as previous ones Greg Nicotero has directed, but Tara getting her hands caught in that one zombie's tear-away skin was pretty gnarly.
* UPDATE: I feel great shame for not having noticed this until someone pointed it out to me on Twitter, but Enid was played by Katelyn Nacon, one of the many stars of “Too Many Cooks.” If Gwydion Lashlee-Walton isn't living somewhere in Alexandria, I am gonna be pissed…
Before we go to the comments, it's time once again to explain how this blog's No Spoiler rule applies to this show:
1. No talking about the previews for the next episode.
2. No talking about anything else you know about upcoming episodes from other sources – and, yes, that includes anything Gimple and Kirkman have said in interviews.
3. No talking about anything that's happened in the comic that hasn't happened in the TV show yet. (Or anything that's been revealed, like character backstory and motivation.) As with “Game of Thrones,” the goal is to treat “The Walking Dead” TV show as exactly that, and not as an excuse for endless comparisons with the comics. If you want to talk about the comics, feel free to start up a discussion thread on our message boards.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com