A review of tonight's “The Walking Dead” coming up just as soon as I make you a casserole…
Boy, that escalated quickly.
We'd been heading for some kind of ugliness between Rick's group and the Alexandrians for weeks now, whether it was going to be over Pete's abuse of Jessie, Sasha's PTSD, the bloody fiasco at the electronics warehouse, or something else. Good situations always go bad for Rick's group – it's the nature of both this world and the show set in it – but this situation's at least felt novel because our heroes are causing problems at least as much as their new neighbors.
Pete's an alcoholic, abusive monster, but Rick has gone full caveman, taking a situation where he should have the easy moral high ground and instead behaving like such a smug, dangerous lunatic that it was up to Deputy Michonne to cold cock him just to prevent Deanna from exiling the whole lot of them in one go.
Has the show properly set up whatever heat exists between Rick and Jessie that's driven him into this state? Not especially, no. It helps that he's been portrayed as a wild animal struggling with domestication for this entire arc, but there hasn't been enough interaction between these two characters, nor enough spark, to really sell the moment where he admits he wouldn't be going out on a limb like this for everyone – nor for her needing him to admit that in order to say yes to his offer of protection.
This was another busy episode, albeit not as clumsily stitched together as last week's. The show continues to have difficulty juggling the cast when it's at this size. On the one hand, I appreciate the effort to periodically check in on everyone; on the other, it's difficult to have Father Gabriel and Maggie vanish completely after what she overheard him telling Deanna last week, while the emotional arcs of Sasha and Michonne felt less potent after both were absent from the previous episode. The season's first half, which split the ensemble up into smaller groups that each got their own spotlight episodes, also left certain characters behind for weeks on end, but because they were focused on so heavily when they were around, the effect wasn't lessened as much as when the supporting characters trade off weeks where they get a few minutes to remind you what they're dealing with. It's a trickier approach when everyone but Daryl and Aaron are in the same location at the same time, but it's not impossible to do here.
That's assuming, of course, that the group doesn't get exiled by a grieving and angry Deanna in next week's season finale. The activities of this other mystery group, whose members chop up bodies and carve W's into their foreheads, may present enough of a threat that Deanna has no choice but to put her trust back in Rick and his people, but right about now, Alexandria's feeling like the Garden of Eden after people have started biting from the apple.
Some other thoughts:
* Turns out Nicholas was the one who stole the gun Rick stashed. I'm still not sure I follow everything to do with that pistol – couldn't Nicholas have just stolen one from the armory, which appears extremely easy to do? – but it did add an extra layer of tension to the Rick/Pete brawl, since I wondered if Nicholas might just pull the thing out and take a shot at our hero – whose only chances of survival would lie in the hands of the guy he was just attacking.
* Enid returns for a little post-apocalyptic adolescent flirting with Carl. I suppose it parallels what's going on between Carl's dad and his new lady friend, but this was the first time in a while where a Carl subplot felt like a drag on the main action. It's interesting seeing how people that young (and who haven't been sheltered like Jessie's kids) are growing up in this terrifying new world; this was just a little underfed.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org