Editor’s note: this review of AMC’s The Walking Dead will contain some spoilers. I will try to keep them to a minimum, but they’re be there nonetheless. You’ve been warned.
Life, as we all know, is little more than a series of choices and the consequences of those choices. On the one hand, our choices could leave us lashed to a tree, screaming into the void for help, with the only things responding a ravenous horde of zombies that will eat us alive. On the other hand, there are cookies.
I think this really sums up this arc of AMC’s The Walking Dead nicely. Deanna and rest of the town want our survivors to look at Alexandria as salvation. It’s the one bit of hope and light in a world gone dark. They can either embrace it, or be thrust back into the world that almost broke them only days before. They make it seem like it’s not much of a choice.
Naturally, reality has a much different read on the situation.
Rick and company don’t simply need to accept Alexandria as is, or head back out into the unforgiving, zombie-filled wilderness. They can change it from within. Failing that, they can take it over for themselves. This presents a pretty interesting moral question about how far everyone is willing to take things in the pursuit of survival.
I really like the way this is developing, with the three primary actors: Rick, Daryl, and Carol, taking very different approaches.
Daryl is the most unusual of the bunch. While he puts forth a rough and unfriendly exterior, he’s the most morally grounded characters of the group. He’s a man who will do what he has do, but he still strives to do the right thing.
I loved who this came out in his interactions with Aaron. I assumed that he would dismiss Aaron in irritation when the man was constantly chattering in his ear, but Daryl was much more receptive than that. At this point we all know that he’s not the bigoted redneck he appears to be, but it’s still a bit surprising seeing the relationships the man is able to forge. Him having a spaghetti dinner with two openly gay man was one of those pleasant surprises, as was his hesitance to secretly arm himself with the pistols Carol stole.
And speaking of Carol, good lord of she a hardass. I’m really enjoying her desire to become invisible within this new society by effortlessly blending in. It works really well with her history as the victim of domestic abuse, and channels the way she’s grown more canny and independent over the course of the series. I didn’t expect her to threaten a small child, but once it happened, it seemed consistent with her character.
And then there’s Rick. He too seems to be struggling with things, but in different ways. In a lot of ways, it feels like Rick is becoming one of the villains of the series. I doubt The Walking Dead will completely follow through on that, but it’s interesting to see the way it’s creeping in. Take, for instance, his interactions with Jessie, the attractive woman who cut his hair. Rick clearly has feelings for her, but those feelings don’t really come out in force until he meets her husband. At that point, the potential relationship becomes a challenge, one that Rick must overcome.
Of course, there are moments that don’t work quite so well.
Take Buttons, the extremely well-groomed horse that we’re supposed to believe has been running wild since the zombie outbreak started. This is one of the more heavy-handed metaphors The Walking Dead has tried to use, going so far as to have Daryl come right out and say how being in the wild draws everything closer to their natural state. Naturally, Buttons doesn’t make it. You just can’t be free and wild for too long before reality rears its ugly head.
And then there’s Sasha, a character I really want to like, but who just isn’t working. It feels like everything Sasha does is in reaction to outside stimuli; she just doesn’t have much in the way of her own agency. Right now, the entire crux of her character revolves around the fact that Bob and Tyrese are both dead, and her trying to cope with that.
Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Sasha, seems like a very capable actor. I wish the writers would give her more to do.
Finally, I kind of hated the scene of Michonne hanging up her sword, especially considering how much I was just complaining about lazy, heavy-handed metaphors. Also, why did she need that many nails?
All in all, this was a pretty solid episode, and I’m definitely becoming invested in the Alexandria arc. If nothing else, I really want to see just how far Rick and Carol are willing to go, and how Daryl and the others will play into things.
Oh, and before I forget; what does everything think is going on with that “W” zombie? Or maybe it’s an “M”.