Much like how the characters of the show are coming out of the lowest points of their lives into the apparent safe haven of Alexandria, The Walking Dead has shambled past a couple of poor outings to deliver a generally good episode this time around. Actual character development, real character interactions, an odd sense of safety, and more in this week’s The Walking Dead review.
I’ve never been so happy to watch another grown man take a shower. Not that I have a hidden crush on Andrew Lincoln or anything, but Rick Grimes has finally shed the obnoxious beard, and with it, his total lack of a personality. One of the biggest themes of this week’s episode is the group supposedly fearing the loss of their edge and toughness. Unfortunately for most of the series, this sense of toughness has just meant a lack of personality and little else. Seeing commercials airing during the episode with flashbacks to when Rick could actually be expressive and Andrew Lincoln had an opportunity to act brought back slightly fonder memories of the show, and with it hope of seeing those old characters start to come back this week.
Finally, after half a season and then some, the show is about more than just killing walkers. It still can’t help itself, and randomly has Carl and Rick roam around and kill a few stray walkers, but other than that and one other encounter the show is mostly walker-less, which is perfectly fine. “Remember” is an episode about remembering what it was like before everything went to hell in a reanimated handbasket, to a time of running water, electricity, and haircuts. Despite how hard they fight it, every character is already starting to revert to their pre-prison personalities to some extent. They’re a little more trusting, they are interacting with people and, most importantly, they are doing more than just grunting and stabbing things in the head.
I particularly like how the group is initially brought into the camp, via individual interviews with Alexandria’s leader, Deanna. Being that this fancy pants new place has electricity, Deanna asks to video tape each group member as she interviews them. The show takes advantage of this by interlacing the standard shots with the shots taken off of this lower quality camera, giving a rare glimpse of the characters in ‘candid’ moments. Set design during these segments is especially nice because it shows the stark difference between the dirty and grimy main crew compared to their current surroundings. Rick is sitting in front of a big screen TV with surround sound talking about all the horrible things he’s done to people, and how terrible people can be in general – and it all works so well.
And of course, one of the better comedic moments of the episode is Daryl still being Daryl and refusing to sit down or cooperate with the interview, instead pacing back and forth and constantly checking the windows. It still works, however, as is this is pretty much Daryl’s pre-apocalypse state, there’s no denying that.
While we do see a lot of Rick, Michonne, Carl, Daryl, and Glen, the rest of the group is thrown almost completely to the wayside. I get that every episode can’t focus on everybody, but the rest of them did almost nothing but stare off into the middle distance whenever they were in the background. It wouldn’t have been that difficult to have them doing something – anything – like talking, playing cards or something in the background. It’s becoming even more clear that the amount of characters in the group is too large for the show to handle and it’s stopped trying to do anything with the majority of them.
Carl’s own little slice of the real world is pretty awkward compared to everyone else’s but it still works well enough. Unlike the story of Rick and how much of his initiation and uncomfortableness is told through his surroundings, everything about Carl’s initiation is just blatantly spelled out. When he goes to a nearby kid’s house, they take every second they can to cram in references to real world things – video games, pool tables, dads, etc. It feels as if the writers really wanted to establish the idea that Carl is just as out of place as the adults, but they only had 5 minutes to do it so they opted to throw it all in one scene and call it a day. He also has an odd scene where he chases one of the other kids (another new entry to Alexandria) as she escapes the city.
Being that this is The Walking Dead and no destination can ever be the end game, a lot of darker things were hinted at in the episode. Another potentially abusive husband situation, wherever the hell that weird quiet girl ran off to, and the weirdness of Deanna’s son all had their set ups in the episode. The best by far comes when everything gets turned on its head by Rick stated quietly that, if the people of Alexandria don’t seem fit to keep their encampment, his group will just take it.
All of these times we’ve seen the main group be lured into safety only to have it ripped out from under them. I definitely would not be opposed to seeing it go the other way around for once, and having Rick and the Grimettes ruining someone else’s world for the betterment of themselves. It’s also heavily hinted with those aforementioned great video interview scenes where Rick cautions Deanna about letting just anyone into their town, but she seems to just take it as him already wanting to protect the townsfolk. On the other hand, however, she also openly states that she is great at reading people so this could leave one of two things open. Either she actually isn’t great at reading people and she’s about to get taken advantage of big time, or she knows what Rick’s true intentions are and either has a plan to stop him or – for some dark reason – wants him to take over Alexandria for himself.
No matter the reasoning, or if I’m completely off, it’s nice to see that The Walking Dead is still capable of making an episode about people, and not stealth zombie attacks. Can’t wait until next week.
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