Spoilers for The Walking Dead below.

The Walking Dead kind of blew my mind tonight by following up last week’s surprise visit from Aaron with an actual journey to Alexandria, the safe haven that he spent the entire episode trying to convince the group was real. The arrival at Alexandria was an inevitability, of course, but I figured showrunner Scott Gimple would keep baiting viewers for several episodes before the survivors reached their destination. That wasn’t so, however, and now the hit AMC series is heading into uncharted waters, which will hopefully add excitement and levity to a season marked mostly by sadness.

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For viewers, Alexandria will be a much-needed central hub of activity, and one that won’t immediately get turned into nightmares by a leader revealed to be a homicidal maniac or a cannibal. We will presumably be introduced to a huge group of new characters, many of whom will hopefully make a bigger impact than underwritten side characters like Rosita, Father Gabriel and Bob. (Hell, I’m already impressed with Ross Marquand’s performance as Aaron, and Aaron’s boyfriend Eric was enjoyable enough as well.) The show will likely make a few changes as far as who we can expect to see, since its remix approach is meant to keep comic readers on their toes. But dammit, we’d better get to see Douglas and his family immediately.

For Rick’s group, Alexandria will be a much-needed return to a form of civilization that they haven’t experienced in full since before the zombie apocalypse. (Except for maybe Maggie, who had it pretty good on her farm.) They will no longer have to rely on killing and cooking packs of wild dogs, for there will be enough food and resources for everyone. Abraham almost had a taste bud orgasm when he came across a can of quasi-SpaghettiOs in Aaron and Eric’s RV, and Rick had no qualms with keeping all the food they found in there, but this kind of behavior won’t be expected in Alexandria, where sharing and community are the expected ways of life. Maybe Carl, who doesn’t even know what a flare gun is, can actually do some hard work for a change.

For Rick in particular, the show’s future will force him to become a trusting human being again. Most of his arc in “The Distance” revolved around his distrust of the empathetic Aaron, pinpointed best when Rick talked to Michonne about the sounds (or lack thereof) emanating from Woodbury and Terminus. But his anger and ill will all washed away when they actually arrived at the gates of Alexandria, and the sound of children laughing and having fun filled his ears. That long shot on just his eyes was a telling one, and even though he likely won’t leave his gruff mannerisms behind entirely, he might just find happiness in Alexandria. (And hopefully something more.)

In the comics, the group’s arrival in Alexandria was a turning point where everything changed for the better. At least until Negan shows up. Find out if things will go just as smoothly on the small screen’s Alexandria when The Walking Dead returns next Sunday with “Remember.” Head to the next page for a preview, in which Carl doesn’t look like he’s staying inside the house.

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