Following an episode that had a notable body count, the penultimate episode of Season 5 aimed for tension rather than blood. Oh, there was blood, but casualties were at a minimum as the fallout of "Spend" set in. That slowly blurring line between Rick’s people and the Alexandria natives, but that line as firmly drawn tonight. Spoilers if you’re not caught up on The Walking Dead through Season 5, Episode 15 - "Try."
As of "Spend," Noah is dead. Tara is injured. And Deanna’s son Aidan is dead. Everyone has reason to grieve, blast some Nine In Nails and question whether or not this merger thing might be the worst idea ever. Add in a few more layers of tension in the form of Pete abusing his wife, Rick’s obviously growing feelings for Jesse, which surely elevated his reaction to Pete’s confrontation, Sasha’s walker-stalking, whateverTF is going on in the woods (W-marked foreheads and that tied-up woman) and Gabriel traitorously throwing Rick’s group under his own sanctimonious bus and tension is — to put it ridiculously mildly — running high. Is anyone surprised that Rick and and Pete threw down?
Of all the things that went down in "Try," I’m compelled to say that the conversation between Rick and Deanna about whether or not to kill Pete was my favorite moment, mainly because four seasons ago, Rick was Deanna. Remember Randall? Remember how torn up Rick was over whether or not to kill that kid? Granted, they weren’t sure how dangerous Randall was, but the situation wasn’t all that different. The fear was that letting Randall go might bring worse things back to the farm. In this case, banishing Pete might solve the domestic violence issue, but what if it backfires? What if Pete comes back and attacks the community or found other people and led them back there? Giving him a chance to live could come back to Alexandria in the worst way.
Rick knows that hesitating and not doing what needs to be done, or doing it half-way, is going to cost people’s lives because sitting and planning and hesitating used to be his way, and it sometimes cost lives. He’s lived through the repercussions of these mistakes. The thing is, Deanna hasn’t. And as helpful as it would be if she could just take his word for it and take care of business, her unwillingness to do that is a reflection of her humanity and morality. Assuming she is as she’s presenting herself to be, on a human level, it’s hard to fault her for trying to find a way to preserve human life. She thinks exiling people is the fair approach. At the very least, it’s an approach she can live with. Until it comes back to bite her.
Meanwhile, Rick seems to be teetering toward banishment himself. His throw-down with Pete ended with him arguing with Deanna about her tactics until Michonne knocked him out. Was that merely to shut him up before he said or did something that couldn’t be undone? Or had she heard enough of his rage? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Michonne’s trying to be optimistic about Alexandria, but we also saw her unleash her own rage on the walkers when she, Rosita and Sasha were out in the woods. She’s harboring her own grief and frustration.
Maybe Michonne sees Alexandria as a chance to move past it. Or maybe she knows it’s just a matter of time before they have to leave this place. Because they don’t belong there. They’ve seen too much and lost too much. Maybe if Alexandria weren’t occupied it would be different, but these people don’t understand what it’s like out there. The only way they could is if they’d experienced it themselves, and if that were the case, most of them probably wouldn’t be alive. Just look at Rick’s original group for proof of that. What would this show have been like if that group had gotten to a place like Alexandria in the earlier days of this apocalypse?
Moving on to other things…
Carl and Enid were sittin’ in a tree tonight, hand-touching and waiting out a walker herd. What’s the deal with Enid? Will she survive the season and become an actual friend (or girlfriend?) to Carl? Or is she an inevitable casualty?
Of course Nicholas’ story about what happened to Aiden was full of lies. Glenn left him with a warning about not going outside the walls, lest he be responsible for more lives lost.
Sasha spent a good portion of the episode hunting walkers. She’s alone in her grief, as is the case with everyone, really. But will pushing people away continue to be an issue? While Rick and Pete were fighting, Sasha was shooting a small cluster of walkers who were all attacking the wall. It’s good that she’s on the watch, and maybe it’s good that she’s going out into the woods to take out any walkers in the area. Or maybe she’s just throwing away bullets and putting herself in danger.
It’s interesting to see Carol face an abusive situation from the outside. Just as Rick has changed dramatically since Season 1, so has Carol. She’s stronger and more independent than she was when we first met her. That Carol didn’t have the chance to stand up to Ed, but I think this Carol wouldn’t have had any problem doing that… unfortunately for Pete.
We’re seeing more and more walkers with W’s on their heads, especially with Aaron and Daryl wandering the woods. And the woman tied to a tree also had a W on her head. Is someone trying to send a message to the people of Alexandria? Perhaps some disgruntled banished Alexandrian? It would certainly prove Rick right if that turns out to be the case.
The Walking Dead wraps up Season 5 next Sunday night with and extra-long episode.