In many ways, the last two episodes of The Walking Dead have seemed like an alternate universe – a place that our survivors would only find themselves in during some kind of dream sequence. But the Alexandria Safe Zone is real within our story, and “Forget” (written by Corey Reed) continued to provide a surreal look at Rick and his people as they attempt to adapt to a very challenging set of circumstances – mainly, living a normal life.
As the episode opens, Sasha is having a sleepless night at “home,” staring at the pictures of her new house’s old inhabitants. In the morning, she goes off to hunt animals, but as soon as she’s outside the gates of the Alexandria community, she pulls out those framed pictures and begins shooting at them – hoping the sound will draw the attention of the walkers, giving her a much needed place to put her mounting rage. Her foolish act was nothing more than a waste of ammunition, but I get what the episode is telling us about where her head is at. After all Sasha’s lost, she feels more alive in the woods – fighting off monsters – than she does walking the streets of a suburban neighborhood.
Meanwhile, Rick, Carol, and Daryl are secretly meeting at the shed where Rick hid his gun. They devise a plan to steal some weapons, unbeknownst to everyone else, even the other members of their group. It’s clear in this scene that the self-assurance Rick displayed last week in vowing to take Alexandria if need be was still in full force here, as he matter-of-factly tells Daryl how lucky the community is now that Rick and his gang have arrived.
As the trio ends their secret meeting, they get rid of a nearby walker (enabling Carol to empty her gun chamber for her pretend shooting practice), and notice something odd about it. Carved into the thing’s forehead is a big “W.” Knowing a human did this makes all three of them nervous, and clues the audience in that trouble is coming ever closer.
Daryl also gets introduced to Buttons the Horse, who Aaron has been tracking in order to bring him inside the walls of the community. Buttons never makes it there, however, and though I know the scene was supposed to be emotional, it didn’t strike the right chords for me. The walkers’ movements seemed too fast and organized – much more human than zombie. I know that was probably due to the mechanics of filming the scene, but it just didn’t work for me.
Inside the walls, Rick takes part in another meeting, this time with Deanna, Michonne, and Maggie. Deanna is explaining Rick and Michonne’s duties as constables, and how they will be the first members of their new police force. It seems Deanna thinks the future is bright in Alexandria, telling the others “I see a vibrant community here. Industry, commerce. Civilization. Real lives.” That’s a nice thought, but Rick is more interested in beefing up security around the place, lest some evildoers find their way in. He tells Deanna – just in case viewers have forgotten what the show has been telling us for four and a half seasons – “people are the real threat now.” Deanna doesn’t even have someone manning the clock tower. Sasha volunteers for that job, which is no surprise. It’s easier to be alone in a box with a view than mingling with her new neighbors.
Carol spends a lot of time chatting with the other women, and always with a bright smile on her face. She knows how to play these people, and Melissa McBride excels at showing us how Carol calculatingly goes about her plan. When Deanna decides to have a party to officially welcome the group, Rick and Carol see their opening to go steal the guns. Carol will do the job, because in this place, it’s easy for her to be invisible. Later, while in the main supply room, she continues her charade when she meets a guy named Tobin, who offers to show her how to handle various guns. She tentatively accepts the invitation, while secretly unlatching the window she will use when she robs the place. If Tobin only knew who he was really dealing with.
The party scene was the most bizarre sequence I think I’ve ever watched on this show. In fact, it didn’t even feel like I was watching this show. I just kept thinking how weird it all seemed, which, I’m sure, is exactly how the audience was supposed to feel (reflecting how our group members were feeling). On a side note, kudos to the make-up and clothing team at the great job they do dirtying up the cast. You don’t realize – until they’re all cleaned up – just how attractive all these people are.
As Rick is trying to relax enough to accept a drink from Deanna’s husband, Jessie arrives. When she does, Rick sets his gaze on her, and the two basically flirt with each other all night, even though Jessie’s husband Pete (acting much friendlier with Rick than the first time they met) is in the same house. But Jessie’s also a good influence on Rick, helping him to stop and appreciate the simple pleasures found in pleasant conversation, the sound of his son’s laughter with new friends, and the feel of his daughter safe in his arms. And for the first time in a long time, Rick finally does relax just a little. Later, Rick gives Jessie an innocent kiss on the cheek, but the act is laced with so much subtext – well let’s just say there will be more than haircuts between them soon.
We get a few glimpses of our other group members dealing with the party festivities: Daryl puts a shirt on under his vest (though he still looks like he didn’t shower), and makes an attempt, but he takes off before he even knocks on the door. Michonne and Abraham muse over where they find themselves, admitting how hard it is to let go of the fight inside them that kept them alive all this time. Sasha does make it through the door, but runs for the nearest corner after some small talk with Deanna’s other son Spencer (who seems more together than Aiden). Who would have thought that navigating a dinner party could be this hard?
Before the evening ends, Aaron invites Daryl over, and the two (and Eric) continue to bond via a spaghetti dinner. Aaron takes Daryl into the garage and shows him bike parts, because after all, he’ll need a bike if he’s going to be Alexandria’s other recruiter. Daryl knows people – and can tell good ones from bad, a skill that Aaron admires and wants to put to good use. Norman Reedus and Ross Marquand played well off each other here, bringing an understated chemistry that enhanced the scene, along with Reedus’ uncanny ability to let Daryl’s vulnerabilities peek out beneath his tough guy exterior.
With everyone occupied at the party, Carol makes a silent escape to the supply room, climbing through the window she left unlatched earlier. But as she’s taking the guns, Jessie’s son Sam sees her and confronts her about what she’s doing. Carol could have made an excuse about borrowing the guns for target practice, but that would have robbed us of one hell of a scene where Carol threatens and terrifies little Sam. Carol goes from sweet to sinister in .2 seconds (and Melissa McBride makes the transition startling), telling Sam what will become of him should he reveal what he saw to anyone. So for Sam, it all boils down to the choice of being tied to a tree while walkers feast on his flesh and eat him alive, or – extra cookies. And I love how after Carol is finished terrorizing Sam, she returns to her sunny demeanor and cheerfully states “I know what I think you should do.”
Back inside, as the others seem to actually be enjoying themselves, Sasha reaches her breaking point when a well-meaning neighbor frets over what meal she should make for Sasha. When Sasha screams “that’s what you worry about?” the party is over. After everything she’s been through, you can see her point. But then again, the Alexandria community is just trying to make the best of things, and denial is easier to come by in the zombie apocalypse when you haven’t suffered as much as our survivors have.
As the episode closes, we see some of the group members feeling more comfortable adjusting to this strange new world. At the secret meeting, Carol tries to dole out guns to Rick and Daryl, but both are reluctant to take them (though Rick, not willing to totally drop his guard, does end up taking one). And inside her house, Michonne takes a huge (and symbolic) step forward by hanging her katana up on the wall.
Still, one has to wonder how well adjusted Rick is actually becoming. When he sees Jessie’s husband walking on the street with Jessie, he reaches behind him and momentarily wraps his fingers around his gun. Luckily for Pete, Rick gets distracted by a sound coming from outside the wall. It’s a walker, and as Rick lays his hand against the metal, it’s unclear if he finally feels safe, or is haunted by a sense of foreboding.
This episode continued where last week’s left off, focusing not on action, but on the interiors of our characters. As I’ve written ad nauseum (but it’s true), this show knows how to give us interesting character beats, and is not afraid to stray from the usual formula in order to go exploring through the minds of Rick and his crew. The episode also did amazing job illustrating how strange everything is for our survivors at the moment. It was so well executed, in fact, that in several scenes I actually felt second hand uneasiness.
We know trouble is brewing for our group and for the people of Alexandria. But for the poor Alexandria community members, it may be a double whammy. Because whatever threat they face from outside, they also face one inside from Rick and his people. If things go bad, who knows which one might be more dangerous? One thing is probable: With all the new faces we’ve seen in the last two episodes (and considering the death toll our group has already racked up this season), some of those Alexandrians aren’t making it out of this.