Alexandria may well be the fresh new start that the group desperately needs, but not everyone is ready to accept their new neighbours with open arms. After a battle with the group (and his own insecurities) in last week’s episode, Remember gives us Rick at his most vulnerable. But this could also be Rick at his best.
As fans of The Walking Dead will know, this isn’t the first time that the group have been forced to lie with the (possible)enemy. And it probably won’t be the last. What makes the folks of Alexandria different is that they hold some serious potential. Potential for a life that is as close to idyllic as they’re ever likely to get in a world where the dead are the enemy. Remember is so great an episode because of its simplicity. Aside from a few angry boys who are way too sure of themselves, there is no visible threat to the group and their safety. This apparent serenity is what makes Alexandria, and this episode in particular, all the more unsettling.
“It’s all about survival now, at any cost.”
For Rick, trusting people has become more of a task than he could have ever imagined. There’s a strong possibility that he may never trust again. Which makes his transformation, both figuratively and literally, all the more important. Before we can delve too much into the episode’s plot, we have to discuss the elephant in the room. The big bushy elephant. For the past few seasons, viewers have witnessed the beard gradually evolve from neat stubble into raging beast. Heck, we were surprised he didn’t give it a name and talk to it when he was feeling lonely. That thing looked like it had a heartbeat. Whilst it’s fun to laugh about, the beard symbolised what is both a flaw and a strength in Rick’s character. Since the loss of his wife and the steady destruction of his family, a wall has been gradually growing around Rick. This wall helped to shelter him from the hardships of living in a zombie-ridden world. As the stakes got higher and the threats grew stronger, so too did the beard. So when the razor finally came out, the wall he had been building up for so long came crashing down too. Fresh-faced and ready for a fresh start, he’s willing to let people in again. But is he now more vulnerable than ever?
“I was in the middle of losing my mind.”
Throughout the episode we are shown snippets of the group having intense one-on-one sessions with Alexandria’s head of staff, ex-congressperson Deanna, and her camera. 28 Days Later meets The Office, if you will. Deanna is a firm believer in remembering who you were before all this apocalyptic shit went down, hence the episode’s name. Most of the group let their guard down, confessing their fears about never feeling safe again and always having to watch your back. Then there’s Carol. Seeking a role that allows her to weigh up the new faces around town, our favourite heroine tells tales of her joyful memories with loving husband Ed and how she’s such a people person. Pure fabrications, of course, but she knows that in order to survive you have to keep your most valuable cards close to your chest. She’s a clever sausage, is our Carol.
With its white picket fences and perfectly furnished homes, Alexandria is like stepping into a postcard. There’s enough space for everyone, and then some. Clean running water. Working kitchen appliances. They’re things we take for granted in our world, but for the group it’s like they’ve hit the jackpot. All these amenities still aren’t enough to put their minds at ease. Deciding to spend their first night camped out in one room together, we see what makes the group so special. Whilst they may feel like they need a roof over their heads, in reality they only ever feel safe when they have each other – terrifyingly, this could make Alexandria their biggest threat yet. With their guards slowly coming down, they have more to lose now than ever before.
“If they can’t make it, then we’ll just have to take this place.”
As we mentioned before, not everyone is so open to the possibilities that Alexandria holds, regardless of how lovely Deanna is. Clearly still struggling to cope with the loss of Beth, times are hard for our cross-bow wielding friend. Refusing to take refuge in the comforts that Rick is so openly relishing in, Daryl’s guards are still well and truly up. Ever since his introduction fans have been rooting for Daryl more so than any character in the show’s history. His sudden reluctance to accept help could lead to isolation. With the finale looming on the horizon, being alone is the worst place to be.
Words by Sophie Mace.