Deanna and her family sit in a darkened room mourning Aidan’s loss. She puts on one of his mixed cds and Nine Inch Nails’ “Somewhat Damaged” beings to play.
The opening is intercut with shots of Carol making a tuna casserole for the grieving family. In one of these shots, we see that Sam has come to visit her again. We also see Sasha in the lookout tower. Carol leaves the casserole on Deanna’s front porch. Deanna finds it, reads the note and goes inside without the dish. She burns the note.
At the end of the opening, we catch up with Aaron and Daryl. Aaron notes that there are more zombies around than there used to be. It’s in that moment that they notice a fire burning in the distance.
I’ve stayed away from speculating about Morgan and the mysterious “Ws” carved into zombie’s heads because there has been so much onscreen action and emotion to discuss, but it’s time to start speculating.
I assume that Morgan built the fire. It has to be. We obviously won’t get a full resolution to what he’s doing, but it would be nice to have him meet up with Rick and get some idea of what kind of player he is in all of this.
*Mark here, thought I would chime in a bit on this Morgan bit. If you go back and watch the scene where Daryl and Aaron find the woman tied to the tree you can see quite clearly a pair of sunglasses. Those sunglasses look a lot like the pair Morgan wore in this scene.
I’m betting that Regina is right, that was Morgan at the fire. Maybe the woman was traveling with him, maybe she had already been captured by the Wolves that night and just brought along while they checked out Morgan’s fire. I think the Wolves found Morgan and took him, perhaps deciding to keep him alive and killing the woman. Daryl and Aaron will track them in the finale and hopefully rescue Morgan, or perhaps they’ll find Morgan rescuing himself, just in time to get back and warn the others about the Wolves imminent attack.
Back to the episode (I’ll get to the Ws later):
Deanna interviews Nicholas about events of the run while Glenn tells Rick his version. Nicholas lies and says that he wanted to save everyone and that Glenn is the one that got Aidan killed.
The real contrast between Glenn and Nicholas comes at the end of their respective conversations. Nicholas tells Deanna that Glenn and his people don’t belong, “they aren’t like us.”
In some ways, Rick confirms Nicholas’ concerns telling Glenn,
“Their rules, we don’t answer to them.”
But Glenn immediately counters with
“We are them. We are now.”
Glenn isn’t interested in subversion. Either they adopt this place as their home and their family, or they don’t.
The next morning, Rosita comes into Michonne’s room to tell her that Sasha never came back from her lookout shift. While they go out searching for her, we get into what the core of this half of the season has been about: How warriors reintegrate into society. (I explored this a lot in my review of “Forget.”)
Rick, Sasha and Carol are having the most difficult time adjusting to the safe zone, but it’s not easy for Michonne either. Rosita makes a great observation when she says,
“I was screwed up because I lost something. You seem screwed up because we found something”
Michonne tells her that she doesn’t want to forget what what they’ve been through or what the world is like outside of the walls.
For many people, to forget is to dishonor the struggle and the people lost along the way. There’s a guilt that comes with accepting peace after trauma.
Rosita reminds her that you don’t have to forget to accept safety. She also notes that Michonne may not be as resistant to Alexandria as she thinks she is. Michonne left her sword at home.
They find Sasha slaying monsters, both inner demons and real zombies. Michonne flashes back to slaughtering walkers with her sword. She goes through her own kind of gun therapy and kills as many walkers as she can.
During the battle, a zombie gets the better of Sasha and Michonne rescues her. Instead of being grateful, Sasha is furious.
Michonne believes that feeling safe is possible, but Sasha doesn’t share that belief. Her mind is trapped in war and death.
It’s interesting that the adults are more traumatized than the children. But Carl and his new friend Enid seem to have things more figured out than anyone.
We know that Enid hasn’t been in Alexandria long and likely has a similar sensibility to Carl, which is “everybody dies.” We also know that she’s been going over the walls as often as she can. Carl follows her beyond the walls in this episode. She reveals that she leaves the safe zone so that she doesn’t forget reality and what it feels like to be afraid.
She’s making a sound choice, not an automatic fear response, which is what Sasha is doing.
Sound choices are difficult for Carl’s father these days. Everyone in our group has lost people in a very short amount of time. The weight of that loss is different for Rick than it is on them. Rick feels responsible for everyone in his family. Whether it’s right of him to or not, he takes their deaths as a personal failure.
Yet, he does understand that if his family is to have a chance in the safe zone, then he has to try to resist his urge to kill Pete. He goes to Deanna about Pete. Unsurprisingly she already knew. She says she thought it would go away on its own.
We already know from last week that the Alexandrians are runners. They’ll abandon people to save themselves. It makes sense that they are the kind of people who would let a woman be beaten unconscious regularly if it kept the town doctor happy.
Rick says that they can force Pete to stay away from Jessie and if he doesn’t, he’ll have to die. Deanna cannot bring herself to actively execute people, but she will banish Pete outside of the walls.
Rick knows that doesn’t work. If Pete survives out there, his obsessive rage will bring him back and he’ll destroy the town. Jail isn’t an option at this stage. The town doesn’t have enough people to institute the kind of protocols necessary to maintain a secure facility.
I think it’s important to note that Rick is trying to make a sound choice where Pete is concerned. He resisted his instinct to kill him and he went to Deanna instead. Yes, he believes he will have to kill Pete, but his question to Deanna is that is it more savage to kill Pete or to do nothing and allow Pete to beat his wife and children? I’m Team Rick on this one.
Out in the woods, Aaron and Daryl find dismembered body parts leading to a tied up carcass of a woman. On her head is a carved “W,” which we’ve seen on several zombies throughout this half of the season. There’s been a lot of speculation as to what the “Ws” mean, including that it might refer to graffiti seen outside Noah’s neighborhood.
The scene that Daryl and Aaron find is gruesome. The tied up woman is wearing a white dress, almost as if she is a sacrifice. (Speculate in the comments, but try to avoid comic spoilers, please.)
Back in Alexandria, Rick confronts Jessie about Pete’s abuse. In turn, Jessie confronts him about his feelings for her. She asks if he would do this for anyone else. He takes a moment and then tells her no, he wouldn’t protect someone else from their abusive husband.
I don’t believe this. I know Rick is not the naive person he was in season one, but I truly believe that he would never let an abuser roam free. That’s not who he is.
When Pete comes home a short time later, Jessie tells him to leave. The two men exchange a few words and then Pete takes a swing at Rick. The fight spills outside and everyone runs to break it up.
Carl tries to pull his father off of Pete, and Rick pushes him on the ground, signaling that Rick is too far gone at this point.
His battle with Pete isn’t about Jessie at all. It’s about the general safety of his family. He does see hope in Alexandria, but he also sees it’s demise. After all, every moment of hope they’ve had has come to a violent end. Pete symbolizes the eventual end of the safe zone. If he can kill Pete, he can kill all of the threats to his current hope.
When Deanna breaks up the fight it only drives Rick into a deeper rage. He pulls a gun on everyone.
“You still don’t get it. We know what needs to be done, we do it. We’re the ones who live. You, you just sit and plan and hesitate. You want this place to stay standing? You’re way of doing this is done. Things don’t get better just because you want them to. We have to control who lives here.”
That is Rick’s reality. That is what these years in hell have taught him.
I know a lot of people want to say that he is treading into Governor territory or draw allusions to the people of Terminus, but I don’t agree. Yes, I can see how Rick could become like the Governor. That possibility is there, but it won’t happen for one reason.
Rick still has a family and people to ground him. He has Michonne and she loves him enough to knock him out when he’s in the full throes of his PTSD.
And I mean that literally. The episode ends with Michonne hitting Rick on the back of the head.
Next week is the finale. What do all of you think will happen to Rick now? Will Deanna banish him? Will the wolves enter the safe zone?
The 90 minute season finale of The Walking Dead airs next Sunday at 9 on AMC.