‘The Walking Dead’ Review: Rick Crosses the Line in the Superb ‘Try’
Recap and review of The Walking Dead – Season 5 Episode 15 – Try:
On The Walking Dead, it’s easier said than done to settle down. Even if you find a safe haven like Alexandria, it’s inevitable that the old adage will come to pass once more, much like it does here in the superb “Try”: Hell is other people.
This was a real nail-biter of an episode, less because of the constant physical threats evident in almost every scene (try not to tense up when Carl and Enid are in the forest outside the walls), but because of the emotional and political implications of the choices these characters make. On the one hand, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) isn’t necessarily wrong when he tells Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) that her way of doing things needs to end. However, Rick goes about communicating that message in the wrong way, essentially proving Gabriel right in the process. Nicholas (Michael Traynor) is lying when he returns and tells Deanna that Glenn (Steven Yeun) got Aiden and the others killed. But because of the combination of Seth’s tirade last week and the grief she feels over the death of her son, she’s more inclined to believe Nicholas’s version of events, particularly after Rick tries to get Deanna to sign off on allowing him to kill Pete (Corey Brill). Rick believes he’s acting in the greater good, since Pete is hurting his own wife and child, but Deanna is a stickler for rules, presumably because it’s one of the last elements of civilization she can hold onto in a world gone to pot (and also probably because she was a congresswoman before this all hit, but I prefer armchair philosophizing). By insisting that killing Pete is the only way to go, Rick basically confirms Deanna’s fears: Rick and his people are bloodthirsty and reckless, with just a hint of self-preservationist savagery. Rick sees Deanna as someone who isn’t willing to do what needs to be done to assure the preservation of her community, but Deanna sees the same thing in Rick. I mean, after all, Rick is talking about killing the only doctor in town. That Rick can’t see past this is an indictment of his character, even if he is right. He’s thinking emotionally about of a desire to protect Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and Sam (Major Dodson), not out of the cold, hard logic of what’s best for the community.
But let’s say Rick does agree that Pete should live, we have no real reason to expect things would have gone any differently between he and Pete. Rick goes to Jessie to try and convince her to separate from Pete, and she’s initially hesitant to the idea until he tells her that Sam asked Carol (Melissa McBride) to get him a gun to protect her. It’s in this moment that she decides Pete has got to go, and she tells him as much. A brawl breaks out, Rick sends Pete crashing through a window, blood and glass is everywhere, and the two men brawl into the open street, where the rest of Alexandria — native Alexandrians and newcomers alike — gather around. It’s here that a bloody Rick delivers a wild-eyed tirade against Deanna and the rest of Alexandria. “Your way of doing things is done,” Rick says, noting that none of the people in Alexandria have the stones to do what’s necessary to protect the community the way his people do. Andrew Lincoln is outstanding here, as this is the first time I can think that I’ve ever been legitimately terrified by Rick Grimes. He comes across as a would-be tyrant, intent on taking Alexandria by force if he has to, less to protect his own people from the world outside than to protect these Alexandrians from themselves and their own inadequacies as survivors. Naturally, it makes a certain sense how and why Rick would think this way…
After hearing Glenn’s side of the story from last week, it seems fairly apparent to him that these people have no idea how to go on runs, how to save one another in a tight situation, or how to protect the weak from those who would abuse their power. But there’s a huge difference between how Rick handles this situation and how, say, Glenn handles it. Glenn’s approach is far more subdued, but also far more tactful. He simply approaches Nicholas and, in his most badass moment this season, tells him that he’s no longer going on any more runs, effective immediately. “Are you threatening me?” Nicholas asks. “No,” Glenn replies, “I’m saving you.” It’s succinct, forceful, and to the point, and if Nicholas weren’t categorically insane, it might have actually worked. But because he is, he goes out into the woods and digs up a pistol, having apparently stolen it from Rick’s hiding place. Couple an armed and vengeful Nicholas with a bloodied Rick, and all hell is likely to break loose. Except Michonne (Danai Gurira) manages to prevent things from getting worse. While Rick is in mid-tirade, she knocks him out herself. It’s a stunning end to the episode, but it tells us a lot about Michonne’s character, and how she feels about what she’s found here in Alexandria. When she and Sarita (Christian Serratos) go out into the woods searching for Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Michonne forgets to bring her sword. The implication is that she’s starting to view Alexandria as home, a place where she can finally stop being the warrior and just live. Naturally, she must become that again in order to save Sasha, who has some sort of obnoxious death wish triggered by her guilt over having told Noah he wouldn’t make it. But Michonne has shown that she’s willing to fight to protect what she’s found in Alexandria. And if that means knocking Rick out after he crosses the line, then so be it. It’s for the greater good.
Now, I’m not entirely sure if the story intends to have Rick go through with his plan to take over Alexandria by force in next week’s finale, but whether that’s the route the story goes or not, there are interesting complications on both sides. As evidenced by his decision to hide behind her during fight between Rick and his dad, Sam has grown close to Carol. Even though his father is being bludgeoned by her friend, Sam still seeks asylum with one of Rick’s people, and that’s a fairly poignant designation to make. Also complicating things is the fact that Pete, as the town doctor, is arguably the one keeping Tara alive at this point, as she’s mostly just clinging to life right now. Hell, she might have passed away already if not for Pete. Then you have Carl (Chandler Riggs), who’s developed a friendship/possible relationship with Enid (Katelyn Nacon). I don’t exactly expect things to end well for them if they continue to rendezvous in the woods without letting anyone know where they are, but I can’t pretend I wasn’t charmed by their adventure together, particularly when they find themselves hiding inside a tree to avoid walkers, their faces just inches apart, and their hands slowly coming together. It’s a lovely moment that reminds us that even through all the turmoil, people can still get along in a world like this. Young love can still be a thing, or even just young friendship. It doesn’t have to be open war all the time. But these conflicts between factions are muddying the waters, especially since a third faction is likely on its way in the season finale, as Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Aaron (Russ Marquand) discover the dead bodies of people tied to trees, left for the walkers to feed upon. And on their heads is carved the letter “W”, a horrific calling card of a group that just might be crazier than Rick. Next week is a 90-minute season finale, and I expect there are some people who aren’t going to make it out alive. If this world has taught us anything, it’s that tearing a community down is far easier than building one, much less keeping it together at all.
“Try” is an absolutely terrific episode, featuring a superb performance from Andrew Lincoln, and a division among Alexandria’s and Rick’s respective factions. I haven’t been this amped for a season finale in some time, but The Walking Dead is looking to deliver something unmistakably game-changing. And I can’t wait.
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