The Walking Dead – Recap: Community Outreach
Recap and review of The Walking Dead – Season 5 Episode 13 – Forget:
The Walking Dead is in a transitional period, as the danger shifts from being physical in nature to being largely political. This isn’t the kind of show The Walking Dead has been in the past, but I find “Forget” to be refreshingly cerebral.
The episode is one that focuses on how Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group are being integrated into Alexandria, and the implications of their inclusion in the community, on both ends. It isn’t simply that some of the people of Alexandria are suspicious, such as Jessie’s husband or Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) herself, but also that Rick and his group have their own misgivings about this place. It all comes out in an episode that’s fairly thick with intrigue, at least as it concerns how Rick and co. plan are handling life in a place that, on the surface, appears far too good to be true.
The character facing the most difficulty, in this regard, is Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). It’s no shock that she’s having trouble adjusting, considering she just lost her brother (Tyreese) and her boyfriend (Bob) in the span of just a couple of weeks, if that. She also lost a friend in Beth (well, I presume they were friends, if only by virtue of being in the same group). This is without even getting into all the other friends and family members she’s lost since the outbreak hit. Hell, it’s any wonder Sasha is still sane. But then, you can say the same of just about anybody in the group. Everybody’s lost something, yet Sasha is coming apart at the seams due to the disconnect between the state of Alexandria and the state of the rest of the world. The episode starts with Sasha using old family photos for target practice, and basically egging walkers to come find her. By episode’s end, she’s flipping out on an Alexandrian neighbor who offers to cook her dinner. Sasha’s meltdown comes after the neighbor expresses worry that she might end up cooking something that Sasha doesn’t like, and in a way, I can see why Sasha freaks out. “THAT’S what you’re worried about?!” she shouts at the woman, absolutely stunned that, of all things, cooking the wrong dish is the type of concern at the forefront of Alexandrian minds.
It’s hard enough for Sasha to come to grips with the fact that Tyreese and Bob just barely missed out on reaching this paradise after years of toil in the wild. But it’s even worse when Sasha comes to the realization that no one within Alexandria’s walls really understands, or even appreciates, the nature of the struggle going on outside its walls. These people just don’t understand. Early in the episode, when Sasha goes out shooting, Olivia asks her to bring back a boor’s leg so she can make prosciutto, and Sasha can only just glare at the woman incredulously. No one seems to recognize that this isn’t a world where you can just go out and take things at leisure. Walkers lurk around every corner, and danger is a constant. That the Alexandrians can be so cavalier about this is a shock to Sasha’s system. And yet, Deanna thinks it’s B.S. that Sasha doesn’t want to integrate into the community. Deanna, as a politician, is doing her best to make the community view things in terms of the greater good. Deanna looks outside of herself, and she expects everyone else to do the same, since it inspires the citizens to look out for one another. But all of this is easier said than done. Simply put, Deanna can’t erase what these people went through to get here, anymore than she can minimize that suffering.
But, to be fair, it seems the other members of the group are having trouble adjusting too. Never mind that Michonne (Danai Gurira) is having trouble wrapping her head around her new role as Sheriff (or around the fact that she has her own house now), we have Rick stupidly making a move on the married Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge). They have a nice long talk at the welcome party (a scene I never thought I’d see on this show, simply for the disorienting notion of watching these gritty survivors enjoying a freaking PARTY), and then he kisses her on the cheek when he goes to fetch Judith from her. And she seems receptive to the flirtation, enough that Rick starts eyeing up her husband from a distance. Granted, Jessie’s husband did give Rick the stink eye last week, but pursuing a married woman while in a community to which you’ve only just been welcomed seems like a terrible idea. Yes, Rick did vow that if it came down to it, they would take Alexandria for themselves. But he shouldn’t want it to have to come to that. Hell, even if he DID want it to come to that, there are better, more subtle ways of sowing discord and bringing Alexandria to heel from within. But then, Rick is a sheriff, not a politician.
Carol (Melissa McBride) fares slightly better as a schemer of sorts, playing her role as an innocent, naive former housewife who’s never fired a gun because she’s too busy making cookies. It’s a smart plan for Carol, since it allows her to fly under the radar and gather intel while getting closer to the Alexandrians. It also helps her to defer suspicion from herself. But it all comes perilously close to falling apart when Carol is caught snooping around the armory by Jessie’s son, Sam. This leads to one of the most downright chilling scenes of the season: when Sam says he has to tell his mother about what he’s seen, since he tells her everything, Carol backs him into a corner and threatens him by saying what will happen to him if he tells vs. what will happen to him if he keeps their little meeting a secret.
“One day you won’t wake up in your bed, and you’ll be outside the walls where no one can hear you scream. And then the monsters will come, and they will eat you up while you’re alive. And you will feel everything. Or you can keep this a secret. And you’d get cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.”
McBride is absolutely horrifying in this scene, delivering the blood-chilling threat to Sam, who looks every bit as terrified as we’re supposed to feel. For a moment, I had every expectation that Carol would simply kill the kid and bury him somewhere, since there’s a very real risk that they could have been kicked out of the community if it was discovered that Carol stole weapons. McBride hasn’t had a whole lot to do this season, but she’s been stellar in just about every scene they’ve handed her. More than just about any other season, she has a real case for an Emmy nod, I believe. With that said, I have far less confidence in Carol’s plans with Rick. They meet up and Carol hands the guns to Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) as protection in the event that things go south in Alexandria. Daryl, surprisingly, doesn’t seem too keen on the idea, mostly because he’s just formed a bond with Aaron (Ross Marquand). It’s one of the more engaging stories of the episode, thanks to the subtlety of the storytelling. These are two outsiders who’ve endured loneliness in their previous lives, and are clinging to what little camraderie they have left. For Aaron, it’s his boyfriend. For Daryl, it’s Carol and the rest of the group. So Aaron accompanies Daryl on a hunt, and while it isn’t exactly exciting television, it’s poignant storytelling, as the pair witnesses a horse get torn to shreds by walkers (RIP Buttons), as if representing how nature has been perverted by the nightmarish world outside the walls of Alexandria. But, since this is The Walking Dead, it wouldn’t surprise me if things grew just as nightmarish inside.
I’m really enjoying the Alexandria arc, as The Walking Dead slows down the pace during what is essentially a transitional period in the season. With only three episodes left, I doubt we’ll get any real closing resolution on this story, since it’s hard to know where it’s even headed at this point. But there is the genuine feeling of a conflict building beneath the surface, and that sense of a ticking time bomb waiting to go off makes this far more exciting, and unsettling, than the usual wander through the walker-filled woods.