The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 12, “Remember”

“Remember”

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead unless otherwise specified.)

Well, well, well, my TWD obsessed darlings, it seems there’s a new constable in the walled, sustainable town of Alexandria, and he’s bringing the clean-shaven manliness along with the muscle and the menace…the beard is gone, but the wildness lurks beneath the chiseled surface.

And that’s the way we like it.

There are those who mourn the beard, yes.  I do understand. But remember, darlings, the man makes the beard. The beard does not make the man.

Just think of all those urban scenesters rocking hipster beards across the world at this very moment.  They look pretty cool drinking their PBR’s and shit, but many of them couldn’t change a tire if their life depended on it…maybe with some time, a few more PBR’s, and much discussion, bickering, and cigarette breaks, a group of three or four of them could put their combined brains and brawn together and figure it out.

Maybe. 

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Hipster+Beard

Of course, that’s not what we’re talking about here.  We’re talking about our favorite Deputy of Id, Rick Smash!  Has the primal manbeast that we have all grown to love so well gone down the drain with the lather and the whiskers?

Oh, hell no.

The beard may be gone, yes, but Rick Smash! remains. Don’t worry, darlings. He’s still there.

Rick Smash! has merely gone under the radar, gone rogue. He is showing the outside world his more socially adept manifestation, Rick-In-Charge  (aka. Constable Grimesbut smoldering and simmering under the clean lines of his demigod jawline, Rick Smash! is crouched and waiting.  He needs to be, and he knows it.

Shit’s coming, and if my hunches (and many others’) are correct, Alexandria’s impressive walls will not be able to protect them much longer from what lurks on the outside.

In The Walking Dead’s Season 5, Episode 12, “Remember,” there’s a game of seven card stud being played by two powerful leaders of two very different communities for the highest of stakes: the survival and continuance of their respective tribes, their chosen “families.”

In theory, the two tribes, one led by Rick Grimes,  and the other led by Deanna Monroe, leader of Alexandria (played by Tovah Feldshuh, wielding her usual mastery and grace), can combine and continue, stronger than ever.

It’s a good theory, but there are many variables to consider, and there are many, many questions that have yet to be answered. Until all the cards in each player’s respective hands are revealed, we do not yet know what each player’s motives, intentions, and ultimate goals really are with this arrangement, of Alexandria taking in Rick and his gang.

We know what Rick and his gang need from Alexandria: food, shelter, a safe and secure place for Rick’s children to live, and hopefully, grow up.

But, we still don’t quite know what Deanna Monroe’s true motives in taking Rick’s group in really are, at this point. We can only guess.

As Deanna tells Rick, in their initial interview, it has been a long while since Alexandria took in anybody new to their sheltered, sustainable community, which has served, thus far, to be one of the more powerful barriers we have seen yet in TWD.

Since the walker epidemic’s inception, Alexandria, with its impressive walls, has pretty effectively shut out the horrors of the outside world and encased its inhabitants in a protective bubble.

These days, the citizens of Alexandria seem to be suffering more from boredom and restlessness than anything else.

But, as this month’s full moon in Virgo reminds us, change is inevitable, and the reality bomb seems like it’s about  to drop on Alexandria.

Nobody stays safe for too long these days, especially when they most surely have some pretty choice digs for the taking.

Deanna Monroe seems to know this all too well, and she has sent Aaron and Eric out, at real risk to their lives, to act as the Fabulously Gay Ambassadors of Alexandria.

Aaron and Eric’s mission:  To scour the surrounding area for potential future citizens, survivors who know how to negotiate the savagery of the world outside the walls, but who still embody the ideals of community and humanity that Alexandria has been able to maintain, at least at a surface level, up to this point.

It is a tall order, and if Aaron and Eric actually do find such a group, they are then charged with the task of approaching the group, selling the group the idea of coming back to the community of Alexandria and “auditioning” for membership, and then transporting the group back to the walled community for taped interview with Deanna and tryouts.

It is a big risk, a big gamble, a bold play made by a woman who, by her own admission, would have been a professional poker player had she not become a congresswoman. It’s a risk big enough to be viewed, perhaps, as a last ditch effort, an act of sheer desperation.

Why else would Deanna Monroe make such a play, to let strangers who are well versed in the ways of the savagery of the world outside, into the heart, and underbelly, of her community, at potential risk, and harm, to her and her people? The risk is huge, so the stakes must be very high, indeed.

I have my guesses, as do many. What do you think is coming?

In the first dealing of seven card stud, it’s two cards down and one card up…we see the initial upcard only, at first, its ranking displayed openly. We can only guess at the cards facing down, and how each player’s hand will unfold as the game progresses.

It’s a test of each player’s skill, and will, as the first bets are placed, and then the bluffing, reading, mind-messing, and maneuvering begins.  Ultimately, the game becomes a “two down, four up, one down,” ending in a “showdown,” where each player makes the best five-card poker hand out of the seven cards he/she has been dealt.

Until the time comes for the final “showdown, when all will be revealed, this game of poker being played between Rick Grimes and Deanna Monroe is a taut back-and-forth between two leaders, and their chosen families, who are, in some ways very different, and in some ways, very much alike…the biggest similarity, of course, is that all of these people, sheltered or savage, are fighting for survival in a brutal, post-apocalyptic world.

In TWD’s Episode 512, director Greg Nicotero and the rest of Kirkman’s Army deal us viewers another expertly crafted, game-changing episode that delivers the thrills, chills, surrealism, and iconic images that have become the norm in Season 5, searing themselves upon our collective psyches, social media, and upon pop-culture in general as now-classic TWD moments.

And eye candy.  There was lots of eye candy served up in this episode. Thank you, Andrew Lincoln and Greg Nicotero.  Me, and my married lady friends, thank you very, very much.

#RickPorn  ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Anyhow, regarding Deanna Monroe’s true motives for taking in Rick and the gang, if the many clues, Easter Eggs, and speculations are correct, Kirkman, Gimple, Nicotero, and the rest of Kirkman’s Army are about to get majorly TWD Comic Series on our asses

As I have said before, TWD’s Season 5 is all about bringing it. It’s time to sac up or pack up, people, because Kirkman, Gimple, and Nicotero have been waiting a long time for this moment to arrive.

Four and a half seasons, to be exact.

They have been candy-assing us for long enough. They. Are. Done. With. That. 

The time for tough love is now, and now is the time for tough love. We must prepare ourselves, my WDO darlings.

Remember the drill we have discussed in previous posts. Plan, and implement, your coping methodology.  Stock the fridge, replenish your personal pharmacopeia, secure your Daryl Partner.  

(For more on Daryl Partners, refer to my Season 4 mid-season prepost, “What Happens After?” in the archives.)

Start your own grass-roots Walking Dead support group. Take long walks, outside, and listen to the sounds of the world around you. Hug your children, your partner, your friends, your pets, a lot.  Keep lots of chocolate on hand for when you need a serotonin boost.

Listen to music.  Do your yoga.  Take time for yourself if you need to go have a good cry. You must take good care of yourself and your #TWDFamily around you, because I really feel like we are about to get our asses kicked.

Seriously, people, I am not fucking around here. Kirkman loves nothing more than to slap us up like the little bitches we are, and I think he and his army are about to get jiggy with it…just saying. 

If I’m correct, Kirkman’s Army is about to throw down The Iron Maiden on our asses.

And, maybe I’m wrong.  

Maybe I’m Chicken Fucking Little and the sky isn’t really about to fall on our heads. Anybody who actually reads this tweaker-ass blog knows that I am prone to wild imaginings and am constantly casting out completely wrong theories.

At this point, it’s practically my trademark.

But, as Abraham Ford said, to Tara, one night as they sat against a tree: I’m right, and I’m wrong.  

Sometimes it goes one way, and sometimes it goes the other.

All I’m saying is, if the shit goes down, and the sky does fall on all our heads, and you find yourself shuffling around work, or home, or school, with a haunted, vacant look in your eyes from too little sleep, too many nightmares, and the latest TWD storyline mayhem and can’t-shake-them images (courtesy of Nicotero & Co.) seared into your broken heart and tormented brain, keep telling yourself, darlings, as real as it feels to us TWD fans, and as much as we love our sweet gang, it’s only a show. 

Say it with me. It’s only a show. It isn’t real. It’s only a show.

And, if a beloved character does die, or have some other tragedy befall them on the show, remember that the actors who play them are alive, well, and will remain rich off royalties, guest appearances, and all the fantastic future opportunities that await them.

Playing a major character in a standalone pop culture phenomenon like The Walking Dead pretty much guarantees that any actor who has “suddenly” become available for other projects will be a hot ticket, indeed.

Life will indeed go on, and it really is all good, my TWD obsessed darlings.

I promise. 

Of course, for all my brave talk, I am going to be freaking out just like everyone else if serious shit goes down. But, I will stick to my personal coping methodology.

I will breathe. I will watch Talking Dead and take comfort in Chris Hardwick’s calming manner and funny jokes. I will watch the actors who play the departed, beloved characters laugh and joke and talk about their upcoming projects as they sit on the TD couch.

I will lean on my Daryl Partner, and I will support her when she needs to lean on me. I will attend TWD support group, and I will talk about my feelings, and I will listen as others talk about theirs.  We will laugh, we will cry. We will drink the coffee provided, and we will eat the donuts.  And we will take comfort in our friends and family, in our #TWDFamily.  ❤

And we will keep telling ourselves, It’s only a show. It isn’t real. It’s only a show.

And maybe, maybe one day, we will actually believe it.

_____________________________________________

The Walking Dead’s Episode 512 opens as the gang, along with Aaron and Eric, emerge from their vehicles and approach the gates of AlexandriaAaron supports Eric as he limps gamely on his injured ankle, while Rick, holding Baby Judith, and the others cautiously approach the gate, which slowly, noisily begins to roll open for them.

aaron helps eric

As they approach, Carl looks back at one of the houses which stand outside the gates, and is surprised to see a figure in one of the windows, a girl, looking out at him.

carl looks back girl in the window

Michonne passes, obscuring the window a moment, then when Carl does a double take, once he can see the window again, the figure of the girl is gone.

Carl stays back a moment, looking at the window, before turning and following the others.  The perspective shifts, and we see Carl and the gang walking towards the opening gate from inside the house, looking out through the window.

Carl stays back a moment, looking at the window, before turning and following the others. The perspective shifts, and we see Carl and the gang walking towards the opening gate from inside the house, looking out through the window.

A loud, clattering noise from the side startles the gang, and they whirl in unison, pointing weapons, and we hear the hiss of Daryl’s arrow spearing the offender, a possum who most likely toppled a metal trash can in search of a meal.

The gatekeeper, a  young man, stands watching in silent disbelief as Daryl picks up the possum by the tail, then turns and announces, deadpan, “We brought dinner.”

noise startles gang

brought dinner

Aaron quickly assures the gatekeeper that it’s ok, and bids the gang to come inside. The gang watches as the gates roll closed, and lock behind them.

and they're in

The gatekeeper/guard immediately says, “Before we take this any further, I need you all to turn over your weapons.” At the gang’s looks, he continues, “If you stay, you hand them over.”

Rick steps forward and says, none too friendly, “We don’t know if we wanna stay.”

we don't know if we wanna stay

Man, Papi Grimes is so hot when he plays hardball!

Aaron turns to Nicholas, the gatekeeper, and quietly assures him that it’s ok. Papi Grimes chimes in, informs Nicholas, Aaron, and anybody else in Alexandria who is listening:

“If we wanted to use ’em, we woulda started already. Holding the baby in one arm while he says it just makes Papi Grimes look even more like a badass.

Aaron tells Nicholas to let them talk to Deanna. “Who’s Deanna?” demands Abraham, loudly (and thus, one of Chris Hardwick’s favorite TWD lines was uttered).

Aaron replies that Deanna is the one who can tell them anything they want to know about this place. Aaron turns to Rick, suggests, “Rick? Why don’t you go first?

In response, Rick turns back towards his people, and seeing something beyond the gate’s bars, prompts, “Sasha.” 

sasha takes aim

Sasha turns, sees, takes aim…

right on target

…and with one perfectly aimed shot, splatters an approaching walker’s brains all over the pavement. The walker slumps to the ground, dead for good. (Awesome walker cameo here, played by Shaun Of The Dead’s Nick Frost <3) As the gates roll closed, Rick turns back to Aaron, and Nicholas, who, by their disbelieving stares, have received the unspoken message: Don’t even think about fucking with us.

good thing we're here

As he saunters away, towards his interview with Deanna, Rick says, sarcastically, “It’s a good thing we’re here.”

After the opening credits, we see a shot of Rick, looking around an airy, spacious office with high ceilings and art on the walls. Sunlight pours through the tall windows, which are framed with fine white curtains.

There are many bookshelves in the office, filled with books, and the mantlepiece holds candles, knicknacks, pictures, and other items of interest. There is even a flat screen tv mounted to the wall.

It looks warm, and inviting, and very well used, like an actual, working office of some esteemed, titled individual from days past.

rick in deanna's office 1

As Rick takes this in, a woman comes quietly into the office behind him, regards him for the briefest of seconds before grinning and introducing herself.

hello im deanna monroe

Hello. I’m Deanna Monroe.”

Rick turns to face Deanna.

Rick turns to face Deanna. “Rick Grimes,” he offers, before turning away again, looking once more at the window, the books, the room. I found this interesting, how he chose to play it like this, to turn away , instead to continuing to face, assess Deanna. I guessed maybe he was trying to make himself appear casually indifferent, harder to read, for Deanna Monroe.

Deanna proves herself a worthy match to this tactic by asking Rick, in the next breath, “You mind if I film this?” This gets Rick’s attention, and he quickly turns back to face her.

“What?”

Deanna repeats the question, a little more slowly and with a little more emphasis.

Deanna repeats the question, a little more slowly and with a little more emphasis. “Do you mind if I film our talk?”

Rick, who has recovered himself quickly, says, indifferently, “Go ahead.” He turns back to the window as Deanna walks over to turn on the camera.  Rick peers out the window, at the tall walls and the white steeple of a church. “Why film this?” he asks.

“We’re all about transparency here,” Deanna replies easily. She motions with her head, invites Rick to sit down, “Please.”

The next shot is aimed at the vantage point of the chair, which Rick has not yet sat down in.  We see his legs, his worn black pants, and we hear Deanna’s voice, a trifle tinny…we know that we are seeing through the lens of her camera, and hearing her voice through the recording microphone.  After a moment’s hesitation, Rick sits down, a trifle awkwardly, into the soft living-room style chair.

I guess it has been a long time since Rick has actually gotten to sit in an actual chair...maybe the last time was in

I guess it has been a long time since Rick has actually gotten to sit in an actual chair…maybe the last time was in “Claimed,” before the Downstairs Thug Boys found the house and Rick had to escape them, undetected, and intercept Michonne and Carl before they walked into danger? Can’t remember an actual house he was in since that time...always has been the ground or a floor these days.

“How long have you been out there?” Deanna begins the interview. “Since the beginning,” Rick replies.

“How did you all find each other?” Deanna continues. “Did you all know each other be-…” Rick cuts her off, “We didn’t know each other before.” His voice has a touch of annoyance, as does his manner, as he eases himself slowly, hesitantly, into the chair.

Rather than relaxing into the chair, Rick sits on the edge of it, taking a moment more to look off to the side, at something in the room...

Rather than relaxing into the chair, Rick sits perched on the edge of it, taking a moment more to look off to the side, at something in the room…

...before turning to face Deanna Monroe.

…before turning to face Deanna Monroe.

At this point in the watching, I wondered two things…I wondered, first, if this scene was crafted by Nicotero to be reminiscent of one of my fave movies of all time, Sex, Lies, and Videotape. 

The way Deanna asks Rick if he minds if she films the interview immediately reminded me of how the James Spader character asked in S, L and V, and the shots through the vantage point of the camera hearken back to some of the most riveting imagery of that incredible film.

If so, bravo, Greg Nicotero. It makes me love you, and TWD, even more. Sex, Lies, and Videotape is one of the great ones, and enough homage cannot be paid to that visionary, sexy, disturbing, timeless film.

Second, I also couldn’t help but wonder if Deanna Monroe, like the rest of us, was already crushing hard on Rick Grimes. I mean, man. Like seriously…literally.  Man! ❤ ❤

Sister's playing it cool on the outside, but I bet she's all like,

Sister’s playing it cool on the outside, but I bet she’s all like, Dayummmm!” on the inside. I mean, come on. Look at him!

Deanna tells Rick that she used to be a “congressperson,” before the turn.Ohio, 15th District,” she tells him, with a small smile and a nod.

Deanna motions to Rick, with her head, her eyebrows lifted. “You?”

Rick replies, “I don’t think it matters anymore.” Deanna is quick to disagree. “Oh, I know it does,” she counters.

Rick ignores the question. “What is this place?” he asks. You can hear the smile behind Deanna’s voice. “It’s the ‘start of sustainability,’ she replies. “That’s what the brochures we found say.”

“This was a planned community,” Deanna continues. “With its own solar grid, cisterns, eco-based sewage filtration…starting in the low $800,000’s.” With this, Deanna laughs, adding, “If there is such a thing! And they sold them all.

Rick does not share her laugh, shifts a little in his chair and looks away, asking, “How did you end up here?” Deanna explains that as she and her family tried to get back to Ohio from D.C., so she could help her district manage the crisis, the Army stopped them on a back road and directed them here. The Army was supposed to come later. Deanna looks at Rick with a small shake of her head.

“They didn’t,” she says, softly.

But, Deanna continues, looking around the room, there were supplies here, and they made the best of it. “You put up the wall?” asks Rick. Deanna replies that there was a huge shopping mall in the process of being built nearby, and her husband, Reg, is a professor of architecture.

“And,” Deanna says, leaning forward, “who he was mattered, quite a bit. Reg, along with their sons, put up the first plates of the wall. After a time, more people arrived, they had help, and from there, they built a community.

Rick sits, taking this all in. He cocks his head at Deanna, asks, incredulously, “You’ve been behind these walls this entire time?” 

Deanna graciously does not answer this question directly, but in not answering it, she answers it. Yes.

Deanna graciously does not answer this question directly, but in not answering it, she answers it: Yes.

As they face each other across the table, Deanna mirrors Rick’s posture by sitting forward on the couch, leaning forward, arms resting on the thighs. She tells Rick that they (Alexandria) need people who have been outside.  She tells him that his group is the first group in a long time that they have even considered bringing inside their walls.

“You should keep your gates closed,” Rick tells Deanna bluntly, quietly.

“Why?” she whispers, mirroring his soft tone.

rick lays it down

Rick takes a moment before answering.

“Because it’s all about survival now,” he replies, in the same soft tone, with a strong hint of truth, and menace that carries through the softly spoken message. “At any cost.”

Rick continues, “People out there are always looking for an angle, looking to play on your weakness,”

Looking directly at Deanna, Rick tells her,“They measure you by what they can take from you.”

By how they can use you, to live.”

Rick cocks his head at Deanna, says,”So, bringing people in, to a place like this, now…”

Deanna interrupts him, asks:

“Are you telling me not to bring your people in?”

Deanna blinks, once, then asks, with raised eyebrows and pursed lips,

Deanna blinks, once, then asks, with raised eyebrows and pursed lips, “Or, are you already looking after this place?”

Rick looks at Deanna with a new respect, or regard.  He says nothing, shifts back and forth in the chair, comes back to stillness.

Rick looks at Deanna with a new respect, or regard. He says nothing, shifts back and forth in the chair, comes back to stillness, watches Deanna.

When we hear Deanna’s voice again, it is through the camera, recording. “Aaron says I can trust you.”

Rick’s reply is immediate. “Aaron doesn’t know me. I’ve killed people… Rick looks down, shaking his head. “I don’t even know how many, by now.”

“But I know why they’re all dead. They’re dead so my family, those people out there, can be alive.

“So I can be alive, for them.”

Sitting across from Rick, matching his posture, looking into his face, Deanna says:

“Sounds like I’d want to be part of your family.”  Amen to that, Mrs. Sister!

Deanna continues, addressing Rick by name, telling him that northern Virginia was effectively evacuated, millions of people, gone. For a long time, there’s hardly been anyone here, living or dead, but still, “We’ve lost people,” Deanna says, simply.

She looks down, then at her hands. “And, uh, I’ve done things.”

Rick looks into her face, as they sit across from one another. “What have you done?” he asks her.

Deanna tells Rick that she exiled three people, who “didn’t work out…and we both know that’s as good as killing them.”

(Not so fast, there, Deanna Monroe…I have a sneaking feeling that at least one, if not all, of your exiles have managed to survive, and are planning a return visit, soon, if they haven’t called upon the hallowed steel gates of Alexandria already…and if that isn’t the reason for your sending Aaron and Eric out to scour the surrounding countryside for hardy and seasoned warriors who have managed, thus far, to survive the savagery of the outside world…you may need some muscle, some soldiers for hire, to give yourself and your community a fighting chance at surviving the war that may be coming for you, sooner than later.)

At this, Rick stands, walks over to the window, hands on hips, looking out. “What do you want from us?” he asks.

Deanna stands, walks over to the window, faces Rick.

“These families,” she begins, peering out the window, then facing Rick,“these families should be able to raise their children in a safe environment. Your son, your daughter, should have a place to grow up.”

Deanna takes a step toward Rick. “What do I want? I want you to help us survive. I know you can help us do that.”

“How?” asks Rick, hoarsely. “I am exceptionally good at reading people,” replies Deanna. “If I didn’t win re-election, I was going to become a professional poker player.”

Rick looks away, laughs. “I’m not kidding,” Deanna tells him, in a loud whisper.

Deanna looks down at her watch. “Rick,” she says, “it’s 3:37pm. You’re skeptical...you have a right to be. But it’s time to decide…if you’re the one doing the deciding.

(Man, she’s good! She’s def not kidding around about being a master poker player.  I am thinking, in the brains division, Deanna Monroe would be a major contender in Top Mama Tapout.)

With this, Deanna Monroe steps back, interlaces her fingers behind her back, and waits. Rick says nothing, looks down and sets his watch to the correct time.

We, and Deanna Monroe, can tell how long he's been wanting to find out the correct time, to set his watch to it.

We, and Deanna Monroe, can tell how long he’s been wanting to find out the correct time, to set his watch to it.

Rick looks down at his watch.

Rick looks down at his watch. “I was a sheriff,” he says, simply.

Yeah,” Deanna agrees, softly. “I knew it was something like that.”

In the next sequence, it’s outside, and Deanna is explaining the procedure of turning over the weapons to Rick’s group.

“They’re still your guns,” she tells the group, as they begin to load their weapons onto the waiting cart.

Deanna tells them they can check out their guns at any time when they go outside the walls...

Deanna tells them they can check out their guns at any time when they go outside the walls…

...but while they are within Alexandria's walls, their guns will be

…but while they are within Alexandria’s walls, their guns will be “stored for safety.” The gang exchanges looks, unsure about this. Abraham looks to Rick, who gives a small nod, but who looks ill at ease with the whole setup as well.

The following sequence is hilarious, played perfectly by Melissa McBride…

carol sequence 2

Carol steps forward to the cart, and giving a little smile to the awaiting cart girl, she begins to unload her arsenal onto the weapons cart. It is truly comical to see this tiny woman try to shrug off the huge assault rifle she has strapped across her.

carol sequence 3

With some difficulty, and a shoulder that is probably still tender, Carol finally manages to lift the gun off and place it on the cart.

carol sequence 4

Carol’s whole manner during this is like, “Who, little ol’ me, hefting around this big gun? Why, I barely know how to use it…whoops, easy, stay, big fella…there, that oughta do it. There you go…”

As the cart girl backs away, pulling her fully loaded cart with her, she jokes, “Shoulda brought another bin.”

New Carol gives a big grin at the girl as she wheels their guns away, outwardly in response to the joke, but inwardly, is like,

New Carol gives a big grin at the girl as she wheels their guns away, outwardly in response to the joke, but inwardly, is like, Yeah, you shoulda.”

Once the girl is gone, the smile is too, and Rick steps forward, his face reflecting what they all seem to be feeling right about now…

Rick and his gang aren't feeling it, having their guns taken away.

Rick and his gang aren’t feeling it, having their guns taken away.

Aaron takes Rick to see their new digs, which are pretty damn impressive.

Rick and Carl look at the two huge houses being offered to their group.

Rick and Carl look at the two huge houses being offered to their group. “Both of them?” marvels Rick. “At your disposal,” Aaron replies grandly.

Aaron, who is sporting a pretty damn impressive bruise on the lower corner of his mouth and chin, courtesy of Rick Smash!, tells them that Deanna asked the other residents of the community to hang back and give Rick and his gang some space to get used to their new digs and settle in.

“If you need anything, call me,” Aaron tells them.  At their confused looks, Aaron looks down and laughs at himself, explains awkwardly that of course he doesn’t have a phone… “I’m four houses down,” he tells Rick and Carl, pointing the way towards his residence.

Rick and Carl approach the door to one of the houses, and cautiously step in, in the “clearing” manner they have become so accustomed to.  The house has no walkers, of course, but it does have plenty of space, and furniture, some decorations on the walls, empty picture frames stacked up. There are even throw pillows on the couch.

Carl goes to the kitchen, stands in front of the sink a moment before turning it on…

Running water. Carl looks over at his dad in disbelief.

Running water. Carl looks over at his dad in disbelief.

And speaking of running water, and things that are pretty damn impressive…

As the thick layers of Rick Grime wash down the shower drain, we see our man is rocking some serious 7-11 feet.

As the thick layers of Rick Grime wash down the shower drain, we see our man is rocking some serious 7-11 feet.

Once the shot pans up from the Jiffy toenails, the view begins to get better and better....

Once the shot pans up from the Jiffy toenails, the view begins to get better and better….

Oh, yeah, that's the stuff.

Oh, yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Once the shower part of the program is done, we get to Act IIThe Shave Sequence.

shave 1

Rick wipes away the steam from the mirror and takes in the grizzled state of his appearance.

shave 2

It’s probably the first time he has really looked at himself in a mirror in a long, long time.

shave 3

shave 4

#RIPRicksBeard

shave 5

Many of the TWD crew grew out, then shaved, their beards in an act of shaving solidarity with Andrew Lincoln/Rick Grimes. Totes adorbs!

shave 6

Mmmmm hmmmm…

shave 7

shave 8

Sweet Baby Jesus, that is a beautiful man. ❤

By this time in the watching, I, and many of my married lady friends, went a little “Mental AWOL” on our marriage vows.  But, the #RickPorn was just beginning, because then this happens…

Rick is finishing up his fine, fine shave when there is an unexpected knock on the door...

Rick is finishing up his fine, fine shave when there is an unexpected knock on the door…

Watching this, my WD buddy and I were both getting all territorial, like,

Watching this, my WD buddy and I were both getting all territorial, like, “Ok, who is this bitch?”

jesse 2

Can’t hate a sister for being at the right place at the right time, I suppose. The look on her face, here, is pretty awesome. I mean, can you blame her?

jesse 3

Ummm, ok, you are definitely not the gentleman I was expecting, and p.s. thank you, God!

jesse 4

Jessie manages to keep her composure, explains that she works in the pantry, and Deanna sent her to deliver some supplies to Rick and his gang. Rick thanks her (in more ways than one, unbeknownst to him), and she has the quick wits to offer her services as a hair stylist to him. Jessie isn’t stupid, I’ll give her that.

As Jessie cuts Rick's hair, she tells him that she has two sons, the eldest, Rowan, being about his son's age.  She offers for the boys to hang soon, if that's ok with Rick, and...?

As Jessie cuts Rick’s hair, she tells him that she has two sons, the eldest, Rowan, being about his son’s age. She offers for the boys to hang soon, if that’s ok with Rick, and…?

jessie cuts ricks hair 2

Rick answers her unspoken question, that it’s just him. (Nice fishing, Jessie, you thirsty B.) Rick quickly tells her that that sounds great, getting the boys together, and then Jessie starts in with a whole lot of hair stroking, gratuitous touching, telling Rick that she’s sorry (about his loss, but no, she’s really not).

jessie cuts ricks hair 3

Rick tells Jessie that he thought things like electricity, running water, haircuts, were things that he would never see again. Jessie jokes that come on, haircuts were never going away. (Come on, unhappily married ladies in the post-apocalypse have to have some angle for being able to paw on hot widowers!)

jessie cuts ricks hair 4

Jessie lays on some more gratuitous touching, placing her hands on Rick’s back (causing him to wince, slightly) and telling him it’s ok if he’s not really feeling alright with all this, yet. At this point, me and my WD buddy were all like,Back off, bitch! That’s Michonne’s man!

new rick

Jessie hands Rick a hand mirror to inspect the finished product. Andrew Lincoln plays this entire episode so beautifully…so much said without words, just facial expression, as Rick processes so much feeling and information, on so many levels, in Episode 512.

Meanwhile, in Deanna’s office…

Daryl is leaned over, fiddling with some polished stones, or dice, or something on Deanna's desk.  We hear Deanna's voice, through the recorder,

Daryl is leaned over, fiddling with some polished stones, or dice, or something on Deanna’s desk. We hear Deanna’s voice, through the recorder, You’re welcome to sit, Daryl. I won’t bite.

daryl in deanna's office 2

Daryl, still holding the dead possum by the tail, demurs, Yeah, I’m alright.” He paces, looking around, throwing attitude. It’s like he’s in the principal’s office. Deanna asks,Daryl? Do you want to be here? Daryl stops a moment, regards her. “Boy and the baby. They deserve a roof…I guess.” Daryl bounces a bit on his toes as he turns and continues pacing, looking around.

Later, Daryl continues his acting out against Alexandria: Vanilla Dream by cleaning his possum right on the porch of one of their assigned houses, tossing the guts right onto the treated wood slats.

daryl cleans possum in porch

Rick, holding Baby Judith, and Carl are wandering around the porch. Carol comes out and joins them. Nobody gives Daryl and the possum a second glance…that’s not what’s unnerving them about their current surroundings. It’s probably the closest thing to normal for them, now.  Carl wants to go check out the house next door, and Rick tells him it’s ok, just make sure to keep it quick

Carl sets off, and Rick and Carol exchange a look.

It is the first, spontaneous convening of what I have come to think of as Episode 512's

It is the first, spontaneous convening of what I have come to think of as Episode 512’s “Porch Council” where Rick, Daryl, and Carol come together and share doubts, hunches, information, and make plans regarding Alexandria.

The look Rick and Carol exchange says it all. They both feel it…something’s weird. There’s something going on that isn’t being said, for all the comforts and hospitality being offered by Deanna Monroe and her community.

Carol leaves the porch and follows Carl to the house next door.  As Carl looks around the downstairs, he marvels, “These are like mansions.” Carol goes over to a window, peers out the horizontal blinds.

“And they’re just giving them away,” Carol muses, doubtfully.

After a moment, Carol turns to go. She asks Carl if he’s coming, and he tells her he will catch up with her in a little bit.  Carol goes outside, and she meets up with Rick, and Daryl,  who are walking in the narrow yard space between the two houses.

Porch Council reconvenes…

Carol weighs in first,

Carol weighs in first, “They’re right next to each other, but…” Rick nods in agreement. “They took our weapons, now they’re splitting us up.” He looks at Daryl, who agrees, “Yup.” “Yeah,” echoes Rick. They stand in silence a moment, digesting all this information.

As Carol grins benignly at a curious passerby, Rick and Daryl try to look casual...just a neighborly yard chat, here.  Looking away, Rick informs them that they will all be sleeping in the same house tonight.

As Carol grins benignly at a curious passerby, Rick and Daryl try to look casual…just a neighborly yard chat, here. Looking away, Rick says that they will all be sleeping in the same house, tonight.

Meanwhile, in the other house, Carl is poking around downstairs when he hears a creaking noise, above.  He makes his way cautiously up the stairs, then draws his knife as he approaches a closed door. Slowly, knife drawn, Carl reaches out and opens the door…

carl at the door, knife

Carl opens the door to an empty, bright, vaulted attic room that looks as if it has been used as a hangout room. There are pads and pens, markers, makeshift pillow setups for sitting on the floor, against the wall. It looks like a teenager’s secret hangout space.

Carl picks up a comic and starts reading.

Carl picks up a comic,Wolf Fight,”and starts reading.

Later, the gang is getting ready to bed down for the night.  They are all camping out downstairs, in the living room, and it becomes apparent that some in this gang are really trying to figure out what to do with themselves in all this quiet..

As Carol sketches in a notepad, Maggie takes a deep whiff of the clean linens...she has probably really missed that smell, and the feel of being clean and comfortable.

As Carol sketches in a notepad, Maggie takes a deep whiff of the clean linens…she has probably really missed that smell, and the feel of being clean and comfortable.

Meanwhile, Eugene seems to be feeling Rosita out, while checking her out, as he sets his bed next to hers.  She does not acknowledge his existence, again. Dream on, Eugene!

Meanwhile, Eugene seems to be feeling Rosita out, while checking her out, again, as he sets his bed next to hers. And, again, Rosita does not acknowledge his existence. Dream on, Dream Weaver! 

Rick sets Baby Judith down in her crib, and Daryl is being so sweet, watching over the baby. Carl reads his comic book.

Rick sets Baby Judith down in her crib, and Daryl is being so sweet, watching over the baby. Carl reads his comic book.

Sasha sits, looking out the window, not talking, while Abraham sits in the corner, sneaking mournful looks over Rosita's way. Poor guy.

Sasha sits, looking out the window, not talking, while Abraham sits in the corner, sneaking mournful looks over Rosita’s way. Poor wounded soldiers.

Michonne, however, has no problem knowing what to do with herself.  Coming into the room, smiling, girly, so fresh and so clean-clean, she laughs and asks the others how long she was in there. Rick guesses, (probably after checking his watch), “Twenty minutes.”

I love seeing this side of Michonne, all laughing and girly and cute.

I love seeing this side of Michonne, all laughing and girly and cute.

I love this pic.

I love this pic…she’s all like, “I could NOT stop brushing.” And then,  as she focuses on Rick, she sees something’s different about him…

Look at how ghostly this pic came out...I got one like this before, of Michonne in the Terry and Mike sequence...it's like the Ghost of Hot Girly Michonne makes her appearance in these posts...bring it, Ghost of Hot Girly Michonne!  <3

Look at how ghostly this pic came out…the moment she sees the clean shave.  (Damn, Richonne…I was rooting for you, hard.)  I got a crazy pic like this before, of Michonne in the Terry and Mike sequence…it’s like the Ghost of Hot Girly Michonne makes her appearance in these posts…bring it, Ghost of Hot Girly Michonne! Bring it, and I will keep taking pics. 

Awwww...look at that girl! She's checking it all out, and she says,

Awwww…look at that girl! She’s checking it all out, and she says, “I’ve never…I’ve never seen your face…like that, before,” in a way that is way more adorable than anything, ever.

In reply, Rick, rubbing his face, mumbles something about his thinking the exact same thing, before, and after, the epic shave, as he starts to walk past her. He was looking all shaven and beautiful, but I kind of didn’t like the way he was acting to Michonne in the moment, so I didn’t take a picture of it.

I swear, if Rick hooks up with that dumb Jessie girl and hurts Michonne’s feelings, I am going to be pissed. It would be tragically disappointing, and it may negatively affect my crush on him, if even for just a little while.

It would suck, like when one of your favorite guy friends, or favorite guys, in general, hooks up with some dumb girl you can’t stand.  Ugh, please, just say no to that shit, Rick Grimes. The haircut wasn’t that great. Michonne could do a way better job, and she’d probably be really good at shaving, too.

I don’t hate Jessie, and I would never begrudge a young woman (raising two sons in the post-apocalypse with an asshole, possibly abusive husband) her hot, unexpected crush and a mild flirtation with her son’s friend’s dad…but…

Bitch needs to recognize that Richonne don’t got any part of “Jessie” in it.

(Now, because this post is super duper late as fuck, I watched Episode 513 last night, as did pretty much all of you, and I now know that Rick Smash! has it bad for Jessie, giving her the hungry eyes at Deanna’s party, and fantasizing about killing her pud husband and shit. I knew it was in the works the moment that chick came to the door, so there, I know.  We all know. There is no Richonne, at least in the romantic sense. I am resigned. Annoyed as hell, but resigned. I’ll get over it. Meh.)

Anyhow, Rick leans in, and Michonne quietly says to him that she understands why they are playing it safe, but…she has a good feeling about this place.

(Yeah, man, I would too, you know?  It’s vanilla postapocalyptic suburbia, a glass castle, but it’s got a wall, and houses, and it’s stocked as anything. It’s like, hey, the whole setup is rife with bullshit, but I get to brush my teeth here, and take a shower, and eat food that isn’t possum and acorns, and sleep more than two hours at a time, and sit on the couch and read comic books. I have a really, really great feeling about this place...I fucking love this place!)

Rick glances around, says,

Rick glances around, before looking back at her, says, “Well, I hope you’re right.” I wonder if he thinks they are using parabolic mikes and listening to themI bet he does.

Michonne's face gets even more serious.

Michonne’s face gets even more serious. “Yeah, me too,” she says, thinking.

Man, there’s always a catch in this cruel, cockblocking zombie apocalypse. It’s exhausting, it truly is.

Suddenly, there is a knock on the door. The gang startles a bit, and Rick goes to the door, opens it, and it is Deanna Monroe, “checking in” on how everyone is doing. Deanna’s face, upon seeing Rick’s clean shaven one, registers her shock.

Wow. I didn’t know what was under there!”

Rick Grimes is clearly uncomfortable with all this praise and comment about his beautiful face.

Rick Grimes is clearly uncomfortable with all this praise and commentary about his facial superiority.

Deanna starts to apologize for interrupting, and then she sees the whole gang, together, camping in the living room. Oh, my,” she says, with a smile in her voice.

Deanna looks at Rick, smiling.

Deanna looks at Rick, smiling. “Staying together,” she says, wonderingly. “Smart.”

“Nobody said we couldn’t,” Rick replies.

“You said you were family, says Deanna to Rick. “That’s what you said.”

Deanna looks around at the gang, remarks,

Deanna looks around at the gang, remarks, “It’s absolutely amazing to me how people with completely different backgrounds and nothing in common can become that…”

“… don’t you think?”

Rick changes the subject, mentions to Deanna that he heard she gave everyone jobs. She agrees, saying that’s “part of this place,” then laughs, joking that it looks like “the communists won after all.”

Rick gives a small, polite laugh at this, then says:

“You didn’t give me one.”

“I have,” says Deanna, smiling up at Rick. “I just haven’t told you yet.”

“Same with Michonne,” Deanna adds.

Deanna then says she's

Deanna then says she’s “closing in on something for Sasha.”

“And, I’m just trying to figure Mr. Dixon out, but I will. Daryl looks away at this, crouched at the window, knife out and at the ready. He’s not settling down into this suburban limbo without a fight.

Deanna turns for one last look at Rick. “You look good,” she says, before walking out the door.

That night, as the others lay sleeping across the living room floor, Rick lay awake with his eyes open.  He gets up, covers Carl’s sleeping form, and makes his way to the kitchen.  He silently opens the knife drawer and pulls out a large chopping knife. He looks at the knife a moment, tests the blade, before bringing it close to his side.  It seems the knife will be beside him, in easy reach, when he goes to lie back down in the living room.

In the next scene, we see Michonne in the frame of Deanna’s recording camera.  She has gone to the bookshelf and selected a volume, then seats herself in the interview chair.

“If this is how you’re saying it is, then this is what we’ve wanted,” says Michonne. You can see her katana leaned up against the chair, and she holds the book she has selected, probably to take for future reading. Michonne seems like she is a well-read, well-versed individual, on many subjects.

“We’re ready for this,” asserts Michonne. We hear Deanna’s voice through the camera’s mic, All of you?” Michonne looks away a moment, shifts in the chair, then composes herself back to stillness, facing the camera.

“All of us,” she asserts.

gang takes a neighborhood walk

Meanwhile, the gang sets off to explore their new neighborhood.

rick says let's explore to daryl

Rick prompts Daryl, “They said explore…let’s explore.” Daryl takes a pass. He’ll stay put.

rick sez he and lori

Rick looks over the upscale neighborhood, where one Alexandria resident is seen walking a dog. Rick tells Daryl,”Lori and me…we used to drive through neighborhoods like this, thinking, ‘One day…'”

daryl sez well here we are

Well, here we are,” says Daryl, succinct as ever.

As soon as he steps out into the road, Rick starts to get freaked when he doesn't see his children around, anywhere.

As soon as he steps out into the road, Rick starts to get freaked when he doesn’t see his children around, anywhere.

Rick be running and bugging.

Rick be running and bugging, looking for his kids.

Mid wack-attack, Rick crashes some big weird metal thing in a driveway.

Mid wack-attack, Rick crashes some big weird metal thing in a driveway.

Jessie runs up, concerned, asks Rick if he's ok...he asks her if she's seen Carl and Judith, as he can't find them.

Jessie runs up, concerned, asks Rick if he’s ok…he asks her if she’s seen Carl and Judith, as he can’t find them.

Jessie has an idea where they might be, and she brings Rick to an elder couple's home, where Carl and Judith are, sure enough, getting exclaimed over by the couple (who had five children, and twelve grandchildren, before...ugh, awful to think about that scope of loss).

Jessie has an idea where they might be, and she brings Rick to an elder couple’s home, where Carl and Judith are, sure enough, getting exclaimed over by the couple (who had five children, and twelve grandchildren, before...ugh, awful to think about that scope of loss).

Jessie tells Rick that it’s been awhile since there’s been a baby in these parts, and that Judith is probably going to have to deal with some pinched cheeks. Rick is majorly rattled, and Jessie assures him that it’s ok, she gets it.

Look, I’m sorry I broke…whatever that was I broke, Rick apologizes. Jessie tells Rick it was an an owl she and the boys were working on…she tells him that she had been having trouble getting the eyes right, and at Rick’s blank, “Oh, right, the eyes, she playfully teases him for not getting a good look at it.

Rick sheepishly admits,

Rick sheepishly admits, “I was in the middle of losing my mind.” (Ok, you two, I get it. You like each other. I am completely annoyed, but I get it.)

Before he turns to go, Jessie asks Rick if Carl can come over to their house, now, as Rowan really wants to meet him, to hang.  Rick agrees, and so Carl goes over to Rowan’s house.

As Rowan brings Carl up to his room, he tells him that they are there almost every day after school, and invites Carl to come over, any time.  Carl marvels that they have school, and Rowan explains to him that it’s just in a garage, and the little kids go in the mornings, while older kids go in the afternoons.

“Probably you too, right?” Rowan asks Carl.  “Probably,” Carl agrees.

In Rowan's room, two teens, a boy and a girl, are hanging out. Rowan introduces Carl to

In Rowan’s room, two teens, a boy and a girl, are hanging out. Rowan introduces Carl to “Mikey” and “Enid.”

While Mikey gets up to greet Carl, Enid doesn't look up from what she's reading.

While Mikey gets up to greet Carl, Enid doesn’t look up from what she’s reading. “Hi,” she says, not looking at Carl.

Rowan goes over and puts a hand on Enid's shoulder. Must be her self-appointed boyfriend...she does have the spot on his bed. As Carl shyly sneaks a look over at Enid, Rowan explains that Enid's from the

Rowan goes over and puts a hand on Enid’s shoulder. Must be her self-appointed boyfriend…she does have the prime spot on Rowan’s bed. As Carl shyly sneaks a look over at Enid, Rowan explains that Enid’s from the “outside” too, that she came to Alexandria just a couple of months ago.

Carl pulls out the “Wolf Fight” comic from his pocket, asks Mikey and Rowan if it is theirs.

Rowan apologizes, says he didn’t know “they” got that house, and Mikey admits that they used to hang up in the attic room and listen to music.  The comic is actually Enid’s, and she quickly snatches it from Carl’s hand and puts it next to her on the bed, then continues reading. Carl watches her a moment, fascinated, take this all in, then looks away.

Rowan, being a good host, offers different activities they can do...they can play video games, or Mikey's house has a pool table (and a strict dad, who luckily is at work at the moment).

Rowan, being a good host, offers different activities they can do…they can play video games, or Mikey’s house has a pool table (and a strict dad, but Mikey is quick to say that his dad’s at work at the moment). They turn to Carl, but he is having trouble processing all this…normalcy.

Poor Carl's like,

Poor Carl’s like, “Um…”

Enid looks up at Carl, seemingly identifying with his shellshock, as she has experienced the horrors of the world outside the walls, herself.  She must know how weird it feels to be planted into this surreal suburban reality after experiencing what she and Carl have, outside.

Enid looks up at Carl, seemingly identifying with his shellshock, as she has experienced the horrors of the world outside the walls, herself. She must know how weird it feels to be planted into this surreal suburban reality after experiencing what she and Carl have, outside.

pull it together sport

Rowan is quick to offer that they don’t have to do anything, that Carl doesn’t have to even “talk, if you don’t want to.” Rowan then says that it took Enid three weeks before she said anything. Enid looks back down at her book, tells Carl to,Pull it together, sport.” Carl recovers himself, puts on a small smile, and suggests that they play video games.

In the next scene, Carl and Judith are in Deanna’s office, sitting in the interview chair, being recorded as Carl “talks” with Deanna.

Looking around, Carl says that this is the kind of place that his mom wanted for them. It made me think of Lori, and how much she would have loved finding Alexandria, and settling there with her family.  So sad. :(

Looking around, Carl says that this is the kind of place that his mom wanted for them. It made me think of Lori, and how much she would have loved finding Alexandria, and settling there with her family. So sad. 😦

carl and judith recording 2

“I’m sorry you lost her,” Deanna says. Carl looks down, and he says, “I didn’t just lose her…I killed her.”

Carl looks up at Deanna.

Carl looks up at Deanna. “It had to be me.” (I am sorry to bust in Carl’s sad, sad moment here, but that baby is such a smoosh…so freakin’ adorable!)

Later, Carl is lying in his bed, and Rick comes into the room, asks how Rowan’s house was.  Carl asks Rick, point blank, what he, Rick, thinks of this place.

Rick sits on the edge of the bed, diplomatically says that the place

Rick sits on the edge of the bed, diplomatically says that the place “seems nice.” He is being a good dad, and a hot dad, despite his super annoying fascination with Jessie.

Carl agrees, saying he likes it here, and the people seem super nice...but they're weak.  Carl tells his dad that he doesn't want them to get weak like these people, here.

Carl agrees, saying he likes it here, and the people seem super nice…but they’re weak. Carl tells his dad that he doesn’t want them to get weak like these people are.

Rick nods, and looks away, processing this.  Seems like he is having his own version of the same thoughts his son is having.

Rick nods, and looks away, processing this. Seems like he is having his own version of the same thoughts his son is having.

Later, that night, Michonne awakes to see Rick standing at the window, looking out. After a moment, she stands up, goes over to the window.

rick and michonne night window

It was hard for me go get exactly how their conversation went down, after repeated playbacks, but the general feeling I got from it was that, if all is as good and orderly and democratic around here as Deanna Monroe is saying, then why are the both of them up, unable to sleep, in that moment? Michonne doesn’t have a reply. Rick tells her he’s going to take a walk, puts his hand on her shoulder, and leaves her there, thinking.

It's a crazy full moon out that night.

It’s a crazy full moon out that night.

As Rick walks down the darkened, empty streets, a voice carries to him from one of the front porches.

As Rick walks down the darkened, empty streets, a voice carries to him from one of the front porches. “You’re Rick,” says the man’s voice. “Yeah,” Rick replies.

wifey mcbeaty

The man on the porch doesn not introduce himself, says instead, “My wife cut your hair.” Rick pauses a moment, then agrees, “Yeah.” An uncomfortable silence follows, then the man says, a trife belligerently, Welcome to Alexandria.” Rick continues on his way, as the man takes a long draw off his cigarette. My WD buddy’s sister texted her, as we watched this scene, “They may as well name that husband guy ‘Wifey McBeaty!‘” Ha ha ha! Spousal abuse is no laughing matter, but that nickname sure is…and ol’ Wifey McBeaty seems like a real a-hole.

Later, Rick lay sleeping…then:

rick wakes

In the next sequence, it’s back to the interview chair in Deanna Monroe’s office, where we all meet: Junior League Carol.

Junior League Carol recounts, for Deanna Monroe and her camera, her life before the turn:

Junior League Carol recounts, for Deanna Monroe and her rolling camera, her life before the turn: “I did laundry, gardened…always had dinner on the table for Ed when he came home…” Junior League Carol looks away here, with a sad smile, blinking back fake tears, says, “I miss that big, stupid, wonderful man every day.” Wow.

Even more wow is when Junior League Carol goes on to say that she didn't really have much to contribute to the group, so she just kind of became their den mother, and they protected her. (I wonder how good of a poker-playing people reader Deanna Monroe actually is...is she buying JL Carol's line, here?)

Even more wow is when Junior League Carol goes on to say that she didn’t really have much to contribute to the group, so she just kind of became their den mother, and they were “nice enough” to protect her. Ha! Rambo Carol pretty much singlehandedly sprung the gang from Terminus. (I wonder how good of a poker-playing people reader Deanna Monroe actually is…is she buying JL Carol’s line, here?)

We hear Deanna Monroe’s voice, through the camera, ask, (a trifle doubtfully, perhaps), “Where do you think you’ll fit in?”

Junior League Carol acts perplexed by this question, looks down, brow knitted, makes some hems, haws and even kind of squeaks a little, “Hmmm?!” before saying, brightly, “Well, I’d like to be involved in the community…do you have anything like a Junior League?

Junior League Carol beams at the camera.

Junior League Carol beams at the camera. “I’m a real people person.”

Later, it gets even more surreal…

Daryl sits at his usual spot on the front porch, tinkering with his crossbow...something pinches his finger, and he winces, sucks on it a moment before getting back to the task at hand.

Daryl sits at his usual spot on the front porch, tinkering with his crossbow…something pinches his thumb, and he winces, sucks the bleed a moment before getting back to the task at hand.

Junior League Carol steps out in her new uniform of uniformity.

Junior League Carol steps out in her new uniform of uniformity. “Time to punch the clock and make the casseroles,” she mock announces, modeling her button-down-cardigan-pants ensemble for Daryl to comment on.

Daryl's look says it all.

Daryl’s look says it all.

Carol explains that one of her duties with her newly assigned job is to make meals for those who cannot: elders, overwhelmed moms, those who can’t cook. “I get to meet a lot of our neighbors that way,” Carol adds.  She’s a woman on a mission…she wants to figure these people out.

Daryl snorts a laugh, goes back to his crossbow. “Alright,” he replies, doubtfully.

Carol narrows her eyes at Daryl, asks him if he's taken a shower yet.

Carol narrows her eyes at Daryl, asks him if he’s taken a shower yet. “Mmmhmmm,” he replies, which of course means he totally hasn’t.

Carol tells Daryl to take a shower, and she’ll wash his vest…they need to keep up appearances, even him. Daryl replies, Hell, I ain’t startin’ now.”

As she marches off to her call of duty, Carol informs Daryl that she’s going to “hose you down in your sleep.”

Daryl calls after her,

Daryl calls after her, “You look ridiculous!”

Ha! Caryl.

Meanwhile, back at Deanna’s office:

Glenn, earnest, says to Deanna, as the camera records,

Glenn, earnest, says to Deanna, as the camera records, “We need to make this work.”

“Why?” Deanna’s voice asks. Glenn pauses a moment, looks back at Deanna, the camera.

We were almost out there too long.”

Meanwhile, Beardless Rick (as Kevin Smith referred to the clean shaven Rick Grimes on Talking Dead) seems to have checked out his weapons from Alexandria’s Gun Lending Library and is going on a walkabout outside the hallowed gates.

Rick looks like a hot badass.

Rick looks like a hot badass.

Damn, are those bracings on the outside of the fence? I thought they were on the inside...that fence may hold off walkers, but a living enemy could pull down those bracings, or use them to scramble up and over the wall. Major design flaw, Reg.

Damn, are those bracings on the outside of the fence? I thought they were on the inside…that fence may hold off walkers, but a living enemy could pull down those bracings, or use them to scramble up and over the wall. Major design flaw, Reg.

Carl, meanwhile, is inside the walls, and the house, trying to figure out what the hell to do with himself…a movement outside the window catches his eye, and he spies:

Enid...giving the sneaky look around, then beginning to climb up the fence...she looks like she's pretty much a pro at it, by now...it's pretty apparent that she's done it before, many times.

Enid, giving the sneaky look around, then beginning to climb up the fence…she looks like she’s pretty much a pro at it, by now…it’s pretty apparent that she’s done it before, many times.

enid goes up and over2

Damn, and then she gets to the top, and uses one of Reg’s patented “outside the wall” bracings to slide or shimmy down the other side. Reg, your fence may have bought you and your people about two years’ worth of protection, but I think your insurance policy with Castles Made Of Sand Home and Life Insurance is about to expire, soon…shit’s pretty bunk, I’m sorry to say. Props for trying, though, Reg, and for getting away with it this long. You bought your peeps some major time, truly.

Carl's like,

Carl’s like, “I love her.”

Meanwhile, speaking of bunk-ass shit…

Meet Deanna and Reg's budussy son, Aidan.

Meet Deanna and Reg’s budussy son, Aidan.

Aidan initally appears nice enough, and cute enough, at first.  He’s friendly, he guesses their names, introduces Nicholas (who was pulling “gate duty,” before).

Glenn asks him, “You’re Deanna’s son?”

Aidan answers this in the affirmative: “That’s right.”

Then, it’s time to get down to business. “I hear you have experience making supply runs.” Glenn remarks to Aidan that he’s seen their pantry, that they seem to do pretty well.  This puffs Aidan up, and he’s very proud to announce that he had some training, “ROTC. Was nearing lieutenant when this shit blew in.

Nicholas looks over at Aidan, with this statement, with the look of someone who’s heard this like a million times, before, but who knows better than to roll his eyes.  Noah speaks up, says his dad was in ROTC. Aidan is perceptive enough to ask, “He didn’t make it?”

Noah looks down, shakes his head, “Nah.”

Aidan looks sorrowful, expresses as much to Noah, but it's more like,

Aidan looks sorrowful, expresses as much to Noah, but it’s more like, “Wow, that would really suck, I can’t imagine that than someone who really knows what loss feels like in this day and age.

Aidan takes a moment more (a true politician’s son), and then gets back to business with a comment, “I’m sorry a lot these days,” and then, it’s chop, chop, kids, because Aidan and his second, Nicholas, are gonna “show them the ropes” and the “terrain” outside the walls.  They are going to make a “dry run,” so Aidan and Nicholas can “see how you do.”

Wow, that is super fucking laughable, Aidan. And, btw, your strapped on knife is making your Members Only jacket look really fucking suburban gangsta, right there, Deanna's son.

Wow, that is super fucking laughable, Aidan. And, btw, that Walmart-issue knife strapped to your belt is totally making your Members Only jacket look really fucking suburban gangsta, right there, Deanna’s son.

Aidan tries some “sac” comment on Tara, which she only mocks slightly, and when Glenn asks about weapons, Aidan says that they picked out “some  sweet-ass biscuits for today.”

Oooooo...awesome.

Oooooo…awesome.

Glenn and Tara manage to keep straight faces as they follow Aidan and Nicholas, along with Noah, out beyond the walls.

Meanwhile, Enid, who could probably show Aidan a thing or two, is making her way through the woods…

...with Carl following close behind.

…with Carl following close behind.

Enid hears a clanging noise in the distance, and bolts through the woods.  Carl tries to go after her, but loses her quickly.

Meanwhile, in another part of the woods, Rick sees a barn in the near distance, hears the clatter of something being crashed inside. Then, making his cameo appearance…

Clanger Banger Walker ambles out of the barn, ready to party.

Clanger Banger Walker ambles out of the barn, ready to fuck some shit up.

Another amazing variation of the now-iconic

Another amazing variation of the now-iconic “Rick Grimes Pointing The Gun” pose…

Rick decides that it’s not worth it, and he heads to the abandoned house where he stashed the gun in the plastic blender, but when Rick looks in the blender…

The gun is gone...who took Rick's gun?

The gun is gone…who took Rick’s gun?

Rick sits back, trying to figure this out.  Whoever took it must have watched as he stashed it, unless some person just happened to look inside an old, useless blender in a trash heap and find it...so not likely, though. Rick's pissed, you can tell. He stands, unsheaths his knife, thinking...and then, he sees that he's not alone.

Rick sits back, trying to figure this out. Whoever took it must have watched as he stashed it, unless some person just happened to look inside an old, useless blender in a trash heap and find it…so not likely. Rick’s pissed, you can tell. He stands, unsheaths his knife, thinking...and then, he sees that he’s not alone. Carl has joined him, and Rick has no time to ask questions, because they have company:

Hey, we were calling you back there to wait up for us!

rick and carl ready to rumble 1

Rick and Carl are ready 2 rumble…

rick and carl ready to rumble

Carl rekills the lady walker.

Carl rekills the lady walker.

Later, Clanger Banger.

Later, Clanger Banger.

Carl, too bad Enid isn't around to see this...you's a walker-killa pimp!

Carl, too bad Enid isn’t around to see this…you’s a walker-killa pimp!

Oh, no, Rick, look out for Grabby Walker!

Oh, no, Rick, look out for Grabby Walker!

CarlFace Walker Killa sez give it up here, Big Poppa. I got this.

CarlFace Walker Killa sez give it up here, Big Poppa…I got this.

Buh bye, Grabby Walker.  Later, on TD, Chris Hardwick and guests speculated on whether whoever stole Rick's gun also planted the walker there as a grabby, bitey booby trap...but how would you make the walker stay put?

Buh bye, Grabby Walker. Later, on TD, Chris Hardwick and guests speculated on whether whoever stole Rick’s gun also planted the walker there as a grabby, bitey booby trap…but how would you make the walker stay put?Stay, Grabby Walker, you stay! Good boy, Grabby…stay!”

Meanwhile, in another part of the woods, Aidan is informing Glenn, Tara, and Noah that they have been increasing their radius outside the walls, mile by mile, when going on runs. Nicholas adds, proudly, that they’ve gotten up to 53 miles away from Alexandria at this point.

Aidan adds that they break up into two groups once they step outside the vehicle…if shit hits, the one group fires a flare, and the other group runs to join them.

“Good system,” Noah comments. “It is,” replies Aidan, who is now fully in Near Lieutenant mode. He goes on to inform them that they are “standing here” because they lost four people last month. Glenn asks what happened.

Aidan replies that they were on a run, “roamers” appeared, and the ones who were lost “didn’t follow the system.”

Nicholas adds that they were “good people,” and Aidan agrees…they were good people, they were just “scared.”

Aidan turns and addresses Glenn, Tara, and Noah.

Aidan turns and addresses Glenn, Tara, and Noah. “Look, I can be a hardass…I know I’m a douchebag. (Yes, Aidan, you know that, and so does everybody else.)

But, Aidan says, “Somebody needs to ‘call the ball’ around here, and that somebody is me. If you are a part of this crew, you do exactly as I say.”

Glenn, Noah, and Tara say nothing in response to this, then Tara says, simply, “I’m sorry you lost your people.”

Aidan says, “Yeah, but we got ours.” He and Nicholas exchange knowing looks, smiles. Nicholas explains that they managed to “snag one of the deadheads” who got their people, and they strung it up.

Glenn asks, horrified, What? Why?”

Nicholas explains that now, they have a little “pregame ritual, to remind us what we’re up against.”

But, when they get to the spot where, supposedly, they had a walker strung up, all they find is this:

D'oh! Walker's gone, just a bloody chain with flies buzzing around it.

D’oh! Walker’s gone, just a bloody chain with flies buzzing around it.

Aidan starts freaking out, Son of a bitch! Help me find it.” Nicholas observes that the blood is still fresh, so it hasn’t been too long since the roamer got free. Great sleuthing, dude.

Nicholas proves himself to be even more of a dumbass by whistling loudly through his finger and thumb, trying to attract back the walker. Starting to see how those four people got killed on that run...

Nicholas proves himself to be even more of a dumbass by whistling loudly through his finger and thumb, trying to attract back the walker. Starting to see how those four people got killed on that run…

Tara whirls and shushes them, and Glenn rushes up to Nicholas,

Tara whirls and shushes them, and Glenn rushes up to Nicholas, “Hey…hey! It’s gone, leave it!” But the Douchebag Duo refuses.”It took down one of our friends!” Aidan says. “It’s nearby…we’re not letting it go.”

As Bugs Bunny would say, “Whatta coupla maroons!”

Nicholas whistles loudly, again, and this time, Houdini Walker comes to the sound of the dinner bell…

Noah raises his pistol, but Nicholas waves him down,  and Aidan is actually trying to chain the walker's rotting hands behind its rotting back, again.  Totally stupid.

Noah raises his pistol, but Nicholas waves him down, and Aidan is actually trying to chain the walker’s rotting hands behind its rotting back, again.  Totally stupid.

houdini walker2

Pure idiocy, Alexandria-style.

Houdini Walker proves itself wiley, snappy, and slippery, figuring out to whirl around and come close to chomping Aidan in the face (that would have been awesome), and Tara is good enough to come to Aidan’s rescue.

Houdini Walker’s rotting skin tears away from its back as Tara tries to grab it back, away from Aidan, and the walker comes dangerously close to chomping her face, when Glenn sinks his knife into the walker’s skull, rekilling it for good.

RIP Houdini Walker.

RIP Houdini Walker.

“What the hell?!” yells Aidan. (In France, they would call him a “douche baguette.”)

Yeah, what the hell??” counters Tara.

Glenn is apeshit. “You almost got her killed!”

Aidan yells like a shrill little schoolboy,

Aidan yells like a shrill little schoolboy, “I told you all to stay back! I told you all to listen to every damn thing I said…I told you that. Glenn bows up on Aidan, and I really am loving how Noah has Glenn’s back in this moment. Noah’s alright.

The next shot shows them walking through the gates, Glenn walking ahead, furious.

Well, that went well...

Well, that went well…

Aidan calls out from behind, “You three need new gigs…you’re not ready for runs yet.” Glenn replies, “Pretty sure you have that backwards.

Aidan charges up behind Glenn, reaches out and stops him,

Aidan charges up behind Glenn, reaches out and stops him, “Hey…hey! Look, we got a way of doing things out there.” “You tied up walkers! exclaims Glenn, still incredulous at the sheer risk and stupidity of such a mindset. “He killed out friend!” Aidan yells. No, Aidan, you fucking killed your friend.

Aidan steps back, says, with a laugh, that he’s not having this conversation. When they are out on runs, they do everything Aidan says. Glenn replies that’s great, then they’ll be as screwed as Aidan’s last group…oooo, burn, Aidan!

Daryl steps up, with a little smile...this is more like it!

Daryl steps up, with a little smile...this is more like it!

Aidan steps up to Glenn.

Aidan steps up to Glenn. “Say that again,” he says, softly.

Glenn doesn’t, and Tara tries to tell Aidan to back off. Instead, Aidan shoves Glenn.

One word...budussy.

Total budussy.

Noah chimes in, tries to tell them each to step back. Instead, Aidan shoves Glenn again.

Glenn does not rise to the bait, but he doesn't back down, either. He says softly,

Glenn does not rise to the bait, but he doesn’t back down, either. He says softly,No one’s impressed, man. Walk away.” From behind, we hear Deanna’s voice yell, “Aidan!” Oh, Aidan, your mommy’s calling you…she’s trying to save your ass.

What is going on?” demands Deanna.

Aidan replies that “this guy has a problem with the way we do things here.” He turns to his mother. “Why’d you let these people in?”

From behind Aidan, Glenn answers,

From behind Aidan, Glenn answers, “Because we actually know what we’re doing out there.” Aidan whirls and swings at Glenn, who ducks it, and comes back with one good punch that drops Aidan to the ground. Nicholas tries to jump in, and is immediately tackled by Daryl.

Before Daryl can unleash some pent-up frustration on Nicholas, Rick grabs him from behind,

Before Daryl can unleash some pent-up frustration on Nicholas, Rick grabs him from behind, “Do not do this now,” he tells Daryl, quietly.

Aidan jumps up, ready for more, and Michonne immediately steps up to him.

“You wanna end up on your ass again?” Michonne asks him. (Watching this, I was all like, Yes, please, I want him to end up on his ass again! Do it, do it!”)

Unfortunately, Aidan backs off, and Deanna announces, loudly, that she wants everyone to hear this…Rick and his people are now a part of this community, as equals. She turns to her shitty son.

“Understood?” Aidan raises his eyebrows, says quietly, “Understood.”

Deanna orders everyone to turn in their weapons, turns to Aidan and Nicholas and tells them that she wants to talk to the both of them in her office.  She then turns to Rick, tells him she has her job for him...she wants him to be the town’s constable.

“That’s what you were,” says Deanna. “That’s what you are.”

Deanna then turns to Michonne. “You too,” she says to her. She looks at Rick and Michonne. “Do you accept?” Rick says he will.

Michonne accepts as well,

Michonne accepts as well, “Yeah, I’m in.”

Daryl, pissed, grabs up his crossbow and stalks off.  Awww. sorry, Daryl, but Michonne did a lot better with the interview!

Daryl, pissed, grabs up his crossbow and stalks off. Awww. sorry, Daryl, but Michonne did a lot better with the interview part of the Alexandria audition!

Deanna turns and quietly thanks Glenn. “For what? asks Glenn. “For knocking him on his ass,” replies Deanna. Glenn nods, and walks away, and Maggie smiles at Deanna before following him.

Deanna Monroe has laid down her full hand in the final showdown of this round of seven card stud. Whatever her full motivation is, it seems she knows that Rick and his gang are her best shot at the longterm survival of her community.  It's a big play, a big risk, by a woman who has weighed the odds.

Deanna Monroe has laid down her full hand in the final showdown of this round of seven card stud. Whatever her full motivation is, it seems she knows that Rick and his gang are her best shot at the long-term survival of her community. It’s a big play, a big risk, by a woman who has weighed the odds, and made her decision.

Carl looks over at Enid, who is watching him.  They regard each other for a moment, and then Carl asks her,

Carl looks over at Enid, who is watching him. They regard each other for a moment, and then Carl asks her, “You don’t like me, do you?” Enid says nothing, turns and walks away.

In the final sequence, we see the footage of Rick’s initial interview with Deanna Monroe.  We hear his voice, which becomes a voice over for the next images, when we get our first glimpse of Constable Grimes in his new uniform:

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Constable Grimes. <3

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Constable Grimes.

Rick: You should keep your gates closed.

Deanna: Why?

Rick: Because it’s all about survival, now. At any cost. People are always looking for an angle, looking to play on your weakness…they measure you by what they can take from you, by how they can use you to live.

When Rick comes out to the porch, Daryl is there. Rick asks Daryl if they’re ok, and Daryl says they are.

Daryl jokes, “You’re a cop again?” and Rick replies that he’s trying it out. Carol steps outside, and the Porch Council has convened, again.

Carol says that if they get comfortable here, they will get weak. Rick says that Carl said they very same thing, but they won't get weak...that's not in them, any more. Rick looks out into the night, says that if they, the Alexandrians, can't make it...

Carol says that if they get comfortable here, they will get weak. Rick says that Carl said the very same thing, but they won’t get weak…that’s not in them, any more. Rick looks out into the night, says that if they, the Alexandrians, can’t make it…

“We’ll take this place.”

Hey, Deanna, he can’t say he didn’t warn you!

Sorry so late, darlings…mommy/wifey thing called in some major time and attention these past couple of weeks. Getting to work on Episode 513, “Forget,” which of course will probably be another 11,000 or so words…we have lots to talk about with that one!

Enjoy the playlist, darlings.  Next post up asap. ❤

Playlist:

Heart, “Barracuda”  (for Deanna Monroe…I think I do see some sharp barracuda teeth gleaming in that lovely smile of yours, Deanna)

Band of Horses, “Our Swords”

Courtney Barnett, “Avant Gardner” (for Junior League Carol)

Flume & Chet Faker, “Drop The Game”

Ariel Pink, “Not Enough Violence”

The Dig, “I Already Forgot Everything You Said”

The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 11, “The Distance”

“The Distance”

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s “The Walking Dead”/FX’s “Archer” unless otherwise specified.)

When we left off with Rick and the gang last week, at the end of Episode 510, “Them,” many members of our favorite crew were catching the last few moments of a rare, long stretch of sleep in an abandoned barn, after riding out a harrowing night of violent storms, invading walker herds, and personality conflicts (not necessarily in that order, or order of importance).

As the sun rose on a new day, Daryl tried to settle down for a few moments of rest himself, after keeping night watch over the others (and good luck with that, Daryl Dixon), while Maggie and Sasha stepped out to catch the sunrise, and a few moments of soul-sister share time, before the others awoke.

Upon stepping out of the barn, Maggie and Sasha were met with an incredible sight…the raging storm of the night before had blown down many tall pine trees, which lay all around the barn, but somehow missed the barn completely.

While any one of the felled pines could have crushed the barn and killed the gang inside, the barn remained miraculously untouched, and unharmed, by the trees and the storm.

The felled pines did, however, serve to skewer and crush the reanimated, rotting walker horde that had charged the barn doors, the night before, as the storm raged. The gang was forced to rush the doors and work together, struggling mightily as they pushed back at the barn doors from the inside, keeping the walkers back, until the storm, and the trees, took care of the threat from the outside.

Seeing the trees, and the skewered, helpless walkers pinned underneath, seemed to awaken something deep within Maggie and Sasha...the realization, perhaps, that maybe there was hope, after all, even in these dark times. Maybe there was a benevolent force looking out for them, and maybe there really was something to believe in, to live for, in this crazy world.

As the young women sat, and watched the sunrise, sharing ruminations, resolve, and laughter, they were approached cautiously by a well-kempt, preppy stranger who greeted them, introducing himself as “Aaron.”  

Looking down the barrels of Sasha and Maggie’s guns, Aaron, with hands raised, tried to reassure the girls that he was “a friend” who bore tidings of “good news.” Aaron, inexplicably, seemed to know things about the group already, referring to Rick, “the leader,” by name, and asking to speak to him.

As the young women processed all this, holding Aaron at gunpoint, the broken music box suddenly sprang to life… and as its tinkly music played, and the tiny plastic ballerina twirled, we TWD fans, along with Maggie and Sasha, were all thinking our own versions of, “Just what in the walker apocalypse is going on here?”

In the opening shot of The Walking Dead’s Episode 11, “The Distance,” we see members of the gang, awake now, sitting on the barn floor. Some of the gang, like Carol, Abraham, and Daryl, are checking, cleaning their weapons, while others, like Rick, and Gabriel, are sitting quietly, alone in their thoughts.  Judith is playing quietly on the floor, while Carl is collecting boards, presumably to reinforce the barn, or make a bench, or something.

The barn door creaks open, and it’s Maggie. “Hey,” she calls to the others, as she pushes the door open a little wider, steps in, followed by…

hey everyone this is aaron

“Hey, everyone…”

hey everyone this is aaron 3

“…this is Aaron.”

The gang springs to life, drawing weapons as Daryl quickly goes to the barn door, peers out, then gives Aaron a rough patdown (lucky, Aaron!) as Maggie hurriedly explains, “We met him outside, he’s by himself…we took his weapons and his gear.”

gang ain't playin 1gang ain't playin 2gang ain't playin 3gang ain't playin 5gang ain't playin 6gang ain't playin 8

As the barn door is closed behind him, Aaron looks nervously, in thanks, towards Maggie, and then towards Rick and the group, who stand and face him silently, weapons drawn.

As the barn door is closed behind him, Aaron looks nervously, in quick thanks, towards Maggie, and then towards Rick and the group, who stand and face him silently, weapons drawn. “Hi,” he manages, and at the sound of a stranger’s voice, Judith begins to cry. Papi Grimes fixes Aaron with this withering look, before handing the baby over to Carl. Uh oh, Aaron, the baby doesn’t like you...and neither does Papi Grimes.  Not the most auspicious of beginnings for you so far, my friend.

Aaron nervously tries to step forward, towards Rick, with a “Nice to meet you,” only to be met, one step in, to the sound of weapons being cocked, and Daryl stepping up behind him. Aaron wisely stops in his tracks.

Rick, making no move to reply to Aaron's greeting, regards the stranger a moment more before asking, hoarsely,

Rick, making no move to reply to Aaron’s greeting, regards the stranger a moment more before asking Maggie, hoarsely, “You said he had a weapon?” As Aaron tries to not pee his pants (and I tried not to swoon over how hot Rick-In-Charge was being during this whole exchange), Maggie steps forward and hands Rick Aaron’s handgun.

rick sniffs gun, vibes aaron

Rick checks the chamber of Aaron’s gun, then sniffs the weapon, to see if it had been fired recently…then fixes Aaron with this look…

ricks like, yeah this is happening

…before putting Aaron’s gun in the back waistband of his pants, not breaking his gaze from Aaron’s face, like,Yeah, bitch, this is happening…I’m taking your gun…what are you gonna do about it?”

Aaron, of course, does, says nothing about Rick's taking his gun. Rick asks Aaron, softly,

Aaron, of course does, and says, nothing about Rick’s taking his gun. Rick asks Aaron, softly, “There somethin’ you need?”

(And at this point in the watching, I was getting all Cheryl Tunt and shit, like):

“Oooo, yeah, even that little bit’s enough to get the engine revved up!”

sasha sez he has a camp nearby and they are auditioning for membership

Sasha speaks up, saying that Aaron says he has a camp, nearby, and they want them, Rick and the gang, to “audition” for membership…

aaron audition moment

Aaron looks over at Sasha with some alarm, as this pronouncement is going over about as well as can be expected with this seasoned band of warriors...not very.

aaron explains audition term

Backpedaling like a motherfucker, Aaron quickly adds, “I – I wish there were another word…“audition” makes it sound like we’re a dance troupe…that’s only on Friday nights.”

aaron explains audition term 2

Aaron’s smile dies as his attempt at a joke falls flat…

The gang is not amused, Aaron, but I, for one, was laughing my ass off watching this scene.

The gang is not amused, Aaron. (But I, for one, was laughing my ass off, by this point, watching this scene…like, “Oh, no you DID NOT, Aaron.”)

Aaron’s voice is pretty shaky as he explains that it’s not a camp, it’s a community, and he, Aaron, thinks that our fine gang would make, “valuable additions.”  Aaron adds, quickly, that it’s not soley his “call,” that his job is to convince them to follow him back “home,” to his community…

As Rick glares at him, shifting his weight back and forth, one foot to the other, Aaron backpedals again…sounding like a rookie Alexandria Amway salesperson, Aaron tries the up-until-now-foolproof “Seeing Is Believing” selling technique:I know…if I were you, I wouldn’t go either…not until I knew exactly what I was getting into.

And with this, Aaron turns to Sasha, asking her, “Sasha, would you hand Rick my pack?” and earning himself this look from Sasha….

...and another peal of laughter on my part, watching this. Aaron, Aaron, Aaron, you dumbass...you've been listening to this gang for two weeks (and btw, creepy, much?) and this is the best presentation you could come up with? Two words: Weak. Sauce.

…and another peal of laughter on my part, watching this. Aaron, Aaron, Aaron, you dumbass…you’ve been listening to this gang for the last two weeks (and btw, creepy, much?) and this is the best presentation you could come up with? Two words: Weak. Sauce.

After a pregnant pause (ha ha, get it? Sonequa Martin-Green is pregnant at the filming of this episode), Sasha brings Rick Aaron’s backpack, and Aaron tells Rick to look in the front pocket.

As Rick pulls out an envelope, Aaron continues his “Seeing Is Believing” sales pitch, telling the group that while nothing he can say will convince them to follow him to his community, these (pictures) might…while Aaron apologizes for the poor picture quality, as they were taken with an old found camera, Daryl interjects, growling something to the effect of, “Words/Talk/Pictures/Cameras don’t mean/prove shit.” (Repeated playbacks yielded zero clarity on what exactly Daryl said, but it ended in something like “prove shit,” and he sure wasn’t sounding impressed with Aaron at this point.)

Aaron looks back at Daryl, nervously agrees that,

Aaron looks back at Daryl, nervously acknowledges that, “You’re absolutely, 100% right” (about whatever it was that you said.)

Rick looks at the first blurry picture, of tall walls, reinforced with diagonal supports bracing the walls from the inside, making a solid-looking barrier.

picture of walls

As Rick looks at the first picture, Aaron says, “That’s the first picture I wanted to show you, because nothing I say about our community will matter unless you know you’ll be safe. If you join us, you will be.”

Aaron bring his sales pitch home, extolling on the walls’ impressive stats and dimensions: “Each panel (of the wall) is a 15 ft. high, 12 ft. wide slab of solid steel, framed by cold-rolled steel beams, and square tubing.” 

Aaron continues, the emotion building in his voice as he gets swept up in his own fervor, “Nothing, alive or dead, gets through that without our say-so.”

As Daryl, and the rest of the gang, listen, Aaron continues his spiel,

As Daryl, and the rest of the gang, listen, Aaron continues his spiel, “Like I said, security is obviously important…”

…in fact, there’s only one resource more critical to our community’s survival:  the people.”

Together, we’re strong. You could make us even stronger.”

Aaron ends his sales pitch soliliquy with some big, velvet-painting puppy dog eyes. I mean, really, who doesn't want to believe him? But...doesn't this pitch seem a little, um, canned, practiced, like it's been used on other people? Does salvation really come in the form of...this guy?

Aaron ends his sales pitch soliloquy with some big, velvet-painting puppy-dog eyes. I mean, really, who doesn’t want to believe him? But…doesn’t this pitch seem a little, um, canned, practiced, like it’s been used on other people? Does salvation really come in the form of…this guy?

Ooooo...I think I see a familiar face...

OooooI think I see a familiar face…

Ummm...Rick Smash! don't think so.

Ummm, Aaron? Rick Smash! no likey your blurry pictures and your talky talk about big walls and impressive dimensions and all that shit…

Rick Smash! no likey.

It gives him a headache, and makes him see red and want to smash things…smash YOU.

And if Rick Smash! no likey, I no likey.

And, if Rick Smash! no likey, me no likey…

And I am, now and forever, riding in Rick Smash's! car...

…because I am, now and forever, riding in Rick Smash’s! car.

go rick smash go

🙂 ❤

rick went smash and we likey

As the others run toward Aaron’s unconscious form, Rick Smash! shakes out his fist, and looks down at Aaron, like, “STOP. FUCKING. TALKING.

ricksmash one last look

I love this last look he gives Aaron before walking off. TLA Rick Smash!

A few thoughts, before we move on.  Back at this early point in the watching, and even now, I remain utterly unclear about Aaron’s, and Alexandria’s, motives.  While I do not get an initial hit that they’re totally bad, I don’t think they’re totally good, or harmless, either. Something stinks. This “audition” shit.  And this sales pitch-style presentation. What’s up with that?

Rick and the gang didn’t need a whole presentation when they interviewed prospective candidates for the prison community. They just asked the three questions.

Simple. Straight up.  No Friday night song and dance routine, with blurry pictures and talk of walls and dimensions.

(And, speaking of the three questions, Aaron majorly fails the three questions when Michonne puts them to him in the back of Glenn’s Walker Massacremobile. And, sometimes, the Bear McCreary music gets really dark and twisty when the focus is on Aaron. Don’t think I haven’t noticed that shit.)

Aaron’s spiel feels really contrived to me, like something is being misrepresented, or not presented, like there’s some catch, some important, major detail about the agreement that’s hidden somewhere in the fine print of the whole Alexandria contract, and you only find out what it is once the gates close, and lock, behind you.  And by then, it’s too late. You’re in there.

As Aaron said, himself, “Nothing, alive or dead, gets through (those walls) without our say-so.”

Sounds to me like that shit goes both ways, that once you’re in those walls, you are not exactly free to come and go as you please. (Not like the beautiful prison days, when all were free to do as they wished, within reason, of course, and after their chores and culling-the-walkers-at-the-fence shift was done for the day.)

And what’s with the spying?  For two weeks?  How the fuck did Aaron and his gay boyfriend manage that, to track the gang and spy on them, for two weeks?  And what would a community’s motivation be, to put that much effort into screening potential future citizens, in such sneaky and invasive fashion, for such a long period of time?

My only guesses at this point are: 1) they need to recruit soldiers, as they are in a war, conflict, or standoff with someone, some other established community, nearby; or, 2) they want to procreate and populate, and they just happened to find our smoking hot band of love warriors, and they want to get on that shit.

Either way, they have a major agenda, and while Aaron seems likeable enough (when he isn’t being shady), it seems pretty obvious he isn’t telling the whole story.

We all know, at this point, that something is amiss with Alexandria. There is never an offer of any kind of shelter, or respite, without its asking price, and what Alexandria’s asking price is, exactly, remains to be seen.

But, whatever the case, or the price, may be, it looks like Friday Night Dance Troupe just got a lot more interesting!

And, dorky and shady as Aaron may be, he does have some serious pros to put on the negotiation table…

First off, Friday Night Dance Troupe. I mean, obviously, right? If you remember, Aaron mentions the dance troupe right away, even before talking about the tall steel fences…that was no accident, people!

All I gotta say is, if Daryl and Carol had a Dirty Dancing moment at Friday Night Dance Troupe, I would like, die of happiness.

Next:  Aaron’s appearance. He is obviously clean, manicured, well-fed, well-cared for. He’s rocking the sporty outerwear that’s lined on the inside.

Chris Hardwick joked on Talking Dead that Aaron looked like a “Land’s End” model…ha!

Not only does Aaron look like a sheltered, suburban preppy, he acts like one. Aaron is not exhausted, bereft, starving, stressed-out. He hasn’t been for a long time, so long, actually, that he seems to have forgotten what all that was like, back in the day, before he became Fabulously Gay Ambassador of Alexandria.

Aaron is so yuppified, living the vanilla dream behind Alexandria’s steel walls, that he even attempts a little joke about Friday Night Dance Troupe in an attempt to disarm the gang, to get in with them.

When his attempt is met with vacant looks, and glares, instead of laughter, smiles, or nods, Aaron gives a little shake of his head… it was like he was either really surprised that they didn’t like (or get) his joke, or he was honestly in a place so far removed from where the gang was at, in that moment, that he had to quickly rethink his approach.

Aaron lives in his own house, for God’s sakes, and his backpack is filled with more canned goods than the gang has seen in a long time.  Our gang is starving, literally. They are physically and emotionally exhausted. They are having to shoot, kill, and eat wild dogs for survival and sustenance. Poor Daryl is eating worms, and Aaron balks at having to take a spoonful of applesauce. What a baby.

By all appearances, Aaron seems to be living like a pampered housecat within the steel confines of Alexandria…that is, when he’s not being sent off for weeks at a time to spy on promising nomadic groups, assess their potential value to the community, approach them, try to sell them on Alexandria, and bring them back there to “audition” for membership to the community.

Anyway, speaking of babies, we come to our next huge trump card in Aaron’s hand: Baby Judith. 

Having Baby Judith in the gang changes the stakes, because the longer that baby is out in the open, without shelter or proper nourishment, the greater the risk is that she will not survive these coming days, despite her father’s, and the gang’s, best efforts.

Alexandria, trap or not, seems to offer the best hope for Baby Judith’s, and the rest of the gang’s, immediate survival.

Alexandria is a big question, and a big risk, but the gang is fast running out of time, and out of options, these dire days, and offers like Aaron’s are rare indeed.

Rick Smash! may have beaten Aaron unconscious, for a moment, but the offer, with all its questions, remains…should the gang go with Aaron?

Is the promise of shelter, and protection, that Alexandria offers, with all its red flags and unknowns, worth the risk?

Many in the gang are thinking yes, and after Aaron’s burly beatdown, Rick Smash! finds himself outnumbered by those who are of the opinion that Aaron may really be a good guy, after all, and maybe Rick Smash! shouldn’t have punched him.

I, of course, was still fanning myself from all the hotness of the Rick Smash! beatdown moment, but I could definitely relate to Michonne and the rest of the gang’s collective thought, that they are tired and hungry and sick of all this shit, out here, and maybe they do want to go see what Alexandria is all about.

Michonne is definitely in this latter category. As Carl and Judith’s Newmom, she has the children to think about.  So, as Aaron lay unconscious on the barn floor, Michonne whisper-hisses to Rick, “So we’re clear, that look wasn’t a ‘let’s attack that man’ look, it was a ‘he seems like an ok guy to me’ look.”

michonne talks to rick 1

Ha ha, great early Richonne girlfriend-schools-the-new-boyfriend-on-the-communication-works moment. Those are bound to happen, especially when your new future boyfriend is prone to hulking out and becoming Rick Smash!

Rick basically looks at Michonne, unremorseful, and says, “We gotta secure,” before ordering Carl to dump Aaron’s pack, saying, “Let’s see who this guy really is.”

Michonne, who is no ordinary woman, and who can hulk out pretty ferociously, herself, will not be deterred. She tries again, saying Rick’s name, but he is now in full Rick In Charge/Deputy On The Edge mode, striding around, ordering everyone to be on the alert. ” Everyone else, eyes and ears open. They’re coming for us…we might not know how, or when, but they are.”

Maggie, kneeling beside Aaron's unconscious form, turns and gently tries to chime in the voice of reason.

As Carol and Daryl bind Aaron’s hands behind his unconscious form, Maggie, kneeling, turns to Rick and gently tries to chime in, back up Michonne, be a voice of reason, “Me and Sasha, we didn’t see him…if he wanted to hurt us, he could have.”

Rick-In-Charge does not respond to this, as he has a barn to secure.  He loudly asks if anyone sees anything. Glenn peers out through the slats of the barn, reports, “Just a lot of places to hide.”

“Keep looking,”  barks Rick In Charge, and Glenn turns (a trifle wearily) back to his post.

Rick strides over to Carl, who has emptied the contents of Aaron’s backpack, and asks him what he found.  Carl hands Rick an orange flare gun.

“I’ve never seen a gun like that before,” Carl says to Rick. Rick takes the gun, looks in the chamber, then up at Aaron, begins to stride over to him.

Aaron is beginning to come to, realizing where he is, and what is happening. He looks up at Maggie, who is trying to blot his bloody left ear, and then gives a small laugh, remembering. “That’s a hell of a right cross, there, Rick,” he says, loudly.

Wow, maybe Aaron isn't such a wuss, after all. Maybe he teaches the cardio kickboxing class at Alexandria on Thursday nights.

Wow, maybe Aaron isn’t such a wuss, after all. Maybe he teaches the cardio kickboxing class at Alexandria on Thursday nights.

“Sit him up,” Rick orders. Maggie begins to suggest that maybe that’s not the best idea, but Aaron assures her he’s fine. Rick, who doesn’t care either way, says, “He’ll be fine, sit him up.” Michonne’s sitting there, thinking, “I am so annoyed with him right now…but this alpha male thing he’s got going is totally turning my crank right now…damn him!”

Michonne and Maggie help sit Aaron up, who begins to say, “You’re being cautious…I completely understand – …” when Rick interrupts him, asking, “How many of your people are out there?” 

When Aaron looks questioningly at Rick, not answering, Rick holds up the orange flare gun. “You have a flare gun, you have it to signal your people…how many of them are there?

aaron asks does it matter

For the first time since coming into the barn, Aaron’s demeanor closes down to something less than his open, easygoing manner of before. Aaron looks worried, seems to be stalling. “Does it matter?” he asks Rick.

rick says it does matter

Rick’s manner, on the other hand, is pure Interrogation Room. “Yes,” he whispers, in answer to Aaron’s question….

yes it does

“…yes, it does.”

Aaron backpedals, conceding that, “Of course, it matters how many people are actually out there, but does it matter how many people I tell you are out there?”

aaron as aaron talks3 rick as aaron talks

Aaron continues,Because, I’m pretty sure that no matter how many people I tell you are out there…”

“…8…”

“…32…444…”

“…zero... No matter what I say, you’re not going to trust me.”

Rick looks down at Aaron, retorts,

Rick looks down at Aaron, retorts, “It’s hard to trust anyone who smiles after getting punched in the face.” Oooo, burn, Aaron!

Aaron, however, retorts in kind,

Aaron, however, retorts in kind, “How about a guy who leaves bottles of water for you in the road?”

Rick looks at Daryl, who turns to look at the bottles of water on the table, which are indeed the same brand as the bottled water on the road. Daryl whirls back on Aaron, steps towards him. “How long you people been followin’ us?” Daryl growls down at him.

Aaron answers immediately, with an incredulous laugh,

Aaron answers immediately, with an incredulous laugh, “Long enough to see that you practically ignore a pack of roamers on your trail…long enough to see that despite a lack of food, and water, you never turned on each other.”

Aaron looks around at the group, as if marveling at them. “You’re survivors, and you’re people… Like I said, and I hope you won’t punch me for saying this, again, but that is the most important resource in the world.”

This statement is true enough, and the gang exchanges looks, registering the import of these words. Rick steps towards Aaron and asks again, softly but menacingly, “How many others are out there?”

Aaron knows the stalling time is over. “One,” he answers. No reply, excepting a small shake of Rick’s head. Aaron continues, “I knew you wouldn’t believe me…if it’s not words, if it’s not pictures, what would it take to convince you that this is for real?”

Still no reply from the gang. Aaron has a thought,

Still no reply from the gang. Aaron has a thought, “What if I drove you to the community? All of you? If we leave now, we’d get there by lunch.”

Rick replies that he’s not sure how the 15 of them would all fit in the car that he, Aaron, and his one friend drove down here in. Aaron is quick to reply that they took separate cars, that they wanted to be able to bring an entire group back “home” if they found one.

“There is enough room for all of us,” Aaron tells them.

New Carol asks, skeptically,

New Carol asks, skeptically, “And you parked just a couple of miles away, right?

Aaron’s reply is immediate, “East on Ridge Road, just after Route 16…we wanted to get them closer, but then the storm came, blocked the road…we couldn’t clear it.” It does sound like Aaron is telling the truth about all this, as there is no hesitation in what he says, no guile in how he says it.

Rick, however, is not convinced. “Yeah, you really thought this through…”

“Rick,” Aaron protests, “If I wanted to ambush you, I would do it here…light the barn on fire, pick you off as you ran out the only exit…” Another good point by Aaron.

As Rick and Aaron regard each other, Aaron says, earnestly, looking into Rick's face,

As Rick and Aaron regard each other, Aaron says, earnestly, looking into Rick’s face, “You can trust me.”

can they trust him.

The gang stands around, looking down at Aaron. Of course they want to believe him, want to trust him…but can they?

michonne volunteers

Michonne turns to Rick, volunteers to go check out the cars.

“There aren’t any cars,” Rick replies. Michonne counters, voice soft, “There’s only one way to find out.”

“We don’t need to find out,” replies Rick.

Michonne counters,

Michonne counters, “We do. You know what you know…you’re sure of it. I’m not.” Rick regards Michonne, has no ready reply. (Watching this, I was thinking, “Man, she is so good for him!” ) Michonne is strong enough to stand up to Rick, but she’s cool enough to do it respectfully, and not make him feel like a dick for just wanting to protect his people. Richonne is some mad sexy when they butt heads! I kept wanting them to take it to the barn floor, and wrestle it out.

Maggie interrupts the sexual tension by siding with Michonne.

Maggie interrupts the sexual tension by siding with Michonne. “Me neither,” she says, simply, giving Rick a small, “I’m sorry, I love you, but I gotta go see for myself,” smile, with the barest shake of her head.

The days of the Ricktatorship are long gone...Rick looks down, knows he must give in.

The days of the Ricktatorship are long gone… Rick looks down, and deep down, he knows he must give in. Still, so unwilling to risk any of his people, Rick tries to talk Michonne out of it…

...he says, hoarsely,

…he says, hoarsely, “Your way’s dangerous, mine isn’t.” Michonne responds, “Passing up a place where we can live? Where Judith can live?

That’s pretty dangerous.”

Michonne's face softens.

Michonne’s face softens. “We need to find out what this is,” she says, softly, looking into Rick’s face. Her voice is reassuring, “We can handle ourselves.”

Michonne's face, and manner, become firm, no-nonsense.

Michonne’s face, and manner become firm again. Her voice is no-nonsense. “So that’s what we’re gonna do.”  It is settled. Rick, and everyone else, knows it.  (OMG, I am loving Michonne so hard right now.)

Rick is bested, and he knows it. Top Mama has spoken. He shakes his head, then turns and calls to Abraham.

“Yeah,” Abraham agrees. “I’ll walk with them.” He draws up his rifle and walks over to the others.

“Rosita,” Rick calls next. Rosita nods, looks down a moment, then says, “Ok.”

Rick asks Glenn if they have enough firepower if there’s trouble. Glenn replies, “We got what we got.” As Daryl pulls Aaron up and leads him towards the back of the room, Rick tells Michonne and the other volunteers that the “walkies” are out of juice, so if they’re not back in 60 minutes, they will come after them.  Michonne nods, looks at Rick a moment.

Michonne has got her game face on, looking like a total badass.

Michonne has got her game face on, looking like a total badass.

Rick says, as she’s about to go, “This might be just what they want…”

Mmmm, can’t help but get that last word, last dig in, huh, Rick?

Michonne's reaction to Rick's baiting comment is awesome...she narrows her eyes, says nothing, turns and walks out the door.

Michonne’s reaction to Rick’s baiting comment is awesome…she narrows her eyes, says nothing, turns and walks out the door. Gotta believe in your woman, Rick Grimes.

After the volunteer troupe leaves, Rick turns to the others, says that if they're all in the barn, they're a target. He orders them outside, in groups of twos, within eyeshot. Daryl tells him he's got the area covered. They file out, leaving Rick, Aaron, and Judith in the barn.

After the volunteer troupe leaves, Rick turns to the others, says that if they’re all in the barn, they’re a target. He orders them outside, in groups of twos, within eyeshot. Daryl tells him he’s got the area covered. They file out, leaving Rick, Aaron, and Judith in the barn.

As Rick peers out through a crack in the barn door, Aaron tells him that before the turn, he, Aaron, worked for an NGO, delivering food and medical supplies around Nigeria. Aaron says that he had guns pointed in his face by

As Rick peers out through a crack in the barn door, Aaron tells him that before the turn, he, Aaron, worked for an NGO, delivering food and medical supplies around the Niger River delta. Aaron says that he had guns pointed in his face by “bad people” every other week.

“You’re not bad people,” Aaron says to Rick. “You’re not going to kill us, and we are definitely not going to kill you.”

Still peering out, Rick replies,

Still peering out, Rick replies, “Just because we’re good people doesn’t mean we won’t kill you.”

Rick then turns, looks down at Aaron.

Rick then turns, looks down at Aaron. “If the five of them aren’t back in an hour, I’ll put a knife in the base of your skull.”

Meanwhile, Glenn-In-Charge is trying on the hardline approach, you know, just to see if it fits. “Eyes open, everybody. Weapons up. If you see anybody coming at us, you fire.

Abraham agrees, “Copy that,” while Maggie looks away. She makes it look like she’s scanning the horizon, but I feel like she’s more trying not to look embarrassed for her boyfriend right now, while letting him have his moment.

Michonne turns to look at Glenn, studies his face a moment before looking ahead once more, and asking, “So, if we see someone, we just shoot them?

Looking away, Maggie agrees,

Looking out to the side horizon, Maggie chimes in, “That’s a good question.”

“What if it’s someone like us?” Michonne asks Glenn.What if Aaron’s telling the truth? What if it’s someone who has nothing to do with this?”

“We’re five people walking with guns,” replies Glenn. “Nobody’s coming up to say hello.”

“But, that’s exactly what happened,” Michonne points out, reasonably.

“If it’s someone like us,” Glenn replies, “Then we should be afraid of them.”  Ha!

Glenn continues, wondering aloud, if Aaron and his person/people were really watching them, then they saw what they did, yesterday. (What, eating the dogs? Killing the walkers? What was so bad about that? What the hell else were they supposed to do?)

Glenn continues, after seeing what they, the gang, are capable of doing, why would Aaron’s people want them, the gang, to come live with them in their community? (I am thinking back to my “soldiers for hire” theory in answer to this question, but of course, “hot babymaking potential” is still on the table of possibilities.)

Michonne muses, “People like us saved a priest…saved a girl who rolled up on the prison with the Governor.” Michonne smiles, shaking her head, adds, “Saved a crazy lady with a sword. He saw that.”

Glenn replies, grimly, “I don’t know what he saw.”

The shot pans out, until we see the open field, and the gang of volunteers are now far away.  And we see, crouching behind a stilled tractor…

Someone's watching.

Someone’s watching…

Meanwhile, Baby Judith is hungry, and crying, as Rick tries to crush some acorns in a bowl, presumably to feed to her.

Yuck. I have read that while acorns are certainly edible, and can be crushed to make a meal, or a flour, that they are extremely bitter, and must be soaked in water for a long, long time to leach the bitterness out.

Yuck. I have read that while acorns are certainly edible, and can be crushed to make a meal, or a flour, that they are extremely bitter, and must be soaked in water for a long, long time to leach the bitterness out. Good luck feeding those to that baby, Rick Grimes. You will hear some real crying then.

Aaron looks nervously towards the barn door, then towards Rick, who is on one knee, holding the wailing baby, trying to crush the acorns in a bowl. “You did see the jar of applesauce in my bag, right?” Rick looks at him, says nothing, goes back to trying to crush acorns with one hand, while holding his crying baby daughter in the other.

Aaron says, “This isn’t a trick…this isn’t about trying to get you to like me.  This is about self-preservation, because if the roamers hear her and come this way, I know I’ll be first to go.”  Rick looks up, shifts his daughter to his other arm, and stands, goes to the table, where a sealed mason jar of applesauce sits.

Rick looks at Aaron a moment before turning his attention back to the task of opening the jar (one handed, parents learn to do everything one-handed when there’s baby-holding and baby-carrying going on), spooning up some applesauce, and walking over to where Aaron is sitting, on the barn floor, hands bound behind him, around a support beam.  Rick wordlessly holds the spoonful of applesauce to Aaron. You first.

Aaron looks up at Rick, horrified.

Aaron looks up at Rick, horrified. “Do you think that I’m trying to poison your baby daughter?”

Aaron protests,

Aaron protests, “I’m tied up, and you’ve already expressed a desire to kill me by sticking a knife in my head, so how would cruelly killing your daughter help the situation?” Rick counters, a little crazily, that maybe she doesn’t die, maybe she just gets sick, and Aaron’s the only one who can save her, and then he, Rick, loses. Awww, you are a little crazy right now, Rick, and I can’t tell if your beard is real or fake, but I still love you, crazy-ass imaginings, fake-ass looking beard, and all.

Aaron replies that he is the only one who can help her, as he has the applesauce, and so they all win. Rick, undeterred, holds the spoonful of applesauce out to Aaron: Eat.

“I hate applesauce,” Aaron whispers miserably. He tells Rick his mom used to make him eat foods he disliked to make him more “manly.” That actually really sucks, and I do feel real bad for Aaron about that, but I can’t help but think, “You wanna try a real manly treat, Aaron? Try eating dog. Now, eat the fucking applesauce, and be done with it, so poor Baby Judith can eat her lunch!”

Aaron balks a moment more, until Rick reminds him that he, Aaron, will be first to go if Judith’s crying attracts “roamers.” Aaron opens up, and the applesauce goes in.  Rick can’t resist tasting the spoon, after.

It made me think, when was the last time Rick, or any of them, tasted the sweetness of fruit, or had an apple? Probably a long time, like back at the prison. And here Aaron is, balking at taking a spoonful of applesauce.

As Rick turns away to begin feeding Judith, Aaron tries to tell him that at the community, they can find a place for Rick and his children to live that would be so big, that nobody would be able to hear her cry outside the walls. Rick looks at Aaron a moment, then says,

As Rick turns away to begin feeding Judith, Aaron tries to tell him that at the community, they can find a place for Rick and his children to live that would be so big, that nobody would be able to hear her cry outside the walls. Rick looks at Aaron a moment, then says, “You have 43 minutes.” Aaron’s like, “Gulp.”

Meanwhile, the volunteers have found something…

Michonne looks over at Glenn and Maggie.

Michonne looks over at Glenn and Maggie. “He was telling the truth,” she says.

rv and car

Well, he was telling the truth about that, anyway…

The volunteers hear a noise in the woods, and they draw their weapons. Glenn barks at whomever it is to put their hands in the air, come out where they can see them. After a moment’s more rustling, we see:

Mr. and Mrs. Walker.

Mr. and Mrs. Walker. “Honey, look, our brunch guests have arrived! Welcome to our woods…you’re just in time…I was just telling the wife, ‘Sure am getting hungry!’

Abraham says, “I got it,” and from behind, Rosita says, We got it.” They stride forward to take care of Mr. and Mrs. Walker.

Hi, I’m the missus! Boy howdy, you’re a big one...and aren’t you  a real sight for sore eyes…and sore face…and sore everything else. I could just eat you up! In fact, I think I will…if you just hold still a sec…”

woods walker say hey

Hey, that’s my arm! Was my arm…you’re not exactly friendly, you know that?”

woods walker say hey no fair

Rosita finishes Mrs. Walker off with a bash to the head…

mr walker gets a spear to the head

…before going to town on Mr. Walker.

mr walker go bye bye

Um, I think I’ll just lie down here and take a little nap before brunch.”

Abraham turns towards Rosita.

Abraham turns towards Rosita. “Thanks,” he says, simply.

Abraham sneaks a look at her face, but Rosita does not turn to look at him. After a moment, she walks away.

Abraham sneaks a look at her face, but Rosita does not turn to look at him. After a moment, she walks away.

abraham and rostia clear the rv

Abraham and Rosita clear the RV, negotiating the the close space and the awkwardness between them.

abraham exclaims and pulls a can from cupboard

Then, Abraham pulls a can out of the cupboard, exclaims softly, “Gracious Ignacious.”

getti rings

S’Getti Rings … were those the kind the Gov dumped out the window?

Abraham gives a little laugh, “Oh-ho, it has been a while.” Rosita, smiling, remembers, “I think I saw Rex eat three cans one night.”

“Four,” Abraham remembers. “Sonuvabitch knew if he didn’t toss ’em back, I’d a come for ’em.”

abraham looks down at the can remembering

Abraham looks down at the can, remembering Rex…

rosita is sad remembering

…and the happy memories turn into sad ones, as they think of Rex, and times past, and all the things, people they have lost.

Abraham approaches Rosita, asks her back at the fire truck, after Eugene…did she think he was going to hurt her?

“No.” Rosita’s reply is immediate.

“It’s not you,” she says. They both look away for a moment. (Well, that’s a little promising, right? Like maybe there’s a chance for reconciliation, or maybe a slow dance at Friday Night Dance Troupe?) I really like these two together!

Later, back at the barn…

back at the barn

You’re lucky you were telling the truth, Aaron.

ricks like if only we had a can opener

These cans of food are seriously bringing up some emotional memories for the gang.

Rick turns and informs Aaron that the cans of food, “These are ours now.” Aaron wearily concedes that there is more than enough. This recruitment run has been way tougher than Aaron bargained for…here he is, sitting on a barn floor with his hands tied behind his back, tethered to a barn pole. He probably really needs to pee.

Usually,at this point, Aaron’s probably basking in the thanks and adulation of the rescued survivors, driving the latest imports back to Alexandria, and regaling his captive, adoring audience with amusing tidbits about the latest Alexandria antics (real or fake, remains to be seen) while the survivors nod and exclaim and over-laugh at Aaron’s jokes, chowing down cold canned foods and chugging applesauce in the back seats.

Rick adds that the canned foods are theirs, the group’s, whether or not they decide to go back with Aaron…at this point, Carl interjects, asks his father incredulously, “What do you mean, why wouldn’t we go?

NewMom Michonne chimes in, backing Carl up, answering his question while addressing the group, “If he were lying, or wanted to hurt us, but he isn’t...and he doesn’t. We need this. So, we’re going, all of us. Somebody say something if they feel differently.”

rick has nothing to say

Nobody says anything. Rick doesn’t say anything.

daryl says this barn smells like horseshit

Addressing Rick, from the floor, Daryl says,I dunno, man…this barn smells like horseshit.”

michonne waits for rick's response

Michonne looks over, awaiting Rick’s response.

rick says yeah, were going

Yeah. We’re going,” Rick relents.

michonne is pleased

Michonne looks up like a satisfied queen. She is pleased.

Rick turns to Aaron and asks him where the camp is.  Aaron, reading into the question, stammers that usually, when he brings recruits back, he is the one driving.  Aaron assures the gang that he while he thinks they’re good people, in fact, he’d bet his life on it, he’s not willing to bet his friends’ lives…

Michonne steps forward, in a role reversal with Rick, who hangs back, and interrupts Aaron.

Michonne steps forward, in a role reversal with Rick, who now hangs back, and interrupts Aaron. “You’re not driving, she says. “So, if you wanna get home, you have to tell us how.” Top Mama Michonne is kicking ass and taking names!

Aaron looks over at Rick, who is crouched down with pen and paper, ready to take notes...on directions to the camp, and on how hot his boss lady gf is when she's taking charge and getting it done!

Aaron looks over at Rick, who is crouched down with pen and paper, ready to take notes...on directions to the camp, and on how hot his boss lady gf is when she’s taking charge and getting it done!

Aaron nods, conceding, says to take Route 16 North, and then he’ll tell them more when they get there. Rick counters that they will take Route 23 North.  (On Talking Dead, later that night, guest Paul Feig and Chris Hardwick poked some gentle fun at Rick Grimes for insisting on taking another route, but I do see where there could be ambush points set up along a preplanned route.)

Aaron protests that while Route 16 is cleared, Route 23 is not. Rick insists that they will take Route 23, and they will leave at sundown.

Sasha asks, in disbelief, “We’re doing this at night? Rick replies that he knows it’s dangerous, but they can’t come rolling up to the gates during the day…if it turns out not to be safe, they need to get gone before anybody knows they are there.

Aaron insists that nobody is going to hurt them. “You’re trying to protect your group, but you’re putting them in danger.”

Rick crouches down, looks right at Aaron.

Rick crouches down, looks right at Aaron. “Tell us where your camp is…we’ll leave right now.” Aaron looks around, then sadly shakes his head. He can’t.

Rick looks to the others, stands, tells them to eat up, as it’s gonna be a long night. Rest up.  He walks out of the barn, and after a moment, Michonne follows him.

michonne out by car 1

Rick is crouched at the car, talking who-rides-with-whom logistics, then looks up, asks Michonne if she’s ok. (He really is scoring some major bf points in this episode.)

did you mean were going for real

Michonne asks Rick if back there, when he said they were going, was that for real, or was that just to find out where Aaron’s camp was?

rick stands says were going

Rick stands, tells Michonne they are going. For real.

rick asks michonne what did she hear

Rick then asks Michonne that back at the prison fence, when she first approached, what did she hear?

michonne answers that she heard nothing

Michonne replies that she heard nothing. “Terminus?” asks Rick. Again, Michonne answers, “Nothing.”

rick says he will need to decide

Rick nods. “Some time tonight, we’ll be outside his camp’s walls, and without seeing inside, I’m gonna have to decide whether to bring my family in. He (Aaron) asked me before what it would take for me to believe it was real. Truth is, I’m not sure anything could convince me to go in there. But, I’m gonna see.” Rick turns away, towards the car, and gives Michonne one last, sweet look. “I wanna see,” he says to her. ❤

Later…

It's a tailights caravan on Rt 23 N.

It’s a tailights caravan on Rt 23 N.

Aaron looks like he's about to suggest a game of

Aaron looks like he’s about to suggest a game of “I Spy.”

...when Rick finds Aaron's license plate collection in the glove compartment. At Rick's questioning look towards Glenn, Aaron leans forward from the back seat.

…when Rick finds Aaron’s license plate collection in the glove compartment. At Rick’s questioning look towards Glenn, Aaron leans forward from the back seat. “Oh,” he explains, “I’m trying to collect all 50 states…”

“…and put them on a wall in my house.”

“You have your own house?”

Aaron looks over at Michonne, nods, gestures towards the envelope of photographs on his pack, invites her to “see for yourself.”

Michonne reaches for the envelope, looks at the pictures of a charming wrap-around porch that boasts a fabulous view of the wall and bracings.

Michonne reaches for the envelope, looks at the pictures of a charming wrap-around porch, which overlooks an enviable view of Alexandria’s walls and bracings…

Aaron allows himself a smile, looking on as Michonne flips through the pictures. Houses, buidlings, the wall...but something key is missing from all the pictures...

Aaron allows himself a smile, looking on as Michonne flips through the pictures. Houses, buildings, the wall…but a key element is missing from all the pictures…

Michonne, alarmed, looks up, asks Aaron why he doesn't have any pictures of his people?

Michonne, alarmed, looks up, asks Aaron why he doesn’t have any pictures of his people?

Aaron's self-satisfied smile of before quickly disappears, and he begins to stammer out some bullshit about how he tried to take a group picture, but the exposure, and then problems with the developing...he's clearly lying. But why? My first three guesses, right off the top of my head: 1) They were all shut inside the factory warehouse, mass-producing some product that Alexandria makes and sells to other outside communities, like...license plates, and they only get two 15-minute breaks every 12 hours; 2) Everyone in Alexandria is bound and gagged in their respective gimp closets, except for the dominants who keep watch over them; 3) Alexandria is actually a leprosy colony, and the inhabitants, while still techinically living, are losing flesh and limbs at a rate that rivals the decomposition of the walkers. What's your guess?

Aaron’s self-satisfied smile of before quickly disappears, and he begins to stammer out some bullshit about how he tried to take a group picture, but the exposure, and then problems with the developing…he’s clearly lying. But why? My first three guesses, right off the top of my head: 1) The people were all shut inside the factory warehouse, mass-producing some product that Alexandria makes and sells to other outside communities, like…license plates, and they only get two 15-minute breaks every 12 hours; 2) Everyone in Alexandria is bound and gagged in their respective gimp closets, except for the dominants who keep watch over them; 3) Alexandria is actually a leper colony, and the inhabitants, while still technically living, are losing flesh and limbs at a rate that rivals the decomposition of the walkers. What’s your guess?

Michonne knows immediately that Aaron is lying, and looks to the front seat, asks Rick,

Michonne knows immediately that Aaron is lying, and looks to the front seat, asks Rick, “Did you ask him the three questions?”

Everyone looks at Rick, who seems to be, like,

Everyone looks at Rick, who seems to be, like, Um, no, I did not…shit was going on, and I did kind of forget to ask the three questions…and, btw, there are 15 of us, and why is it always my job to ask the three questions? You motherfuckers know the three questions, and aside from Baby Judith, who can’t talk, maybe one of you could have thought of that shit, and asked...I was all sleuthing the flare gun and shitdoes it always have to be me, asking the three questions?

Rick does not give voice to his internal monologue, simply answers, “No.”

So, Michonne turns to Aaron, and asks the first of the three questions, “How many walkers have you killed?”

how many walkers have you killed

Aaron feigns ignorance, or confusion, at the direct question. “I’m sorry, what? Michonne repeats the question. “How many?”

aaron plays dumb

As Glenn listens, and waits, for Aaron to answer...

As Glenn listens, and waits, for Aaron to answer…

Rick, looking ahead at the road, awaits Aaron's answer...he hems and haws before answering, a trifle defensively,

Rick, looking ahead at the road, listens, and waits for, Aaron’s answer, as well. Aaron gapes at Michonne, indignant, hems and haws before answering, a trifle defensively, I don’t know…a lot.”

Michonne continues to the second question: “How many people?”

This time, Aaron's reply is more immediate.

This time, Aaron’s reply is more immediate. “Two,” he answers. “Why?” MIchonne asks the third question, looking at Aaron. Without missing a beat, Aaron replies, “Because they tried to kill me.”

Look what Rick's found...

Look what Rick’s found…“Hey, Aaron, are you starting a collection of parabolic microphones from all 50 states as well?”

Glenn, who is driving, looks back at Aaron, shocked.  “You were listening to us?”

Aaron actually manages to sound a little testy at being asked this question, says something like, Yes, yes, I told you I was watching you…listening is a part of watching, duh…what part of, ‘I was spying on you’ do you people not understand?”

Rick says, quickly, that the others in Aaron’s group probably have mic’s like these, and they probably heard the gang’s plans. “This isn’t safe,” cries Rick, and then those words ring especially true, as Rick and Glenn brace themselves for the oncoming threat in the road…

rick and glenn brace

Look out…!

night hiker walkers

…for the horde of NightHiker Walkers!

walker guts on the windshield

As Glenn plows through the rotting walkers, their blood and guts smear the windshield, making it impossible to see out…

rick in shotgun walker slime

Rick’s first thought is of the RV behind them, but Glenn tells him to stay in the car, that the RV would have seen what was happening and are either behind them, or they were able to get away…

aaron and michonne freaking

In the back seat, Aaron is freaking while Michonne braces herself…

glenn plowing some walkers

Have I mentioned how much Glenn rules in this episode?

the massacremobile

Aaron’s classic old car has become a Walker Massacremobile.

The car finally clears a space from the walkers, and skids to a stop.  Rick jumps out, and sees no sign of the RV.  It seems they must have turned around, and Rick tells Glenn they will double back and meet the RV back up the road.

Glenn quickly tries to wipe the windshield clean before jumping back in the car...

Glenn quickly tries to wipe the windshield clean before jumping back in the car…

...and of course, the car won't start.

…and of course, the car won’t start.

And, here come the walkers.

And, here come the walkers.

Aaron is freaking the fuck out, of course. Michonne volunteers to go out and see what she can see, and goes out to the front hood, pulling walker guts and limbs from out of the hood and grille.

michonne pulls walker parts out of the car's hood

As the walkers near, Aaron, panicked, cries out that they are closing in. Rick turns to him and grinds out that they know that. Glenn frantically keeps trying to start the car, to no avail, of course…and then, Glenn sees something light up the sky. “Look!”

Someone has shot a flare up, obviously to signal Aaron. But, who?

Someone has shot a flare up, obviously to signal Aaron. But, who?

Aaron, upon seeing the flare go up, really starts to freak out.  He keeps saying, “This is over, I’ve gotta get out of here.

Rick turns and watches Aaron freaking out.

Rick turns and watches Aaron freaking out. “What’s going on?” he demands, but Aaron is in full bail mode. With hands still tied behind his back, Aaron kicks open the back door of the car, sending Michonne flying, and charges out into the night. Holy crap, dude.

Michonne starts to go after Aaron, and when Rick tries to call her back, she replies that the way to find the others is to go after Aaron.  They abandon the car and run into the woods, in the direction that Aaron went, and must engage in some serious walker slaughter.  As Michonne slices and dices with her katana, Rick fires upon the walkers, calling to Glenn to clear the way for them (I think that’s what he said).

night walkers glenn tries to clear a path out

Good shot, Glenn.

Good shot, Glenn.

Oh, no, Glenn, look out behind you!

Oh, no, Glenn, look out behind you!

Glenn narrowly avoids getting bitten.

Glenn narrowly avoids getting bitten.

Glenn smashes Look Out Behind You's undead brains in against a rock.

Glenn smashes Look Out Behind You Walker’s undead brains in against a rock.

Glenn hears a struggle nearby, finds…

Aaron, hands still tied behind his back, braced against a tree trunk, kicking at a walker.

Aaron, hands still tied behind his back, braced against a tree trunk, kicking at a walker.

Glenn thinks about it a minute, then, with a shake of his head, he goes to help Aaron, rekilling the walker and cutting Aaron’s hands free.  “Run if you want, “ Glenn tells Aaron, “I’ve got other things to worry about.” As Glenn turns to leave, Aaron quotes Glenn’s words to Daryl, the day before, back to him:

We can make it, but we can only make it together.”

“You said that,”  Aaron tells Glenn. “I was listening.” Creepy! What the hell is the deal with these people?

Meanwhile, Richonne is calling for Glenn, and fighting off some mad walkers in their neck of the woods. Rick’s gun runs out of bullets, and the walkers keep coming, so he pulls out the flare gun and aims it for one walker’s head, creating my new walker obsession, affectionately named on Talking Dead as Rick’s Little Bit of Flare Walker:

rick fires at the walker flare walker 1 flare walker 2 flare walker 3flare walker 4

How I love him. <3

How I love him.

Now officially out of firepower, Richonne must do The Dance of the Double Katana on the oncoming walkers…

richonne's dance of the double katana

Then, a hail of bullets comes from behind the walker horde, felling them in their shuffling tracks.  Rick and Michonne see, once the smoke clears…

Glenn and Aaron have come to save the day. Aaron holds up his hands, offers for Rick to tie him up again, if he needs to, but please hurry...methinks Aaron secretly is beginning to enjoy this!

Glenn and Aaron have come to save the day. Aaron holds up his hands, offers for Rick to tie him up again, if he needs to, but please hurry…methinks Aaron secretly is beginning to enjoy this getting tied up business!

Rick Grimes says,

Rick Grimes says, “Pass.”

As they emerge onto the open road, Rick turns to Aaron and asks where their people are. Aaron replies that he doesn’t know.  Rick tells Aaron that if this all is a trick to get their gang where Aaron’s people wants them, “Your people are gonna die tonight.” (Whew, another Cheryl Tunt shiver just went through me…so delicious, Deputy Smash!)

They reach an abandoned looking industrial park...Rick whistles his singsong whistle, and Daryl, who has been outside, keeping watch, waves to them and pounds on the door, signaling the others, inside.

They reach an abandoned looking industrial park. Rick whistles his singsong whistle, and Daryl, who has been outside, keeping watch, waves to them and pounds on the door, signaling the others, inside.

The gang reunites... Yay!

The gang reunites…Yay!

Aaron begins calling for Eric. He rushes inside, and when he hears a voice, he runs into a room, and finds…

eric

His totes adorbs bf, Eric.

eric says he likes maggie

Poor Eric’s ankle is injured. He likens it to a Volleyball injury. Maggie thinks it might be brokenI like her,” Eric tells Aaron. (Lucky, Maggie…you found a fabulous gay bestie, which I keep asking Santa for,  for Christmas, and have yet to get…I am lime green jelly!)

eric tells aaron it's not a big deal

Aaron is so upset seeing his love’s injury...Eric playfully chides Aaron, saying it’s “your fault” he got injured, as he loves Aaron so much that it makes him worry about him and do stupid things, like getting a tractor tire rolled over his ankle.

man make out sesh

Aaron rushes to Eric and pastes one on him, which made me cheer out loud. Man make-out sesh on prime time television…thank you, TWD!

eric found another license plate

Eric pulls out a gift for Aaron…a license plate from a state he does not yet have.  Aaron cannot bring himself to tell Eric the truth, but Eric figures it out. “You lost the license plates,” he guesses.  Aaron deadpans, “I lost the car.”

rick interrupts the mens giggle

Their giggle is interrupted by Rick, who has come in the room and is watching their interaction. “Hi, I’m Eric!” says Eric brightly. Aaron excuses himself and goes outside with Rick.

Aaron thanks the group for saving Eric.  He tells them he is indebted to them, and he will make sure he repays his debt to them when they get to their new community, Alexandria. Aaron tries to excuse himself to go back and be with his partner, but Rick tries to put the kibosh on that, telling Aaron he is going to sleep out there, with them, where Rick can keep an eye on him.

Aaron looks Rick square in the eye and tells him the only way he, Rick, his going to keep him, Aaron, away from Eric is to shoot him.  Glenn intervenes, and pulls Rick aside, telling Rick that Aaron told them where his camp was, that he was telling the truth about there being only one other person with him (Eric), and that both men are unarmed, one with a broken ankle.

“I want us to be safe too…I can’t give up everything else. I know what I said, but, it does matter.” Maggie, listening to this, is probably falling in love with Glenn all over again, in this moment.

Rick nods.  “All right,” he says. The voice of reason has spoken.

And so, the next morning, the gang is Hauling Ass To Alexandria (Isn't that the name of the country western song?).

And so, the next morning, the gang is Hauling Ass To Alexandria (Isn’t that the name of the country western song?).

In the back of the RV, while Eric sleeps, Aaron watches over him. Noah comes in with a bottle of water and a bottle of pills. Aaron says he wants to let Eric sleep, but Noah says the pills are for Aaron, as he knows that his hands must be hurting.

In the back of the RV, while Eric sleeps, Aaron watches over him. Noah comes in with a bottle of water and a bottle of pills. Aaron says he wants to let Eric sleep, but Noah says the pills are for Aaron, as he knows that his hands must be hurting.

As Noah turns to leave, Aaron asks him about his leg. Noah tells Aaron that he hurt it in a car accident with his dad, and he did get medical attention, so he feels lucky he can walk at all. Aaron tells Noah that they have a surgeon, Pete, who is gifted and who Aaron has seen

As Noah turns to leave, Aaron asks him about his leg. Noah tells Aaron that he hurt it in a car accident with his dad, and he did get medical attention, so he feels lucky he can walk at all. Aaron tells Noah that they have a surgeon, Pete, who is gifted and who Aaron has seen “do wonders” with others. Noah takes this in, asks, “Yeah?” Aaron nods, and Noah walks away, hopeful for the first time in a long time.

In the front of the RV, Eugene is teaching the rules to Seven Card Stud. Tara, I think, asks him a

In the front of the RV, Eugene is teaching the rules to Seven Card Stud. Tara, I think, asks “Seriously?” to one of the finer points of the game, and Eugene replies, “Serious as two copulatin’ dogs.” Ha!

Rosita, riding shotgun, points out the Washington Monument, which is visible in the horizon.

Rosita, riding shotgun, points out the Washington Monument, which is visible in the horizon. Abraham, look!”

Abraham, who is driving this RV, looks over and takes in the sight of something he has been striving to see, firsthand, for so long...

Abraham, who is driving this RV, looks over and takes in the sight of something he has been striving to see, firsthand, for so long…

He looks over at Rosita, who jokes,

He looks over at Rosita, who jokes, “Eyes on the road!”

Rosita is happy, though, you can tell.

Rosita is happy, though, you can tell.

Abraham looks down at the console. The battery light is on.  He asks Rosita how long they’ve got, and she says they are halfway there.  Abraham smiles, says they are going to make it…

A ways down the road, however...broken down again.

A ways down the road, however…broken down again.

Abraham's bummed (

Abraham’s bummed (“Might as well paint it red and put a ladder on it”), but Glenn says all it needs is another battery. Abraham asks him where they’re supposed to get one of those. Glenn brings him around to the other side of the RV, and shows him…

...a backup battery. Abraham asks Glenn how he knew it was there, and Glenn smiles in a silent homage to Dale. <3

…a backup battery. Abraham asks Glenn how he knew it was there, and Glenn smiles in a silent homage to Dale.

Meanwhile, sitting on the hood of the back car, Michonne looks over at Rick, tells him the fight's over...it's time to let it go. Michonne, Michonne, Michonne, the fight is never over, or there wouldn't be a show...but maybe everyone can get some rest, and some food, and a chance to party naked for a while.

Meanwhile, sitting on the hood of the back car, Michonne looks over at Rick, tells him the fight’s over…it’s time to let it go. Michonne, Michonne, Michonne, the fight is never over, or there wouldn’t be a show, would there?  But, maybe everyone can get some rest, and some food, and a chance for some consenting adults to party naked, for a little while, anyway.

“I know it’s hard, after it’s kept you warm, and alive, and fed…but the fight, it turns on you. You gotta let it go.” Michonne speaks from a place of knowing, and Rick listens to her, looking tortured, and hot, and majorly hairy.

I think, judging from the recent pictures of Andrew Lincoln, and the recent interviews, that a clean shave is in Rick Grimes' not-too-distant-future...and if it's Michonne who does the shaving, well, I would pretty much die of happiness at that scene, as well.

I think, judging from the recent pictures of Andrew Lincoln, and the recent interviews, that a clean shave is in Rick Grimes’ not-too-distant-future…and if it’s Michonne who does the shaving, well, I would pretty much die of happiness at that scene, as well, especially if she uses her katana’s blade.

Rick tells Michonne that Bob was telling him the same thing, when to give up the fight, and let the world and others in again.  Rick tells Michonne he needs a moment, then goes off and, from what I gathered, stashes Aaron’s handgun in a plastic blender...just in case.

And then, they arrive at the gates of Alexandria.

they pull up to the gates

Rick looks at the gate.

Rick looks at the gate.

at the gate 4 children playing

Then Rick hears the one sound that could convince him to enter those gates...the sound of children playing inside the gates.

at the gate 5 rick looks at michonne

As the happy sounds wash over them, Michonne gives Rick a sweet smile. When is the last time anybody heard that beautiful noise, the sound of children playing? Too long.

at the gate 6 hand on hand

Michonne puts her hand on Rick’s a moment, then turns to him, asks him if he’s ready. After a moment, Rick tells her he is. He takes his hands off the steering wheel, puts the car in park, and gets out of the car to get Judith from the back seat.

at the gate 7 at the gate 8 baby and rick lock eyes at the gate 8 get that baby

at the gate 10 rick and judith love look

The only thing hotter to me than Rick Smash! is Papi Grimes, loving on his children with infinite love and tenderness.

at the gate 11

Well, darlings, of course this week’s Deadie goes to Andrew Lincoln, and Rick Grimes, for being such a beautiful badass, a loving father to his children, his new gf, and his chosen family, and for choosing to believe…and for stashing that handgun in the plastic blender…just in case.

Live long and prosper, my WD darlings. <3 Spock forever!

Live long and prosper, my WD darlings. ❤

Until next week, and enjoy the playlist.

Playlist:

Cake, “The Distance”

Mudhoney, “Halloween”

Plague Vendor, “Black Sap Scriptures”

The Knife, “Heartbeats” (for Abraham and Rosita

Love Battery, “Float”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Runaway”

Land of Talk, “Yuppy Flu”

The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 10, “Them”

“Them”

In The Walking Dead’s Season 5, Episode 10, “Them,” we, the viewers, along with our righteous gang, are finally getting that chance we’ve been waiting for, to slow down, take a long, ragged breath, and process, for a moment, everything that has happened, thus far, in the relatively short period of time since the prison community was struck down, first by a highly lethal virus, then, by a madman and his army…and so on.

Our gang has suffered so much loss in this brief space of time.  Maggie, at this point, has lost her entire family,  She, and Daryl, are reeling over Beth’s senseless murder at the hands of Dawn Lerner, after a hostage trade negotiation at Grady Memorial went horribly awry.

Sasha has lost, in rapid, horrifying succession, first, her sweet boyfriend, Bob, and most recently, her beloved brother, Tyreese.

Noah has just discovered that his mother, twin brothers, and entire community have been brutally murdered by an unknown enemy. He, too, has lost his entire family at this point.

Abraham, having lost his entire family, before, when they ran away from him in terror and were attacked by walkers, has suffered another blow: Eugene Porter’s confession that he had been lying, the whole time, about having the key to a cure for the walker epidemic. With Eugene’s confession came the crushing realization, for Abraham, Rosita, and many others of the group, that there may not be an end in sight to the horror and savagery that the world has become.

This hell that they are living, every day, may be all that there is.

Abraham had embraced Eugene’s lie readily, before, as it gave him a mission, and a reason to continue on. Now, Abraham seems to be grappling with the same doubts and uncertainties as everyone else.  In Episode 510, we see Abraham taking frequent pulls from a bottle of liquor he has found in a sweep of abandoned cars, and there is not much direct interaction between him and Rosita, at this point.

On top of everything else, poor Abraham may have lost the love of his hot, sexy girlfriend (I truly hope this is not the case, Abraham, my man, but if so, maybe she’s still up for a fwb scenario now and again on those cold postapocalyptic nights…here’s hoping, bud!).

Carol is sure to be feeling the loss of Tyreese keenly, as he, and she, shared, just between them, the terrible knowledge and grief of Lizzie’s downward spiral into insanity, and then, Mika and Lizzie’s tragic deaths back at the pecan grove.

And now, Carol is watching, and feeling, Daryl pull away from her, and the group.  While Carol seems to be keeping herself open and available for him, and reaching out, letting Daryl know she’s there, Carol also knows that she needs to keep giving him the time and space he needs, right now, to process the loss of Beth, and work through his grief.

I personally think it must suck for Carol, deep down inside, to see how hard Daryl is grieving for Beth, on some level, as it confirms that he had deep feelings for the beautiful young girl.

And, like I said, if Daryl and Beth had been together longer, just the two of them, well, we all probably agree that something would have happened, sooner than later.  

In my personal estimation, judging from how things were progressing, from the span of Season 4’s “After,” to “Still,” and then, finally, “Alone,” the making out would have happened more on the sooner scale.

Remember, in “Alone,” when Beth asked Daryl what made him change his mind about the goodness of people, and he fixed her with that sweet love look, at the kitchen table?

He was all like:

IMG_3909

And she was all like:

IMG_3914

(Sorry for the reflections, it was back before I knew how to do a screenshot.)

But, reflections aside, those archival shots from “Alone,” to me, are photographic proof of:

L-O-V-E. Young, wild, (kind of) forbidden, natural, blossoming LOVE.

Daryl is good at holding his cards close to his chest, but he’s not good at lying. Daryl doesn’t lie.  If he can’t be honest, he’ll keep silent. He won’t say it.

Daryl showed his love for Beth, clearly, in actions more than words, back in Season 4, and later, in the first part of Season 5, Daryl shows his love for Carol in actions, and in words (because that’s how the grown women do…you gotta show them in actions and in words, none of this “one or the other” business. Grown women need to see you got all the skills.)

In “Consumed,” Daryl clearly, and honestly, communicates his love, and his intention (“I’m trying”)  to Carol, and when we saw that episode, it showed us how far Daryl has come in owning and expressing his heartfelt emotions.

This is something he hasn’t been able to do before, and I find it very beautiful and endearing to see this sweetness blossoming in Daryl. It’s such a crazy-ass thing that it took an apocalypse, and the gathering of fine people who came into his life because of it, for Daryl to get to the point where he could open up and be who he really is.

And, I said, before, if I were Carol, and I saw how bad the object of my singular love and affection was pining for someone else, well, that personally would really suck for me. But, it’s honest, and that’s how Daryl does it, and to be with Daryl would mean that New Carol would have to roll with that.

New Carol, being the champion that she is, seems to know all that, and she seems to be able to not take it too personally, or too hard, when Daryl rebuffs her, pushes her away, and goes off, alone, which is often, in Episode 510.

Carol knows Daryl pretty well by now, and she knows that this is what he needs to do, and how he needs to do it, and hopefully, when he is done, he will be ready and happy to come, fully and ready to party naked, back to Caryl.

And, with this, I am raising my coffee in a toast:  To Caryl!

Moving on, now, to other characters…

Tara has been remarkably resilient, and adaptable, since we first met her back in the middle of Season 4. Tara has also had to come to grips with the loss of her entire family: her sister, her niece, her father, and her new girlfriend, Alicia.  Tara, who fell prey to the Governor’s lies, has also had to come to grips with her own naivete, guilt, and self-doubt for playing a part in the destruction and massacre of the prison.

Tara has made her apologies, and her peace, with Maggie, and the others in the group, and, as she is funny, solid in a crisis, and a good friend, Tara seems like she may play a key role in helping the others heal their wounds and open back up to each other.

The gang is having a hard time finding the balance between nursing their private wounds and keeping open and communicative with the good folks around them, who are also hurting, exhausted, hungry, thirsty…demoralized.

And speaking of social retardation… Eugene Porter and Father Gabriel, the Oddball Outsiders, have lost a good degree of standing within the group with their respective revelations.

Eugene, of course, was forced to come clean and confess to lying about having the walker cure,and basically using Abraham, Rosita (and a number of fine men and women who died in the cause of getting Eugene to Washington, D.C.) as bodyguards, and protectors.

While the zeal of having a mission, and something to believe in, was certainly a positive thing for Abraham, and others, that geeky shoe was bound to drop sooner or later…and now, here we are, and it will be interesting to see how the story of Eugene Porter unfolds at this point in the TWD storyline, and what role he will ultimately end up playing in the group.

And Gabriel...well, Gabriel finally confessed his big sin to someone other than God, and tearfully unburdened himself to the gang, back at his cursed church, about how, in the beginning of the turn, he kept the church doors locked when his frightened parishioners came to the church, seeking refuge there, and did not let them into the church.

(Something about it being too late, or too early. Not a good time, apparently. Come back during business hours, which are posted on the door…yes, that door, the one you are pounding on.)

Despite his congregation’s desperate cries and pleas, Gabriel still refused to let them in, and so the helpless families were swarmed and savagely attacked by walkers, who were attracted to the noise of the families’ cries, pleas to be let inside the church.

And, as the poor men, women, and children of his congregation were torn apart by walkers, Gabriel cowered within the safety of the church’s walls, alone, listening to the horror and the savagery as it happened.

Gabriel, once a spiritual leader, is struggling mightily with his self-hatred, self-condemnation, and his loss of faith in God right about now, and this theme, losing faith in God, resounds with other characters, especially Maggie, in Episode 510.

Glenn, who has always been such a source of positivity, strength, and reason, for the others, has seemingly lost his faith, and his will, as well, after watching so many people he loved and cared for die tragically, needlessly, horribly.

His driving force, his love for Maggie and concern for the others in the group, spurs him onward, but as we saw in last week’s episode, “What Happened and What’s Going On,” Glenn is struggling within himself, wondering aloud to Rick if anything matters, anymore.

Each member of the gang is struggling with their own version of Glenn’s question: Does anything matter, anymore?  What can someone truly put his/her faith, intention, and energy into striving for, in this world, as it is now?   What is the point in trying to build anything good, or lasting, when it can all be torn away, brutally destroyed, in the blink of an eye?

Nowadays, even the very concept of having hope, or a dream, or faith in anything good seems to be ripped away before the hope, or the dream, can even materialize. The promise of building a lasting home at the prison was snuffed out by one man’s obsessive desire for vengeance.

The offered promise of a Sanctuary turned out to be a trap, and a place of unspeakable evil and brutality.  Eugene’s promise of a cure was nothing but a lie concocted by a weak, insecure young man (and his egregious mullet) to buy himself some time, protection, and a ride to D.C.

Carol and Tyreese’s hope of settling in at a quiet, cozy farm house nestled in a pecan grove, and enjoying a quiet respite, with Mika, Lizzie, and Judith, ended suddenly and tragically, with the deaths of the two young sisters.

The brief hope, and promise, of finding Beth, and getting her and Carol back, alive and safe, ended in Beth’s violent and senseless murder.

And most recently, the promise of a potential new home for the gang, in Noah’s family’s walled, secure neighborhood outside of Richmond, resulted in the gang’s discovery of the grisly aftermath of  the massacre of an entire peaceful community, including Noah’s mother and little twin brothers, and ending in the heartbreak of Tyreese’s painful, agonizing death.

Hershel. Lilly. Megan. Mika. Lizzie. Bob. Beth. Noah’s mother, and little brothers. And now, Tyreese. Not long ago, they were alive. They were loved. They were family.

And now, they are gone. All of them.  And our sweet gang, both as individuals and as a collective, must find a reason, deep within themselves, to carry on, despite carrying the heavy burden of so much grief, and so much loss.

The opening shot of Episode 510, “Them,” shows a pair of eyes, closed, crying…the shot pans out, and we see, of course, that it is Maggie, sitting against a tree, crying quietly.

Her eyes and face are swollen, as if she has been crying, on and off, for a long time.

maggie cry 1 maggie cry 2 maggie cry 3

maggie faces tuib walker1

Maggie’s much needed cry is then rudely interrupted by Tangled Up In Blue Walker, who comes hissing and pawing at her, but gets entangled, and stuck, in the hanging vines of the tree. Maggie gets up, annoyed, like, “Can’t a girl have a moment to herself?” 

maggie stabs tuib walker

Maggie easily rekills Tangled Up In Blue Walker with one quick thrust of her knife into its decaying skull…

maggie resumes her cry

…and then sinks miserably back down against the tree to resume her cry, with the dead walker’s body draped, unnoticed, in the vines behind her.

Meanwhile…

daryl digs

We see a tanned, muscled arm digging deep in the mud...for water, it seems.

daryls worm

…no water, but we see the digging has yielded a tasty morsel…

eat the worm 1

Eat the worm, Daryl Dixon!

daryl ate the worm

Daryl eats the wriggling earthworm so matter-of-factly, without registering any distaste or disgust while doing so, that it seems like something he’s done many times before, and that somehow makes him even hotter, and even more beautiful, and endearing, if that is even possible…

daryl worm picnic

…especially when the shot pans out, and he’s sitting like a little boy, having his own little worm picnic. I have thought about Daryl as a boy so many times (the boy whose mom died drunk, and passed out, in the house fire, leaving him to be raised by a drunk dad and a sadistic older brother) and it makes the mom in me, and the woman in me, feel so much love and hurt in my heart for him.

Sasha, meanwhile, walks along a creek bed, which has run dry.  She crouches, and digs a moment, but there is no water to be had, here.

sasha crouches at creek 1

creek dry frogs

Sasha sees the bodies of many frogs, belly up, along the dried creek bed. Would frogs just lie back, and give up the ghost, as a creek dried up, or would they hop away? I don’t know much about frogs, but it’s not the first time I have wondered if all this decay and pestilence in the post-apocalyptic world is poisoning the water, air, soil, food supply.

sasha kicks at creek dry frog

Alarmed, Sasha angrily kicks the dirt, partially burying the frog.

Looking up, Sasha sees Daryl and Maggie approach, look down at her from the top of the bank.  Sasha wordlessly shakes her head. No water here.

daryl and maggie turn away

Daryl turns away, crossbow over his shoulder, while Maggie looks down at Sasha, standing in the dried creek bed littered with dead frogs, a moment more. No words are exchanged between any of them. Maggie then turns away, and follows Daryl. After a moment, Sasha heads up the bank, after them.

maggie sasha daryl head back

As they head back to the group, who sits, waiting, in the road, Sasha signs, “Oh, shit.” Not one of the three found any water to bring back.

daryl sunspots

The sun beats down on them…

how much longer we got

…as they trudge back to the group, empty water bottles hanging from their bags, belts. “How much longer we got?” Maggie asks. “About 60 miles,” replies Sasha. Maggie gives a small shake of her head, says grimly, “I wasn’t talking about that.”

After the opening credits, we see a brief shot of the front end of a truck, stopping. We hear Abraham’s voice saying that the truck’s run dry, like the other one.  Rick’s reply is immediate, “So, we walk.”  We see legs, boots coming out of the truck, and the rays of the hot sun beating down.

boots coming out of trucksun spots

daryl rick judith

As they walk, Daryl turns back to look at a small group of walkers that are shuffling slowly behind their group, maybe 50 yards back.

daryl looks back

Rick, holding Judith, turns to regard the potential threat. “We’re not at our strongest,” he says. “We’ll get them when it’s best, high ground, something like that.”

Turning back around, Rick adds, “They’re not going anywhere.”

Rick turns to Daryl.

Rick turns to Daryl. “It’s been three weeks since Atlanta…I know you lost something back there.” (Besides feeling the exquisite pain of this moment, I just need say that, in my opinion, there cannot be too many scenes like this one, of beautiful men holding babies and talking about feelings.)

Daryl does not reply. Judith give a little whimper, and Daryl looks down at her. “She’s hungry,” he says.

Rick pulls Judith up a little closer to him.

Rick pulls Judith up a little closer to him. “She’s ok,”  he says, looking forward. His voice falters just a moment as he asserts, “She’s gonna be ok.” (Exquisite pain, watching this…exquisite pain.)

“We gotta find water, food,” Daryl says.

Looking like a beautiful Moses, Rick looks up at a couple of clouds, forming, and says that it's gonna rain, sooner or later.

Looking like a beautiful Moses, Rick looks up at a couple of clouds forming, and says that it’s gonna rain, sooner or later.

Daryl hands the crossbow to Rick, tells him that he's going to take a run.  Carol is close behind, seems like she may have heard the men's earlier exchange.

Daryl hands the crossbow to Rick, tells him that he’s going to take a run. Carol is close behind, seems like she may have heard the men’s earlier exchange.

As Daryl turns to leave, Rick chides, gently,

As Daryl turns to leave, Rick chides, gently, “Don’t be too long.” Seems that Daryl takes a lot of opportunities to dip out, these days, going off for long stretches of time. Carol speaks up. “I’ll go with you.” Daryl replies, “Nah, hey, I got it.” Ouch, my heart for you, Carol! 😦

Not to be deterred, New Carol shakes her head, starts after him.

Not to be deterred, New Carol shakes her head, and starts after him. “You gonna stop me?” she asks, wryly. Daryl turns to her, pauses, waits for her. Not so fast, Daryl Dixon!

carl hands maggie music box 1

Carl catches up to Maggie and gives her a gift, a music box he found while looking for water. He tells her it doesn’t work, but he thought she would like it.

magglie music box 2

As Maggie opens the box, it is easy to imagine that the little blond ballerina inside would remind her of Beth. This sweet gesture brings a small, rare smile to Maggie’s face…

maggie thanks carl 1

…and she turns and thanks Carl.

maggie thanks carl

Some of my WDO buddies still hate on Carl, but I really love him. He is becoming such a sweetie, and has really had to roll with some hard times. Can’t hate the little man for having his tween tool moments back in the day (and ps, he really didn’t mean to kill Dale. That shit was a total accident).

gabriel chafes at the collar

As Carl walks ahead, Maggie turns to see Gabriel, behind her, pulling at his priest’s collar. Seeing her look, Gabriel jokes that he used to call the collars the modern-day incarnations of the hot, itchy “hair shirts” that priests, in times before, were forced to wear as an act of atonement. Besides the unspoken sentiment that there wouldn’t be a shirt hairy enough for Gabriel to wear to “atone” for his horrible betrayal of his own parishioners…

gabriel hair shirts maggie 1

…Maggie tells Gabriel, without looking at him, that she knows what hair shirts are, that her “daddy” was religious.

gabriel hair shirts maggie 2 PNG

Staring ahead, Maggie adds, “I used to be.”

Gabriel begins to offer to Maggie his services as a spiritual counselor, if she ever wants to talk about her father, or Beth, and Maggie interrupts him, with as much politeness as she can manage, “Please stop.”

Gabriel continues, in his automatic priest-mode, “Whenever you’re ready, I’m here.”

Staring straight ahead, Maggie replies,

Staring straight ahead, Maggie replies, “You never even met them.” Gabriel replies, “I know you’re in pain.”

Maggie whirls on Gabriel.

Maggie whirls on Gabriel. “You don’t know shit,” she tells him. “You had a job…you were there to save your flock, right? But you didn’t…you hid. Don’t act like that didn’t happen.” And with that, Maggie stalks off.

Some ways down the road, the gang trudges along, while the walkers behind them have gained in number, and are gaining on them, only about 20 yards away, and their telltale hiss and slaver are audible in the background.

walkers getting closer

Sasha looks back at the walkers, then at Michonne, tells Michonne,

Sasha looks back at the walkers, then at Michonne, tells Michonne, “We can take them.” Michonne sides with her future bf and replies that, “Rick’s right…we barely have anything left. No use in spending it all now.”

Sasha, however, is not so easily deterred.  She’s in pain, she’s pissed, and she’s spoiling for a fight. “I can take them,” she insists.

Michonne knows too well what is going on, here.

Michonne knows all too well what is going on, here. “Your brother was pissed too, after what he lost, “ she tells Sasha. “It made him stupid.” Sasha whirls on Michonne.  “We are not the same,” Sasha says. “We never were.”

Michonne looks at Sasha, not unkindly. “But, it’s still the same,” she says to the young woman.  “It just is.” Sasha has no reply to this, just turns and walks away from Michonne.

Meanwhile, out on another water run, Carol asks Daryl if he’s found anything…he says everything’s too dry.  Carol suggests they start heading back, and Daryl is quick to suggest that Carol go on, without him.

Carol looks at Daryl.

Carol looks at Daryl. “I think she saved my life,” she says, referring, of course, to Beth. “She saved your life too, right?”

Daryl does not reply.  Carol walks over and hands him a knife, sheathed in a blond leather casing.

carol hands daryl beth's knife

“It’s hers,” Carol says simply. Daryl takes the knife, looks at it a moment, still says nothing.

“You’re not dead,” says Carol, softly, mirroring Daryl’s words to her, some time ago, back to him. “I know you…you have to let yourself feel it.

carol smooths daryls hair

Carol reaches out and gently, tenderly smooths Daryl’s hair back…

carol kisses daryl on head

…then kisses him on the forehead, stand back, looking at him. “You will,” she says, laying a gentle hand on Daryl’s shoulder.

carol looks at daryl

Some TWD fans posted disappointment at this motherly, rather than loverly, show of love on Carol’s part, but I think it’s exactly what Daryl needed in the moment…pure, supportive, unconditional love, to take the time he needs to grieve Beth’s death. Super awesomeness, New Carol-style.

Meanwhile…

rick looks down the drop

Rick looks down at the steep drop from the bridge…here is the gang’s opportunity to take care of the walker herd that’s been tailing them all day. The gang is in formation, lined up on either side of the bridge.

rick looks to others

Rick wordlessly nods to Abraham, the others, as he walks towards the walker herd.

gang in bridge formation

Abraham nods back. They are ready.

rick faces the herd

Rick and the gang face the herd of walkers.

rick pitches one down

As the first walker approaches Rick, Rick sidesteps, stumbling a moment, then sends the walker flying down the steep embankment of the bridge, using the walker’s forward momentum to propel it downward, without using too much of his own energy, aikido-style.

abraham pitches two down

Using this same technique, Abraham sends two more flying down the steep drop.

glenn pitches one down

Glenn and Michonne both use the technique successfully. It seems to be working…

sasha knifes hes and breaks formation

…until Sasha breaks formation, striding up to her walker and spearing it in the head with her knife.

rick says flank her, machetes walker

Rick assesses the situation immediately, tells the gang to stay in line, and flank Sasha. They must fight now, as the walkers are coming more quickly and aggressively, responding to Sasha’s escalation. Abraham grumbles that the plan is “dicked” as he and Maggie unsheath their knives and prepare to go to battle.

michonne grabs sasha's arm

Michonne grabs Sasha’s arm, tells her to stop, to go, as Sasha is not thinking clearly, and is a danger to herself and others.

rick must battle

Rick and the others, so weak already, must go to battle with the oncoming walkers.

rick almost gets bit

Rick narrowly escapes getting bitten by a walker…thankfully, Daryl is there to pull the walker off.

gang must fightsasha being all crazy and shit

michonne tells sasha i told u so

Michonne pushes Sasha away and quickly beheads the last of the attacking walkers, then points down at Sasha. “I told you to STOP,” Michonne tells her angrily.

sasha feeling dumb

Winded, Sasha seems to grasp how nearly she cost herself, and the others, their lives with her anger and recklessness. She stands, however, and faces Michonne with a look of pure attitude, before stalking off, sheathing her knife.

Later, down the road, Carl sees some abandoned looking cars in the distance.  As the gang approaches the vehicles, Maggie looks in the windows of one car, checks inside, finds nothing useful, but sees the keys in the ignition. Maggie takes the keys and goes around to the trunk, opens it, and makes a horrible discovery…

maggie finds kidnapped walker

…inside the trunk of the car, a woman walker is gagged, with hands and feet bound. As with so many walkers we encounter on TWD, we will never know the full story of Hostage Walker, but we know it is another violent and horrible end to a person’s life. On Talking Dead, later, guests Lauren Cohan, Seth Gilliam, and Robin Lord Taylor speculated on how Hostage Walker may have reminded Maggie of Beth, as Beth was abducted in a car, as well.

maggie looks down at kidnapped walker

Maggie regards Hostage Walker for a moment, before closing the trunk on the whole situation, without bothering to rekill the walker.

maggie remorse

As she turns to go, Maggie hears the walker moving inside the car trunk, thumping against the confines of the closed, dark space. Maggie returns to the trunk, but cannot get it open. The keys are stuck. Maggie pulls out her pistol, ready to blast the lock of the trunk.