“The Wolves Are Near.” Alexandria deals with the tragedy of last episode. The town also has its own interior problems to deal with. Our heroes wonder how they can survive with the ill-prepared Alexandrians. Rick contemplates justice, wondering how far is too far.
The episode began with an unusual musical choice: NINE INCH NAILS. It’s not unusual for WALKING DEAD to begin with a montage set to music, this song was a jarring exposition to the crying listeners. It seems like this was the dead Alexandrian’s favourite song. This aggressive music is far from the traditional funeral song. The dark lyrics and pounding driving beat matched Sasha’s actions better, as she sniped zombie after zombie.
Carol makes a casserole and brings it the mourners. The Mayor leaves the dish behind on the porch, without taking a bite. She snatches away the “We’re sorry for your loss” note and burns it over a candle. I guess this means she blames our heroes for what happened. She seems angry. How much will this weigh on her future decisions?
The two factions will butt heads by the end of the episode. But before I get into that…
Michonne tracks down Sasha. She’s gone rogue, on a mission for revenge. When Michonne witnesses her shooting all those zombies, she remembers the monster she became. In order to survive, Michonne lost her own identity, she became a killing machine fueled by revenge and pain. I liked the style of these flashbacks, bursting onto the screen between head-shots, and swishing between slashes of the blade.
Then Michonne joins in. She vents her emotions and frustrations. They all exact their own version of revenge on the walkers. This sequence helps demonstrate that there are moments when the monster within helps. This is why our heroes have survived. Not because they can access this monster, but because they can control it. The can funnel that energy and aim it like a weapon to survive.
The Mayor interviews the Alexandrian survivor (from last episode). He spins a very different tale. He lies, saying the outsiders are responsible. Then we see that Mayor is watching these videos alone in her dark study. This creeped me out. Even though, I suppose she’s weighing the truth. Maybe she doesn’t believe his story.
Glenn tells his side of the story to Rick, Alexandria’s new Sheriff. The truth comes out, then Glenn confronts the Alexandrian survivor. This was effective. It’s expected that survivor would resist being bossed around by a new arrival. The moment was intense. Glenn gets to the point, survivor buddy isn’t getting it, he says, “I’m trying to save you.”
Meanwhile, Carl snoops around in the woods, looking for the mysterious teenage girl who climbed The Walls of Alexandria. Well, she finds him. I wonder what she’s doing in the woods? Is she running out supplies OR information to exiled outsiders? Does she just come out here for some alone time? She mentions Nature, and Man’s place in Nature. This seems to reinforce my out-there theory regarding Wiccan or Pagan traditions and their worship of Mother Nature. If this is the case, did some of her believers successfully intergrate themselves into Alexandria? Are they all undercover? Is there an attack looming from within the walls?
Theories aside, a wonderful romantic relationship seems ready to bloom between these two star-crossed lovers. How long before Carl has a girlfriend? There was an intense moment as they hid together in a hollowed out tree trunk. They were so close to each other, as the Walkers walked on by. I love how despite all of the horror in THE WALKING DEAD there’s always time to establish new relationships. Carl’s budding romance parallel’s Rick’s with the hairdresser, Jessie.
Rick has an interesting philosophical debate regarding appropriate punishment for Jessie’s wife-beating husband. If you separate the couple, how do you stop him from returning home? Do you kill him? Do you exile him? This opens up an ethical debate. Long ago in pre-history, we had to confront these same dilemmas. Each culture would decide upon different deterrents. It’s a worthy debate. What do you do to someone who steals? Hits their spouse? Or murders someone?
The Mayor is opposed to violence. She refuses to kill someone who breaks the so-called law. She prefers to exile the offender. Exile? Hmm. Is this who The Wolves are? Are they banished Alexandrians? Are they a group of law-breakers? How long before they return to Alexandria? I’m thinking that by the finale, we’ll find out. I think the Mayor will be thankful that Rick and our heroes are part of the community. The original inhabitants could never defeat outside attackers. They need our heroes – battle-tested survivors who can control their inner monster.
Incoming SPOILERS warning… regarding the last scene of the episode…
Rick and Carol have talked about Jessie’s abusive relationship. They have enough evidence to act. Rick comes a knockin’ and Jessie invites him inside her house. He confronts Jessie, saying he knows what’s really going on. Initially, Jessie is hesitant to talk. Then she wonders why Rick is helping her. She must feel the attraction between them already. She might think Rick only wants to help so he can sleep with me or something. Maybe she worries she’ll just leave one abusive relationship for another? She asks him if he’d do the same for anyone else. He admits, he wouldn’t. They share an honest moment, before they kiss.
A beautiful little moment is shattered when Hubby shows up. Tension immediatly boils. Rick tries to reason with him, before a fight busts out. The two crash through a window and into the streets. The men pummel one another in front of the community. Earlier, Rick saw children at play and happy families. He didn’t want to react the way he normally would because it would destroy this fantasy of safety. It would ruin the illusion of yesterday – before the zombie apocalypse. But he can’t help it anymore.
Rick must fight to defend himself. And now the villagers see the monster. They don’t recognize their own when they see this, like Michonne did earlier. They just see the blood and violence. The danger. Rick can’t believe it. Even when this happens before their eyes, they still ignore it. “The new world needs a Rick Grimes.” He yells at them. It seems like he’s snapped. He’s lost control. The monster is unleashed. When WHAM Michonne knocks him the f**k out. Say what?
Is Michonne finally taking control of the situation? Will she be the new Sheriff of Alexandria? Or did she knock Rick out to save him? He was loosing favour with the group. They don’t understand what it takes to survive. Michonne is still on the same page with Rick, she just prefers subtlety, like the silent swish of her lethal katana blade.
Next week, I’m thinking Michonne will reaffirm her alliance with our heroes, as they plan some sort of revolt or mutiny.
The real set-up for the Finale happens out in the woods. We get brief glimpses of Daryl and Aaron on scouting duty. They spy a cabin in the distance, with a light on inside. It takes them all night to travel, and into the next day. Did Aaron lure Daryl out there for some unknown reason? Is Daryl the true candidate to lead Alexandria, instead of Rick? Regardless, they’re getting closer to that cabin. And we’re getting closer to finding out who’s hiding inside. Is it Jacob from LOST? Is there a ring of salt protecting the cabin? Hehehe, jokes. Is it the leader of The Wolves? Is Aaron’s true allegiance to the exiled Alexandrians or the current Mayor and its citizens?
We have the Cabin, the Law, the Mayor, and the Wolves to look forward to next episode… Oh yeah, and zombies too.
How will these all connect? Will the story shift to outsiders that want inside Alexandria? Is the new home of our heroes in jeopardy of an attack? We’ve spent a lot of time with these guys now. There’s been a lot of careful set-up along the way. I think these clues point to a confrontation for the Finale.
The Alexandrians have seen Rick at his worst, and now they’ll get to see what he does best. Save lives. And survive.
What did you think? Leave a comment.
Who are The Wolves? Have they somehow learned to weaponize these zombies – marked with their brand “W”? Do they herd the Walkers with sliced off bodyparts?
What’s up with Sasha? Is she gone Col. Kurtz on us? Will she sacrifice herself to save the group?
What do you think of Carl’s new friend? What else will they stumble upon in the woods?
Will Carol side with Rick no matter what? Will she keep up the meager housewife illusion for much longer? And did you notice Jessie’s son cowering behind Carol during Rick’s scuffle on the street?
Will Glenn take a break from scouting? Will he try and make a baby with Maggie? I hope he’s still got that Polaroid Camera for baby’s first photo.
Is Daryl in trouble out there?
After all the smoke clears, will Rick be a new family man?
What do you think of Jessie? Is this blooming relationship causing more trouble than it’s worth?
Will the Mayor of Alexandria eventually see the importance of having Rick on your side? Is she to be trusted?
Who is the law? Is Michonne still on our heroes’ side? Or is she frightened by the monsters within? Has she lost trust in them?