As Rick and company arrive in Alexandria, they’ll have to abide by certain rules. For so long, they’ve been welcoming others into their fold, but now they’re the outsiders. Of course, tensions will be high, but let’s see how they adjust. Oh, and it’s time to say hello to an old friend.
The episode begins with Aaron leading the group into Alexandria. Waiting at the gate is Nicholas, played by Michael Traynor. It’s very quiet and there’s no one around. They’ll need to go through an interview process with a woman named Deanna, and they’ll need to surrender their weapons as well. None of them are keen on that.
Rick is the first to be interviewed by Deanna Monroe, played by Tovah Feldshuh, who records the interviews for transparency’s sake. We learn that Deanna was once a Congresswoman for Ohio’s 15th District. As far as Alexandria, it was once a planned community that started in the low 800,000. Christ. Who would be able to live here?
Deanna and her family were trying to get back to Ohio so she could manage the crisis in her district, but the army stopped them and directed them back here. Deanna’s family was supposed to join her later, but they never did. As for the wall, Deanna’s husband is a professor of architecture and got the first plates up with their sons. Weeks later, more people arrived and a community had been established.
It turns out that Rick’s group is the first to be considered for a long time. Alexandria needs people who have lived out there. Rick, however, advises Deanna to keep the gates closed because it’s all about survival at any cost. People out there are always looking for an angle or way to take advantage of you and your ability. Though Aaron trusts Rick, he counters that Aaron barely knows him. Rick has killed so many people that he’s lost count, but he did so his people, his family, could live and so he could be alive for them.
Deanna admits that she’s not so innocent, either. When Northern Virginia was evacuated, they lost millions of people. She once exiled three men who didn’t work out, which is just as good as killing them. When Rick asks Deanna what she wants from them, she says that families, including his, should have a safe environment where they can grow up and raise their children. She wants their group to help her people survive. How? Well, Deanna is good at reading people. Rick has a right to be skeptical, but it’s time to decide if he’s the one doing the deciding. Oh, by the way, it’s 3:37 pm.
The group turns in their weapons- Carol having one of the biggest guns. They’ll be allowed access to them only if they go beyond the walls. Following this, Aaron shows Carl and Rick and they’re allowed their pick. Aaron is just four houses down if they need anything.
They enter and everything appears normal and innocent. The water and electricity even work. Rick takes the first shower he’s had in God knows how long, and then…wait, he’s grabbing a razor. Could it be?
Yep, so long to the beard as we welcome the return of the clean-shaven Rick Grimes from Season One.
He receives a visit and supplies from…oh, boy. The comic fan in me did a double take as we’re introduced to Jessie Anderson, played by Alexandra Breckenridge. As she used to be a stylist, Jessie offers to cut Rick’s hair. Even though Jessie doesn’t even know Rick, she’s confident that she can handle herself. We learn that Jessie has two sons: Ron and Sam.
After Deanna’s less than successful interview with Daryl, Carol and Carl check the homes, with Carol being suspicious of the buildings just being given away. The fact that everyone’s weapons have been taken and them being split up doesn’t’ make them any less skeptical, so Rick decides that they’ll all stay in the same house tonight.
That night, everyone does indeed end up lumping together in the same house. But they’re still adjusting. Michonne even brushed her teeth for a good 20 minutes. She’s surprised by the sight of a clean Rick, as she’s never seen him shaved before. Though Michonne is quicker at settling in than the others, she does understand the need to play it safe. Even if she has a good feeling about this place, Rick just hopes that she’s right.
Deanna stops by to see how the group’s doing and isn’t surprised to see them all staying together. She’s impressed that a group of people with different backgrounds and histories could end up banding together as long as they have. Deanna is also handing out jobs. She has one for Rick, but she just hasn’t told him what it is yet. Same for Michonne. Sasha’s job is in the works, and Daryl…that’ll take a bit more time.
That night, Rick arms himself with a knife.
Next day, Michonne is interviewed. She tells Deanna that they’re all ready for this.
The group- sans Daryl- decides to do some exploring. Rick takes a bit of time to reflect. This is the kind of neighborhood that he and Lori would drive through, and here they are. However, just as Rick begins exploring, he breaks into a run when he realizes that he’s lost sight of Carl and Judith. He ends up running into Jessie’s sculpture in the process, but she shows him that the kids are all right. They’re with Natalie and Bob Miller, an older couple that had five kids and 12 grandkids. Judith will have to get used to pinched cheeks. Jessie then asks Rick if Carl can visit her kids.
So Carl pays a visit to Ron, played by Austin Abrams, Mikey, played by Elijah Marcano, and the very quiet Enid, played by Katelyn Nacon. Enid just came in eight months ago. Carl is given the offer of playing some video games or heading over to Mikey’s house since his father has a pool table. After spending a bit of time coming to terms with the fact that he has options, Carl settles on video games.
Carl is next for the interview. I mean, so is Judith, but she can’t talk- as far as we know- so she’s just there for the camera. Carl admits not just that he lost his mother, but that he’s the one who killed her.
Rick checks up on his son and the two talk about what they think of Alexandria so far. Carl likes the people and the two agree that the place seems nice, but Carl doesn’t want them to grow weak, as he feels these people are.
That evening, Rick keeps a watchful eye outside. Michonne still hasn’t been assigned a job yet, though she does want one. Neither feels afraid, but if that were the case, they wouldn’t both still be awake. Rick decides to go for a walk.
During such walk, he has a brief run-in with Jessie’s husband, who sits and smokes on his porch while welcoming Rick to Alexandria. Not ominous at all, right?
Carol is next for the interview. She talks about her past and how she misses her stupid husband every day. Ever since then, she’s had little to offer the group and has become more of the den mother, but she would like to be involved with the community. Very funny, Carol.
Of course Carol is just putting on an act. Even Daryl’s wise to that, but Daryl himself is still playing the lone wolf. He won’t even shower. Carol promises to hose him down in his sleep.
Glenn is next to meet the camera. He just wants to make this all work since they’ve been out there for far too long.
So what will the others be doing? Well, for starters, Glenn, Tara, and Noah are going to be scouting with Nicholas and Aiden, played by Daniel Bonjour. They’ll be doing a dry run outside the walls so they can see the terrain.
Carl, meanwhile, having spotted Enid scaling the walls, decides to follow her on the other side, but ends up losing sight of her.
He soon joins up with Rick, who went to pick up the gun he hid, but finds it missing. Nonetheless, the two take part in some father-son bonding as they dispatch of a few walkers. Rick even lets Carl get in the last kill. Now that is effective parenting, even if a bit morbid.
Back to the scouting group, Nicholas and Aiden increase their radius mile by mile and have covered 53 miles so far. If shit gets crazy, you fire a flare. Glenn, Tara, and Noah are here because Nicholas and Aiden lost four month. Why? Apparently they didn’t follow the rules. Aiden admits that he can be a hard-ass and a douchebag, but someone needs to call the shots. If you’re on the team, do as he says. Who smells a confrontation? I smell a confrontation.
Anyway, Aiden strung up one of the roamers that killed the previous four scouting members. However, it’s gone when they approach the tree. They whistle to signal it, not realizing how bad of an idea that could be, and it eventually does come out. Neither Aiden nor Nicholas want the others to kill it. Rather, they want to secure it again. The walker ends up overpowering them and Tara almost gets bitten in the process, but Glenn eventually does the sensible thing and stabs the damn roamer. Not that we’d have lost anything if Tara had been bitten.
Remember that impending confrontation? Well, Aiden, for some reason, isn’t happy. He told them to listen to every damn thing he said! Glenn isn’t impressed by Aiden’s macho bravado and a fight breaks out that’s eventually broken up by Rick and Deanna.
Deanna welcomes the newcomers to Alexandria as equals, not adversaries. Everyone is to turn in their weapons. Now it’s time for Rick to learn of his new job: constable. That’s who he was and who he still is. The same goes for Michonne. I mean, she wasn’t a constable, but she’ll be in a position of authority.
That night, Constable Rick talks with Carol and Daryl. He’s ready to be the constable. Even though most of the group is slowly settling in, they can’t let their guard down. Alexandria could make them weak. Rick, however, knows that they won’t get weak. That’s not them anymore. They can make this work.
And if not, they’ll just take the damn place.
Sounds like a plan. “Remember” had the task of slowly getting everyone used to the idea of normalcy, a foreign concept to them at this point. Rick’s line about survival is repeated throughout the episode and is representative of the lifestyle his people have lived versus what the people of Alexandria have become accustomed to. Rick and company haven’t known comfort and relaxation for so long because they’ve had to fight to survive another day.
But what happens when you don’t have to run anymore? Can you really drop your guard just for a day and have some semblance of what was once your normal life? Or, as Rick says, do you always keep in mind that people are always looking for an angle or a way to play on your weakness? The group seems to be doing the latter.
I’m sure they want to accept Alexandria as a place to settle down and it has all the comforts and fixings of a neighborhood, but they’ve been conditioned to treat anyone and anything new as hostile. It’s the whole reason they ask certain questions to new people. Here, however, it’s the group that’s on the defensive as they’re the ones being questioned. They now have to answer questions, surrender their weapons and deal with people who don’t know them.
Of course this won’t be an easy process for either side because they’ve existed in two different worlds for so long. We’ve followed the exploits of Rick and pals for five seasons now and seen them gain and lose people close to them. They’ve had many brushes with death and dealt with what this outbreak does to humanity, whether the likes of the Governor, The Hunters, and even loners like Michonne.
By contrast, the people of Alexandria have grown used to some semblance of peace because they haven’t had many hardships. It’s not total peace by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s the closest they’ve had to what their lives were before the apocalypse hit. As such, it’s not a stretch to think that the folks of the Safe Zone have grown complacent and maybe even weak. This doesn’t make them ineffective, but their world is…well, worlds apart from the newcomers.
We as people often take our privileges and luxuries for granted. I think about something that George Carlin once said during a special. He said that if you wanted to throw humanity back to barbaric times, all you would have to do is completely eliminate electricity. Here, things like running water, video games, and a shower all feel like foreign concepts, but we forget that the privileges that we abuse- and that others would give anything just to have a sample of- can be taken away from us in little to no time.
Think about the internet and how often we rely on technology. I mean, take a mental note of how many people you see with their heads down while they text and tap-tap away at their phones or mobile devices. We’ve grown used to having these conveniences because we can. But if you take those luxuries away, what would you do? This is something that Rick and pals don’t have to worry about because they haven’t had any luxuries to take for granted. They’ve just had each other, and that’s what allowed them to grow as a group. It’s also why Deanna found it so impressive that a group as diverse as theirs could still band together.
Rick’s group has a lot to lose because of the amount of people in the group, but they also have a lot to gain they see themselves as more competent than the people of Alexandria. That could be cockiness, but we’ve had enough time to see how Rick’s group operates to know that they can take care of themselves. They know how to deal with walkers and the precautions to take, but also how to avoid risks.
It’s what made Aiden’s move of keeping the walker around and trying to subdue instead of killing it all the more ridiculous. If we’ve learned anything from Hershel or the Governor, it’s that keeping walkers is never a good or smart idea. I have to wonder why Deanna gave Aiden this position, if not for nepotism’s sake. I can’t believe someone who makes such odd decisions as Aiden does can end up in a position of authority or leadership.
Wait, no, never mind. I can believe it.
Everything in Alexandria feels overwhelming. Like Terminus and Woodbury before it, Alexandria appears too good to be true. Carl has difficulty grasping the fact that he can even play video games or play pool, Michonne spent 20 minutes brushing her teeth, and Rick never thought he’d come in contact with a shower or electricity again. The simple things for the people of Alexandria are seen as treasures for the newcomers, but they won’t blindly accept this new world without caution. They’re worn and tired, but still alert.
I like how the interviews are juxtaposed against what’s going on in the episode, as we get glimpses of what everyone has been thinking since they arrived. Michonne and Glenn want to make this work, while Carol creates a cover story for herself. Even if Alexandria could work, it doesn’t hurt to try and stay one step ahead of everyone else, especially when Deanna told Rick that she’s good at reading people.
Sticking with Rick for a second, it’s imperative to talk about the beard. I mean, the beard has become a staple of Rick from its humble beginnings to the bird nest it became.
Now that it’s gone, however, Rick is back to his Season One look. Coupled with the shower, Rick goes through a bit of transformation here. He’s a killer, but with this cleaner look, he looks less like a creature and more like a cop. When he looks at himself in the mirror after the haircut, it’s like he doesn’t recognize who he is. However, by losing this beard, Rick also gives the people of Alexandria the impression that he’s a changed man. Of course, by episode’s end, we know that’s not the case. He’s still the protective man that we know him for and is ready to take Alexandria by force, if necessary.
Again, he has a lot to lose not just because of the group, but for his own children. He flips out just because he lost sight of Carl and Judith, even though they were safe. He keeps a knife with him as he sleeps. He knows that the people of Alexandria need him more than the other way around. When he says it’s a good thing that they’re there after Sasha shoots the walker outside the gates, we know they’re serious. These are people you do not fuck with.
And yet, he still has time to reflect and briefly let his guard down. He talks with fondness about how he and Lori looked through neighborhoods like this. He wasn’t initially fine with Jessie cutting his hair since, as he stated, she didn’t know him. And Rick is right. Open kindness is going to be met with suspicion, as Aaron can attest. Rarely has Rick been able to meet a person he didn’t trust or have lingering doubts because he doesn’t want to meet another Governor.
I think one of my favorite scenes of the episode was when Rick adjusted his watch after Deanna told him the time. It’s brief, but telling. Rick and his group have only come to know day and night. The time didn’t matter. Either the sun or the moon was out. They’ve been out of touch with reality. To know the time- even if that’s the actual time- gave Rick a brief bit of normalcy and puts him back in touch with the world around him.
Same goes with Carl. We saw him have a brief touch with reality when he explored during “After,” but here, he has options. It’s almost impossible to believe that he can pick between playing video games or sneaking into someone’s house to play pool, but that’s just what he can do. Like his father, though, he keeps up his guard and acknowledges that he doesn’t want to become weak. Also, judging from how quickly Enid scaled the walls, it’s clear this isn’t the first time she’s done it.
Rick and Carl get a little father-son bonding in with their dispatching of the roamers. The scene didn’t really add anything and it could’ve just been the two meeting up after Rick found the gun was missing, but hey, at least Rick gave his son the final kill. I really loved the little nod that Rick gave Carl when he killed the last walker. As if to say, ‘You did good, son, but that was still supposed to be my kill.’
In other lighter moments, Carol and Daryl had a little back and forth when Carol threatened to clean Daryl, who remarked that she looked ridiculous. Apparently that line was improvised by Norman Reedus, but this furthers my belief that he and Melissa McBride have the strongest chemistry of any pair on the show.
Outside of Aiden and potentially Jessie’s husband, the people of Alexandria seem pretty welcoming. Of course, it’s too early to come to any conclusions and they may be as upfront as Aaron is, but we shall see.
On a side-note, it’s interesting that we have a gender swap with Deanna Moore taking on the role assigned to Douglas in the comic. It’s not an issue or anything, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
So, as was the case in the comic, Rick and pals have decided to settle in Alexandria and cooperate for the time being. Of course, they will still keep their eyes open to any and everything that seems off. As far as they know, they have strength on their side, but we’ve yet to meet and get to know everyone in Alexandria right now. So while we know our roamer killing crew won’t kill and can lead a rebellion when necessary, now we wait and see if it will ever come to that.