So what were you all worried about? Dumpsters are incredibly easy to dive under. No plot contrivances whatsoever.
The episode begins with a recap of Glenn and Nicholas falling into that walker horde as we see walkers rip Nicholas apart. Glenn, as expected, manages to escape. How? Crawling under that damn dumpster, but still having walkers claw at him from every side. Night falls as the herd begins to thin, but Glenn continues to wait it out.
The next morning, Glenn, the luckiest man in the world, crawls from beneath the dumpster. The flare gun is busted, but he’s still got a gun. Up atop one of the buildings, Enid tosses down a bottle of water, but Glenn misses. They’re not the best at aiming, you know? Glenn climbs into the building, enters a room with tons of valuables, and calls after Enid to find out why she’s out here. She just directs him to another bottle of water- one that she didn’t have to throw.
Enid still won’t answer Glenn, but he wants to know what happened in Alexandria, judging from the gunfire and other sounds. What happened is what always happened, Enid says. People die. She eventually tells Glenn that the air horn sound came from people, not walkers. Glenn asks if his wife is okay. To that, he gets no response.
So Glenn begins looking for Enid, but she’s on the move and rushes off. Glenn, having no real regard for noise, leaves the building and rushes after her.
Back in Alexandria, Rick inspects the walls while Morgan trains nearby. Rick tells Morgan that the two need to talk…but later. I mean, they could talk right now. Going back to the wall, Rick finds a trail of blood- similar to the one Deanna walked by not long ago.
He then joins Maggie atop the wall, as she refuses to leave. This is the direction that Glenn would come from, so she’ll continue to wait for him. When you go out, it’s never easy. There’s always a fight and Glenn has come back from harder things. Hell, so will Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham. Maybe it’s time to figure out how to draw out the walkers. There’s enough food and the walls will hold. Rick is ready to do this right- clear the area so the others can walk right in when they return. Maggie tells Rick that Judith is starting to look like Lori. That made her happy.
Glenn, meanwhile, finds a walker- I’m guessing David- and next to it, a note to Betsy, who is also dead. So there’s that.
Gabriel puts up signs about an upcoming prayer circle, but Rick soon takes down the signs. I guess Rick isn’t a fan of prayer, but luckily, Gabriel has plenty of signs. Anyway, Carl and Rick are about to teach Ron a thing or two about shooting. If someone is in front of you with a gun, your body will tense. You won’t have time to think- you’ll just want to pull the trigger, but you’ll miss and then you’re dead.
You have to bring the gun up to your eye, then be strong enough to wait for the moment. Rick helps Ron with his positioning- your finger is only on the trigger when you’re ready to shoot. Ron is to keep the gun Rick gives him to get a feel for it. With things how they are, the walls are strong enough to hold the walkers in one spot. Ron is super eager to try out this piece. Hell, he even suggests targets- never mind that you can waste bullets and attract walkers with the sound. Idiot.
Morgan speaks with Denise, even though he’s not here to be checked in. He claims that he’s fine, which is pretty much code for saying that you’re not. Anyway, this moment is here just to take up space until Rick decides that it’s time to talk.
So the two talk…well, the four talk, as they’re joined by Carol and Michonne. Rick tells Morgan that he tried to cut off the herd with the RV back in the woods, when he got intercepted by five people with the W’s on their foreheads. Carol mentioned that Morgan wouldn’t kill any of them, and he doesn’t deny it. He wouldn’t want to kill five people he didn’t want to kill, even if they burned people alive. Morgan asks why Rick didn’t kill him after King County. After all, Morgan was nuts back then.
Rick’s response is that he knew Morgan, but even then, Morgan was unhinged. Consider the potential chain of events: if Rick had killed Morgan, then Morgan wouldn’t have been able to rescue Aaron and Daryl. If things happened that way, maybe those Wolves wouldn’t have found the community. Morgan doesn’t know what’s right anymore.
He wanted to kill those Wolves and knows that he can help out, but he also knows that people can change. All life is precious. That idea brought him back and kept him going. Michonne doesn’t think it could be that easy, and Morgan has thought of letting that idea go, but he hasn’t.
Things aren’t as simple as four words, Michonne says. Rick asks Morgan if he can make it going forward without getting blood on his hands. To be frank, Morgan doesn’t know.
As the walker herd remains out the doors, Rick talks with Michonne about drawing away walkers and setting up watch points. Their people will go, but the people of Alexandria? Not yet. Everyone hasn’t had a chance to catch their breath. Michonne reminds Rick that they’re in here together and catching their breath now. Anything else is just excuses. Deanna comes to Rick with plans for the expansion. Rick has other things on his mind, but one way or another, Deanna sees a future for this community.
Now it’s Rosita’s time to take charge as she instructs the residents on how to use a machete. Eugene is here as well, but he’s off in his own world. Plus, he’s a novice and there are people around him with open toed shoes. That may be one of my favorite Eugene lines yet. He’s afraid of dying, but Rosita says that dying is easy.
The people dying around him is hard because he keeps living, knowing that they’re gone and he’s still there. She then says that he should be afraid of living, because he’d have to life with the fact that he let people down. Eugene leaves.
Back outside the Safe Zone, Glenn finally catches up with Enid in a restaurant. He wants to take her home and then asks why she gave him water. He needed it, she claims. She refuses to join, but Glenn refuses to leave her behind. When Glenn tries to grab her arm and force along, Enid responds to bad touch with a gun.
Glenn demands the gun, but Enid tells him to turn around and walk away. He calls her bluff and soon takes the gun because Glenn is awesome that way. Half the herd broke off and is headed towards Alexandria, so it’s up to Enid to lead the way back home. The two move along and reach a marker indicated by three green balloons.
Glenn directs her to the helium tank and asks Enid who she stayed with back home. She lived in Olivia’s place, but she was on her own. That’s just what happens. She rejects Glenn’s notion that she’s scared, but he lectures anyway. She acts brave, even when she’s scared. Soon enough, Enid reminds Glenn that they don’t have to talk
Back at the Safe Zone, Rick gets to work on the wall when he’s joined by Tobin, who thinks that a brace could be built on the wall. Rick says it doesn’t mean anything unless the wall stays up. Tobin tells Rick that he scared the hell out of everyone when he first arrived with his beard, mannerisms, and demeanor. Things moved slow in Alexandria, but then they moved fast. Too fast, even, but Tobin asks Rick to not give up on the community.
Ron draws Olivia into the pantry with a distraction that he uses to grab some casings. Well, we saw them, so they’ll most definitely be used.
Glenn and Enid soon reach the outskirts of the Safe Zone with no clear path inside, as walkers roam every single open spot. Enid retreats, asking Glenn what the point even is. The world is trying to die. People are supposed to just let it. Glenn disagrees. You don’t let the world die- and Glenn sure as hell won’t let her. This isn’t for Maggie anymore. The walls and houses are still up, and they can find out the rest later.
Back inside the walls, Rick and Tobin spot Ron Spencer scaling a rope outside of the zone. This is a stupid idea, as the rope begins to buckle under pressure. It doesn’t completely fall through at first, but it soon gives and Spencer falls. While others fire at the walkers, Rick, Tobin, and Morgan pull Spencer back up atop the wall.
Rick blasts Tara for almost dying once for these people, so don’t let it happen again. Tara responds with the finger. Okay, I might not be a big fan of Tara, but that was kind of funny. Spencer says that he wanted to get to a car to draw away some of the walkers, even if he wasn’t fully prepared for that.
Then Rick tells Spencer that his ass can’t be saved all the time. Next time, Spencer should come to Rick with that kind of idea, but Spencer, in a small moment I can’t help but admire, asks Rick if he would have even listened to him. That is a good point.
Back to the infirmary, where Morgan joins Denise. He actually enters the infirmary this time. Denise has created cheat sheets to help. Morgan has faith. He doesn’t have to, but he chooses to, and she should, too. Morgan needs to address a wound, but he doesn’t know if it’s infected. He didn’t come in earlier because he didn’t want to get her involved in something. More to the point, this isn’t his wound.
As Morgan and Denise head out, Carol follows from a distance. She also brings Judith because people would do that with a baby. Anyway, she returns to ask Jessie to watch Judith. Sam calls out to her and asks if you can’t live with it. He asks if the people who came into the community are monsters and if his father turned into one of them. Carol’s response? The only thing that keeps you from becoming a monster is killing.
It’s brief, but there’s a bit of hesitation on Carol’s face after she says that, as if even she can’t believe she said those words to Sam. But hey, I suppose it’s a good thing Jessie didn’t hear any of that. Carol then confronts Morgan and demands to know who the hell he has in the cell.
As Michonne goes over Deanna’s plans and Ron stalks Carl, Tara asks Rick and Tobin if he’s seen Denise. He hasn’t, but he then apologizes for what he said. He meant that Tara didn’t have to protect him. After all, she could have died. Yes, but she wasn’t thinking about that. She did it because that they’re stuck with each other. Deanna joins out of nowhere to thank them both for saving Spencer. She’s here to thank him.
But Rick says that Spencer’s move was stupid. He tried, but Rick could have done that if there was a chance. When the walkers were going for him, it made a gap. Rick could have run out, gotten to a car, and Spencer would be dead. But he didn’t do that because wanted to save Spencer. Deanna doesn’t buy that.
Then everyone spots some green balloons flying into the sky. Maggie knows that it’s Glenn, but before everyone can celebrate or speculate, the top of the watchtower finally crumbles, taking a big chunk of the wall down with it. Well, not like anyone had a chance to check it.
Heading into the mid-season finale, “Heads Up” was set up for things to come. There’s nothing wrong with setup, but in this instance, it worked for and against the episode. The good is that it allowed for some breathing room as the community continues to regroup after the Wolves’ surprise attack.
It allowed for some slower character moments with Rick and company not just training the residents of Alexandria to defend themselves, but also warm to their methods. They acknowledge that while these newcomers may be a bit extreme, their methods do work and there’s a reason they’ve survived as long as they did.
Though I still question why Rick is having some of these conversations now as opposed to when he first returned to Alexandria, at least the show is addressing some questions lingering over from “Now.”
The downside is that much of what we explore is already chartered territory. Whether it’s talk of killing to survive, killing or be killed, trust between the two parties, and how weak the Alexandria residents are, we’ve gone through much of this already. In all fairness, we do at least get scenes of Rick’s group training the residents, whether it’s Rick and Carl teaching Ron how to shoot, or Rosita showing others how to use blades.
Why Rosita is the machete expert I don’t know since we’ve mostly seen her use guns, but I’m not complaining. It does put her in a leadership position and gives her character something to do. Though she came off as a tad cold to Eugene, it did feel necessary. After everything he’s been through, before and after the Safe Zone, he should be less fearful by now.
The Alexandria Safe Zone is not a united community. It may be a long time before everyone sees on one accord, but right now, if they’re to survive, they need to move forward as a group or they’ll continue to be killed off, one by one. Sounds simple since that’s what some of the residents want, but Rick still sees this as his group versus the residents.
He and his have spent months out in the wilderness, fighting against the elements. They know what it’s like to think and fight under pressure, even when the odds are against them. So Rick isn’t about to start opening his circle to them because he still sees them as weak. Thus far, they’ve proven him right, but some are willing to adapt for the sake of survival.
What Tobin said about Rick’s first impression makes sense from the perspective of the Alexandria residents. He comes in with his grisly beard and menacing look- people will fear him. But despite that, the residents are open to his ideas. It’s not what these survivors are used to, but if it will keep them alive and give them a better chance at living, they’ll try.
It seems like the people, both the original residents and Rick’s group, are here to remind Rick when he’s being out of line, pessimistic, or just acting like an asshole.
That includes when Michonne and Deanna believing that the community has a future, Morgan maintaining his humanity in the face of so much death, or Tara giving him the finger- which might be the most noteworthy thing she’s done so far.
Tara isn’t that interesting of a character in my mind since I don’t think the show knows what to do with her yet, but her flipping off Rick felt like a very character driven moment. You wouldn’t get that from someone like Daryl or Carol, but Tara, spunky as she is? I could see her giving the bird. The AMC censors allow it.
The people understand Rick and his methods, but if Michonne’s insistence to trust Aaron last season was any indication, it’s that he’s not so big and powerful that he can’t be called out on his bullshit. Spencer even correctly points out that even if he’d told Rick all about his reckless plan, Rick wouldn’t have accepted it. Even if Spencer’s plan was ridiculous and ill-thought-out.
From my observation, Rick this episode looks to be focused more on putting out smaller fires to prevent larger ones, even if he’s not sure of the outcome. He questions Morgan’s reluctance to kill, but Carol is the one to notice he’s housing a Wolf. He teaches Ron to shoot, despite the boy’s tension with Carl.
And he tells Deanna all about his half-assed plan to escape Alexandria to reach a car, even when there’s no way he could have been sure of the outcome. He’s planning five steps ahead for scenarios he can’t anticipate, which makes him quick on his fate, but also very foolish.
Also, kind of an asshole, since he went and ripped down Gabriel’s prayer circle fliers, but then Gabriel does sort of have that coming, given his past remarks about the group.
I’m quite surprised the talk with Morgan was as civil as it ended up being, given how his actions could have gotten Rick killed. Like Michonne or Daryl, Morgan knows enough about Rick that he’s not afraid to question or challenge him. He won’t kill anymore, but even he’s struggling to hold onto Eastman’s philosophy in the face of so much carnage. I don’t think Rick would exile Morgan since a. that’s not his call to make, and b. he knows what good Morgan can bring to the group, even if he’s not a killer.
It still feels like we’re missing a scene or two with Rick explaining how he escaped the RV generally unscathed or how Morgan returned to Alexandria before him and the others. It’s not a huge issue, but if the show has been willing to put off these two talking, why not address these other points?
I don’t really have much to say about Glenn since his quest to reunite with Maggie is one we’ve already seen before when the two were separated when the prison fell. His survival is one many expected, despite the fake-out and the fact that actors generally appear on Talking Dead after their character dies, as was the case with Emily Kinney.
So yeah, Glenn lives, but I can’t even call this a clever or well done fake-out because I’m questioning how or why the walkers eventually left him alone or how it only took until daytime for that massive swarm to disperse. They were on both sides of the fence and they saw two bodies, so is the dumpster that much of a barrier? Also, I’ve never tried to slip under a dumpster to escape a herd of walkers. Last time I did, all I got for it were glass shards scraping my back and fingers trying to claw at my skin.
Glenn is a lucky man, as we’ve seen time and time again, but he wasn’t exactly invisible. And walkers aren’t one to just focus on one person when dealing with a group. So either this is a lazy contrivance or these walkers read the script and decided that it wasn’t Glenn’s time to die. Either way you slice it, it’s flimsy. Again, if a main character dies, it’s usually seen by someone else, and given Maggie’s optimism, the show wouldn’t just let Glenn die and not have anyone else find out about it.
As for his adventures with Enid, it gave him a chance to show some of his optimism to another character down in the dumps. People have speculated that Enid could have been a spy for the Wolves. I honestly never saw the connection or cared either way since Enid isn’t that noteworthy of a character right now, but it looks like she’s just a lonely girl that feeds on pessimism. The perfect candidate for the ever-optimistic Glenn. And I did chuckle at him throwing the ‘asshole’ line back at Enid when she’s the one who pointed the gun at him.
That said, I did enjoy Maggie’s reaction upon seeing the balloons and believing it to be Glenn. Sure, it was him, but there’s no reason it couldn’t have been Enid, Nicholas, or Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham, too.
But we’re coming up on the mid-season finale. Up until now, while the Alexandria Safe Zone isn’t impenetrable, it has managed to hold and keep out swarms of roamers. But with the tower collapsing and the walls now wide open, shit is about to get real very fast. “Heads Up” wasn’t a bad episode, but it didn’t tell us what we already knew about some of these characters.
The reveal of Glenn being alive wasn’t as impactful as it could have been since there’d be little reason to kill him off in that way. In addition, the situations at Alexandria, while compelling, went through motions we’ve already explored. We did cover new ground, though: Carol is onto Morgan’s secret, Ron has his targets set on Carl, Tara makes proper use of her middle finger, and the community looked ready for a brief respite. Not anymore.