Time to continue the tour of the communities with issue #182- The Commonwealth Grows.
The strange thing about this issue for me is that even though it’s more of the same- Rick showing Pamela around the various communities- I quite enjoyed this one a bit more because of the character interactions. Not just seeing Pamela meet people like Maggie or the people at the Kingdom and Sanctuary, but the moments we get between folks like Laura and Dwight or Rick and Carl. Let’s dive right into it.
We start things off at the Sanctuary, where it seems that John has taken charge of things. He talks about how life has changed for the better and how the people living there can now live and fend for themselves, rather than having to take advantage of other communities for goods. Now that they’re in a position to contribute, they need people who can grow and become useful members of this network.
It shows how far the Saviors have come since their introduction and how life now for many of the people here is much better than it was under Negan and probably under Sherry, too. It makes me wonder if the friction between the Saviors and everyone else could have been different from the start had Negan not been leading the charge.
Hell, I’m also curious if there are any other remaining Saviors or people at the Sanctuary who want a return to the way things were. After all, Sherry was still dead set on being a thorn in Rick’s side. Perhaps all of those loyal to Negan have been killed or just gone into obscurity, but I have to wonder if everyone at the Sanctuary has indeed accepted how things have changed. Maybe not, but it’s interesting to think about.
Soon enough, Rick arrives at the Sanctuary with Pamela as the tour continues to the various communities. Continuing from John’s earlier conversation, he does seem like he wants to put the past behind him and work on forging a better life not just for the Sanctuary, but the other communities. Rick even compliments John on how the Sanctuary has been run under him.
Also, Pamela brings up something important here that comes up again towards the end of the issue- the distance between communities, more so the Commonwealth compared to everywhere else with the available forms of transportation. More on that later.
It’s also worth noting that Pamela wants to know from Rick all about this Negan person who everyone talks about, and since Rick responds with a simple ‘Here goes,’ that must have been one hell of a tale for Pamela to hear. After all, the Commonwealth- sort of like Alexandria- is isolated from most places, so I wonder if they’ve ever encountered somebody like Negan.
En route to the next location, Rick and Dwight take a minute to squash their beefs, which is great because there’s no need for Rick to still hold a grudge. More than that, it’s good growth for Dwight to acknowledge how much he’s been blaming other people for terrible things that happen, even blaming Rick for Sherry’s death. But he’s hopefully putting that behind him, with some help from Laura.
Also, take note of Rick’s face after he tells Dwight and Laura that he’s happy the two of them have each other. You probably already know why he’d feel this way right after saying that, but this will be more important in a little bit.
The trip to the Kingdom feels more like a transitional point because we aren’t here very long compared to the Sanctuary and the Hilltop. It feels like a stop and point location on the tour, but then, there’s no way to tell in this panel just how much time passes. It’s enough for Pamela to become familiar with Ezekiel and Shiva.
Before arriving at our next destination, Rick and Mercer have a talk about their lives prior to the outbreak, with Mercer still finding it hard to believe that the people in these communities suggest roles, rather than taking on jobs similar to what they did in their previous lives. How can a society function where people just recommend what they want to do, rather than continue from their old lives.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no sense of continuity when it comes to people contributing and being useful. After all, Rick was a sheriff and now he’s pretty much the head of Alexandria, so it’s not completely out of the question. We also learn that Mercer was- or is– a marine, but grew bored before the world went to hell. Throwing axes is probably more exciting to Mercer right now.
But then we arrive at the Hilltop which, to Rick’s surprise, has been rebuilt faster than expected thanks to the help of the Kingdom. Maggie is, of course, a bit hostile towards Pamela since, hey, newcomer showing up out of nowhere is a bit odd. But given everything that the people have been through, it’s not unreasonable.
But before we follow up on that, Rick and Carl reunite, Carl telling his father that he was worried about him. And this is a bit of follow-up on Rick’s sad face after being happy for Laura and Dwight. Despite time passing since it happened, Rick is still mourning the loss of Andrea. It’s a hole that won’t be filled for some time, if ever, and it’s kind of Carl to still show concern for his father and even consider coming back to Alexandria.
Rick doesn’t blame Carl, though. The Hilltop needed Carl, who did help them when the Whisperers attacked. More than that, he’s made the Hilltop his home. Rick wouldn’t hold Carl leaving against him. Plus, it wasn’t until Carl pointed it out that I noticed Rick isn’t using his cane anymore. It’s been years since Negan broke his leg, but perhaps Rick is at the point where he doesn’t need his cane.
Back to the meeting- as both Pamela and Maggie note, it’s odd to smile quite a lot when you’re first meeting somebody because it just feels suspicious. Admittedly, being standoff-ish probably wouldn’t help either, but I can see how somebody just smiling would feel weird, especially given what the characters have been through in the past.
So Pamela stops smiling as much, with Rick telling Maggie that she’s being rude. Okay, I get that Rick is trying to get Pamela acclimated to the communities, but come on, Rick. Between the other Governor taking his hand, among everything else that’s happened, it’s not unrealistic for Maggie to be suspect and distrusting of Pamela right off the bat. In fact, it should be expected.
But once Pamela reveals that Michonne is still at the Commonwealth with her daughter, she decides that she’s on board with people seeing the Commonwealth for themselves.
Before the last conversation, we get a quick conversation between Dwight, Laura, and Heath, with Dwight telling Heath that they should be back in around a month or less, and if things go well, they’ll send someone back to report.
Hence, this goes back to what Pamela said about the distance. Right now, people are mostly traveling on horseback, but I have to imagine that cars aren’t out of the question. And if you’ve got some engineers, maybe you could get trains up and running again to cut down on travel between communities set distances apart.
Pamela also inquires about how Carl lost his eye and, after learning, tells Rick that the Commonwealth has never had to put children on the front lines. Given what Rick and Carl have gone through as far back as the prison, they don’t have the luxury of keeping children away or out of combat. If anything, it’s hardened kids like Carl and Sophia, who now know how to defend themselves.
In the end, Pamela determines that Rick is Commonwealth material, not that Rick would ever rip himself away from Alexandria. The only obstacle is Pamela needs to bring Rick around to her way of thinking…or the other way around. This is going to be an interesting friendship indeed.
Again, I really enjoyed this issue. The character beats and little moments at the communities made this a more entertaining read when you consider that we’re still just visiting the communities. Looking forward to seeing how Rick and company react when they arrive at the Commonwealth soon.