A Look at The Walking Dead #185- “On Guard”

Could Rick be the real leader that the Commonwealth needs?

The Walking Dead #185- Cover

Rick Grimes never asked to be a leader. He just ascends into that position. But one thing you can’t argue- he does his damn job and he does it well. He became leader of Alexandria and the people have grown accustomed to his leadership. Not because he forces his way of thinking on them, but because he works with them. I mention this because it will be very important when we get to the end of this issue.

The Walking Dead #185- Rick and Dwight argue over saving the Commonwealth citizens

As is, we pick up right where issue #184 left off, with Dwight making his case to Rick about why they should “save” the Commonwealth citizens. There’s an argument to be made here that Rick obviously sees. He’s not a fan of how Pamela rules, but he’s not about to go gung-ho on the Commonwealth just to rile up the citizens. He’s playing the long game and wants to be patient, even though he knows something should be done.

But not Dwight. No, Dwight needs action right now. You would think he would trust Rick and just wait, but he’s lived under Negan for so long that it makes sense he would be pushed over the edge with how the Commonwealth citizens live. Again, Rick sees this as well, but he’s willing to bide his time. Dwight might think the people are on his side, but Rick rightly points out that they could still lose.

After all, Michonne has been reunited with her daughter. They didn’t come all the way to the Commonwealth just to start an insurrection. To Rick, Dwight hasn’t learned anything, but I’d argue that Dwight has learned from having been under similar rule with the Saviors. Now we’ll get back to Rick and Dwight later, but rest assured that they aren’t on good terms right now.

The Walking Dead #185- Sophia tells Carl that she wants to have sex

Look back at the cover of this issue. It’s Carl on watch at the Hilltop. It stands to reason that we’d get a lot of focus there, but as is, we’re only there for three pages. And it’s mostly Carl sneaking out of Lydia’s room and Sophia catches him. More than that, Sophia wants sex. A lot. She’s past the point of wanting to lose her virginity, but none of the other boys seem like appealing options.

Roland and Mikey aren’t viable choices, so Sophia is left to her own devices. Not literally, I mean. And Carl seems to be missing the hint that Sophia might want him to be the one to take her virginity. And why not? They’ve survived through the apocalypse together for so long. And Lydia hasn’t been around for that long, so surely she wouldn’t mind if Carl and Sophia hooked up.

In the grand scheme of things, this conversation doesn’t tell us much other than the fact that Sophia really wants to get some. Again, I wish we’d spent more time at the Hilltop, given its placement on the cover, but it’s a minor thing. Hopefully Sophia finds someone to help give her what she wants.

The Walking Dead #185- Magna and Yumiko talk about the Commonwealth

Then we jump over to Alexandria to catch up with Magna and Yumiko, who are also on guard at the Safe Zone. Well, Magna is because she’s on edge about what’s to come. And how could she not? Whenever there’s relative peace in this world, it’s always the calm before the storm. And since Magna and Yumiko know about the Commonwealth, they think it’s only a matter of time before things go to shit.

If only they knew about the recent riot. But again, Magna knows that Rick will see through the Commonwealth’s facade. And when that day comes, Magna will be ready to fight, as she’d rather do that than live in the outside world again. I can’t say that I blame her. But Yumiko is a bit more optimistic, saying that maybe they won’t have to fight. And even if there was, they don’t necessarily have to fight.

Not an ideal option, as they’d have to eventually pick a side. But again, it is just a waiting game for when things go wrong. A time of peace in between the killings is rarely a good sign.

The Walking Dead #185- Rick, Michonne, and Elodie eat out at a restaurant

We’re back at the Commonwealth for the bulk of the issue, starting with Rick, Michonne, and Elodie dining and Michonne inadvertently insulting the profession of being a waitress. Hey, someone has to get the work done, Michonne. But hey, it may have just been a slip of the tongue. Like when the group arrived in Alexandria, it felt very alien to have a sense of normalcy. Much more so at the Commonwealth.

And it’s here where waves of nostalgia hit Rick like a cold splash. He remembers being out with Lori and Carl, but more recently, he wishes that Andrea was here to witness this and when he’s brought to tears, we see just how much he’s still affected by her death. And yeah, I miss Andrea too. It sucks that she died just before we learned about the Commonwealth.

The Walking Dead #185- Eugene and Stephanie kiss

Eugene gets a kiss from Stephanie, which feels like a spur-of-the-moment sort of thing, but as she told him, she was excited. See, based on Eugene’s examination, getting the train up and running will take less time than he initially thought, which is great. There’s still no time frame, but the train being in better condition should speed up the process, so that’s good news.

The Walking Dead #185- Rick and Pamela talk about family members they've lost

We get a nice moment between Rick and Pamela, who had just finished chewing out Lance for the riot and the new rules that will be set in place. More on that in a moment. Here, word travels fast, as Pamela knows about Rick being brought to tears. It is a tad odd that she would already know this, but as she says, it doesn’t take long for information to make its way back to her.

The two bond over their losses, with Pamela noting that her daughter didn’t make it to see the Commonwealth. As different as Rick and Pamela are when it comes to leading their respective communities, there’s nothing, everyone living in the apocalypse can relate to the pain of loss.

The Walking Dead #185- Dwight antagonizes the Commonwealth guards

Now, onto Pamela’s new rules. In light of the rioting, she’s increased the number of patrols so people don’t get the idea to pull any more shit. And it’s immediately felt, as Dwight faces soldiers everywhere he goes and they’re as far as the eye can see. It’s a bit intimidating to see the soldiers all over the place. It makes sense from Pamela’s point of view, but this probably doesn’t put the people at ease.

But Dwight knows this and he uses the added security presence to his advantage when he intentionally antagonizes the guards into subduing him. He peacefully surrenders, but he manages to get the people riled up and on his side. That’s all Dwight needed to accomplish. If the guards had beaten him and the people just looked the other way, this would be all for naught. But now? Dwight knows that the people are fed up.

The Walking Dead #185- Rick and Dwight again talk about the Commonwealth people

This is the point he wanted to prove to Rick, but Rick already realizes that things are off about the Commonwealth, just as Magna said. He knows that something must be done, but it can’t be by taking advantage of the people or whipping them up into a frenzy. That would hurt the goodwill already gained on both sides. Turning Pamela into a villain doesn’t do Rick any favors because that’s not who he is.

So Rick sees where Dwight is coming from, but they vastly differ on execution.

The Walking Dead #185- Mercer tells Rick that he's the leader that the Commonwealth needs

And then we’re left with our cliffhanger when Mercer calls Rick the leader that the Commonwealth truly needs. Like Rick at Alexandria or Maggie at the Hilltop, they emerge as the leaders that those respective communities would benefit from in the long run. So we’re treading familiar territory here, but hopefully Kirkman finds a way to keep this fresh so we’re not reading a plotline we’ve seen done before.

Overall, a decent issue. Nothing spectacular, but a good read. What will Rick do now that Mercer sees him as the leader that the Commonwealth needs? We’ll hopefully find out next month. See you then.

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