This Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 5
Things have perfectly gone to hell in Alexandria. And I’m glad they have. There was a moment last season, probably during one of the cocktail mixers or townhall meetings, where I thought there would always be this level of coziness in Alexandria. Sure, we’d get the adventures beyond the walls, the danger, and the death, but the Safe-Zone would remain just that — and a place for the writers to slow things down and have the characters talk to each other (the basic function of Alexandria this week). Instead, Gimple and friends have, in only two or three episodes, metaphorically torn down the walls. And what better way to build Alexandria up to be the safe haven it can be than by first leveling it?
I don’t mean Alexandria will literally be leveled — although I foresee a ton of destruction and death between now and the midseason finale. I mean that the people, their morale, will be torn to shreds. And the ones that survive the ordeal ahead will come out much stronger for it.
Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and Deanna steal the show this week with the two most important lines of the night. We haven’t seen enough of these two this season, but I have a feeling we’ll see a bit more of them. In fact, this episode almost acted on the periphery of what Rick was up to when he returned to the Safe-Zone. The episode mostly concerns itself with secondary characters like Jessie, Deanna, Aaron, and Merritt Wever’s excellent Dr. Denise. All of these characters have to deal with recent events, while also facing the fact that they can’t do things the old way anymore. Every knock at the wall is an immediate reminder of the nightmare world they now inhabit.
Tovah Feldshuh is in fine form this week. I was a little worried that she would be relegated to just moping around, watching others take charge for her. She’s mostly quiet throughout the episode, observing how the situation is quickly deteriorating around her, as her people begin stealing from the pantry and act like the situation is hopeless. It seemed for most of the episode that she would be the weakest link, that she was completely broken, and would die by the end of the hour. And Gimple gives us that moment where the walker appears, a towering beast in the night, to facilitate Deanna’s exit. But we get the explosive performance from Feldshuh, as Deanna savagely stabs the walker with a broken bottle. When Rick arrives to finish the walker off (does Deanna not know that she needs to go for the head?), Deanna, soaked in blood and guts, delivers the line of the night: “I want to live.”
That really is the thesis statement of the episode. We get the same from Jessie, who after taking down the corpse of a neighbor, tells those around her that she used to try to avoid seeing the world beyond the walls, but now she knows that’s no way to live. Instead, the remaining Alexandrians will have to meet the dangers head-on. They will have to adapt.
Elsewhere, we get the Maggie story we knew was coming since Glenn died/didn’t die two weeks ago. And it’s a big red herring that couldn’t be better. Seriously, if this show had made me sit through yet another “Glenn and Maggie have to find each other” plot, I don’t know what I would’ve done. Yes, these two are everyone’s favorite sweethearts, but enough already with this. Glenn and Maggie haven’t been given anything interesting to do in quite a while. The writers constantly separate these two just to lend some motivation to the characters and get the cheap gasp from fans.
But The Walking Dead got me good this week. Just as I was preparing to roll my eyes, we got that great moment between Maggie and Aaron, where they both helped each other step away from the suicide mission and decide that they too had to live.
A lot should be said about Ross Marquand’s Aaron, who is so good at complementing the other characters on this show. I loved him when he appeared in the second half of season 5, and I really liked his scenes with Maggie tonight. Aaron, an all-around good person, fits so well with the more troubled members of this community. We’ve seen him get around Daryl’s rougher edges and now we see him pretty much save Maggie by offering to sacrifice himself so she can get away. Of course, he also feels that going on Maggie’s mission is a way to atone for the mistake that led the Wolves to Alexandria’s gates. He was very selfless tonight, prepared to repay the deaths of his neighbors with his own life. But I’m glad it wasn’t his time.
And I’m glad the way the prospective “Maggie goes after Glenn again” storyline abruptly ends. It’s a powerful moment in the sewers, where she understand that this is the way things are. She doesn’t get to know if Glenn is alive or dead, but she can find comfort in knowing that her baby will live. She made the right choice tonight.
Next week, perhaps more walls fall…
– I really liked the old-school rotten zombies in the sewers. It was almost like they were ripped right out of the Zombi series. Maybe we’ll get some shark vs. zombie fights soon?
– Merritt Wever really is doing a fine job as Dr. Denise. It’s great to see at least one character trying to learn skills that save people as opposed to kill them.
– I don’t trust Ron. He’s up to something. I bet Rick’s going to become his target practice at some point.
– Something bad’s gonna happen to Carl. We never saw Rick confront him tonight. Also, I wonder if Enid is back on that turtle diet…
– Where’s Carol? Would’ve liked a moment with her.