Whoa! There’s show spoilers in this review. Proceed with caution.
This episode was all about first impressions. Our brave survivors don’t put on their best face when Alexandria opens its gates to them. Rick cringes and glares. Daryl dangles a skewered possum like a prized buck. The rest look like abused dogs waiting for their new owners to yell and kick them. Things go from awkward to worse when Rick decides he’s not going to abide by the host’s rules and saunters into town. He acts like he’s doing them a favor by agreeing to come. Shows no weakness, despite the fact that his people were days from starving to death and the people aiding them know it.
The community itself is everything the group wanted it to be. There’s solar panels providing electricity. Running water and water heaters—everyone took their time enjoying simple pleasures like showers and brushing their teeth properly. Everyone except Daryl, who never settles anywhere lest someone attempt to domesticate him. The fences protecting them are solid. They’re giving away huge, furnished houses to whoever walks in the gate. The streets are clear enough for children to play without worry. Neighbors are seemingly kind. Alexandria is a slice of the past transported to an ugly reality.
And that makes them weak.
Everyone spots the flaws in the game plan within the community. None of the citizens watch the fences anymore. There’s walkers outside, but they leave them to roam—something which makes Rick and Carl so jumpy, they end up clearing out a small pocket of undead just to feel better about their safety. Of course, if they’d stayed inside, there wouldn’t be a problem. Carl never listens. He learned it from his father. Another huge flaw in the way Alexandria is run comes from the scouting crew, led by Aidan Monroe. He’s a civilian playing military games. All this time, he’s thought he’s top dog when it comes to making supply runs. His way of coping with the loss of four community members is juvenile—stringing up the walker who killed their friend and torturing him as a ritual blessing before they head out on a trip. Glenn, Tara, and Noah put a stop to that. Something Aidan takes offense to and starts a fight the moment they’re back behind the community’s walls. After Rick breaks it up, the town’s leader, Deanna, asks him to become their constable—with Michonne at his side.
Deanna Monroe might finally be the one person left alive who can out maneuver Rick in the survival game. Where he has brute strength to get his way, she’s only got her mind. Before the undead rose, Deanna was a congresswoman. Her skills as a politician make her incredibly good at reading people and manipulating them. Everyone except Daryl. He confuses her as much as he confuses himself. Once she learns what makes Rick tick, she may be able to talk sense into him. Or she could be a sociopath like Philip Blake—someone who rules their community not because they had to, but because they wanted to and ensured everyone who had a say wanted them to have the position as well. In that case, she could talk any member of Rick’s crew into betraying him.
Is Rick’s paranoia affecting how the fans see every new person on the show? It seems we should give some of them the benefit of the doubt. Not all of us are as self-assured as Rick. He fully believes if they find Alexandria’s citizens lacking, they’ll just take over and run things his way. Can the Ricktatorship sustain a community like this? He failed at the quarry, the CDC, the farm, the prison . . . so many potential homes lost. Some of those losses were preventable, others doomed from the start. This may end up another notch on Rick’s gun belt, another chance for normalcy lost because humans can’t overcome their need to have more.