“You still don’t get it. None of you do!” – Rick Grimes.
The Walking Dead has been a lot of things, but mostly, it has been a show about the evolution of Rick Grimes. It’s been a fascinating journey and Andrew Lincoln consistently delivers award-worthy performances. It’s unfortunate that it seems clear by now that he won’t be getting any such recognition for this role. While Rick’s journey from innocent police officer to brutal group leader doesn’t match, say, the transformation of Breaking Bad’s Walter White to Heisenberg, it still has many similarities. Walter gets taken down a dark path initially due to his unfortunate circumstance, but he clings to this darkness because it turns out that he has a deep passion for being a the top, pulling the strings, and winning. And while Rick’s journey to this darkness isn’t fueled by such a passion, it does also turn out that he is very qualified to survive, to succeed, and even to thrive in his new world.
I think about the Rick Grimes of Season One, naive and untested, who said such things as “We do not kill the living.” And I think now about Rick Grimes, who tells Deanna: “I kill him. We kill him.” It’s a drastic change, but when you think back on Rick’s journey, it makes sense. The loss of his wife, his periods of insanity, his interactions with people influential in both good and bad ways (The Governor and Hershel come to mind), and you can see how he must have changed.
This season, and particularly the latter half, have been very strong, and I think that this seems likely due to our characters’ new perspective on the world: asserted dominance. Long gone is the soft naivety. They have been careful, alert, and suspicious. And as shown in “Four Walls in a Roof,” earlier this season, some have become entirely brutal. When I think about Rick and Carol deciding that Pete needed to be killed, I’m brought back to that specific moment in the church. While Rick, Michonne, Abraham, and Sasha bludgeoned and stabbed the cannibals, we were also shown Glenn, Maggie, Tyreese, and Tara, watching in utter horror. And though it seems that they can accept that this needed to be done, it also seems that they wouldn’t be capable of doing it.
Knowing who these characters are, who they truly are, has taken some time, but I would stress how important it has become. Their time in Alexandria would not be nearly as fascinating if they were the naive characters we had begun with. With their journeys and their emotional arcs in mind, the risks and stakes of their circumstances are heightened. This allows us to cheer both for Rick on the street, fighting this man who beats his wife and son, and also for Michonne, when she knocks Rick unconscious.
I said last week that this season would have to culminate in some kind of showdown between Deanna and Rick, and more-so between the Alexandrians and our survivors. I’m glad that turned out to not be fully true. While I won’t try to predict what will happen next week, it’s refreshing to go into a finale with two of our more favored characters not too pleased with each other. Michonne may have agreed that Pete needed to go, but I think it seemed clear that she thought he went about it in a very inappropriate way. I’m excited to see how that plays out.
Besides the showdown between Rick and Pete, we were also treated to three subplots, one of which felt inconsequential, one of which felt like the writers wanted to wait for the finale to get to the point, and one which featured Sasha continuing her own personal streak of insanity. Let’s start with Sasha. I’ve said before that Sonequa Martin-Green has been delivering great performances. Unfortunately, her character as a whole has still suffered from a massive identity crisis. That is to say, I don’t know who Sasha is.
I was glad to see that the writers remembered character interactions, with Sasha angrily and perhaps guiltily telling Michonne and Rosita that she told Noah he would die. I’d personally forgotten about that little gem of hers, though I do now remember writing it down as I watched the episode. Although it’s still true, as she said, that if you don’t think you can make it you probably won’t, I don’t think it applied to Noah anymore. He’d taken on responsibility, he’d taken on a new outlook on life once they’d come to Alexandria. So while it was nice to hear her remember their conversation, it still rung hollow, because I just don’t know how she actually feels. Her behavior since Alexandria seems to have hints of post-traumatic stress disorder, especially her breakdown at the dinner party, but outside of that and her relationships to Tyreese and Bob, I never knew who she was. I’m finding it difficult to relate to her, and I think it’s for that reason.
However, I am still interested to see where this goes, which is in complete contrast to Carl’s plot this week. We’re treated to a small story between kids surviving the apocalypse, both trying to act much older than they are while actually showing that they are still just kids. I won’t delve into it because even writing about it is rather boring.
The storyline that seems to be waiting until next week to kick into high gear is the mystery being investigated outside the walls of Alexandria. Daryl and Aaron saw a fire in the night and inexplicably waited until morning to actually walk over, only to not find anyone at all. Unsurprising. What they did find, though, is that someone has been doing… weird things to the zombies. The W symbol returns more than once, perhaps most notably on a dead zombie tied to a tree. We aren’t treated to anything new, as we knew that these marked zombies were wandering around. However, it has gotten me excited about next week’s episode.
- It continues to be weird to see Rosita in normal clothes and without a hat.
- Since we got Abraham, Glenn, Maggie, Tara, Eugene, and Father Gabriel last week, we don’t get them this week. Although this constant shift is necessary for a large cast, and I see this sort of thing often in Game of Thrones, it feels more obvious when all the characters are supposedly in the same place.
- Following up from above, I am curious to know about Tara’s fate, and whether Maggie is going to rat out Father Gabriel.
- Not only is rejecting the casserole Carol baked insulting, it is also such a huge waste in this new world. Come on Deanna!
- I don’t know the deal with the red balloon, thoughts?
- So Nicholas is the one that stole the gun. Of course, since it hasn’t come into play, it will in the finale, and it seems likelier and likelier that it will be used to kill one of our survivors.
- Which leads us to: Who will die in the finale? Does the show dare kill off one of its core cast members? Those being: Rick, Carl, Daryl, Glenn, Maggie, Michonne, and Carol. I think we’re likely to lose one or more of: Tara, Eugene, Rosita, Abraham, Sasha, and Father Gabriel. Not a very hard prediction to make, I know, considering I essentially listed all the characters.
- And finally: Will we be seeing Morgan? It only seems right, considering he ended the first episode of the season.
Episode Grade: B+