SPOILER ALERT 

There was a lot of stuff going on in this episode.  Most of it was run-of-the-mill, TWD-style blunt storytelling, like Sasha’s mental breakdown.  I mean, her being blatantly upset and having a hard time adjusting to being “safe” is a thing, in the sense that everything in this story is a “thing.”  But, that isn’t a very fascinating thing.  She’ll either snap or she won’t. But who really cares?

Ditto for all the fish-out-of-water stuff going on at the cocktail party.  It’s stuff to watch, but there just isn’t much real drama here.  It is a little clever to take the discomfort of going to a party where you don’t know anyone (we have ALL been there) and amplify it 100X because of the whole zombie apocalypse thing, but that story is already a tree-falling; someone in Rick’s party will act out, someone in Alexandria will say “Whoa dude!  We’re civilized people here!  We don’t do ____.  You need to behave better” and we’ll go through a phase where nobody likes Rick’s crew. Until zombies or bandits show up and the weaklings of Alexandria are damn glad that Rick & Co. are present.  I mean, is there any other alternative story?  It’s just a question of how long it’ll take and the details of which of Rick’s gang breaks wind first in decent company.

But, there was something very non-characteristic in this episode: ambiguity!

That scene right at the end, where Rick sees Jessie and her husband walk by and he reaches for his gun?  And not his state-issued Constable Gun on his hip, but his illicit, stolen gun that he’s carrying concealed in the small of his back…  If you’ve read the comics, you know that Jessie’s husband was an abusive turd and that’s what I expected the show to do too, especially after last week when this husband muttered possessively to Rick about how “my wife cut your hair” in a way that made it clear, “Don’t be hitting on the hairdresser.  She is mine.”

Well, in this episode, the husband seems like a pretty decent dude.  Friendly at the cocktail party, getting drinks for people and all that.  When they showed him putting his hand on Jessie, I expected it to be rough or for them to show bruised knuckles or something to suggest that he was abusive, but that isn’t what happened.  He just put his hand on Jessie like a normal husband, and that made Rick reach for his gun.  Hmm…  Very curious.

And then Rick went and listened to the sounds of the zombie outside the walls…..which was also kinda interesting.

Wow…. TWD actually gave us something to discuss!

And that wasn’t even the only thing that was worth talking about in this episode.  We also had the whole thing with Maybe Gay Darryl and Aaron/Eric.  Is there maybe going to be a little love-triangle here?  That would be interesting; and the only reason I don’t give this higher marks for being interesting is that TWD has done nothing in the actual show to reinforce this idea that Darryl is gay. But the idea has been spamming the internet for several years about how Darryl MIGHT be gay in various interviews.  I’m not a huge fan of doing your storytelling in interviews with actors, but it would at least be a different story than the Darryl/Carol romance we all thought we’d see a few years ago.  Plus, it puts Norman Reedus front-and-center and he’s one of the stronger actors on this show.  And because Darryl isn’t a comic book character, they can do whatever they want with him, so even comic book fans have something fresh to look forward to.

The rest of the show was fine.  I loved Carol’s horrible threat to the little boy who caught her stealing guns.  As soon as you saw that kid, I thought about how Carol has killed kids before when circumstances demanded it.  That actually made the scene kinda clever.  If Glen had been the gun thief, nobody would have believed him when he threatened the child, but Carol?  Carol does what needs to be done, even if she is wearing floral sweater sets to blend in.

Oh, and the horse thing was stupid!  Animals as metaphors for the human condition is a level of subtlety that this show should never attempt.

And if you’re wondering why the episode can’t get higher marks from me, consider the dropped stories from last week: Glen’s confrontation with Deanna’s son, Carl’s worry about how wussy everyone is and how the kids want to play video games, etc.  It’s kinda weak to toss those out as serious story elements one week and then neglect them the next.  Was Carl even in the episode?  The really good TV dramas aren’t choppy like that.

-Dean Stell

 

Grade

B

Conclusion

A pretty solid episode that gave us an actual discussion worthy moment. Wow. Not "great", but better than this show has had in awhile.