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In this week's "The Walking Dead" we get a taste of who's ready to adapt and who cannot forget their life on the outside. Great episode.

TV Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘Forget’

If last week’s episode of The Walking Dead “Remember” was about trying to remember what life was like before the zombie apocalypse, this week’s “Forget” seems to ask whether the Grimes Gang can even begin to forget what life had been like “outside.” Have they been out in the wild for too long by now, and are true outdoor cats, irreconcilable to the domesticated life of Alexandria? It is clear that most of them are suffering shell shock, still fighting a war that may not still need fighting; conquering a foe that no longer needs vanquishing (as long as they remain within the safety of Alexandria).The Walking Dead Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus

True, they all have been in pure survival instinct mode for a very long time, and it’s impossible to switch gears quickly, no matter how relieved some of them are to have found what appears to be relative safety. By the end of the episode, the survivor group almost seems split into two camps: those who are willing to be part of the Alexandria community and those who refuse to allow any of it to seep into their atrophied hearts. And it’s interesting that the camps are comprised of some unexpected members.

Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Carol (Melissa McBride) are clearly on the outside. Although they pretend to fit in, their guard is way, way up, and their wariness borders on the fanatical. They have no trust for Deanna or anyone else in Alexandria. All three have become uber-scary, with Carol taking the prize this week for her freaky-terrifying cookie speech to the poor young boy that happens upon her while she’s stealing a few guns. Invisible, she can hide easily in the suburbia of Alexandria, decked out in floral cardigans and schmoozing with the town’s other middle aged ladies. But she’s got an agenda, and it has nothing to do with baking cookies.

Sasha is so far out on a ledge at this point, I was really wondering if she would be the latest In Memoriam for the group (especially after The Talking Dead revealed it would feature a “surprise guest,” often code for “the latest casualty” on the show). Sasha is angry, on a hair trigger, and still reeling from Tyreese’s death. She’s been reckless for weeks, and I wonder if is still at all redeemable. She cannot forget her losses, the grief, the pain she’s suffered; she cannot forget all they’ve been through. Her trajectory has been steep decline, and rising from that might be impossible.

Rick seems to be teeter tottering between “wanting to believe” and “let’s get them before they get us.” Taking the job as constable, he promises to protect and serve the people of Alexandria, but his recent experience tells him not to become too comfortable. He’s just waiting for something to go awry to prove his point (and possibly take over the place entirely).

Michonne (Danai Gurira) has believed all season that there is something better on the horizon, and she seems willing at this point to trust that perhaps Alexandria is that something. When she places her prized Katana sword above her mantel, she is telling us and herself that she feels safe enough to part with her weapon of choice. It is part of her past–something from which to move on, if it’s possible. Something not to forget, but leave behind for this new life.

In “Forget,” Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) reaches a major turning point in his internal battle about Alexandria. Seemingly the most resistant of all, he has refused to become a party to the adaptation game everyone seems to be playing. But there is a moment this week–quiet and quick–when Daryl’s heart is turned, and is stunned to find that he can be part of a new community. It is Aaron, recognizing that Daryl, reticent as he is, is also valuable, can read people, and has the wisdom and judgment to be, like him, a recruiter for the community. It’s a lovely moment–and a wonderful reveal, and it touches Daryl deeply. Almost as much as being introduced to the motorcycle workshop in Aaron’s garage.

It is a this point Daryl relaxes enough to chow down a spaghetti dinner, and, when Carol offers him one of her stolen weapons, he refuses. “Do we really need them?” he wonders aloud. He wants to believe. He had achieved something as a crucial presence in the survivor group–more than he’d ever before achieved. And then he’d thought it had vanished, leaving him, once again the outsider. His acceptance by Aaron–another outsider–tells him that he can belong, if only to the fringes of Alexandria, if not its core. It’s a profound moment for Daryl, and beautifully played.

What a great, rich episode; it’s hard to believe, though, we’re down to the final three! What’s to come? I suspect the gang will once again be fighting off the zombie horde very, very soon!

The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."

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One comment

  1. Nice recap, Barbara. I think there are multiple things going on – and subtext is equally important. Sasha doesn’t just destroy any targets – they are ones of happy families. She feels that she is proof that is a myth, at least in her world.

    Carol is operating on a Dr. Jekyl-Mrs. Hyde mode. Mrs. Hyde tells children to look at the flowers or threatens to let the bad people eat them up. Carol is all calculation while Sasha is emotion. Both may end up In Memoriam at this rate.

    Rick wants to believe but has had too many hard knocks. He lost his best friend, his wife, and other friends too. He has to protect his children. He knows that as “normal” as Alexandria seems that nothing is normal anymore. This is pretending to be normal. Let’s have a cocktail party and pretend that there’s nothing outside those walls that threatens us.

    We had initials in this story (Rick even gets his own scarlet letter A), and the W on the dead walker’s head is another signal about the Wolves (if you read the comics you have an idea of what’s coming). The threat is going to make Terminus and the Governor seem benign – and a major threat from a pernicious foe is going to be all the more scary because that Alexandria gang is softer than the Pillsbury doughboy.

    Finally, I like Daryl coming around. After all his suffering and loss of his brother, Daryl wants family as much as Sasha or maybe even more. The difference is that Daryl has found in Aaron and Eric perhaps brothers to replace Merle – I don’t see Sasha finding anyone to take Tyrese’s place or ease the loss of Bob.

    Three episodes are left and I think that image of Rick touching the wall and the walker on the other side is foreshadowing of the calm before the storm that will make Hurricance Sandy look like a sun shower.