The Walking Dead: "Remember" and "Forget" (Season 5, Episodes 12 and 13)

Flabbergasted

"This is now." Pretty Zen, huh?

I was travelling last week, so I'll do both of these episodes at once. They don't really need separate reviews since they're one continuous exploration of an idea. It's a daring idea for TV, too--have our heroes become villains?

They've stumbled across the Alexandria Safe Zone, a hi-tech housing development behind walls with its own power and water supplies. They've also stumbled across the people living in it, whom Rick succinctly describes as "the luckiest damn people I ever met." Not lucky for the safe zone. In Rick's opinion, they're lucky that no one has taken this place from them. Cuz they're soft. Rick has eyed them up and down and found them wanting.

The question upon which heroism of villainy hangs is a simple one: have Rick and company been out there too long? Can they accept good fortune and try and build up the fitness of the safe zone's inhabitants in good faith? Or are they sizing up weaknesses to take over? Friends or predators--time to choose.      

"Remember" is about the shock of initially feeling safe. Of houses and community. A place to call your own. Carol is pretending to be a model homemaker instead of a dreadnought to have leverage if she needs it. Rick and Michonne are made the safe zone constables by Deanna, the smart yet trusting former congresswoman from Ohio. That's some more leverage. Glen sized up the incompetent scavengers he was sent out with and cold cocked their leader after he almost got someone killed. They're a dangerous bunch, the Ricksters.  

Only Darryl, bless his redneck heart, is himself. He's lugging around a dead opossum he shot and doesn't care how many odd looks he gets.

Carl really likes meeting some other teens, too. But even he says these people are soft. That Rick and company can't afford to revert like that in this world.

"Forget" is about belief, or the lack thereof. Our heroes are kind of abusing the local hospitality. Maybe they're right to do so. The guy Glen cold cocked was an idiot. The safe zone folks haven't even manned the clock tower to watch for Walkers or marauding humans. They don't comprehend something like Terminus. All this even as we're finding Walkers with the letter "W" carved in their foreheads, same as the ones Rick saw at that destroyed community in Richmond a few episodes back.

Is a cocktail party really conducive to the right attitude for survival?

But maybe you should believe. What if the Alexandria safe house crowd just needs a little help to get properly motivated? What if our heroes really can't be trusted to want a community anymore?

What if our heroes aren't civilized anymore?

Divergence. Michonne is hanging up her samurai sword on the wall of her house. Carol is threatening a child, in brutal fashion, to not tell anyone that he saw her sneaking guns out of the local armory. Sasha is losing it while Darryl has bonded with Aaron over spaghetti and wants to give this a try. Rick has moved dangerously close to squatting rights on another man's wife; she seems open to it, with something a little off about that husband. But again, is this how the world has to be? Do you just take what you want?

In the middle of all that, there's one standout, appallingly wondrous scene beyond the safe zone's walls. Darryl and Aaron spot a beautiful black horse. But before they can try to lead it back to the safe zone, they're beset by Walkers. The horse ultimately goes down with Walkers plunging fast first into its sides only to rear back festooned with red. The cinematography is as gorgeous as the moment is deeply disturbing. At least Aaron puts the horse out of its misery after Darryl dispatches the Walkers.

Then there's Aaron's parting lint to Darryl, why he trusts him:  "You know the difference between good people and bad people."

Does Rick anymore?

How does this end?

We shall see. As Michonne said, "This is now."   

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