The Walking Dead
Season 5, Episode 12 – “Remember”
Air Date: March 3, 2015
For The Walking Dead, Alexandria marks the return of more than just security. It’s the return of society and civilization. With it, comes the dangerous mores of trust and power shrouded behind politics. “Remember” is filled with tension merely by the fact that our heroes haven’t interacted with a proper community of people since Woodbury. They have encountered nothing but monsters–groups for whom the threat is immediate and apparent. But Alexandria is unfamiliar; if the community is hiding a dark secret, our heroes haven’t stumbled upon it yet. As our group surrenders their weapons and enters the walls of Alexandria, they remain suspicious of their welcoming hosts in a brooding, unnerving hour of television.
What made the post-prison arc of The Walking Dead so compelling was its focus on survival. It seemed like the popular trend of dark, gritty reboots extended its way even into established television shows–everything was stripped away from our group (and Rick in particular) until all that was left was the hunger that kept them alive. When Rick first meetings with Alexandria’s leader, Deanna Monroe, he warns her:
“You should keep your gates closed… Because it’s all about survival now, at any cost. People out there are always looking for an angle, looking to play on your weakness. They measure you by what they can take from you, by how they can use you to live.”
Deanna Monroe can see the value in a person like Rick, and having people who are experienced survivors join the community. A former congressperson who might’ve become a professional poker player, she claims to have an exceptional talent for reading people and puts a lot of faith in Rick. Even when Rick mentions the countless people he’s killed in order to keep his family alive, and Deanna simply tells him, “Sounds like I’d want to be part of your family.”
The contrast between Rick’s people and the people of Alexandria is immediate and striking–Alexandria’s citizens are soft, naive, and complacent in their security. We learn that Alexandria has existed since the start of the outbreak, and that Monroe has been there since the beginning. In a troubled confession, she admits to Rick that she’s “done things.” As it turns out, she’s merely exiled three men from Alexandria, “and we both know that’s as good as killing them.” As the others explore the community and meet people, they come across vestiges of the former world they never thought they would see again: the elderly Millers relaxing on their front porch, an owl sculpture Jessie and her sons are working on in their garage, and Jessie’s Pete lounging outside after dark (who isn’t even fazed when a stranger like Rick approaches).
Daryl, being typically Daryl, doesn’t like the place at all. The others are similarly cautious: Carl meets a group of similarly-aged children who spend their days going to school, hanging out in secret attic clubhouses, playing videogames, and skirting around the strict pool table rules imposed by Mikey’s father. Glenn, Tara, and Noah spend the afternoon on a “dry run” with Aiden Monroe and Nicholas, who are in charge of the community’s supply runs. Cocksure and reckless, Aiden calls guns “biscuits” and endangers everyone by capturing and stringing up one of the zombies who killed four people on a previous supply run. He receives a pretty satisfying punch to the face from Glenn, and Deanna is more convinced than ever that the group of hardened survivors is exactly what Alexandria needs–she offers Rick and Michonne positions as constables.
“Remember” plays out under the assumption that the group is being observed and vetted for a place in Alexandria. Additionally, of course, there’s the abundance of caution exhibited by our heroes as they attempt to size up their hosts and potential home. There’s a lot of tension to be drawn from the carefully chosen words and the cautious scrutiny between the two groups, but what propels the episode from good to great is its brilliant final moments. Having spent a couple of days living within Alexandria and amongst its people, Rick decides that they can make something for themselves there. He tells Carol and Daryl: “We won’t get weak–it’s not in us anymore. We’ll make it work. If they can’t make it… then we’ll just take this place.”
Rick’s final words completely cast the episode in a chilling new light. He’s been taking note of Alexandria’s many weaknesses, and the vulnerability of its people. Suddenly, these aren’t necessarily things that need to be fixed–these are things that can be exploited. Perhaps more importantly, he’s also been observing his own people and their reactions. He takes comfort in the trepidation and concern the others share. Even Michonne, the most eager of them to settle and join the community. has trouble sleeping at night. Rick and his group are ultimately survivors, and Alexandria is quite simply, an opportunity. There’s only one question remaining: have they been out there too long?
- Another detail I enjoyed: in addition to stocking the usual amenities, each empty house comes with a pile of empty picture frames, under the assumption that any survivors they take in will be carrying a lot of photos.
- “Nothing like a cathartic shower, shave, and haircut sequence,” said every movie or TV show about a good guy having done bad things.
- Enid, the only girl around Carl’s age, also came from the outside and has a habit of climbing over the walls of the compound.
- Blender gun is gone. My guess is Enid.
- I wonder whether Deanna, who claims to be able to read people exceptionally well, will be able to detect or anticipate these ulterior motives before it’s too late.