Throughout The Walking Dead, there’s been an undercurrent of nihilism, the idea that everything good ends up destroyed either because it’s false, it becomes coveted by others, or because it was never really good to begin with. Every safe haven ends up being a mirage, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and even it is the real thing, the other wolves end up descending on it and taking it apart anyway. It’s understandable then that as the gates of the Alexandria Safe Zone opened, and Rick and the other survivors start to settle there, both we and they start looking for the cracks.
This week’s episode comes down to the gang taking a long and hard look at themselves, and one of the things that was really well played by the cast was the sense of just how alien the modern comforts of the “old world” had become to them. For instance, a comfortable chair to sit on can feel weird and off-putting when you’ve spent months sleeping on the ground, or, at best, a hard wood floor. Hot water, clean clothes, a shower, heck, even a stray comic book, are all luxuries to the group in the same way that we might consider a sports car or a private plane extravagant.
Rick is one of the people that has the hardest time adjusting, which is perhaps unsurprising given how hard it was to convince him to head for Alexandria in the first place. His uncertainty and mistrust remain strong despite an outward transformation of a shave and a haircut. Seeing Andrew Lincoln’s face again was a powerful image to signify the difference between the nature of life wandering on the back roads and the promise of comfort offered in Alexandria. Also powerful was when Rick was asked what he did before “zombieland.” The way he says that he was a sheriff was like watching Rick himself realize that being a cop was once his life, almost as if he were trying to remember it from a dream.
On “Remember,” we meet several new characters, including the community’s leader, Deanna. A congresswoman from Ohio before the crisis, she organized the ASZ and set up in a residential development that was meant to be sustainable and a beacon of civilization in a broken world. Of course, Deanna’s not your typical bloating politician like the type that always leave Sunday open for the talk shows. No, she’s a much more practical sort and is instantly likeable. She understands the group’s mistrust, but she also understands how essential their knowledge and experience might be to the community.