Published on March 4th, 2015 | by Bean0
The Walking Dead Review – Season 5 Episode 12 “Remember”
Well, well, well. I’ve been selling The Walking Dead short for a little while, partly through a kind of battle-weary exhaustion caught off our characters, and partly from narrative friction. The trials of the zombie apocalypse got repetitive, as they would (no shelter, human betrayal, zombie attack, 1, 2, 3), and you see the hits coming. The ways in which our group suffered and buried the suffering, then suffered some more got so painful that you become desensitised, callous to the core and the losses become nearly meaningless.
The way the show has been consistently grinding it’s characters and it’s viewers down was never tiresome, but it was tiring, so the developments of “Remember” are a welcome and necessary change of pace. The set up of an ‘impenetrable community’ is an accident waiting to happen, for sure, but it’s refreshing to see it’s not just another trap. Alexandria’s leader, Deanna, is an experienced public figure, and seems to have her head on straight; her flaws stem more from the vulnerability too much security engenders. To her credit, she appears to be aware of it, and plays to her strengths of delegation and management. So far, so good.
During the process of meeting and vetting the members of the group individually, our characters have an opportunity to recall their pasts. How each choose to play their cards varies; Carl’s full disclosure about his mother is so matter of fact it’s tragic, but there is a catharsis to be had from honesty. Carol portrays herself in an unassuming role to better camouflage her bad-assery, and perhaps there is a little relief to be had from not wearing your anguish on your sleeve too? Michonne is determined to make things work, which puts her at a distance from Rick, as we see from her absence in the final scene. Glen’s assessment that “We were nearly out there too long” is generous, but hints at their instability to those that choose to hear it. They were definitely past their sell-by, and he knows it.
Rick gives his appraisal of modern society to Deanna with another warning of sorts. She spots it for what it is, but hasn’t learnt to mistrust others to the sociopathic level yet. Her instincts are honed to a pre-apocalypse setting, and haven’t been tempered by endless trauma. This is the fundamental difference between her and Rick. She is a good leader, and is up front about her inexperience of the current brutalities; but even giving away such information to strangers tags her as weak in these new standards, transparency policy or not. The things that carve your character for the better in the old world might get you captured or killed in the new. Carl is keen to avoid losing his edge, and like father like son, finds himself out training with Pa within a day.
Once the tentative domestic discoveries of barely remembered creature comforts wear off, and the cautious awe is replaced by curiosity, the episode bounds along into this new territory. The show enjoys the transformations each character undergoes; first Rick sheds his tramp beard and blood-stained garb, finding something that at least looks like his old, civilised self underneath. Carol’s restyling as conservative middle-aged mother hen is amusingly undercut by a slightly horrified Darryl, but even having the breathing space to take the piss out of each other invigorates their scenes. Darryl’s own stubborn lack of grooming is it’s own statement of intent, and plays well to his inherent inability to dissemble; his skills lay elsewhere. In ‘Remember’ is appears to be pithy one-liners, “We brought dinner” and “You look ridiculous” being standout moments of levity.
So, what of Alexandria’s community? There is a significant female presence, with the introduction of Jesse the friendly mum, and Enid the taciturn teen. The episode give both scenes with Rick and Carl, respectively, and for a moment the thought of romantic subplots beyond the comfortably worn-in Maggie/Glen and the unspoken Carol/Darryl (ok, that might still just be shipping!) are entertained. How on earth such normalities would fare in The Walking Dead as we know it can hardly be imagined, but the former does allow for the first moment of hostility to present itself, as Rick is identified by Jesse’s unmentioned husband as he sits in the shadows on his porch. Douche-bag no.1 then…
We encounter a suitable amount of dickish behaviour later on in the form of Douche-bag 2, Deanna’s gung-ho son Aidan. Treating zombies vengefully is a dangerous and distracting waste of energy, and the mark of a newb, as our seasoned pros point out to DB2. Taking it personally when a zombie kills your mate resides in the same ballpark as keeping your undead loved ones in a barn; it’s inappropriate, not applicable, and will get even more people killed. The way Deanna resolves the inevitable dust-up shows a forthright quality that wins her respect, if not ultimately the compliance she hopes for. Rick’s idea of a contingency at Alexandria is played like a revelation for the audience at episode close, but it is no great surprise to Carol and Darryl, and shows that it’s time for a satisfying turn of the tide. No more victimhood.
Review by Nina Clark
This week sees the return of MARK’S ZOMBIE CONNOISSEUR CORNER!
Rick’s character development is reminiscent of Ken Foree in Dawn of the Dead (1978) – “We’re villains and we’re bad guys – and that’s exactly what we are.”
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