Television

Published on March 11th, 2015 | by Bean

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The Walking Dead Review – Season 5 Episode 13 – “Forget”

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The Walking Dead’s 13th episode of Season 5 moves us a significant step closer to Alexandria’s upcoming coup d’état. As our group step into their new roles, they wear their costumes and play their parts. What becomes of their old props and garb is revealing of their investment in the new set-up. Michonne seems reluctant to be as committed as she feels, perhaps sensing the futility of getting too comfortable, but when you’re using your katana to trim threads on your faux-cop outfit, and eyeing up cocktail swords wistfully, you’re laying roots. She hangs the weapon on her wall at episode close, marking her as distinct from Rick, who reclaims his gun readily.

The show makes the most of it’s title, riffing on the wheres and why-fores of forgetting. Some of the group are having more difficulty than others in this respect; in particular, Sasha seems on the brink of a total breakdown; insomnia, being willing walker-bait, enduring awful flashbacks and finally blowing her top in the middle of a mixer. She cannot reconcile their traumatic past with their placid present, and her incredulity that the requests, worries and concerns of Alexandria’s residents are so…pedestrian is completely understandable from her perspective. The Walking Dead is getting better and better at taking us within the mindsets of it’s players, in necessary and meaningful ways.

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As if a cocktail party in the zombie-apocalypse weren’t incongruous enough, the episode is littered with examples of the townspeople’s bewildering privileges. “Mom, there are no more cookies!” cries Jesse’s young son Sam     (little does he know what shit that remark is about to get him in). The collective delusion that normal life may continue because, for now at least, nobody is gnawing your arm off is short sighted in the extreme. The group’s horror upon hearing that the watchtower is perpetually empty was met with an eye-roll on our couch. That’s wilfully stupid; come on now.

It becomes harder to give such people any credence when they project such a palpable air of fingers-in-ears-la-la-la-ing. The relative smartness of Deanna encouraging the immediate cohesion of their new teamsters is thrown into sharp relief when you factor in the obvious dangers of setting up feral PTSD sufferers as your town’s only security. Sasha, fuming at the absurdity of this community and their comprehensive lack of awareness, states to Deanna that Alexandria “isn’t real”. Deanna’s retort that “that’s bullshit” is delivered with conviction, but the seed of doubt is planted. Naive and visionary as she might be, Deanna isn’t an idiot.
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“Forget”’s most disturbing moment, and you could argue the most chilling Carol has ever been, occurs in the armoury. The whole scene is set up to fail, but there’s an excellent red herring with the earlier introduction of man-bear Tobin, as well as the keeper of the keys, Olivia. It’s obvious Carol is about to get busted, but the show gives us a wholly more interesting way for the plan to unravel with the arrival of the cookie-hunting Sam. His innocent discovery heralds the dawn of a new Carol, one quite content to vividly threaten children with horrendous and terrifying death to achieve her ends. More awful is the possibility that this was the best way for their confrontation to play out. It was educational?!

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This is who the Carol of Season 3, all knife lessons during story time and necessary murder, has evolved into, and it’s a character arc like Carol’s that raises the bar of The Walking Dead. Such behavioural developments are inevitable and Season 5 seems to be intent upon showing us who our heroes really are now, whether we want to see it or not. For my money, these evolutions are at the crux of good drama, and eschew the very worst examples of the fantastical genre where a character reset button was employed at every new episode’s beginning (DS9, I’m looking at you).

Carol would likely argue that the child is still alive, perhaps a little bit traumatised for life, but certainly sharper, which in itself is a life-saving quality. It’s possible she imagines this ‘kindness’ was a gift of sorts, and she may even be right – if in the new world the worst you can say is that you thought about getting eaten alive, when those around you have witnessed such horrors on a daily basis, you’re doing all right. Of course, Carol isn’t mad, so these plausible thoughts are most-probably tempered with a healthy does of self-loathing. We shall see…

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The revelation that of the Rick/Carol/Darryl triumvirate it’s really Darryl most easily persuadable to Alexandria’s potential as a community, isn’t too huge a surprise; show Darryl any real kindness and he will reward you with loyalty. As Aaron says, “You can tell good people from bad”. Alas, the compass for navigating through the modern moral swamps does not exist; everything is relative to how badly you’ve been done over. There is a curious and telling moment as Rick stands with his hand on the perimeter wall, feeling the presence of the walker outside, like a really ill romantic comedy. More and more, the walkers are a source of warped comfort; they don’t let you forget the status quo – they’re a (mostly) easily snooze-able alarm bell to the realities of the present. And they never go away, so you can never forget.

On one count, Rick does forget himself. Being branded with an ‘A’ by the son of the woman you just inappropriately kissed is amusing, but the kiss itself was alarming. Rick’s newfound route out of victimhood looks set to make victims and casualties of others. The fist in the air salute to Jesse and her previously-sinister-now-nice-as-pie doctor husband is the weirdest ‘just sayin’ hi’ move I’ve seen, both awkward and slightly aggressive. Like a man playing at his old self, but with only the dimmest recollections getting him through the masquerade.

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Review by Nina Clark

Sidebar; is it me, or was the red floral design on Carol’s suburban mom-top at first glance reminiscent of blood splatter?! I maaaay have been conditioned to see gore where there is only Laura Ashley.

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Bean

Director at Nina Clark Music / The Musical Walkabout at Nina Clark Music
Bean is the family nickname of Nina Clark, singer, songwriter and professional musician. Nina's many nerdly passions, aside from music, include Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and all things Whedon. (re. GoT, she has NOT read the books, so please be cool - no spoilers!)
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