First things first: For a man who has expressed his absolute willingness to beat up everyone in Alexandria and take all their stuff for himself, Rick Grimes was looking like quite the pillar of the community on this week’s episode of The Walking Dead.
Well, except for the part where he’s still secretly plotting a potential coup of the safe zone, just in case, and the other part where he kinda sorta made a drunken overture toward another man’s wife. The uniform he’s wearing might look like the one he always wore, but the man inside it has changed, irrevocably. In an episode called “Forget,” a clear message emerged: Some things, you can’t.
And some of our heroes are having more trouble with that than others. Although Daryl Dixon and his beloved possum carcass won all of last week’s awards for failing to adapt to the gang’s new surroundings, this week’s black sheep was Sasha, who opens the episode by gathering up all the photos of the family who used to live in their house, and taking them into the woods for target practice. Although this isn’t that weird by Walking Dead standards—I mean, this is hardly the first time that a character has metaphorically murdered the vestiges of a world that no longer exists—Sasha is obviously unraveling, hallucinating the gurgles and groanings of zombies as she shoots down frame after frame, and then whispering, “Come and get me” at nobody in particular.
(Sidenote: Later in the episode, it becomes clear that she’s not just having trouble adjusting to Alexandria and its creature comforts, but that she’s got a pretty intense case of PTSD. This also isn’t weird by Walking Dead standards—it was just two seasons ago that Rick was getting phone calls from Lori in the afterlife, after all—but it certainly doesn’t go over well with Deanna when Sasha has an outburst that totally ruins her cocktail party.)
Meanwhile, Rick, Daryl, and Carol are plotting to get their guns out of lockup, just in case they still decide to go through with the whole “hostile takeover” plan. The highlight of this scene is the hilarious dissonance of Carol talking about “nine-millimeter autos” and “full mags” while wearing the world’s fussiest little floral cardigan, but there’s also a seed of something darker: One of the zombies they kill while having this little confab has a letter W carved into its forehead. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a scarlet letter on a corpse—the dismembered bodies back in Noah’s neighborhood were sporting the mark, too—but nobody seems to make the connection, or even to think it’s all that peculiar. They basically look at the W and shrug it off, like, Oh, it’s just one of those fancy alphabet zombies, no big deal. (The important thing is, if and when they overthrow Alexandria, how will they divide up the applesauce?!)
These “W” zombies are almost certainly going to prove important before the season is over, but they’re all but forgotten for the rest of this episode, which is pretty much consumed by the difficulties, small and large, of assimilation. Rick and Michonne are taking their police duties seriously—even as they discuss the distinct possibility that they’ve been given the cop jobs because Deanna wants them either tested or dead—and they’re stunned to discover how completely un-guarded Alexandria is. For one, the walls are constructed such that anyone could climb one of the bracing beams outside and get in. For another, they don’t even have a lookout stationed in the clock tower, which is the one vantage point from which people attempting to breach the walls could be spotted.
The beams, the clock tower, the Hester Prynne zombies: If this show foreshadows any harder, it’s going to hurt itself. And there’s more where that came from: Deanna acts like they’re being paranoid, and says that she appointed Rick and Michonne as law enforcers not because she wants them to, like, enforce the law, but largely as a symbolic Step One in the direction of the thriving society she wants to build here someday.
Seriously, raise your hand if you fully expect Alexandria to burn to the ground in the season finale.
NEXT: Daryl and Aaron horse around.