In one chilling scene, Carol became one of the scariest characters on The Walking Dead, only slightly less frightening than The Governor in his heyday.  The way this lady turned from Polly Perfect, expert cookie baker (the secret is applesauce!), to a cold, calculating witch who would threaten a child with a nightmarish death was stunning.  While just about everyone is finding something to actually enjoy about Alexandria, Carol is not spending one moment getting comfortable.  Unless just count all the cozy cardigans she’s been wearing.

Along with Rick and Daryl, she’s taken to having strategy sessions at that abandoned shack where Rick stashed his now-missing gun.  They hatched a plan to take their guns back from the armory, but had to dispatch some walkers during the meeting.  One had that annoying “W” carved in his forehead (like the walker heads that spilled out of the truck back in Noah’s neighborhood) and they all took notice.  But since they had absolutely no idea what it signified, they back-burnered the topic.  Obviously, this won’t be the last we hear of it, but once the seed is successfully planted, we let that thread dangle for a while.

What Rick was finding out as the newly installed Constable was that these people were either setting his folks up in some way, or are, at best, kind of naive.  Most of them never saw the outside world of the apocalypse for any length of time and as such, don’t think in terms of protecting their location in the way our gang does.  Sasha offers to handle as many shifts as possible as a lookout from the clocktower.  Deanna explains that’s not been done regularly, except by her son Spencer, whose handled it on occasion. Rick thinks the wall, sturdy and strong as it maybe, could be easily scaled by people, Alexandria’s biggest threat.  More and more, it’s clear that everyone in the Grimes Gang is so deeply scarred by the many dastardly people they’ve met on their journey that the idea that people could actually be nice without any hidden agenda is beyond them.

That being said, it’s hard to resist some of the creature comforts of Alexandria, at least for a lot of the group.  A cocktail welcome party at Deanna’s is the perfect backdrop.  Abraham, for example, is drawn in by the simple promise of beer.  His drunken (dare we say, flirty?) chat with Michonne over potato puffs is sign that he’s buying in.  For her part, Michonne actually mounted her trusty katana on a wall in the house.  Glenn and Maggie help scared Noah to get comfortable in the party setting by reminding him that he’s family.  Rick uses the whiskey proffered by Deanna’s husband Reg to relax into the social scene and flirt more with Jessie, who flirts right back.  Seriously, has there ever been more electricity generated by a cheek kiss?  Her husband Pete met Rick more formally than their previous porch introduction, but he was no less strange.  And this guy is the town doc.  Yeesh!

The party was also a good chance for Carol to retrieve the guns.  It was decided she’d have the easiest time ducking out without being noticed, since she can be “invisible” and Rick’s absence would be noticed.  Daryl was also encouraged to go to the party–by Rick and Carol as well as Aaron–but his valiant effort to fit in didn’t quite take.  That was actually OK, however, since he and Aaron seem to have reached a bit of an understanding between outsiders.

They initially ran into each other in the woods (Aaron had to be lying when he said he was hunting rabbits, right?) and eventually went on the hunt together, discovering a horse in a clearing that had been dubbed Mr. Buttons by one of the Alexandria kids. Daryl seemed like just the guy to wrangle the wild stallion, but when a group of walkers stumbled out of the high grass, Mr. Buttons couldn’t get away.  The scene of him getting eaten alive was heartbreaking and impressive at the same time.  That evening, Aaron saw Daryl struggling to go into Deanna’s and invited him in to share a spaghetti dinner with he and Eric instead. His enthusiastic slurping of each noodle was the most excited we’ve seen Daryl about anything in a long time, but the best was yet to come.  Aaron took him to the garage to show him a plethora of motorcycle parts that he felt sure Daryl was the guy to assemble into a working bike.  And he figured he could use said bike to become Alexandria’s other recruiter.  Aaron seems to truly “get” Daryl and why he needs to be “out there”.  Daryl is clearly the Mr. Buttons of The Grimes Gang.

Sasha is suffering from some pretty serious PTSD; still reeling over the loss of Tyreese, among other things.  Spencer greeted her at the door and came on so strong she almost bolted.  Then, when a well-meaning partygoer asked her favorite meal (she’s making all of the newcomers’ favorites to welcome them), Sasha snapped.  She’s the classic case of what Glenn told Deanna at his entrance interview.  She was definitely out there too long and has seen far too much to just settle right in to “normal” life.  Most of them have.

That takes us back to Carol, the secret weapon of the team.  When Jessie’s young son Sam follows her on her gun run in hopes of getting some fresh-baked cookies, he instead gets the scare of his life as Carol describes his potential punishment, should he opt to tell his mother what he saw her take. It involves being tied to a tree as zombie bait and no one hearing him when he screams for help…except the monsters.  How that kid didn’t piss himself, I don’t know.

As the hour ends, we see Rick packing his newly acquired spare gun in his waistband as he waves to Jessie and Pete walking down the street, looking placid.  We then see him approach the wall and have a bit of a moment as a walker lingers on the other side. What it all means is a mystery for now, but everything should be made very clear in the next couple weeks as the season wraps up. Are the Alexandrians bad or just blissfully ignorant? And are our survivors suddenly the bad guys?  Maybe they really were out there too long.


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