The Walking Dead: 513 “Forget” Review
Reviewed by Louis Rabinowitz.
Last week, Rick Grimes and co finally made it to their new sanctuary, the Alexandria Safe Zone – which, on the whole, seemed like a rather nice place filled with slightly naïve but mostly well-intentioned suburbanites. However, some of Rick’s crew (including Rick himself) weren’t quite won over initially due to the group’s fairly terrible history with sanctuaries – but with Alexandria looking like a permanent home for the crew, will they be able to put aside their doubts and assimilate into the community?
This week’s episode, Forget, put the spotlight on the Alexandria citizens themselves, to great effect. It was clear last week that most of the Alexandrians had barely ventured outside the walls – but Forget made it clear just how different the citizens of the safe zone were to Rick’s crew. In particular, the Alexandrians’ trivial worries and fusses such as cooking for a party underlined their total naïveté – while Rick’s crew have been hardened by months out in the open and living off scraps, as far as the Safe Zone’s citizens are concerned, the apocalypse has essentially been a minor inconvenience, while life goes on essentially as normal.
Even leader Deanna, who seemed pretty organized and savvy last week, was clearly a little out of touch (see: never putting a lookout in the convenient watchtower). The Walking Dead has never really delved into the experiences of those who have had a slightly comfier apocalypse, so it feels like genuinely exciting and fresh territory for the show – especially at a point where so many members of Rick’s group are almost psychologically broken and extremely paranoid, the presentation of the head-in-the-clouds Alexandrians as polar opposites to some of Rick’s group is a thematically meaty one, and something I hope will continue to be explored as the Alexandria storyline unfurls.
On top of the exploration of the Alexandrians’ psyche, Forget also continued to explore how Rick’s group was coping with the Safe Zone. I’ve spent a great deal of time complaining about the needless focus on Daryl’s moping in recent weeks, so it was a pleasant surprise to see Daryl’s storyline pick up this week. As well as providing the only real action moment of the week as Daryl and Aaron discovered a horse being chased by walkers (RIP Buttons), Daryl’s newfound friendship with Aaron was a genuinely unexpected development.
It’s a pairing of characters that hadn’t really been explored before, but it worked surprisingly well – pairing the cheery Aaron with the slightly gruffer Daryl provided some fun comedic moments, as well as a heartwarming scene towards the end of the episode where Aaron offered Daryl the chance to become a recruiter. Despite my complaints, Daryl can often be a very interesting character – and the highlighting of his innate moral compass and ability to tell good from evil was a neat reminder of Daryl’s hidden depths, and the journey the character has undertaken since his first appearance. It’s too early to say whether this storyline will actually develop Daryl in any significant way, but it’s an encouraging rejuvenation of a character whose development had stagnated somewhat.
It was also a great week for perhaps The Walking Dead’s best character at the moment, Carol, as she used her status as a seemingly gossipy housewife to sneak under the not-particularly-observant noses of the Alexandrians to steal some of the group’s confiscated guns. Seeing Carol effortlessly flip from cheerily talking about making cookies and pretending not to know how to use a gun to steely co-conspirator with Rick was great fun (if perhaps a little clunky in how ironic it was) – but it was her scene with a child, Sam, who walked in on Carol at the wrong time that provided the episode’s best moment for the character.
Back in season one, Carol was essentially the person she is currently pretending to be with the Alexandrians – only now; the real Carol is something far darker, and this was displayed with her utterly terrifying (also, hilarious) threat to Sam. Aside from the excellent pitch-black comedy of Carol’s absurdly detailed and visceral threat, it also displayed just how messed up Carol is. She may pretend to be someone whose biggest concern is chocolate chip cookies, but the fact that Carol could potentially scar a child for life with no hesitation whatsoever is a stark, interesting reminder of how the apocalypse has turned Carol from housewife to mildly psychotic one-woman-army. Forget may have played the group’s psychological scars for drama for the most part, but, impressively, Carol’s speech is an example of it being used for black comedy – and successfully avoiding the possibility of the scene feeling tone-deaf.
However, surprisingly, it’s Rick whose scenes didn’t quite deliver this week. While The Walking Dead has made it very clear how the group has become far more amoral while they’ve been out in the open, Rick’s behaviour this week still didn’t quite feel justified. His slightly slimy behaviour towards married woman Jessie may show that Rick isn’t the hero he once was (interestingly, his interest in Jessie somewhat resembles Shane’s weird obsession with Lori back in the show’s dark times, or season 2), but it feels out-of-character regardless. We’ve seen that Rick’s experiences have made him pretty paranoid and unwilling to trust others, but the character’s behaviour in Forget feels less of a natural and interesting development of the character’s shift into anti-hero territory and more of a contrived move from the writers to spark further conflict later on down the line.
After last week’s hints at an outside enemy waiting on the periphery, Forget provided a brief tease involving a carved ‘W’ on a walker’s head that might just hint towards whatever the group will face in the season finale. It’s only a brief moment, but it’s nonetheless a cryptic scene that could have plenty of interpretations. We’re just three episodes away from the end of the season – and slowly but surely, the shape of the season finale is beginning to form. While Forget was perhaps a little too light on advancing the ongoing mysteries introduced last week, it’s becoming clear that something is coming for Alexandria. And only one thing is certain: it’s still not Negan.
A few odd scenes for Rick and a slight lack of movement on the show’s current mysteries, Forget was another solid character building episode that saw the characters continue to settle into Alexandria.
Scene of the Episode: The Cookie Monster – Carol possibly stops a child from ever sleeping again when she’s caught stealing a few guns from Alexandria’s terribly guarded armoury.