Season 6 of The Walking Dead returned with a not-so-sweet Valentine’s day episode that reminded Tribe members what they are truly capable of, if only pushed to the extreme. While the Alexandrians have notoriously remained horrible at surviving without their precious wall intact, the Tribe continues to work toward some sort of balance within that group, as they struggle to keep themselves safe a secure from the living and the dead.
Spoilers ahead, Sweetie…
If things in Alexandria were bad before the walls came down, those times are nostalgic compared to what the Tribe and the Alexandrians have to go through to survive now that walkers have taken over the streets. The group is splintered–with Sasha, Daryl and Abraham outside the wall and at odds with Neganites, Glenn and Enid trying to rescue a pregnant Maggie while Rick, and crew parade down Main Street draped in gore and Carol fights with Morgan about the Wolf he nursed back to health and then who stole Dr. Denise.
As they often do post-apocalyptically, things seem hopeless for most of them, starting with Daryl’s group, who are confronted and outgunned by some burly fellows on bikes and are told Negan owns all their stuff, so they should hand it over (bla bla bla). Luckily, Daryl is a badass, and pretty good with a rocket launcher, but it’s still somewhat of a surprise how easily he gets his group out of the situation and back on the road to Alexandria.
Meanwhile on Main Street, Rick is leading his group through the walkers to…somewhere? safe? but the mental fortitude of his cell isn’t as strong as an apocalyptic leader might like, and so it’s actually NOT surprising when Sam and Jesse break down and get bit. Neither is it out of the blue for Ron to pick up a gun and point it at either of the Grimes men like he means it. Michonne seems to agree, and so she takes it upon herself to slice the boy before he can shoot the gun but oops, it goes off and Carl is shot in the eye. Luckily, Dr. Denise is safe and close by–her Wolf kidnapper didn’t get far with sniper Carol in the wings–and so Carl’s injury spawns a resurgance of city pride, sending Rick, Michonne, and pretty much everyone within the walls out onto the streets to fight the horde.
For the first time, the Alexandrians and the Tribe are working in tandem in order to preserve their way of life. The Alexadrians–from Morgan to Gabriel, Denise to that black dude with the dreads–have finally accepted the cost of their survival. They will have to fight and some–like Jessie and her boys–will die. I wonder, is there a larger narrative at play, here? Are audiences supposed to wonder at the nature of man when the Wolf decides to help Denise survive and then is ironically murdered by Carol, who can’t seem to find it in her to let go of the killing? Are we to contemplate new beginnings with Maggie’s pregnancy and Enid’s change of heart? If so, what do the deaths of Jessie and her sons mean? Where they simply just too weak to survive the turmoil of post-apocalyptic life? I suppose this is what I’ve always loved about this show–that we are simultaneously asked to indulge the violence and gore of TWD while finding a deeper universal truth within the story of a father trying to find solace for his children.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC Sundays at 9pm.