Every Tribe member has a purpose, and each one of them, new and veteran, have worked hard to prove their worth. For those who have spent time out in the wilds of the post-apocalyptic world, life outside the walls is never simple, often terrifying and always complex. For those who have not been able to survive on their own, this is a time to prove oneself and to use the skills that they have for the good of the Tribe. For the vets, it’s a time to reap the consequences of their actions and answer for the deeds they have done.
Spoilers ahead, Sweetie…
The Tribe has replenished their food supply and is back to fortifying their dwelling, sending out search parties for supplies and rebuilding the community of Alexandria. In particular, two stories are important here–that of Dr. Denise, Daryl and Rosita and that of Eugene and Abraham. Both Denise and Eugene are attempting to contribute to Tribe survival using the skills that they have, which focus more on brain than brawn (to say the least). Still, the way that these two approach those surrounding them is very different.
Eugene and Abraham have spent a good amount of time together, with the only bad blood between them (that we know of) surrounding Eugene’s longterm lying to Abe and Rosita about his knowledge of a “cure” in D.C., which everyone seems to have gotten over. Eugene has displayed serious narcissistic behavior and has also been known to miss social cues, but he’s getting better at recognizing his weaknesses and playing up his strengths. When Eugene leads Abe to a metals factory and reveals his plan to manufacture amunition, it seems genius and a perfect next-step to the Tribe’s evolution (as local militia, perhaps?). Eugene is learning how to fight and has a newfound usefulness that causes him to call “dibs” on a walker that pretty much gets the best of him before Abe steps in and kills it. This, of course, upsets and embarrasses Eugene in a way only a able-bodied white man can understand, causing him to lash out at the only person who has been there for him since the beginning of this hellish ordeal. Eugene informs Abraham that he is no longer needed and “fires” him from the position of friend and protector. Abe, predictably, walks away, leaving Eugene to his own defenses and the story shifts to that of Dr. Denise. Daryl and Rosita.
With her medical background, Denise’s worth in Alexandria is questioned only by herself. She has spent much of her time with the Tribe doubting herself and being scared to push boundaries at step out of her comort zone. When she asks Daryl and Rosita to go with her to find medicine at an apothecary she saw before arriving at Alexandria, she does so for much the same reason Eugene called “dibs” on a walker he could not kill. She needs to prove her worth, not necessarily to those around her, but to herself.
For Eugene and Denise, worth seems to be measured in violent acts and unrealistic calculation on both their parts. People like Carol, Morgan, Michonne, even to some extent Daryl and Abraham, recognize that being able to kill (humans or walkers) isn’t the only qualification of a survivor in the post-apocalyptic world but people like Denise, Eugene, Sam (Jessie’s son who shot Carl)–they are scared. Denise reiterates that to Daryl, proclaiming that she was letting go of her fears in order to be a better survivor. Unfortunately, she is caught in the cross fire of a previous rivalry and loses her life because, while violence is not the ONLY qualification of a survivor, it is something that a survivor must embrace. When Daryl failed to kill the Burned Forest survivors, he failed to protect the Tribe using his best skills, and therefore, doomed Denise and those weaker than he.
It is a truth that Daryl accepts as fact, but it is also something we know Carol has been contemplating for a while, now. Since the events at the Savior compound and even as far back as the prison, Carol has been wavering in her beliefs regarding her position in the Tribe and the moral dilemma of killing the living. She is viewed by many as a strong, fierce protector who kills out of necessity and no one faults her for that. But again, just like Eugene and Denise, it is Carol’s own self doubt that pushes her to eventually run off without telling anyone where she’s headed, only leaving behind a cryptic note of explanation that raises more questions than it answers and Alexandria vulnerable without her consistent strength.
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