Mar 15, 2021
WALKING DEAD: Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits
What’s inside the gates of Alexandria? Everything Rick and crew have ever dreamed of. But we know the show’s not over yet, so there’s got to be something wrong with the place. And that something may be staring at a clean-cut, freshly showered Rick in the bathroom mirror.
Rick and crew have arrived in paradise. End of series.
No, wait, our heroes still have to prove themselves worthy. What’s the price of admission—repentance? Faith? Renouncement of worldly pleasure? Nothing so ethereal. All they need do is contribute to the survival and welfare of the community.
Rick is first to “audition.” The head of the community—a middle-aged woman named Deanna—is conducting the interview personally. On video tape. She doesn’t have many questions, it turns out. She mostly just has exposition:
- She was a congresswoman from Ohio-15… the Fightin’ 15th!
- This neighborhood was part of a planned, energy-neutral, concept community with its own solar energy plant and water wells.
- Her husband was a professor of architecture and led the construction of the town walls using materials from a half-completed mall nearby.
- She’s exiled three people for not working out, knowing that it’s a death sentence.
- Rick’s crew is the first they’ve considered taking in, in a long time.
Geez, she might as well have brought in a fifth grade class to perform a short play about the history of the community.
But, hey, why shouldn’t she just babble on and on to a complete stranger every thought that pops into her head? She’s such a wonderful leader and excellent judge of character that nothing bad could ever come of it, she boasts.
Rick isn’t as impressed with Deanna as Deanna is. He warns her to keep the town’s gates closed at all times. Not because of zombies, he says, but because of the other survivors. They’ll take and do whatever they have to in order to survive.
Deanna hears what she wants to hear—that Rick’s already looking after her community and making them safer. This isn’t so much an audition as a recruitment pitch… come get your timeshare in paradise! Has she mentioned what an excellent judge of character she is? It’s clear she’s ready to turn the defense of the town over to Rick right there and then.
Maybe catering to Rick’s ego is exactly the right move. “I was a sheriff,” he admits. It’s a small confession, sure, but for him to divulge any information at all is a sign that she’s successfully disarming his defenses.
Next, the entire crew is dumping their guns into a cart for the locals to haul away. Holy shit, Rick, how much Kool-Aid did you drink? Deanna assures our heroes that they’ll get their guns back whenever they venture outside the town walls, but there are no firearms inside. So much for freedom. The terrorists and/or zombies have already won.
Aaron shows Rick and Carl to their new home… a cookie-cutter, two-story, zero lot line affair like all the others. Aaron says to call if they need anything, but then specifies that there are no working phones; they’ll have to call on him four doors down.
Inside, the home is already furnished, and someone has left clean linens on the kitchen table. Carl checks the sink and finds clean running water. Cut to Rick in the shower. At least sixty pounds of dust and gunk wash down the drain. Then he begins to trim his thick beard with scissors and shave it off completely.
Damn, this guy is Hollywood beautiful under all that hair. No wonder he became an actor. HOLY FUCK HE’S THAT GUY FROM LOVE ACTUALLY, I DID NOT KNOW THAT UNTIL RIGHT THIS MOMENT.
The first person to get to admire clean-cut Rick is a local named a Jessie, who happens to be of comparable age and attractiveness level, and who knocks on the door while Rick’s still wearing just a towel. She might as well have LOVE INTEREST tattooed on her forehead. She came by to drop off some food.
Three minutes later, they’re already getting intimate. No, not sexytimes—she’s giving him a haircut. She mentions she’s got a boy Carl’s age if they want to hang out sometime.
We get a quick look at Daryl’s interview with Deanna. He’s still wearing his crossbow. He refuses to sit down. Not the best way to win friends and influence people. “Do you want to be here?” asks Deanna.
“The boy and the baby, they deserve a roof,” concedes Daryl, then adds, “I guess,” as if he’s worried he’s already given away too much.
Rick meets up with Daryl and Carol to discuss the housing situation. The assigned homes aren’t contiguous, and they’re worried they’re being split up. Rick announces that everybody’s staying in his house for the time being.
In the house, Carl hears a noise and draws a long-ass knife. He opens a door to find an empty attic. Empty of people, that is. There’s an odd assortment of magazines and crap.
That night, everybody comes to Rick’s.
Michonne is so happy to be able to brush her teeth, although really that only calls attention to the fact that everyone in Rick’s group has perfectly white teeth no matter how long they spend in the wilderness. Michonne also has a “good feeling” about this place, in case it wasn’t obvious enough to the audience that something is going to turn out to be horribly wrong.
Deanna drops by to check on Rick. She’s impressed that the whole gang is staying together, calling them “smart” and praising them for being a “family.” Unable to stop herself from giving exposition wherever she goes, she informs the crew that they’ll all be assigned jobs.
She doesn’t say anything ominous like, “those of you who make the cut,” or anything. Is she already confident everyone in Rick’s crew is worthy of paradise? Suddenly I’m wondering if that’s what the dilemma’s going to be: Deanna will offer asylum to some but not all of Rick’s people. Will Rick abandon some of his team to exile in order to provide a safe home for his children? Is he no different than the survivors he warned Deanna about—ready to take and do whatever it takes to ensure his own survival?
In a quick cut of Michonne’s interview, she assures Deanna that this community is exactly what the group has been hunting for. “We’re ready for this,” she says.
Rick asks Daryl to join him in exploring the town, but Daryl would rather sit on the porch and brood. Rick gets nostalgic for a moment, telling Daryl about the old days when he used to drive around planned neighborhoods like this with the wife, wondering if they’d ever be able to afford to live somewhere like this.
Rick’s exploring when he sees Carl out for a walk with Judith. He tries to catch up to them, but when he rounds a corner, they’re gone.
Rick does not take this well. He’s flipping out, and he accidentally crashes into a… thing. Hey, it’s Jessie’s thing. An owl sculpture she’s making with her kids, she says.
She leads Rick to an elderly couple’s house where, sure enough, Carl and Judith are hanging out on the porch. Jessie warns Rick that babies are a pretty rare sight around here, so he should get used to neighbors wanting to dote on little Judith. In the meantime, is this a good time for Carl to meet Jessie’s eldest son?
Carl heads over to Jessie’s house for his playdate with Ron, who is already hanging out with a couple of kids named Mikey and Enid. Enid is sullen, to say the least. She’s recently arrived from the outside as well. Carl completely fails to interrogate her for an outsider’s perspective on the community, not that she’s likely to give up more than four words.
Mikey and Ron offer Carl the choice of playing video games or pool. He freezes like a deer in headlights. This kind of choice/social interaction is beyond him.
“Hold it together, sport,” mutters Enid.
In a quick cut of Carl’s (and Judith’s? Why is she in his lap?) interview, he talks about pulling an Old Yeller on his mom.
Later, back at home, Carl tells his dad that the people of this town are nice, but they’re soft. Carl doesn’t want Team Rick getting weak. Carl has the eye of the tiger.
That night, everyone is asleep but Rick and Michonne. She’s worried that she hasn’t been assigned a job yet. Rick says he’s not quite ready to sign the timeshare paperwork just yet. He goes for a walk alone and discovers at least one of the locals is still awake. A sullen 30-something-year-old man sits on his porch trying to out-brood Daryl. “My wife cut your hair,” he grumbles. Uh oh, looks like he noticed her LOVE INTEREST tattoo.
In Carol’s interview, she reminisces about domestic life in the old days and asks if there’s a “Junior League” she can join. Apparently there is because next time we see her, she’s dressed like 1950s housewife and toting meals to the elderly. Daryl tells her she looks ridiculous, and the feeling is mutual. She lectures him about making a good impression and keeping up appearances. That didn’t take long.
In Glenn’s interview, he tells Deanna they were almost “out there” too long.
Rick, carrying a gun, takes a stroll outside the walls. And he’s not the only one with a bit of wanderlust. Enid sneaks over the wall as well, not realizing Carl can see her from the window of his house. Does Carl stay in the house? No, he does not.
Meanwhile, Deanna’s 20-ish-year-old son Aidan is introducing himself to Glenn, Noah, and Tara. He’s an entitled little prick; he ought to be president of his fraternity but he’ll settle for being the alpha male of the hunter-gatherer team that goes scavenging outside the walls. He and his brah offer to take them out on an impromptu patrol. Apparently Deanna plans to make this trio part of her son’s team.
Carl is following Enid as quietly as he can but eventually loses sight of her. Is she running away for good? Does he regret not getting her backstory (and maybe to second base)?
Rick is headed to the abandoned house where he stashed a pistol in an old blender. The gun ain’t there. My money’s on Enid. I’m guessing she’s not running away but merely getting out of suburbia to clear her head, something she probably does often, and she was watching when Rick hid the gun.
Rick hears a zombie approaching, no, wait, several zombies. Whatevs. No need to waste bullets; Rick pulls a short knife. Hey, Carl’s there, too! He and his dad quickly dispatch the zombies as a team—almost as equals. It’s kind of sweet in a gory, murderous way.
Aiden is explaining to his new crew how his scavenging teams always divide into two groups so one can come to the rescue of the other if there’s trouble. However, he’s not bothering with the buddy system now, a subtle sign that Aidan is all talk. In fact, four members of his team died last month while on patrol—which is the main reason Deanna felt the need to invite Rick’s team for tryouts.
Aiden brags that they captured one of the zombies responsible for the four deaths and they use it for a pre-game ritual whenever they wander outside the walls. Dafuq? says Glenn.
Immediately it becomes apparent that the captive zombie got loose. Aiden is determined to capture it again without killing it. Dafuq? says Glenn.
Yeah, our heroes just destroy the damn thing, obviously.
Back at camp, Aidan is pissed. Did he not tell the newcomers that his word is law outside the walls and their job is to obey orders? Glenn is not impressed and says so. Aiden gets in his face, not realizing he’s the least intimidating thing Glenn’s seen in years.
If they follow Aiden’s orders, then they’re “just as screwed” as the last team, says Glenn.
Aiden takes a swing at him, but Glenn saw it coming. A second later, Aiden is flat on the ground. Aiden’s brah doesn’t even have a chance to think about helping his friend; Daryl springs out of nowhere and preemptively flattens him.
Rick, Carl, and Deanna all show up at pretty much the same time. Deanna sends Aiden running home with his tail between his legs, and she even thanks Glenn for “knocking him on his ass.”
The she offers Rick his old job as sheriff, with Michonne as his Barney Fife. He accepts.
Hey, look, Enid is back, too, with no explanation why she left or why she returned. Supports my theory that she’s got Rick’s gun.
That night, Rick is wearing a sheriff’s uniform. He’s talking with Daryl and Carol on the porch. Rick says it’s time for everyone to start staying in their own homes. To my surprise, it’s Carol who voices concern that they’re already getting weak. Oh, wow, she fooled me just as easily as she fooled Deanna—this suburban goody-goody thing is just an act for the locals. It’s all about “appearances,” like she told Daryl.
Rick says they won’t get soft. “That’s not in us anymore,” he says. They’ll suss out whether this town is strong enough to stand on its own. If it is, they’ll join it. If it’s not… “then we’ll just take this place,” says Rick.
Fuck yeah. After two weeks of filler, we’ve finally found our plot. Rick’s crew has become the evil, infiltrating force who are secretly plotting against the “civilized” people. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.