In episode 13 of The Walking Dead, “Forget,” we continue the exploration of Alexandria and its people. In the previous episode, “Remember,” Rick and the others were trying to adjust to life in a civil society after living on the outside for so long. It becomes clear that moving forward without being haunted by past mistrust and trauma will be difficult, particularly for some. So far Alexandria has not yet revealed any sinister agenda, but it may be Rick’s secrets that place them all at risk. Season 5 of The Walking Dead comes to an end soon, and “Forget” hints at what’s to come.
[For the recap, continue reading—but if you want to go straight to the review commentary section of this recap, click here.]
Reprieve Outside of the Wall
Sasha wakes up early, surrounded by the family pictures of former residents of the Alexandria house. She heads over to Olivia’s house, where guns and other supplies are held. After checking out a rifle, Sasha goes outside the gates for some target practice on the family photos. She may be vigilantly looking for walkers as she practices her shooting, or she may be starting to go a little nuts. It’s often hard to tell in The Walking Dead. It looks like Sasha can’t forget her brother Tyreese’s recent death and everything they went through.
Carol, Daryl, and Rick are out by the cabin in the woods making plans, secret plans, for Alexandria, including hiding weapons. Secret plans are the best kind of plans, or the worst kind of plans, depending if you’re in on the secret. They are determined to have a back-up plan in case civil war breaks out in Alexandria. A walker joins their party, and Carol takes it out without getting any blood spatter on her suburban floral sweater. The walker reveals a surprise when they find it has a “W” carved on his forehead, just like the Richmond walkers. Carol, Rick, and Daryl don’t appear overly concerned by this turn of events, as they remain focused on the potential risk of internal conflict in Alexandria.
Security in a World Where You are Never Safe
Back inside the walls of Alexandria, Rick finds Michonne trying on her constable uniform. Michonne and Rick discuss why Deanna made them into officers. Rick thinks Deanna has a secret agenda, while Michonne suggests that Deanna’s plan is to integrate their group into the community by giving them official roles. Perhaps Rick is projecting his own tendency for secret agendas onto Deanna.
Outside of the walls Daryl finds Aaron spying on him, or looking for rabbits, depending on who you believe. Aaron is impressed that Daryl can so easily tell the difference between the sound of walkers and humans. Aaron asks, “Can you tell the difference between a good guy and a bad guy? Rick doesn’t seem to be an expert at that.” Daryl responds, “It ain’t much of a difference anymore.” Aaron asks if he can tag along, and Daryl reluctantly agrees.
Deanna, Maggie, Michonne, and Rick are meeting at Deanna’s house. Deanna talks about the future, painting a picture of a community with grand possibilities—first law, then government. Is Deanna an idealist, a manipulator, or both? Rick wants to talk immediate security. They all go for a walk outside the walls to evaluate how secure the facility is, and Rick comments, “People are the real threat now.” Does Rick have enough insight to realize he is being self-referential?
Sasha arrives, telling Deanna that she wants to take lookout shifts in the watchtower. The newly appointed constables are shocked to learn that there is no regular guard in the watchtower, except an occasional appearance by Deanna’s son, Spencer. Sasha is eager to take the post, but Deanna says she will only consider it if they come to the party she is throwing. She wants to introduce their group to the other members of the Alexandria community. Deanna may not know much about securing their facility, but she knows enough to realize that Sasha and the others won’t come to a party unless they are forced to. She is leveraging their own desire to protect Alexandria against them.
The Story of Buttons the Horse
Daryl and Aaron come upon a horse in a clearing in the forest. Aaron explains that the horse has been spotted before, and the kids in Alexandria call the horse “Buttons.” We are already nervous that this horse has a name. Aaron has been trying, unsuccessfully, to catch it in order to bring it into Alexandria. When they talk about catching Buttons, Daryl says, “The longer they’re out there, the more they become what they really are.” Daryl walks close to the horse to try to catch it, saying calmly to Buttons, “You used to be somebody’s, huh? Now you’re just yours.” As Daryl calms the horse, walkers arrive and foil their plan. Button runs off while the walkers stumble forward.
While they track Buttons, Aaron tries to bond with Daryl by pointing out that he and Eric still feel like outsiders, just as Daryl does now. Aaron suggests that Daryl go to Deanna’s party so that the people of Alexandria can get to know him. Everyone seems to want the new arrivals to go to the party.
Daryl and Aaron finally come upon Buttons again, this time in a field amongst walkers. When Aaron shoots a walker, we see blood hit the camera. Sadly, they are unable to get to Buttons before the horse is cornered and overpowered by a group of walkers. It’s pretty horrible to see Buttons brought down, attacked, and then ripped apart by the walkers. After they kill the walkers, Aaron puts Buttons out of its misery, saying, “He always ran,” and Daryl points out, “You were just trying to help him.” Let’s hope Daryl or the others don’t come to such an end as a result of Aaron’s help.
The Party Never Ends Inside the Wall
Carol is playing her housewife role, talking to the neighborhood ladies and getting intel on Alexandria. Carol goes to see supply clerk Olivia, ostensibly to get ingredients to make cookies for the party. Tobin and another man come in to check out guns. Tobin offers to teach Carol about shooting guns. While he kindly patronizes her, she secretly unlocks the supply room window for later access.
It’s party time at Deanna’s house. Rick, Carl, and Judith arrive. Rick has not yet learned how to mask looking uncomfortable. Rick meets Deanna’s husband Reg. He compliments Rick on keeping his people safe. He tries to ply Rick with alcohol—he resists at first, but then gives in and has a drink when Reg assures him he can relax. Luckily Bob is no longer with us to be peer pressured in this way.
The others begin arriving at Deanna’s. Abraham and Rosita show up, and Abraham is willing to work through his own evident discomfort with the help of some beer. Noah looks like he wants to escape the party, but Glenn tells him he should stay. Maggie tells Noah, “You’re here with family.” Glenn and Maggie make us feel safe too, Noah.
Carol sneaks out of the party to steal some guns, because in her housewife disguise she is “invisible.” Rick meets Jessie’s husband Pete, who is a doctor. Despite Pete acting much friendlier to Rick than he did when he was out sitting on the porch in the last episode, you can feel the tension between Jessie and her husband. After her husband leaves, Jessie talks about how, although they have all lost things, they have gained something as well. Rick looks across the room and sees Carl talking to other kids, and his friends smiling, eating, and drinking. Jessie’s young son Sam arrives and gives Rick an “A” stamp on his hand. It seems that “W” is not the only meaningful letter in this neighborhood. The red “A” is similar to the one that was left on the church, reminding viewers of Rick and his crew’s captivity in train car A at Terminus. Jessie jokingly tells Rick that now he’s “one of us.” It’s an odd symbolic cross between the Scarlet Letter and Freaks.
Sasha arrives as the party and meets Deanna’s son, Spencer, who warns her to avoid Mrs. Neidermeyer, who keeps talking about the need for a pasta maker. Sasha excuses herself and pushes past him. She doesn’t seem to be in a mood for a party. Sasha must really want that watchtower post.
After having returned to Alexandria, Daryl is taking an evening stroll. It’s not clear if he is going to the party or if he is on his way to help steal guns. The fact that he is showered and dressed up makes us think he was going to the party. As Daryl is walking past Aaron and Eric’s house, he discovers that Aaron is not at the party. Aaron invites Daryl in for dinner with them. Daryl heartily enjoys a spaghetti dinner with Aaron and Eric. After dinner, Aaron takes him out to the garage and shows him the motorcycle parts he’s been collecting, telling Daryl that he probably knows what to do with them. Aaron points out that though Daryl is good at living outside the wall, he doesn’t belong there. It turns out that Aaron wants Daryl to take Eric’s place as a recruiter. Aaron tells Daryl, “The reason I want you to help recruit is because you do know the difference between a good person and a bad person.” Daryl seems genuinely moved at this request and the comment on his character, and responds, “Well I’ve got nothing else to do. Thanks.”
At Deanna’s house, Abraham catches Michonne looking at a little plastic cocktail sword. He talks about her katana, saying, “Pray to God you don’t have to use it again. Pray to God you don’t get used to not using it again. It’s on your back even when it’s off your back.” He challenges her to acknowledge that things have changed for the better. Towards the end of the episode, we see that Michonne rises to his challenge by putting her sword on display above the fireplace.
What They Really Are
Carol breaks into the supply room. She grabs some chocolate and then goes after the guns. Perhaps her old self couldn’t resist the idea of making more cookies. Carol is surprised by young Sam, who followed her in the hopes of getting more cookies. Carol threatens Sam after he catches her stealing guns. She is terrifying.
Carol: “You can never tell anyone, especially your mom, because if you do, one morning you’ll wake up and you won’t be in your bed.”
Sam: “Where will I be?”
Carol: “You’ll be outside the walls, far, far away, tried to a tree. And you’ll scream and scream because you’ll be so afraid. No one will come to help because no one will hear you. Well, something will hear you. The monsters will come. The ones out there. And you won’t be able to run away when they come for you. And they will tear you apart and eat you up all while you’re still alive, all while you can still feel it. And then afterwards no one will ever know what happened to you. Or, you can promise not to ever tell anyone what you saw here and then nothing will happen, and you’ll get cookies, lots of cookies. I know what I think you should do.”
She is is one scary cookie monster. Carol will do whatever she has to in order to keep her group safe, but it’s still shocking to see. It’s like the scariest bedtime story ever.
Back at the party, Jessie is holding Judith. Everyone seems eager to spend time with baby Judith. Following up on their earlier conversation, Rick acknowledges, “Here isn’t that bad.” When Jessie gives Judith back to Rick they get entangled. Rick gives Jessie a kiss on the cheek that seems more than friendly.
At Deanna’s party Sasha listens to people talk about book club, fresh pasta, and other mundane things while she flashes back to what has happened to her and those she cares about when they were outside the wall. Her panicked memory is broken when a woman asks Sasha what her favorite meal is. When the woman tells her she’s worried she’ll make something Sasha will hate, Sasha yells, “You’re worried? That’s what you worry about?” The next day we see Sasha standing by the gate. Deanna asks her again why she wants to be in the watchtower, and Sasha responds, “This … it isn’t real.” Deanna finally gives in to Sasha.
Rick Daryl, and Carol are meeting out at the cabin in the woods again. It appears that Daryl is having second thoughts. Daryl points out that they wanted him to try to fit in, and he is trying. Carol is still on board. By threatening Sam, she certainly committed to their plan. Rick is ambivalent, but agrees they should continue with their secret plan. When they return to Alexandria, all three walk off in different directions.
Rick runs into Jessie and her husband walking down the street, and they wave and flash their “A” stamps. Rick watches them walk about and puts his hand on his hidden gun. Does Rick have plans for Jessie’s husband? As the Bee Gees song “Spicks and Specks” starts to play, Rick goes to the wall, where he can hear a walker on the other side. He stands by the wall, listening to the walker. Is Rick the walking dead that lives within the walls of Alexandria? Rick gets through each day thinking it could be his last, functioning through a series of jumbled nerves and behaviorially modified impulses.
While Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) works with Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) to secure Alexandria by strengthening the walls and establishing a watch, he undermines the relationship they have built through mistrust and deception. Would everyone be better off if he could take a leap of faith and forget some of what came to pass before they arrived in Alexandria? Or is Deanna too quick to forget the apocalypse has happened and anarchy reigns outside Alexandria’s walls?
At the beginning of “Forget,” Rick says that the people of Alexandria are lucky to have them there. Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) seemed dubious of his statement, knowing that Rick would destroy Alexandria if it meant keeping his “family” safe. Daryl went through an interesting transition this episode. It took Aaron’s belief in him for Daryl to see himself as part of this new community. Aaron does certainly have a good read on Daryl and understands his value.
Rick may be holding onto life as it was, but Sasha Williams (Sonequa Martin-Green) is clutching it desperately. After just losing her brother Tyreese, and before that, her boyfriend Bob, it would be hard to hear about the mundane cares of the people in Alexandria. If they truly have found safety, it’s a cruel twist of fate to come upon it after it’s too late for those Sasha loved.
Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) remains the most compelling character on The Walking Dead. So far, she is doing most of the heavy lifting by gathering information, stealing the guns, and scaring children. Millions of viewers gasped out loud as Carol chillingly threatened young Sam. Carol just has a way with kids. At least she didn’t tell Sam to look at the flour, so perhaps Carol isn’t totally dark side. The big question is: Will Carol regret taking that extra bar of chocolate? It seems like the people of Alexandria might track chocolate consumption much more carefully than they do their guns.
Carol can play it stone cold or warm and maternal. Carol’s act is certainly working on some people, though we’re not as convinced that Deanna doesn’t see through it. At the party Reg comments on how people talked about Rick in the videos. We can’t help but wonder what they said about Carol. Unless they all agreed to keep Carol’s superhero/supervillain status a secret before they arrived in Alexandria, it seems likely that someone would have spilled the beans that Carol is the badass that saved them all at Terminus.
Daryl’s statement, “The longer they’re out there, the more they become what they really are,” could apply to several of our main characters. Though Daryl seems like a wild horse, bucking the yoke of Alexandria in the episode “Remember,” he becomes a bit more broken in once he understands how he can function as a part of this group. Rick seemed all instinctual impulses with Jessie this episode. His response of touching his gun when he saw Jessie walking down the street with her husband Pete seems almost primal. Does he sense that Pete may be a bad guy and his protective instinct has kicked in, or does he just want to lay claim to Jessie for himself and he has gotten used to taking what he wants? Carol certainly does not seem wild—rather very careful and calculating—but she has certainly changed into something very different than she was when she started out. Like Buttons had been before his death, she is a survivor. Sasha remains the most traumatized and closed off. She is still very skittish and cannot be comforted by either her own people or those of Alexandria. She may be the hardest to tame.
As Carol, Daryl, and Rick make their own plans, will they eventually conflict with Deanna’s? Will there be dissent amongst the group if Rick develops other plans for Alexandria? Even amongst their own people as they become more entrenched in the community? In “Forget,” The Walking Dead shows us the possibility of what could be, but it all hangs in the balance if Rick can’t forget what came before.