“We’re truly sorry for your loss.”
Condolences and casseroles are nice enough, but they can’t bring back the dead. Deanna Monroe studies a sympathy card and casserole dish left on her front stoop late at night, obviously in response to the spreading news of her son Aidan’s death. The heartbroken Alexandrian leaves the casserole behind, scoops up the card, and sets it ablaze inside of her home.
That’s not the only fire raging inside House Monroe. More and more, Deanna is becoming convinced that accepting Rick Grimes into her humble slice of civilization was a bad call. There are three major strikes: Rick’s people taking on an alarming number of leadership roles, Father Gabriel’s warning, and Nicolas and Glenn’s conflicting stories about the death of her eldest son. These three items alone are enough to arouse suspicion, but they’re only compounded further by Rick’s own actions.
After learning that his new crush Jessie is sustaining domestic abuse from her drunk doctor husband Pete, Rick Grimes starts seeing red – literally, eventually. At Carol’s behest, Rick contemplates the notion of killing Pete in order to protect Jessie and her kids, and also as a way of dealing with this kind of crime in the new world order. But when he presents the idea to Deanna, it’s shot down immediately. Deanna already knows about Pete and Jessie, and says that Pete’s skills as a surgeon are far too valuable to green light his death. Besides, they’re not those kinds of people; if Pete goes too far, they’ll exile him rather than execute him.
Rick is baffled by this policy. Exiling anyone creates the possibility of new enemies. It’s courting disaster. It’s a half-measure, and this world has no place for such hesitation. With that in mind, without hesitation, Rick marches off toward Jessie’s house, and lets her know that he knows what Pete’s doing – and without saying the exact words, he offers to carry out the deadly deed on her behalf. Jessie resists at first, until their conversation becomes more … intimate.
“Would you do this for someone else?” she asks, choking back tears. “Would you do this for anyone?”
“No,” he whispers, moving closer. “No.”
It’s the second time a Grimes man admits his attraction for another woman in this episode; Carl did much the same earlier while stuck inside of a tree with Enid, even if that meeting ended with little more than a hand stroke and some awkward sexual tension hanging in the air. But Carl and Enid’s almost-fling was much less awkward than Rick and Jessie’s, seeing as drunken Pete walks in on them just seconds after Rick’s confession.
Because they’re civilized adults, Rick and Pete proceed to talk through their issues and come to a mutual understanding about how to keep the peace with Jessie moving forward. Just kidding! They kick the crap out of each other, from the window to the wall, albeit in reverse order. Pete slams Rick’s head against a wall multiple times, Rick tosses the doctor through the front window, and they smash their fists into each other on the Alexandrian asphalt in broad daylight.
Finally, the fight is broken up just as Rick gains the upper hand – and when someone tries to pull him off, things escalate to a whole new level. Rick pulls out his sidearm and starts waving it around, his own blood slick on his face as he lays down what he perceives to be the law.
“You want to live? You want this place to stay standing? Then your way of doing things is done,” he spits out at Deanna and everyone else within earshot. “Things won’t get better because you want them to. Starting right now, we have to live in the real world. We have to control who lives here.”
Deanna, through gritted teeth, tells Rick: “That’s never been more clear to me than it is right now.”
Rick can’t believe his ears. “Do you mean me?” he says incredulously. “Your way is going to destroy this place! It’s going to get people killed! It’s already gotten people killed! I’m not going to stand by and let it happen! I’m not going to stand by … “
And BAM! Another punch is thrown, this time from Michonne, Rick’s fellow constable and friend-from-the-road. She knocks Rick out mid-sentence, in an apparent act of betrayal – but another read of the situation could be that she’s just shutting him up before he says too much and gets the entire group kicked out of Alexandria.
Clearly, Rick is not doing his people any favors. In one public display of barbarism, Rick threatens to undo all of the good that’s been done for his people. No more Carl and Enid sitting in a tree, no more Abraham guzzling beers at dinner parties, no more Sasha sniping walkers from the safety of a bell tower … just like that, Rick’s actions have put all of that in jeopardy.
But there might be bigger fish to fry for Alexandria than Rick Grimes. While out on a scouting mission, Daryl Dixon and Aaron encounter something awful in the woods: a fresh campsite filled with severed arms and legs, and a naked woman’s corpse tied up to a nearby tree, disemboweled and zombified. The letter “W” is carved into her forehead, just like so many other walkers we’ve seen in the back half of season five. With only one episode remaining before this year of The Walking Dead ends, it seems clearer now than ever that the wolves are at the door. Start howling accordingly.