For those who haven’t figured from the titles, this and last week’s episodes function as a sort of double-bill of existential growth. While “Remember” showed our heroes holding on to what makes them strong, “Forget” sees them letting go of their trauma. Together, the two stories serve to cement a new status quo on The Walking Dead as Rick and the gang transition from living off the vestiges of the old world to rebuilding a new civilisation for the human race. It’s a crucial step for the five-year-old zombie drama, and executive producer Scott M. Gimple makes clever use of pacing as a narrative tool, but I must confess to my patience wearing a bit thin.
Once again, nothing much happens on the surface, as the leaders of Alexandria (official or otherwise) resume their subtle manipulation, whether by throwing a bourgeois shindig or staging convoluted metaphors about wild horses. Though The Walking Dead has done a solid job convincing me of Deanna’s benign intentions, I find her approach in “Forget” grossly out of touch compared to Aaron’s. “Remember” established that Rick and the gang fear joining a community too weak to survive, so it seems almost perverse to force them into conversations about pasta makers. Then again, perhaps she organised the party for her people rather than our heroes, but, if that’s the case, why insist on Sasha coming over?
Having experienced firsthand the awkward transition from roaming the streets to hanging out with wealthy college kids who consider wearing the same shirt two days in a row an embarrassment, I understand too well Sasha wanting to claw her eyes out at the sight of her new neighbours’ sheltered innocence. To make matters worse, “Forget” hints that she’s suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, flashing back to life-or-death situations at any given moment. With “Slabtown” earlier this season, the writers dabbled for the first time in overt social commentary. Will The Walking Dead use its new status quo to comment on the way we treat veterans coming home?
Mind you, some soldiers would rather stay in the trenches forever. Take, for instance, Daryl, who, as I noted last week, views the zombie apocalypse in The Walking Dead as the ultimate leveling field: “The longer they’re out there, the more they become what they really are.” To him, civilisation is just an addictive lie that inevitably leads to his alienation. By offering him the job of recruiter at the end of “Forget”, Aaron sends a clear message that doesn’t just address the hillbilly’s wild side but the core of his abandonment issues: “We accept you as you are.” I like the parallel he draws with the gay struggle.
On the subject of contemporary social issues, have any of you been watching NBC’s The Slap? I bring it up because part of me wanted to slap little Sam for following Carol into a restricted area alone in the middle of the night so she’d bake him cookies. Forget how dangerous his actions would be considered even by our standards, let alone those of The Walking Dead; it’s just so entitled an attitude! I’ve read a lot of articles accusing our favourite widow of child abuse, but I frankly couldn’t care less about the future Darwin Award laureate, not least because the whole scene struck me as goofy and over the top.
To some degree, I feel the same way about the final, lingering shot, in which Rick stares at the Alexandria emblem on his hand and begins to “forget” (see what I did there?) about the ghoul on the other side of the wall. I understand what director David Boyd and screenwriter Corey Reed are going for, but, dang, that is some heavy-handed symbolism, even for The Walking Dead! It doesn’t help that the stamp looks like a scarlet A, which strikes me as a rather severe penalty for kissing Jesse on the cheek. Oh, how the mind wanders when it gets impatient…
Death toll so far: still twenty-nine. I don’t give a damn about Buttons.