[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of AMC's The Walking Dead. Read at your own risk.]
"The wall is going to hold together. Can you?"
It's scary when Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is one of the more optimistic people on The Walking Dead. And even if he only asked the question above to inspire the Alexandrians who were scared senseless by the zombie herd Rick had just outrun to get back behind Alexandria's walls, the answer to that question was hard to come by for many of them.
In fact, for most of them, it was a resounding no - at least at first. Several surviving Alexandrians decided to raid the food bank to make a killer last meal, ignoring all the warnings about rationing. Even Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh), who, between the grief over her dead husband and seeing the zombie threat up close for the first time, was in a nearly catatonic state, did nothing to stop her people from behaving like animals. Fortunately, her son Spencer (Austin Nichols) stepped in. "Doing this will start us down a road where nothing matters, where no one else matters," Spencer reasons. "And then we'll all look back at this moment, right now, as when we destroyed this place."
Spencer's words not only inspire the hungry, hungry hippos to put back their extra canned goods, but also renew Deanna's belief in Alexandira. But just as she scribbles Ovid on the blueprints (translation for you non-Latin speakers: this pain will be useful to you), she learns that Spencer didn't really believe the words he was preaching to the hungry mob. Worse, he shakes whatever head of steam Deanna had built up. "You're the reason we're screwed," he yells in a drunken rage. "You made us this way. We were never safe here, but you didn't want to see that, you didn't want us to see that. You just wanted to dream." Despite his self-loathing, Spencer ends up back in the watchtower, ready to do his part to keep everyone safe.
On the flip side, Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and Denise (Merritt Wever) finally admit that they have to look at the world differently now. Denise spends her day hiding in the clinic, fretting that her patient is going to die. As horrible as that sounds, it actually helps keep her mind off her own mortality waiting just beyond the walls. Even after a pep talk from Tara (Alanna Masterson), Denise still isn't sure that she can keep going until she sees Jessie, who killed one of the wolves in her house during the attack, take down a zombie version of one of her former neighbors while the rest of the town looks on. "I used to not want to see the way things are," Jessie tells the onlookers. "Its not that I couldn't, it's that I didn't want to. But this is what life looks like now. We have to see it. We have to fight it. If we don't fight, we die."
But struggling with the new reality wasn't just an exercise for the Alexandrians. Maggie (Lauren Cohan), after learning from Michonne (Danai Gurira) why Glenn (Steven Yeun) didn't come back with them, starts gearing up to go out and look for her husband. Aaron (Ross Marquand) eventually convinces Maggie to let him go along, and is surprised to learn that Maggie has some doubts about whether Glenn is living. "If he's alive, he's hurt or trapped, or maybe taken," she says. "If he's alive, he needs my help. That's why I'm doing this, And if he's dead, I don't want to be waiting on him."
However, after surviving a close call in the abandoned sewer tunnel they were using to avoid the walkers outside the walls, Maggie is saddened to see that the end of the tunnel is still in the thick of the herd. Although Aaron is sure they can get past the zombies, Maggie refuses to go on. And when Aaron insists, Maggie has to make a huge admission as to why she can't take the risk any more: She's pregnant. And even though she wants to protect the life she now carries, she basically seems to accept Glenn's death - and blames herself for not being by Glenn's side in the first place.
"He didn't want me to go out there and I said yes, and if I would have gone, if I was with him, maybe I could have helped him," she says. "I don't know if he's alive. He would have shown me by now, that's what Michonne said. I just wanted to see his face. I can't. I don't get to know what happened. I don't get to know what will happen, what I did right or wrong. Not now. I have to live with that."
Also worrying about Glenn's fate is Rick, who refuses to bury the dead until he knows the fate of Glenn as well as Daryl, Sasha and Abraham, all of whom he'd hoped would have returned by the end of the day. But just as he begins to have his optimism shaken, Jessie is there to snap him back to life. "I wasn't saying there wasn't a future," she says. "There's got to be. Tell me there's more." And with that, the duo shares a passionate kiss.
Speaking of kisses, after Denise staves off her patient's infection, she seeks out Tara and plants one on her as well. "Being afraid sucks," Denise says, repeating Tara's words from before back to her. And the wave of hope continues to spread. Despite her tearful confession before, Maggie and Aaron walk over to the wall where one Alexandrian has written the names of the fallen. Maggie begins to wash Glenn's name away, refusing to give up hope just yet. "When he gets back," Aaron says, "it's worth nothing that Aaron or Erin works for a boy or a girl. Just saying." (Aside: I suppose even if Glenn is dead, his baby could be the "some version of Glenn" that executive producer Scott M. Gimple hinted we would see in the future.)
Even Deanna is revitalized. After earlier taking out a walker with a broken bottle, she seems to have moved out of her funk. She approaches the walls and slaps the walls, seemingly taunting the zombie herd outside but also relishing the safe haven she has built. Rick was right: The walls held together. And even though there were some tough spots, almost everyone inside held together too.
Almost everyone. Because as Deanna walks back toward home, there appears to be a trickle of blood coming down the wall from the watchtower. Did Spencer decide to check out early? Is another attack underway? Whatever the case, it seems like, despite some small personal victories in this episode, the survivors are about to once again have their hope shaken.
What do you think of Maggie's reveal? Still think Glen is alive/dead? What caused the blood on the wall? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.