[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead. Read at your own risk.]
Are Rick's doubts about the Alexandrians beginning to fade on The Walking Dead?
Although the episode began with Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) seemingly continuing their conversation from the end of last week's episode about potentially taking over the place -- "They're the luckiest damn people I know, and they just keep getting luckier. We're here now," Rick says -- by the end of the hour, wild horses (RIP, Buttons!) might not be able to drag some of them away from their new home. But perhaps we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Rick & Co. leave their first secret meeting with the plan for the rest of the group to do their best to fit in so as not to arouse any further suspicion. As luck would have it, everyone gets a chance to do just that when Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) invites all of Alexandria's newest citizens over to her home for party. Although Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) drinks a little too much beer, pretty much everyone makes a good first impression.
Everyone, except Sasha (Soenequa Martin-Green) that is. After opening the episode by taking pictures of happy Alexandrians out to the woods for target practice, Sasha can't reconcile her recent losses with the normalcy of this new civilization. When one friendly face asks Sasha what her favorite meal is, Sasha snaps and leaves the party after an angry outburst. Even worse, Sasha later has words with Deanna, who believes she can build Alexandria into "a vibrant community." Sasha's thoughts? "This isn't real," she says.
While Sasha failed to make new friends, Carol played her role as "real people person" by sharing recipes with the town's other ladies and making some killer applesauce cookies for the party. "You know what's great about this place? I get to be invisible again," Carol tells Rick. Because of this perceived stealth mode, it's Carol who sneaks away from the party to raid the armory and steal weapons for Rick and Daryl. However, when Carol is tracked to the stash house by a cookie-crazed kid, Carol has to improvise -- by being a monster! She tells the kid if he tells his mother Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) what he saw, she will steal him out of his bed and chain him to a tree outside the walls so the walkers could eat him. While we'll have to wait to see if Carol's act earned the boy's silence, the look in his eyes suggests he might never ask her for more cookies.
Speaking of Jessie, she did her best to convince Rick that Alexandria isn't all bad. She even gets her son (before his traumatizing talk with Carol) to give Rick an "A" stamp on his hand. After being branded "one of us" and enjoying himself at the party, Rick finally agreed with Jessie. "Here isn't that bad," he says. And then, perhaps because he's had one too many glasses of whiskey, Rick pulls the ultimate party foul and kisses Jessie on the cheek. They exchange an awkward glance before she eventually slips away in silence.
Just as Rick seems to be coming around on Alexandria, so does Daryl. After he and Aaron (Ross Marquand) spend an afternoon trying unsuccessfully to catch a wild horse to bring back to town, Daryl ends up at Aaron's house slurping spaghetti. During dinner, Aaron's boyfriend Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson) accidentally lets it slip what Aaron was supposed to ask him earlier in the day: Aaron wants Daryl to be Alexandria's new recruiter. After a brief discussion about why Daryl's the man for the job (and the bribe of getting Daryl a new motorcycle), Daryl agrees.
Which brings us back to where we began: Although Carol stole the weapons as planned, when it came time to hand them out, Daryl surprisingly decides not to take one. He doesn't outright say that he trusts the people, but he perhaps has been charmed enough that he feels secure. And although Rick takes a gun, as he walks back through town -- and waves at Jessie, who proudly shows off her "A" stamp -- he clearly is wrestling with what his next move will be. Although Rick might enjoy being safely separated from a walker by Alexandria's wall in that closing shot, maybe there's something about being branded with an "A" that's all too familiar from Terminus. We'll see!
Do you think it's all too good to be true? And what do you make of the walker Carol killed that had the "W" carved into his head? (Note: We've seen them before.) Share all your thoughts and theories in the comments below.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.