The Walking Dead, “Life Among Them”
Life continues to throw all sorts of twists and turns at Rick making survival increasingly difficult, but there appears to be a faint light at the end of the dark tunnel. As the group continues to make their way towards Washington D.C., Rick wants to examine Eugene’s radio in order to see if any broadcasts are coming through. Eugene gets defensive and attempts to hide the radio, but the two men struggle over it. The device hits the ground and exposes an empty battery case which causes Abraham to lose his cool and assault Eugene who reveals that he isn’t a government scientist but merely a high school science teacher. He lied in order to protect himself because he carries no skill with a weapon, is slow moving and cannot hold his own in a fight. His best option was to lie and place himself in a role of some importance in order to survive.
That night, while Rick and Abraham are met by a man named Aaron who, in a show of good faith, approaches with his hands in the air, a smile on his face and a request to speak with their leader. Instinctively, Rick punches Aaron and Abraham blinds and binds him before taking Aaron back to camp to have his fate decided. After everyone calms down, Aaron presents himself as a “recruiter” for an established community in Alexandria. Before Rick has a moment to process this information, the camp is attacked by walkers and Aaron helps defend the camp which convinces Rick to accept the offer. In private, Rick says to Abraham, “I trust this guy and it scares me.”
Before they can reach the Alexandria enclave, Aaron meets with his partner and the group helps out one of their scouting teams that have met with some trouble in town. The Atlanta survivors are welcomed into the enclave built from a large housing community powered by solar panels and surrounded by a series of concrete walls. Rick speaks with Douglas, the community leader and share their experiences before welcoming Rick and his crew into the community where they will be given their own homes. In return, Douglas asks Rick to be their sheriff. While playing with other children, Carl gets into a fight with another boy over his gun. This forces Douglas to order the confiscation of their weapons, as he enforces a strict “no weapons” policy. Although extremely resistant, Rick allows he and his crew’s weapons to be locked up in an armory.
Life almost seems normal within the community as Halloween festivities are launched, complete with kids going door to door for candy, an activity that upsets Carl who is angry that people are taken in by the “fake” community, a feeling that is shared by Andrea and Abraham. During a dinner party, Douglas makes several advances towards Andrea who rebukes him and Michonne gets angry with several housewives. The party is disrupted by Glenn and Maggie who get into an argument. Rick takes Glenn home and reveal that the fight was a ruse in order to gather intelligence on where the weapons are kept and how to get them back.
Adults: Rick, Andrea, Glenn, Maggie, Morgan, Michonne, Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, Douglas, Aaron, misc families
Children: Carl, Sophia
This is one of those rare opportunities in which nothing really happens to the survivors. When the group reaches the enclave in Alexandria, they don’t have to fight for their survival. This is offers up a nice change of pace for Rick and his crew because they are coming into a pre-established and (seemingly) friendly community unlike Woodbury. However, the cloud of peace that hangs over Alexandria makes Rick, Andrea, Abraham and even Carl uneasy and they can’t help shake the feeling that everything seems so forced and artificial.
The title of this volume (and the two that follow) is telling. For the first time, Rick is welcomed into a community that doesn’t require cleanup, exploration and a plan on how to live day by day as those who came before have already done the heavy work. This makes Rick uneasy and when his weapons are taken away, his instinct kicks in and tries to find some way to get them back. Although he has been welcomed by these people, Rick knows that they are different. In his mind, they aren’t “us” – they haven’t suffered as he has. They haven’t lost a limb or saw their wife and child murdered by other people. In a town filled with people who carry on like nothing has happened, Rick can’t help but feel like an outsider. Try as Rick might to fit in, Carl quickly acknowledges that the Alexandria enclave is a farce and wants no part of it. Despite his age, the world has certainly forced the boy to mature quicker than normal.
Rick and Carl aren’t the only ones having difficulty adjusting to the relative security of the enclave. During the dinner party, we get to see Michonne very much out of her element – wearing an evening dress! – and experiencing flashbacks of her former self. When the two women chatting near her complain about housekeeping concerns, she lashes out at them. She’s in a position to do so because these people, these outsiders, have no idea about the hell she was forced to live through as the Governor’s prisoner. Like Rick, she’s got an “us” versus “them” mentality and struggles with the notion that they could truly be safe for the first time since the outbreak started.
Moving into the Alexandria community has done wonders for the look of the characters as hot showers and a barber has given Adlard the chance to show off our heroes after being considerably cleaned up. Rick is no longer the scruffy, feral looking man we’ve gotten used to seeing. Michonne also cleans up quite nicely and looks lovely in an evening dress. However, much like the community, their cleanliness seems…off. We’ve gotten so used to seeing these characters dirtied, bloodied and beaten that viewing them otherwise is slightly unnerving.