After a 2 month hiatus, The Walking Dead returned on Sunday night. With it came the same level of tension strewn among each of the characters that was established earlier this season. After an opening that quickly resolved the last episode’s cliffhanger ending with a showcase of gunfire and smoke bombs, the episode steers back into exploring the current standing of Rick’s group, and how well he’s holding everyone within it together.
One of the central themes in this episode is the idea of trust. It is a concept that is used within this series in a manner that can almost be seen as a type of currency. If a character cannot be trusted, they are shunned by the rest of the group and forced to fend for themselves out in the world. We see Rick refusing to trust and accept Merle, and in doing so losing Daryl.
Next up is Michonne, whom I feel like we still have yet to learn much about. Her attitude, instincts, and willingness to help to put her on good terms with us, the viewers, but her mysterious and tight-lipped demeanor have not put her on good terms with Rick, and he openly tells everyone that he intends to have her leave as soon as she’s been taken care of.
In the prison, Carl and Hershel attempt to learn more about Tyreese’s party, and whether or not any trust can be extended to them. Hershel believes Tyreese and his group to have good intentions and that they are worthy to be let in, Carl’s previous experience leave him apprehensive to allow the new party any liberties within the prison.
When Rick arrives back at the prison, the decision regarding Tyreese’s group is left to him. Like Carl, Rick’s experience of deception and backstabbing have left him weary to extend a hand towards anyone he doesn’t know. By only interacting with his own people, and with his innate sense of suspicion towards every new soul he encounters, Rick seems to have given up on the world.
I think it’s easy to draw a comparison between Rick’s current attitude with that of some self-proclaimed Christians and Christian organizations. Whether it’s a fear of becoming spiritually contaminated by the world, or a fear of losing members to it, many churches and groups can easily find themselves in the shoes of Rick. However, if Rick’s current existence is to have any significance, and for the show and its characters to move forward, Rick must focus on extending as many invitations as possible to his group and their common interest in order to strengthen it. If there is to be any hope of eventually rebuilding the world into a better place in which his children can live satisfying and meaningful lives, every new face must always be looked at as a prospective ally and kindred spirit.
The end of the episode, however, takes an unexpected turn. Catching a glimpse of a ghost-like representation of his late wife, Lori, Rick fuses and concerns everyone around him as he breaks down. This isn’t the first time that Rick’s emotional and psychological state have been brought into question this season. It turns the table and points toward Rick’s own reliability and trustworthiness in the eyes of his people, something that he seems to be sharing with Woodbury’s leader, The Governor.