The Walking DeadIt's been only one episode since Carol told Rick that he needed to solve Jessie's spousal abuse problem by offing her horrid husband, and that plot accelerated into overdrive during this week's installment of "The Walking Dead," titled "Try."

No, Rick didn't actually kill Pete, but the two men had a gnarly fistfight that started in Jessie and Pete's house, smashed out their front window, and continued onto the streets of Alexandria, where everyone looked on in horror as the two men rolled around and beat each other to a bloody pulp. Earlier, Rick confronted Jessie with his knowledge of Pete's abuse, and while the woman initially rebuffed Rick's offers of help, skeptical of his motivations, she eventually relented when she realized that the constable's crush on her was more than just puppy love. And while Rick letting Little Rick guide his desire to separate Jessie and Pete may have been the initial driving force behind his actions, it's clear that Deanna and the rest of the Alexandrians are clueless when it comes to crime prevention within their walls, and something needs to be done about the doctor.

But the community doesn't take kindly to strangers trying to assert an absolute authority over their meek methods, and despite her predilection for peace, quiet, and ignoring a man hitting his wife until she's unconscious and bleeding, Deanna is anything but meek. She stands up to a raving Rick, who looks every bit the lunatic Deanna fears him to be as he shouts that he knows what's best for the community -- all while covered in blood and waving his gun wildly in the air. It ain't a good look for the sheriff's deputy, and while viewers at home may know that on some level Rick is right (Pete is bad news, and while he may not necessarily deserve to die, he must be dealt with), he isn't doing himself any favors in arguing his case while sounding like a madman.

The Deanna vs. Rick showdown has been brewing since the moment Rick's group entered the Alexandria gates, and after Deanna's conversation with Father Gabriel last week, and her discussion with Rick during this week's episode about their sharply different approaches to handling problems, it seems we're in for a nasty resolution. I was surprised that Rick came right out and revealed to Deanna that he wanted to kill Pete, but alas, his efforts to be more inclusive in his decision-making backfired in a big way. Deanna already knew about the couple's problems, but "hoped it'd get better." A clearly disgusted Rick argues in favor of his execution plan, at which Deanna immediately balks, warning Rick, "that kind of thinking doesn't belong in here."

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Rick and co. belong in there either, despite everyone's somewhat-best efforts to make it work. Surprisingly, Noah's death did not go unmourned by the rest of the group, and his loss ripples throughout them. Glenn tries valiantly to carry on the young man's optimism, telling Rick that they need to make a life in Alexandria at all costs, unaware that Nick has been feeding Deanna lies about what really went down on that supply run. Nick (who has the most punchable face I've seen on this show in quite some time) claims that it was Glenn's fault that Aiden died, that Glenn wanted to abandon Aiden, and that Glenn was the one responsible for Noah's death. (To her credit, Deanna seems extremely skeptical of this retelling of events.) Glenn, unaware that Nick tried to pin everything on him, later confronts the man to tell him he shouldn't be outside the walls again, because he just can't hack it. "People like you are supposed to be dead -- but these walls went up just in time, so you're not," Glenn tells him. Later, Nick defies Glenn's warnings and ventures outside anyway, uncovering a gun he had hidden in the woods. Is it Rick's similarly-stashed gun, which went missing? Judging by how squirrelly Nick acts, I'm guessing yes.

Also taking Noah's death surprisingly hard are Michonne and Sasha, who act out in different ways. Michonne goes catatonic, not able to bring herself to put on her constable uniform and leaving her sword behind when Rosita asks for her help in looking for Sasha. The latter woman, who's a nervous, weeping, emotional wreck, took off after her shift atop the watchtower, and heads into the woods to mow down zombies. "I'm sick of playing defense," she explains as she prepares to take on a giant horde. This totally-not-unhealthy-or-reckless-in-any-way attitude comes to a head with Sasha nearly getting her own head bitten off, before Michonne gets her groove back and takes down the walker that has Sasha pinned to the ground.

Later, Michonne is the one to stop Rick's manic monologuing with a swift blow to the head. The constable lays down an ultimatum with Deanna, telling her that things need to change in Alexandria, and its residents need to be better controlled. Deanna implies that it's Rick who needs controlling, and his bug-eyed "Who, ME?!?" reaction is so over-the-top incredulous that it's hilarious. He has a point, but in the midst of all his ranting and raving, it's hard to take him seriously.

"Things don't get better because you want them to," Rick growls, adding an extra tone of disdain as he spits out the word "want." " ... Your way's gonna destroy this place. Your way's gonna get people killed. It's already gotten people killed. And I'm not gonna stand by and just let it happen. If you don't fight, you die."

Michonne's punch lands soon after that last line, an eloquent bit of punctuation to the sheriff's point. We'll see how that fight progresses when he comes to.

Other thoughts:

- I'm sure you've all been dying to see Carl get a love interest, and finally, "The Walking Dead" delivers. (Insert sarcastic eyeroll here.) Carl and Enid act out some teen angst by running through the woods together, then coming *thisclose* to kissing while hiding from some zombies in a hollowed-out tree trunk. "It's their world. We're just living in it," Enid tells Carl of the walkers, a quote that would totally be in her AIM profile if the apocalypse took place in the late '90s (and they had internet access). Enid also tells Carl that she's scared of him, for reasons she can't articulate. She's not alone in finding Carl kind of creepy.

- Speaking of AIM profiles, some key lyrics can be pulled from the Nine Inch Nails tune that plays over the episode's opening sequence. The song, "Somewhat Damaged," was on one of Aiden's mix CDs that he blasted in the car when going out on supply runs (and which Glenn and co. made fun of on the last fateful outing), and references Icarus flying too close to the sun and crashing down. "Lost my faith in everything," Trent Reznor snarls as we watch Deanna, Reg, and Spencer cry (an odd song to trigger tears, IMO) and Carol prep a tuna casserole to bring to the grieving family. "Broken, bruised, forgotten, sore / Too f--ked up to care anymore," the track continues, perfectly matching the mood of all our main characters (and perhaps explaining why Deanna rebuffs a perfectly good casserole). Whoever's been in charge of the music this season has been bringing their A game.

- Carol tells Rick that if her abusive husband, Ed, hadn't been bitten, she wouldn't have survived until now. Rick disagrees, but I think Carol has a point. She really came alive after Ed died (though not for a couple seasons -- remember the search for Sophia? Those were some dark days), and I think that that transformation probably wouldn't have occurred had she remained shackled to that a-hole.

- Rick fixates on a red balloon throughout the episode. Symbolism! (Of what, I don't know, though it might be hinting at this.)

- While out in the woods with Sasha, we see flashbacks to some of Michonne's finest zombie-killing moments, including the iconic shot from the end of season two, when we got our first glimpse of the mysterious hood-clad woman with two toothless zombies in tow. It was a fond reminder of how much badassery Michonne injected into the series, and hopefully some foreshadowing into her future. That sword's got to come down from above the fireplace eventually, right?

- More zombies with "W" carved into their foreheads pop up this week, signaling that whoever is marking them is circling nearby. Aaron and Daryl stumble upon a pile of body parts not unlike what the group found outside of Noah's hometown, leading me once again to suspect that a roving pack of cannibals is responsible. Only this one seems especially sadistic (if we're going to measure cannibalism on a scale of horribleness, anyway), as evidenced by the disemboweled naked woman we see tied to a tree, apparently intentionally left for zombie fodder. Not even Gareth's gang was that cruel. (They let Bob survive to watch them eat his leg, after all.) This group is no doubt getting closer to Alexandria; will they arrive before the season finale is over?

- Deanna's catchall solution to Alexandria's problems is exiling people, something she alluded to when Rick's group arrived and she doubled down on when Rick suggested they kill Pete. She told Rick that they could send Pete away, and if Rick didn't like it, they could send Rick away too. She said early on that they've done it before. Light bulb: Perhaps that roving "W" band is made up of those very exiled people, coming back to take their revenge? I love it when a good "Walking Dead" conspiracy theory comes together.

- The 90-minute season finale is next week. Let the wild speculating continue until then.

Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC