the walking dead, the walking dead season 6, walking dead, TWD, 607I'm a big enough person to admit when I'm wrong, and alas, I have to put one of my patented "Walking Dead" Conspiracy Theories to rest this week: Baby Judith has not, in fact, been kidnapped by the Wolves, and is alive and well (for now) in Alexandria. (Though considering how terrible Jessie is at keeping track of her own children, I question Carol's decision to choose her as a babysitter.) But, of course, that wasn't the only thing I was proven wrong about this week.

It turns out that the show did away with its penchant to let plot lines dangle until the midseason finale, and finally revealed Glenn's fate to viewers in this, the penultimate episode before we go on hiatus. And yes, he's alive. No surprise there, thanks to showrunner Scott Gimple and his ridiculously stupid, unnecessarily ambiguous statement after Glenn's "death." It turns out that Nicholas's body did indeed fall on top of Glenn, and he shimmied out from under the innard buffet and scrambled under the dumpster to safety. Gimple's decision to toy with viewers was and remains questionable, especially since the fakeout only served to frustrate fans (not to mention suck all the drama out of his inevitable return), and really had no effect on anyone in Alexandria. (Remember, this season has taken place over the course of only a handful of days; Maggie may have been worried about her husband regardless of how much time has passed, but for his absence to truly have made an impact on the community at large – not to mention fans – he would have needed to be missing for a longer stretch in the world of the show to really drive home the dread.)

Still, we haven't seen Glenn reunite with Maggie yet, and I suspect that that's something that we may not get before we sign off next week. I understand the urge to draw out this moment, since it's bound to be an emotional one. I just wish we didn't have to spend so much time watching Glenn interact with the wooden Enid at that payoff's expense. It made sense to have her be the first to find him, since she was the only one who ventured outside the gates in the chaos of the Wolves' attack, making it out before the walkers circled back toward the community. But man, what a tedious pairing. Putting aside my personal feelings about the circumstances surrounding the fakeout, I was glad to see Glenn again. And then he had to spend his grand return lecturing a sullen teenager about her fatalist attitude, and insist that he was taking her back to Alexandria for Maggie, since Ms. Greene would never have abandoned Enid herself. Um, what? Sorry, but Maggie is just as jaded as everyone else at this point (remember her defeated, sewage-soaked conversation with Aaron?), and she, like Glenn, barely knew Enid. I don't buy that motivation for a second. Perhaps it was Glenn's pending parenthood that made his paternal instincts kick in. Whatever the case, he forced her to head back toward the community, which they reach just in time to watch its walls finally crumble under all that walker weight.

That event immediately follows one of the sweeter scenes of this season, in which, for a brief moment, all seems well inside Alexandria. Father Gabriel held his prayer circle, Rick's disapproval be damned. (Rick immediately ripping down the flyers that Gabriel put up advertising the gathering was such a catty, high school thing to do, and I absolutely loved it.) Rick begrudgingly accepted Tobin's assistance reinforcing the fences, perhaps for the first time considering these people worthy of helping (both Rick helping them and vice versa). And finally, Maggie gets the sign she's been waiting for: a big bunch of green balloons, sent up by Glenn and Enid as a signal that they're alive and nearby. Then, the church that took some of the Wolves' truck's impact collapses, felling a section of Alexandria's wall with it. If ever the show wanted to drive home the point that religion is dead (and specifically, Father Gabriel and Morgan's beliefs in a higher moral power), it certainly achieved that with this metaphor.

It says a lot about how self-involved these characters are – Rick's gang included – that not one person noticed that that building was unstable before it came crashing down. There were several of ominous shots of boards breaking off and falling to the ground, not to mention plenty cracking and creaking sounds. Sure, the walkers waiting outside the walls made considerable noise of their own, conceivably enough to mask any rumblings from the church. But no one on the watch towers noticed pieces of the facade flying off? And furthermore, no one thought it was a good idea to check on the church's structural integrity after the truck crash? Honestly, these Alexandrians truly do deserve to die.

And it's a shame, too, since several of them have been bending over backwards to prove their worth recently, including Tobin this week. Though his character has revealed himself to be sensible in the past (sticking up for Abraham at the construction site last season, backing up Rick's zombie parade plan), he really amped things up tonight. He forces Rick to let him help with the aforementioned reinforcements, and while the two are working, Tobin makes his case for why he and the rest of the Alexandrians are not the lost causes Rick so clearly thinks they are. He readily admits that the community wasn't prepared for the recent horrors they've experienced (an idea already familiar to viewers), but points out that Rick initially didn't do himself any favors in trying to sway his new neighbors to trust him.

"You scared the hell out of people when we first saw you," Tobin tells the constable, hilariously citing Rick's scraggly facial hair and wild-eyed demeanor. "That beard, the way you looked around like you were seeing things we weren't hiding around the corners. Turns out, you were. Things moved slow here. And then things just started moving fast. Too fast. But don't give up on us."

Rick at least made an outward effort this week, though privately, with Michonne, he revealed once again his willingness to leave the Alexandrians in the dust should things go further south. During one of their powwows (regular events last season that I was glad to see recur tonight), Michonne calls him on this, telling the constable that they're all in this together now – hell, they're literally all together inside Alexandria's walls – and any excuse to pretend otherwise is B.S. I appreciate that she's sticking to her guns here, continuing the journey she began last season to open her mind and accept her new home. It doesn't help her case, unfortunately, that Deanna then immediately ambushes them to excitedly reveal her new map, like a proud kindergartener showing off her latest finger painting. (The blocking of this scene also illustrated their divide, with Rick and Michonne staged to look much taller than her in the frame – a small but nice choice by the director.) It's not a good look for Deanna, though, again, it rings true – she may have expanded her view of the world, but she's still an idealist, and wholeheartedly believes, "There's gonna be an after this."

Of course, that now rests squarely on the Alexandrians' shoulders, since they have yet another wave of attackers – these ones flesh-eating – coming right for them. Will they make good on the (admittedly scant) training that Rick and Rosita tried to impart? Or will they react like Eugene, unable to perform when the going gets rough? I suspect it will be a mixture of both.

Other thoughts:

- One person certain to get into some trouble next week is Spencer. He's already proven he's a liability, thanks to stealing from the pantry, being a dick to his mom, and generally just thinking he's better than everyone. This week, he doubles down on the dumbassery by trying to climb over the wall – and the walkers below – using a grappling hook. Amazingly enough, this doesn't work, and he almost tumbles right into the hungry horde; he needs Tara to shoot down the zombies grabbing for his legs, while Rick, Tobin, and Morgan pull him up to safety. Rick is furious that Spencer would risk his life for such a boneheaded plan, and force the rest of them to come running to save him, putting their lives at risk, too. Spencer explains that he wanted to try to get to a car to draw the walkers away from the gates – the same exact plan that Rick had, unbeknownst to him – and he thought that Rick wouldn't have agreed to let him do it if he'd asked first. Fair point, but still. It doesn't get much dumber than trying a crazy stunt in the name of saving the day, and failing miserably (and putting others in danger) in the process.

- I was amused, however, by Spencer's nonchalant reaction to his ordeal: "I lost a damn shoe. Crap."

- Another member of the Terrible Alexandrians club is Ron, who seems to have taken after his not-so-dearly-departed dad in the violently angry department. Though we don't see him commit any outright acts of abuse in this episode, something sinister is clearly brewing beneath the surface, just waiting to boil over. He seems overly-concerned with getting ammo in his gun, to the point of stealing some from the armory himself when Rick refuses to give him bullets. That shot of him fingering his trigger as he followed Carl (echoing the scene last season in which Rick did the same while watching Pete) was truly ominous, and I'm sure we're headed for a showdown between these two teens (and possibly Rick, too) soon.

- I've made it clear that I'm fairly over Carl at this point, but I kind of loved how smug he was during Rick's gun tutorial with Ron. From commenting on everything his father said – like a self-satisfied Greek chorus of one – to chiming in with little digs at Ron's ineptitude ("That stuff's easy, right Dad?"), the younger Grimes was clearly enjoying lording his experience over Ron. Unfortunately for him, also like a Greek tragedy, that hubris may end up being his downfall.

- Despite my issues with the big plot points this season, I've really enjoyed the small character moments that the writers have sprinkled into these episodes. Dr. Denise is already fully fleshed-out, a combination of flustered, friendly, and awkward when it comes to both her medical care and her interactions with others. Take her exchange with Morgan, where she opens the door stirring a mysterious white mess."I was making..." she starts, before trailing off and putting on a sheepish smile. "Do you want some oatmeal?" Later, she admits that she's still not fully confident in her caregiving, confessing to Morgan that she's had to make up cheat sheets to remember basic medical skills. (I loved the FWoPPRS mnemonic.) I like her a lot already. (See, "Walking Dead" writers? This is how you build an interesting character. You should try it with Tara – a.k.a. My Middle Finger Emotes Better Than I Do – sometime.) But my affection for her probably means she's in danger of dying now, right? Her involvement in Morgan's secret stashing of a Wolf certainly suggests that there's trouble afoot, though that plotline was a powder keg before she got involved.

- Thankfully, Carol now knows what's going on, and can hopefully help devise a plan to deal with it before the Wolf escapes (or his friends come back to claim him). Morgan has already shown signs of cracking, but he seems about to burst this week. Earlier, he confessed to Rick, Carol, and Michonne that he let several Wolves escape during the ambush because he couldn't bring himself to do otherwise. "I don't know what's right anymore," a weary Morgan tells the group. "'Cause I did wanna kill those men. I saw what they did, what they wanted to keep doing. I knew I could end it. But I also know that people can change. 'Cause everyone sitting here has. All life is precious. And that idea changed me, it brought me back, and it keeps me living. ... I've thought about letting that idea go. But I don't want to." "You may have to," Michonne replies. "Things aren't as simple as four words." That's undoubtedly true, and as Rick suggests, Morgan can't possibly survive in the world with that attitude. Morgan doesn't even think he should still be alive, since he can't understand why Rick didn't kill him back when they last met in season three's "Clear." If Morgan had died then, he explains, he wouldn't have been there to save Aaron and Daryl from the Wolves' trap – but then the Wolves wouldn't have then followed them back to Alexandria, either. Every decision has consequences in the zombie apocalypse; what those consequences mean can vary wildly from person to person. Morgan seems to be realizing that practicing nonviolence can breed more violence in others. A true test of faith seems inevitable.

- Once again, I'm frustrated that Eugene hasn't had much to do this season. But at least he got in a good line during machete training. "Hey!" he yelps as Rosita startles him. "I'm a weapons novice holding a significant blade here, and there are people in my proximity with open-toed shoes." Thanks for looking out, Eugene. (Also, to the idiots wearing open-toed shoes to machete training: Rethink your choices.)

- Enid tends to induce eye-rolling in me whenever she's on screen, but I did like her line when she saw the zombies surrounding Alexandria: "The world is trying to die. We're supposed to just let it." Such a perfectly emo thing for a teenager to say.

- Enid also trots out her equally-emo "JSS" motto again this week, scribbling it on an old check in an abandoned diner where she's hiding from Glenn. She absentmindedly plays with a little toy truck from the counter, and I'm wondering if this is supposed to further connect her to the Wolves, who used a truck to break into Alexandria, and also set those booby traps for Daryl and Aaron inside trucks at the canning factory. Then again, it could also signify she's part of the mysterious gang that Daryl came across last week, which used a truck to hunt down its escapees. It could also mean nothing. As we saw with the Judith kidnapping fakeout, sometimes props are just props. (Though seriously, why plant a red herring jar of baby food on that Wolf? Seems a little too significant to just be meaningless.) Something to keep an eye on, though, as the season progresses.

- As mentioned above, this is the last episode before the midseason finale, and the last one I'll receive an advance screener for in 2015. I'll try to get my recap up ASAP after the episode airs, but it may take me a while – based on all the pieces put into play tonight, I have a feeling there will be plenty of action to unpack next week.

Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead
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Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, this gritty drama portrays life in the weeks and months following a zombie apocalypse. Led by police officer Ric... Read More