Previously: Review 11x04 RENDITION
- S 11 x 05 OUT OF THE ASHES -
Written by LaToya Morgan
Directed by Greg Nicotero
TWD titles often have more than one meaning, but Out of the Ashes probably has about ten, most obviously Carol, Aaron, Lydia and Jerry salvaging what remained at Hilltop, and former Whisperers making it their home. Then there's Judith rescuing the precious handprints after the decimation of Alexandria. Gabriel and Elijah emerging from the battle with the Reapers. Rosita helping Judith rise above her grief over losing so many people she loves. Discovering that Connie may well be alive—and basically all that they're going through right now: scraping back their lives after the most recent seismic-level devastation.
I loved this episode - thank you LaToya Morgan, and it's always exciting to see that Greg Nicotero's directing; this felt like one of those 'old school' episodes in which everyone got a look in as it dipped in and out of four different scenarios, with so many events and developments to mull over. And it was in daylight! The locations are always so excellent and I like to study the detail.
Pre-titles we joined Aaron in his dream; usually I am so not a fan of dream sequences and hallucinations, but TWD always manages to make them relevant and give deeper meaning to the episode. What an inspired choice to have this chap appear...
... because Aaron always considered the Wolves' invasion of Alexandria in 6x02 JSS to be his fault, after he discovered that they'd found his bag with the photos of the community inside.
Then there was Mays, the battle-scarred psycho from 10x19 One More who Aaron would have taken back to the community if Gabriel had not seen through him. I'm thinking that dream stayed with him all day, and it was the memory of the first error and the one he nearly made that provoked his uncharacteristically violent reaction towards Keith Whisperer, in his determination to keep everyone safe and, maybe, atone for the deaths of those who died when the Wolves scaled Alexandria's walls.
Meanwhile back in the bathroom, Jerry looked out of the window and saw what he no doubt hoped was a dream: a Walker enjoying a little morning constitutional down an Alexandrian road. It was so well done - like he thought, 'yeah yeah, there's a Walker', because they're so much a part of the scenery that it almost doesn't seem unusual to look out of the window and see one shuffling along while you're emptying your bladder—and then he thought 'hang on, there's a Walker. Like, here, on the wrong side of the wall—'
Did Aaron blame himself for the collapse of the wall, too, as he was organising the rebuild? I must say that before he went off with Carol, Jerry and Lydia to retrieve tools and supplies from the ashes of Hilltop, I was thinking what Rosita voiced: is it time to find somewhere else to live? But Aaron's point of view about it being their home is totally understandable. It's the place that holds all the memories of those they have loved and lost, and happier times. It's their stability in such a perilous world.
~ Hilltop. Also laid waste to by the Whisperers ~
When they got to Hilltop it was so sad to see Barrington House in ruins, to remember what a great community it was, and to think of Jesus, Tara, Enid, the Suttons, Andy, etc. My question about 'what happened to the Whisperers' was answered, anyway; my guess is that this is the last we will see of them.
Love that little burst of Whisperers' music when they uncovered Keith - and what Jerry said: 'And don't give us any of that Alpha/Beta garbage, either.'
Along with Aaron, there was a bit of an about-turn in attitude from Carol and Jerry, too. It looks like Carol is over the hump of her grief now that Alpha is dead, and she's able to look at events in a more rational way than she has for a while; she seemed calmer, more 'together'. She couldn't see the point of harming Keith Whisperer, and warned Aaron 'Don't go down the dark path I did'. Clever Carol can always see exactly what's going on with others, which way they're heading; remember how she always could with Daryl, even as far back as the farm?
As for Jerry, it was odd to see him so angry, when the sight of Nabila's stolen scarf brought home the fact that these people, these sad former Alpha followers who were 'trying to be human again' (Lydia), were the reason why his wife and children are going hungry. We've seen him jolly, thoughtful and supportive, raging in time of war, but never so vengeful.
So glad for Carol that there's news of Connie - maybe she can stop beating herself up about that now, too. See, she wasn't wrong to keep Kelly hoping! Off they go to the Screaming Cave... sounds ominous indeed.
Back at Alexandria, it was a bad day for poor dear little Judith - starting with her dealing with the asshole bully in exactly the same way Carl would have done, and Michonne, too, but her Grimes strength could only take so much.
Seeing her incredible bravery faltering for a moment is particularly heartbreaking because of her usual resilience. She knows that her dad is out there somewhere, that Michonne is doing what is best for all of them, but she takes on so much on those young shoulders. What a beautiful scene with her and Rosita, in which we learned more about how Rosita became the way she is; she was exactly the right person to be with Judith at that moment. I just love how Rosita's changed with age and motherhood, but she was always no-bullshit wise.
The beauty of TWD - nothing is forgotten, all the threads and storylines and those echoes from the past weave together, all the time.
It's great to watch Judith, Gracie, RJ and Hershel become a team - you know that this is just the beginning of them sticking together for many years to come, with a bond like that of (some of!) their parents. If only TWD was carrying on forever, and we could see them all grow up—oh for a spin-off, but Cailey Fleming would have to carry on playing Judith, growing up. Like Chandler Riggs did :)
Away to the Commonwealth - and wow, I wasn't expecting to see Real Stephanie so soon! Major surprise - I felt like Eugene knew, didn't you? Or certainly suspected... something. The expressions on his face as he looked from one to the other said it all.
And so to the road between Alexandria and Meridian, and Maggie's still spitting venom at every opportunity; her blood pressure must be sky high. Negan seems most weary of her constant stomping around and angry asides. I don't believe there is an answer to it. Yes, Rick and co killed lots of his people first. Yes, it's a long time ago now and so much has happened in the meantime. Yes, but he beat her husband to death in front of her and seemed to enjoy it. Anyone can argue this one back and forth forever, but the only question now is this: will she be able to let it rest, or not?
Maggie still talks about 'her people', but most of her Meridian chums are dead, she abandoned Hilltop about seven years ago, and she hasn't lived at Alexandria since Hershel Junior was the size of a tadpole; only the core group know her at all. I hope she can go back to being Quite Nice Maggie again. You know, the woman who delivered Judith and helped Deanna accept their group into the fold. Hershel Senior's daughter, and Glenn's wife.
Good to see Gabriel and Elijah safely back at the safe house—looks like Negan's resigned himself to waiting for Daryl and Frost, though something tells me Daryl's going to break out, if the trailer for next week is anything to go by—maybe he'll make his way back to the safe house and they'll all go back to rescue Frost (hopefully remembering to pick up Alden on the way home!). Then again, I doubt it's going to be that easy....
And what about Connie? Here's that end scene again... (let us not forget that Virgil was the last person to see Michonne, too!)