Rick’s big breakdown was the “moment” in “Try”. Rick has always been, and will continue to be the centrepiece. But what I love about The Walking Dead is its (hit and miss) ability to nurture the peripheral characters giving them rich and interesting stories…and then sometimes killing them.
The best example of this is the work the show has done with Carol. Playing the long game from season one, building her into one of the show’s most complex characters through her tumultuous arc involving loss, change, and self-realization of sorts. She is a completely different person than the Carol we met in season one, but everything she is now is true to who she was and the experiences she’s had along the way.
But “Try” wasn’t about Carol and it was Sasha’s, not Rick’s, story I was invested in. Sasha hasn’t been around as long as Carol, and the show hasn’t given her as much, but the focus on her in this installment was interesting because her character has not only been sidelined by the show, but also by the group within the text.
Upon arriving at Alexandria the group was concerned with becoming soft surrounding by so many conveniences and luxuries many of them had stopped even dreaming about returning to. They worried their fighting instinct, quick reaction times and finely honed sense would dull. They were thinking about how it would change their relationship to the Walkers, not about how it would change their relationship to other people, especially within their own group.
With all the distractions of the new town, new neighbours and new roles Sasha slipped through the cracks. Her friends sort of noticed she’d been spending a lot of time in the watchtower since they arrived, that maybe she was having trouble adjusting. But they had become soft as a group, they didn’t notice that she needed help.
Contrast Sasha’s ability to make herself invisible with Daryl’s very obvious need for help. He refuses to clean up, join in, or put down his crossbow. He makes his outsider loner status known. The squeaky wheel gets the special attention. Earning him a special assignment and a community liaison in Aaron. Meanwhile, Sasha has been a raw nerve, only made worse by the back to back violent deaths of her brother, Tyreese and Noah, the young man she made a promise to. And instead of calling out, she withdraws and the group has lost their sharp abilities to notice when something is wrong with a member of their family.
It hit me, watching those three women out there in the woods – somewhere after Michonne and Rosita found Sasha and before the zombie shooting gallery of catharsis – that this is the kind of story The Walking Dead was built to tell. Although it’s often the story that gets buried under Rick’s macho crap and the story struggling to serve the ever expanding (and then constricting) cast.
I loved watching two women from the group going out there and trying to help their friend who had been left alone too long. At this point this group is family, and even with Sasha acting out, Rosita and Michonne are going to be there for her. Putting themselves out there, running into the outside world, both of whom hadn’t been out since they arrived at Alexandria, but doing it for their family. Protecting Sasha when being protected isn’t what she wants but what she needs is part of what this family does. This is the kind of story I like to see in The Walking Dead when they get any room to breathe.
I know that the chances of these three women together being an ongoing story group is unlikely – but the scenes watching the pair reaching out to Sasha were fantastic. I do hope to see the show continue to find new and interesting groupings for the cast. For me, the show’s at its best when it’s not really all about Rick.
What did you think of “Try”? What have been your favourite Walking Dead groupings? Do you think Sasha’s going to make it out of Alexandria?