Last issue, the original inhabitants of The Community launched an impromptu coup against Rick and his people. Rick’s war-tested crew had no problem dismantling Nicholas’ disorganized rebellion. This issue is all about the fall-out.
Victorious, Rick asks the question “What do we do now?” The easy solution would be to kill Nicholas for his treason and send a message to anyone else who might be considering challenging Rick’s leadership. But Rick sends a different message instead. He tells Nicholas that’s he’ll be keeping an eye on him. Not because he has it in for him, but because he needs to watch out for everyone’s safety.
Once again, Rick talks about his idealistic plans for The Community. And how their primary asset is the people rather than the walls. With that, he disperses the crowd. The conflict is over before it really began. But the seeds are sown for trouble down the road.
Rick checks in on Carl who woke up in all the commotion. They have a heart-to-heart in which Carl asks the kind of questions that rip a parent apart. Rick pleads with his son to let himself feel fear and loss and to stop trying to be so strong. Carl doesn’t necessarily understand what his dad is asking him, but they seem to make an emotional connection that hasn’t been there since Lori died.
Their touching moment is broken up by Nicholas who has come to apologize to Rick. Only, he’s not very good at expressing himself. He stumbles over the words. But he still keeps trying to get his point across which makes him seem kind of pathetic. Rick seems barely able to contain his frustration with the man.
Meanwhile, Abraham and Holly enjoy some intimacy while casually discussing the leadership situation. Holly isn’t too happy with Rick’s soft approach with Nicholas. She feels that The Community should be more selective in who it allows to live there. She feels Abraham would be better suited to making the tough decisions. Abraham entertains the notion.
Glen and Maggie are busy trying to put Sophia to bed. This leads Maggie to an emotional breakdown. The Community had allowed her to feel safe for a moment. But Nicholas’ mob made her realize that they will never truly be safe. She says she just can’t go on living this way.
Finally, Rick confides in Andrea that despite what he said, he really wanted to kill Nicholas. Not for trying to supplant him as leader, but because Nicholas is just too pathetic and it would be easier to be rid of him. He is horrified, but he feels the need to unload on someone.
For her part, Andrea proves sympathetic. And soon, the two are making an emotional connection which is sure to complicate matters for both of them going forward.
This is a quiet issue of The Walking Dead. But what Kirkman does so well in these issues (and what the TV show sometimes fails to do in quiet episodes) is to create a sense of dread. Although the immediate threat is past, The Community is still cracking apart in subtle way. These little cracks are sure to come to a head in future issues. And as always happens in this series, there will be tragic consequences.
One thing that struck me is just how long the book has stayed in The Community. We have never gone this long without a major disruption to the status quo. I can imagine some readers getting frustrated with the pacing. But for me, the character moments and the sense of impending doom made for a very entertaining read – even though not a single zombie appeared in the book.