After the last couple of weeks, you’d expect Rick’s crew to be beaten down and not in the best of spirits and that’s exactly where this episode finds them as each member of The Grimes Gang tries to process their latest losses and mounting sense of hopelessness. Finding a little food and water would be welcome too.
It’s been three weeks since Atlanta when Beth was killed and Tyrese realized he didn’t have any fight left in him. Food and water are the only things in shorter supply than hope for our fearless band of Walker Warriors.
With her brother and boyfriend walker- and Gareth-food lately, Sasha is looking for anything to lash out her ruthless aggression first recklessly breaking team strategy when a pack of walkers arrives and then arguing with Michonne and Abraham.
Maggie appears to have finally reached the breaking point after Beth’s death. Hard to blame her as her life was just swell before Rick and company arrived on Herschel’s farm and systematically leading to the death of everyone she’s held dear. What are the odds of Glenn surviving the episode?
As crazy as it is to suggest after back to back episodes where a character died and another was killed earlier in the year, The Grimes Gang is still too big and it was particularly apparent during this week’s grieving episode. Some characters, like Noah and Eugene, only had a few lines while Tara and Rosita couldn’t even get that much. While a Governor prison invasion character-cutting sequence would be too much after the three deaths so far, separating the group again may be better than trying to give 14 characters adequate screen time each week.
While the gang runs on fumes, Daryl keeps wandering off in search of food and try to make sense of his emotions after Beth’s death. Carol encourages him to let it out when his emotions inevitably come out. It’s felt way too long since our last Carol and Daryl interaction and this scene reminded me why they’re always one of the series’ best pairings.
Carl gives Maggie a music box, which he figured might cheer her up if they could get it working again. Abraham finds something a bit more useful in the short term – a bottle of whiskey, which he’s content to share with anyone whose name doesn’t start and end with an “E” or also has a bad mullet. Sorry Eugene.
A pack of dogs surface while the gang tries to recollect themselves. Weird how rare the gang has encountered dog packs or stray cats for that matter. Sasha doesn’t waste time and snipes them with four quick shots from her gun. Not sure if that was the wrong way to go there and on the bright side — Sasha’s found dinner! Needs more mambo sauce.
Daryl breaks away again and spots a barn in the distance. He’s not interested though as he lights a cigarette only to snuff it out on his hand. See, in terms of bada$$ loners who smoke, there’s Wolverine and then there’s Daryl Dixon. And then, Daryl lets his emotions come out. Doc Carol would be proud.
The rest of the group is trying to make sense of a note that says “From a Friend,” but more importantly are the water bottles on the ground. Rick doesn’t want to risk the water being drugged or spiked. No one’s using a roofie on you until you shave again, Rick. Clearly the gang isn’t thirsty enough, but it’s just as well as a rain finally comes. It’s enough to put a smile on the faces of everyone except Maggie, Sasha and Gabriel who’s feeling convicted from dumping his priest collar earlier.
But even when the gang gets a small miracle it proves problematic as the rain is coming heavier and a storm is starting to rage. Daryl leads them to the barn he spotted obviously forgetting that barns + Grimes Gang have proven to be an awful combination. Maggie is starting to have Tyrese eyes and as she finds another walker in a side room, she notices a gun was in the room. Carol says “Some people just can’t give up. Like us.”
As they wait out the storm, Rick shares a somber story from his World War II veteran grandfather who said during the war he had to convince himself every morning he was dead in order to make it through. Comparing it to their predicament, Rick says they’re the walking dead. Great name for a comic book, TV show, ratings juggernaut. Daryl doesn’t like the comparison saying they’re not “them.”
Later as everyone else has drifted to sleep, Daryl notices the barn door is whipping back and forth thanks to the wind and being held ever so precariously by a small chain. He races over and sees a slew of walkers ready to get out of the rain and munch on the gang. Symbolically, each of the gang, rushes over to push back against the rising surge of walkers. Just like Glenn told Daryl earlier, together they can survive.
Maggie wakes up to see Judith staring back at her — a welcome sign of hope after the latest string of tragedies. She goes over to Daryl, who managed to fix the music box. I was hoping Maggie would “adopt” Daryl as her brother here as they both have lost siblings in the Walker War, but their new bond was suitably understated. They both seem to realize the third member of their unique clique, Sasha, could use a friendly face.
Maggie wakes her up and asks her to come outside. The storm wiped out the trees and most of the walkers. The analogy was literally that Rick’s gang had weathered yet another storm and came out stronger. Maggie wanted to watch the sunrise and encourages Sasha that they both are going to make it. As she cues the music box, it doesn’t play, but a stranger, who looks like he’s had the use of regular showers and a razor introduces himself as Aaron saying he’s a friend and wants to talk to their leader, the one they call Rick. And right on cue, the music box starts playing.
Is Aaron another Gareth in sharp clothes? We’ll find out next week. While it wasn’t the white-knuckle edge of your seat pulse-pounder of the last few weeks, this was a necessary and cathartic episode to set up the next round of craziness for Rick and company.