The Walking Dead: Them

Rick: “That’s the trick of it I think. We do what we need to do and then we get to live. But no matter what we find in DC, I know we’ll be okay because this is how we survive. We tell ourselves that we are the walking dead.”
Daryl: “We ain’t them.”

We knew the aftermath of recent losses was going to take a toll. Maggie, Daryl and Sasha are at the centre of this episode as they try to find a way to carry on in this bleak and unforgiving world.
From the opening shot of Maggie crying and drinking her tears to she and Sasha watching the sunrise, we observe our group trying to cope with an ever darker reality. We see each of the mourners alone, and for a moment I was worried that the group had broken apart. We then find out that everyone may still be together but they are on the edge of a precipice with no water, no food and little hope.

In the last few weeks I think the audience (well, maybe just me) has been asking themselves why our little band carries on in the face of such horror and loss. This episode gave us a variety of answers. Carol says that we keep going because that is who we are, just like the woman in the barn who refused to shoot herself. For Michonne, there has to be something better ahead, even if she has to desperately convince herself and others that it is there. For Rick, it is not exactly expecting something better, but having the responsibility to keep moving just in case you can come out alive at the other end. For Glenn and many of the others it is because you have other people you want to keep alive and finally, for Maggie at the end of the episode, it was to watch another sunrise.

The movement, in this episode, from despair and anger to resignation was well done. At the beginning it seemed that our group would have to be resigned to die but in fact, they must become resigned to living. It was also interesting to see the group so fractured into individuals with many of them going off on their own or sitting separately from the group. This was particularly marked for our three mourners, Maggie, Daryl and Sasha, but we also had shots of Abraham and Noah off on their own. We still have people who are willing to try and provide comfort. Carol tries to help Daryl, Glenn encourages Maggie to speak to him and Abraham takes a shot at helping Sasha. Rick's story about his grandfather is his own way of trying to make sense of this world for the group. Each of these attempts is rejected and it seems that some people, and therefore the group are coming apart. Perhaps the beginning of the episode was foreshadowing. It isn't until a horde of walkers threatens to break into the barn that they all finally pull together and seem to find their equilibrium again.

The episode ends with a cliffhanger. Our group may have found a way to pull together again but there are no friends outside the group. Even if you are dying of thirst you cannot risk a gift of water. What will our group do with Aaron who claims he is a friend who brings good news?

Bits and Pieces

Daryl is a survivor. Our group should be eating a lot more worms and bugs. Some of the group seemed to have trouble eating dog but that is an accepted source of nutrition in many parts of the world and why would you let meat go to waste? Also I think the group was lucky that this was their first run-in with a pack of wild dogs.

The group is 60 miles outside of Washington, DC. That isn't too far to drive but it is quite a walk.

It was sweet that Carl found and saved something for Maggie. He knows she is in pain. I was glad that she was willing to accept comfort from him and Glenn.

The plan to get rid of the walkers was a good one and clearly illustrated that walkers are not the most dangerous thing in this new world.

I thought that Michonne and Sasha might come to blows. Michonne gave Sasha an order and expected to be obeyed. I'm not sure what that means or how that might play out in the future.

You would think that Daryl would keep his cigarettes in a better place where they wouldn't get crushed. I would also like him to not put one out on his hand ever again.

Eugene was willing to risk himself to test the water but Abraham wouldn't let him. Eugene is a full member of the group despite his past actions. I guess Tyreese wasn't the only one willing to forgive.

Quotes

Michonne: “It’s still the same. It just is.”

Carol: “We’re not dead. That’s what you said. You’re not dead.”

Abraham: “The plan just got dicked.”

Noah: “I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”
Sasha: “Then you won’t. Don’t think. Just eat.”

Maggie: “Before, this was just the dark part.”

Glenn: “We can make it together but we can only make it together.”

Eugene: “If that’s a trap, we already happen to be in it.”

Maggie: “She had a gun. She could have shot herself.”
Carol: “Some people can’t give up. Like us.”

Rick: “I used to feel sorry for kids who had to grow up now, in this, but I think I got it wrong. Growing up is getting used to the world. This is easier for them.”
Michonne: “This isn’t the world. This isn’t it.”
Glenn: “It might be. It might.”
Michonne: “That’s giving up.”
Glenn: “It’s reality.”
Rick: “Until we see otherwise, this is what we have to live with."

Daryl: “He was tough.”
Maggie: “He was.”
Daryl: “So was she. She didn’t know it but she was.”

Sasha: “Why are we here?”
Maggie: “For this.”
Sasha: “I see it.”

Aaron: “I know stranger danger.”

5 comments:

Billie Doux said...

The scene with Daryl hurting himself upset me a lot. Didn't Daryl say once that Merle used to burn him with cigarettes? Was that where it came from?

This was a oddly beautiful episode. I loved how Rick *finally* called the survivors "The Walking Dead", and how they all silently came together to fight the threat in the barn. It felt a lot like the tornado or whatever was divine intervention.

Jess Lynde said...

Doc, I liked your review a heck of a lot more than this episode. It was way too depressing and tedious. It had a few good character beats throughout, but huge chunks of it were either clunky or way too on the nose. I get what they were going for as a beat on the overall journey, and it is important to see folks processing their pain and grief, but this was not an engaging hour of television for me. And I had the exact opposite reaction from Billie about Rick calling the group "the Walking Dead." It just seemed like stating the obvious and totally unnecessary. Sometimes things are better left as subtext. I’m hoping for better next week, now that we’ve got a new person to contend with.

Marianna said...

I found the character development of Gabriel most interesting. Since his character was introduced he's been wearing his collar, which I found odd because it serves no functional purpose and I imagine it's uncomfortable. Basically I kept thinking "Why is he still wearing that thing? What is he trying to prove?" I think he was trying to feel like he was still a man of God despite his past actions. In this episode he took the collar off and turned his back on God. Ironically it was only after doing this that he was able to embrace the idea of divine intervention.

drnanamom said...

@Marianna, great point about Gabriel losing his collar and only then embracing divine intervention. Each character has had to go through fire to find their new selves and perhaps Gabriel is working towards that. @ Jess, I thought the same thing when Rick called them the Walking Dead but I think the most important part of that conversation was when Daryl disagreed with him, which in itself was unusual. Many people have thought that our group are the real walking dead but what if Daryl is trying to move beyond that?

Jess Lynde said...

Yes, Daryl actively disagreeing in that moment was interesting. Particularly given the headspace he’d been all episode. I still wish Rick hadn’t said it. I found Michonne seeing a walker that looked very much like her (and recognizing what it meant) during her temporary reversion in ‘After’ (S4, E9) a far more evocative example of the characters being the walking dead, and even that wasn’t terribly subtle.

I guess in general I just prefer a “show-don’t-tell” approach and I appreciate it more when the writers let the space between the dialogue speak for itself. For me, it is usually more resonant when they just trust the actors to convey the unspoken meaning. Unfortunately, this show often likes to underline its points with clunky dialogue (or clunky symbolism). Even in this episode, Carol had several completely unnecessary lines of dialogue emphasizing points that would have landed better with just a look and no comment. When she said to Daryl “We’re not dead,” I thought it was a wonderful and resonant callback to him telling her the very same thing not that long ago, but then the writers had her ruin the moment by flat out saying “You told me that.” He knows that, and we know that. Same thing when she told Maggie that some people just can’t give up “Like us.” Maybe it is supposed to be a “character trait” of Carol’s. Thank goodness during the cigarette scene they didn’t have Daryl say out loud “Hey that barn reminds me of the still Beth and I burned down together. Poor Beth! I think I'm going to cry now.”

Okay. Mini-rant done. I get grumpy when they stretch things too thin and then hit us over the head with hammers to make their points. :)