Once again, I fell behind – after I literally fell down a flight of brick stairs. I’m okay (bruised, but not broken). I’m on the mend and finally feeling up to tackling the bleakness that my beloved show has become. Rather than recap the entirety of the last few episodes (since you’ve probably already seen them by now), I’ll give my thoughts and maybe even a few predictions. I’m going to dive into 4 previous episodes of AMC’s The Walking Dead here. Let’s get started…
Note: You can guarantee there are spoilers throughout this review, so you may want to stop here and return after watching the episodes.
UGH! There you go. That’s my recap of episode 10 of season 5.
Well, hold on! There were some very good scenes in the episode, but the overall tone is starting to wear on me.
Now, to be clear, I’ve never really criticized the show – with the exception of the last episode (Why, Tyreese? Why?). I’ve stuck through the whole “Where’s Sophia?” storyline. I even appreciated the weeks of lead up to the big reveal. I dealt with the crying mess that was Lori, and shed more than a few tears when she died. I have even moved past my dislike for Carl, and can say he’s grown on me.
BUT (Yes, once again you knew a “but” was coming!) the tone the show is creating in the past few episodes is bleak, despondent, and just plain dreary.
Now, I get it, this is a show about a zombie apocalypse – the end of the world, if you will. Who’s going to be happy? Who’s going to be Polly Anna? There will be no skipping, laughing, or teasing. Instead, we are all unwashed, grimy, and whiny. But when does it end?! I don’t know. And don’t let me understate the fact that my love for the show runs so deep, so this almost feels sacrilegious. If I’m interested in a show that does little more than pick off beloved characters… well, I’m just not interested in that.
Instead, I want to see some hope, a reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And when the optimists in the group are Michonne (a woman that lost the love of her life and her son) and Carol (a woman that saw her friend shoot her daughter right in front of her), there’s a problem!
“Them” sees our merry band of survivors (Yes, that was sarcasm!) trudging down a road on their way to DC.
“How much longer we got?” Maggie asks.
“60 miles,” Sasha sighs.
“I wasn’t talking about that,” Maggie responds.
That small exchange sums up the tone of this installment. After episode 9, it was nice not to have to worry about another character being taken from us, yet this group doesn’t seem like a group of survivors. Sasha is acting reckless and lashing out. Daryl is stoic – even more so than usual. Noah is lost. Maggie is a sobbing mess. And Eugene seems to be himself, but then he was never a barrel of laughs.
On the other hand, Rick isn’t saying a whole lot. Carl is on baby duty. Glen is running around like a puppy trying to cheer everyone up. And Michonne and Carol continue to just rock. Hell, even Abraham is offering up some Potent Potables, trying to get people to just relax.
Our group is hungry, dehydrated, and in need of a bath, and when all seems lost, here come the dogs! Now, from the preview, I wondered if these were the wolves we seemed to get warned about in last week’s episode, but instead we got a ratty looking German Shepherd, two Dobermans (still looking mean as hell!), and some other random dog. They came out of nowhere, and certainly livened up the episode for a bit. And it was our girl, Sasha that said, “No way, no how are these meals getting away!”
So, after putting a bullet in each pup, our group enjoyed a decent meal, and some much needed rest. But they were still thirsty, yet the world around them has become so dark, so full of misery, that when water is left in the middle of the road for them, they see it as a trick, as opposed to a gift. Eugene offers himself up as a taster, but Abraham isn’t having that, and he knocks the bottle (forcefully too!) out of Eugene’s hands. But no worries, a serious storm is on the way.
We do get some smiles, a bit of giggling from the girls here, people lay in the street, the men turn their faces up to the sky in vain attempts to wash the nastiness from the facial hair they are all sprouting (Really? No one thought to break out the Head and Shoulders?), and they put down their bottles to catch some water. But this is no ordinary storm, the skies are dark, black, and thunder rumbles.
“There’s a barn!” Daryl shouts to Rick.
“Where?” he responds, and our group runs for it.
In the barn, we get some sweeping monologues by Rick, more tears from Maggie, and eventually people try to settle down. Now, our Archer isn’t going to rest if everyone else is – someone needs to stand watch. And here is where we get the best scene of the show. The storm is raging outside; rain pounding, lightning flashing, and thunder booming. As Daryl looks outside, he sees a group of walkers making their way toward the barn. He throws himself against the doors, trying to keep them out. Soon he is joined by Maggie, and then Sasha, and then one by one our survivors throw themselves against the door.
I choose to see this as a deeper scene. Yes, they want to keep the walkers out, but they were also choosing to live.
- Daryl: who earlier in the show was burning himself with a cigarette so that he could feel something chose to protect those under his watch.
- Maggie: the girl that lost her whole family makes the choice to join him.
- Sasha: like Maggie has lost her lover and then her brother, but jumps in, not willing to give up.
It was an effective, if rather dark, scene.
And then, the dawn broke. Maggie has been carrying around a music box, and though it was broken, Daryl tried to poke around in it and fix it for her. He gives it back to her, and Maggie goes to get Sasha.
The two women go out and devastation is all around them. The Husband thinks it was a tornado – trees down all over place and walkers crushed beneath them. What a mess! Anyway, the two women make their way to a log and sit down.
“I don’t know if I’m gonna make it,” Sasha says. (paraphrased)
“We’re gonna make it. Both of us, we will. That’s the hard part,” Maggie assures her.
And I get it. As unhappy as I’ve been with the last few episodes, this sums it up. Sometimes, going on after a tragedy, finding a way to live… that’s the hard part. Learning to keep moving, learning to laugh again, to hope, to dream… that’s the hard part.
Because I love this show so much, I’m going to give those in charge the benefit of the doubt and see this small scene as them telling us, we ARE going forward. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere out there.
On the other hand, who is Aaron? And why the hell is he so clean?!
THE DISTANCE (S05E11)
One thing The Walking Dead usually nails is an ending. I am almost ALWAYS slamming my fists on the coffee table – sometimes I might even slap my husband on the arm, because it always gets me.
WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?!!!
The transition from season 5’s “Them” (episode 10) to “The Distance” (episode 11) is no exception. And right off the bat, I’ll say this about Episode 11: “Just eat the damn apple sauce!”
And, I must say, this episode might just be the gooiest one yet.
I’ll also come right out and say it – I like Aaron! I think he’s a decent, stand up guy. I’ll admit, at first I thought he was a little sketchy – too nice, too polite, too clean. But as the episode played out, I came to see him as a guy with something to offer – hope in the form of a home.
I’ve been asking for a change of pace for the past few episodes now, I mean, let’s get real… Georgia isn’t THAT big! So, it’s nice to see our survivors moving up to familiar territory (and by that, I mean I live near DC!), but it’s also nice to see a HUGE curve in the storyline. Can our group of survivors function in a society? Albeit one that’s struggling to grow and adapt, but a society nonetheless.
The trip getting there was fraught with indecisions. Rick is unsure of what to do. Before I go on, let me be clear. I like Rick. This isn’t a guy who wanted his role, but rather by virtue of what he USED to be, he fell into it. We’ve seen him fight it, dismiss it, and at times embrace the fact that those around him look to him as a leader. When he fought it, shit happened. When he dismissed it, shit happened. But when he finally embraced it, I thought perhaps we were getting somewhere.
And then my girl Michonne stepped up. OH BOY!
I really enjoy the friendship between Michonne and Rick. There is a deep mutual respect between them, but also affection, and yes, a sort of love. They depend on one another, and that was never more evident when she stepped up and challenged his authority.
Our group immediately distrusts Aaron, who sort of comes off as smarmy at the beginning. So they basically grill him for details, which he gives up. He made a good case, but Rick decides to lay him out anyway.
Rick doesn’t want to go to Alexandria. He isn’t sure if he can bring his family there, and I get that, but again… without hope, why bother going on?
Michonne challenges him and basically puts the smack down on his indecision, telling him and the group, this IS going to happen. They are going to take a chance.
Some agree. Some don’t. But it’s clear that everyone is wondering if they can trust this guy. We remember Woodbury, and we remember Terminus. So one can assume so do our survivors. One can also assume that they are strong enough, wary enough, and have learned enough that they understand they can trust one another, and their guts. In other words, as long as they stick together, what do they have to lose? So they agree to check it out – but under their own terms.
And here is where the gooey part comes in. Rick chooses a back road to get to Alexandria. Aaron tells him it’s too dangerous, that they have already cleared out another route, but Rick isn’t having it. They’re survivors. Duh!
And so, they wait until nightfall, and set out. The make small talk. And eventually ask Aaron the 3 questions. You know them.
- How many walkers have you killed? – “Alot… why?”
- How many people? – “2.”
- Why? – “Because they tried to kill me.”
I’m convinced! Aaron seems like a decent sort of guy.
And then WHAM! They smash right into a horde of walkers. Bodies are splashing all over the car as Glenn tries in vain to see out the windshield. Blood, guts, and assorted other bodily fluids are flying around, until Glenn stops the car.
It’s unclear how (as they didn’t show us all the details), but the RV gets away.
The overhead shot here was crazy. We see a bird’s eye view of the car careening down the road, with little specks flying this way and that way. Great camera work.
Glenn tries to start the car, but no go. Michonne gets out to see what’s up, and we are treated to a rather amusing scene of her plucking arms out of the grill of the car. GROSS!
The group has to abandon the car, as someone shoots off a flare in the distance, causing Aaron to freak out and run off. But they beat up some walkers, regroup, and make their way to where the flare was shot. There, they meet those that were in the RV, and… Aaron’s partner.
I like that the show is introducing a gay couple – Aaron and his husband, Eric. They didn’t make a big deal about it, yet with that kiss, they kinda did.
When the groups met up, they seemed to be at some sort of outlying warehouse (outlying to Alexandria). Aaron comes running up, calling for Eric, and when someone motions that he is inside, he runs in. Eric appears to have broken his ankle, but the worry and concern on Aaron’s face made me fear perhaps something else was up (maybe he’d been bitten?). It was obvious to me, they were a couple, and I appreciated the fact that the show didn’t feel the need to spell it all out.
There was no:
“Aaron, are you gay?”
“Why yes, I am… are you okay with that?”
Aaron simply gave his husband a deep and loving kiss, and that was that. Of course, the kiss was front and centered, but hey if I was separated from The Husband in a situation like this, I’d probably throw myself at him too, so I get it.
And here we get another challenge to The Rick’s (I feel as if he is actually becoming more than just a person, hence the caps) leadership from… Glenn!
Rick tells Aaron that he will be kept away from his hurt husband. Aaron basically tells Rick over his dead body. And before Rick can make some sort of proclamation of death, Glenn steps in and basically tells Rick to chill out. I like it.
And I don’t like it too – more on that later.
Another surprise is that I’m liking Abraham more and more. That short scene with him and Rosita as they drive the RV toward Alexandria and the Washington Monument comes into view. Great! A short, simple scene that once again shows me our survivors are finding hope! The low fuel light comes on, and when he asks Rosita how much further they have to go and her response is they are over halfway there, he looks at the red light and gives a small smile.
“We can make it.” Another Potent Potable from our red headed soldier.
And then the RV conks out… but no worries, it’s just the battery. Glenn saves the day with his training (remember he used to help Dale back in season one?) and gets the RV chugging along.
As the episode wound down, I started to wonder where the powers that be are taking us. Are we getting to a point where our survivors will be the ones that others fear?
Has our group been “out there” too long and adjusting isn’t something they can do?
Or will they finally get the home many of them have been searching for?
Rick and Michonne have a very pointed conversation where he asks her what she remembers hearing when they found Woodbury and Terminus. Her reply was, “Nothing.” The silence held secrets and a darkness.
But when they pull up to Alexandria and our group is standing outside the gate with Judith in Rick’s arms, you can hear it… faintly… almost as if the wind carries it to us… a child’s laughter.
In season 5 episode 12, our merry band of survivors have reached Alexandria, and I’m thinking:
“See, Eugene was right!”
No, he didn’t have a cure, but he did predict that the nation’s capital might have people trying to make a life, as opposed to simply surviving. From the looks of things, perhaps Eugene was correct.
On the other hand, looks can be deceiving. For one thing, apparently a cop lived in one of these houses. Bullshit! We live near Alexandria. There’s no way a cop can afford to live in one of those houses – unless he was dirty or independently wealthy. But anyway, our heroes are shown that they can actually pick their homes. They can have a place to lay their heads at night. Carl looks shell-shocked, The Rick looks distrusting, and Daryl and Carol look sulky.
Look, I get it. They’ve been out wandering around in the wilderness for a long time, the idea that they might need to fit into society is a daunting one. And we can assume Daryl never really fit into society in the first place – not one like this anyway. Carol on the other hand was an abused mother back when the world was “normal.” She’s changed, grown, and quite frankly, probably just doesn’t want to go back to what she used to be. Yet, as I’ve been saying all along, why bother surviving if there isn’t something to strive for.
If this situation goes down the way I think it will, Daryl and Carol are the ones to watch.
I spent much of the episode feeling for Daryl. Here he had bonded with our group, he fit in, he was a welcomed, trusted leader, but in Alexandria, he feels like an outcast. He can’t even bring himself to shower! Though our archer REALLY, REALLY needs one!
When The Rick finally divested himself of the gnarly beard he’d been sporting and washed his hair, I almost cheered! I can only take so much of the sweaty greasiness. And when Michonne got an eyeful, I truly fell into the Rick+Michonne camp. (I have not come up with a witty name for the two of them yet. Richonne seems too easy.) The look on her face was priceless. As was the look on Daryl’s face when he saw Carol in her Stepford wife outfit.
“You look ridiculous!” he shouted to her as she walked off.
I appreciated the bits of comedy we got here. But I was also surprised at some of the redundancy.
Aiden is Deanna’s son. Deanna is apparently Queen Bee of Alexandria. Aiden apparently is in charge of supply runs. He gathers Tara, Glenn, and Noah, telling them this is sort of an “audition.”
Umm… does he NOT know what these kids have been doing the past four and a half seasons? They don’t need to audition for his prissy ass – should be the other way around! With what I thought was a lot of eye rolling from Glenn (I loved his slightly snarky attitude.), our three survivors followed Aiden and his lackey out to a wooded area where the two have been holding a walker hostage by stringing him up in a tree. Really? Of course, this being the show it is, the walker escaped, and the five run around trying to figure out where it is.
Noah almost gets a Zombie love-bite, before they put the walker down, and needless to say, Glenn isn’t happy. Of course, neither is Aiden as he very specifically told the three that HE is in charge. Now, I was originally thinking our group is going to be made into the bad guys here. The grimy, rugged outcasts that can’t fit into what will come to pass as “normal society.” But you can’t deny what the world has become. This is survival of the fittest times ten, and if the Alexandrites are anything like Aiden, we can see they aren’t the fittest. There’s no time or place for weakness here. Walkers aren’t pets, and supply runs aren’t for gambling with people’s lives.
After the debacle in the woods, Aiden, his lackey, and our three survivors stomp back to the compound (because let’s be real, that’s what this is). Aiden is bitching and whining that Glenn is not allowed to come play with him anymore. And after a few more ignorant comments, Glenn lays Aiden out. Daryl easily puts the smackdown on the lackey. (I was hoping for a few more punches here, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.). Rick, who is now the Compound Constable, wades in, but the situation was easily over at this point.
Even in the short time since the Walker Apocalypse, it would seem that people have gotten soft already. I’m guessing that many of the people here were already within the walls when the shit hit the fan, so perhaps they never had to fight for much, and sadly it shows. And this is why, Rick’s comment at the end of the episode just didn’t bother me that much:
“So we’re staying?” Carol asks.
“I think we can start sleeping in our own homes. Settle in,” The Rick offers.
“We get comfortable here, we let our guard down – this place is gonna make us weak,” she returns.
“Carl said that. But it’s not gonna happen. We won’t get weak. That’s not in us anymore. We’ll make it work. And if they can’t make it… then we’ll just take this place,” he says.
I suppose I should be alarmed. OH MY GOSH! The Rick is actually turning into a Rictator! He’s evil. He’s bad. But I don’t know if it’s because I can’t be bothered to care about the Alexandrites yet, or if it’s because weakness isn’t something I can see being tolerated in this new world order. But I wasn’t immediately alarmed by The Rick’s parting shot.
On the other hand… the next episode had me rethinking my opinion.
In episode 13, “Forget,” we see a lot of Sasha. The issue I’m having here is we haven’t gotten to know her well enough to read her. She was Tyreese’s sister, and for a while Bob’s girlfriend. But who is she without those moniker’s, and do I care about her anguish?
In a way, sure. Tyreese was one of my favorite characters, and Bob was the everyman that we needed to have to remind us that it takes ALL kinds of people to make a family/society work. I liked them both, and then they died, so I mourned along with Sasha. But without those characters to bring her into focus… she’s… ??? (I’m shrugging my shoulders here!) I have to admit though, the scenes of her restlessness were good. I understood the emotion – even if I wasn’t a huge fan of the character emoting. Her inability to simply be – to let herself feel some hope, some sense of peace – makes sense, and her little scene of target practice felt almost like a “come and get me” to any walkers in the area. In addition, her feelings of restlessness, of having to do SOMETHING seemed to resonate with everyone in this series.
And Carol… Oh, Carol, you continue to endear yourself to me. Carol has decided to play her role, and what a role she’s taking on! That of the weak, sad widow who lost her child. The woman with no skills other than being mom, and so the new group sort of adopt her, let her tag along. We all know better.
Carol’s scene with Sam, the little boy that just wants some cookies was probably the scariest scene in the show in a long time. Any grisly “death by walkers” is gonna have some blood, it’s going to have some gore, but when Sam catches Carol stealing guns from the armory, Carol’s words were chilling:
“One morning, you’ll wake up, and you won’t be in your bed. … You’ll be outside the walls. Far, far away. Tied to a tree.”
Her eyes weren’t cold. Her tone wasn’t harsh. It was simply matter of fact. If Sam tells anyone what he saw Carol doing, this is what might happen. Or he can keep quiet, and maybe she’ll make him some cookies. Seems like an easy choice to me.
Meanwhile, Deanna (the Queen Bee) decided to throw a welcome party for our guests old and new. This is exactly what you imagine a Queen Bee would do – an uptight cocktail party. We got a great little scene with Michonne and Abraham, some inane talk with Rick and Jessie (the doctor’s wife – or maybe that should be the town drunk’s wife), the teens are doing their thing, but this is the first time I agreed with Sasha and really felt her.
She gets cornered by an Alexandrite – a well meaning one, but an Alexandrite nonetheless. (“Alexandrite” is a term interchangeable with “annoying weakling” for me at the moment.) Seems this woman just wants to make Sasha her favorite dish. When Sasha protests she doesn’t really have one, the woman starts rambling about not wanting to make the wrong thing, blah, blah, blah.
“THAT’S what you worry about?” Sasha yells at her.
People were astonished, but I gave a resounding, “NO SHIT!” to that comment. And this again is why The Rick’s comment at the end of the previous episode didn’t bug me. There is a new world order, and you either get on board, or you’re the weak link.
I did enjoy the scenes with Daryl and Aaron. There is a horse that they have been trying to catch. The kids named it Buttons. Here is where our Archer shines. He worked hard, within himself, to feel like a part of the wandering crew’s family, yet here in Alexandria he’s once again the outsider. But this situation with the horse? He gets this. He understands it. This is something he can handle.
There is some nice dialogue here – about fitting in, about being a part of a group, but not really being IN the group. And within these scenes, Daryl almost catches the horse. Unfortunately something spooks it, and it gets taken down by a horde of walkers. It was heartbreaking. This horse was about more than a beautiful animal, and it’s death really seemed to hit Aaron. Nevertheless, it was important to Daryl that Aaron be able to handle himself. Daryl wanted proof that Aaron can do what needs to be done – and he did. The animal was still alive after the attack by the walkers, but there was nothing they could do for it. Aaron put the horse down without thinking twice, even though the sadness was evident all over his face.
After their excursion, rather than go to the cocktail party (though Daryl did get cleaned up a bit and was going to try to make an effort) Aaron invites him to dinner since Aaron and his husband, Eric, have spaghetti Wednesday. Daryl accepts. The differences between the refined Aaron and the rough and tumble Daryl was a nice bit of comic relief in a rather heavy episode. Let’s just say my seven year old has better table manners than Daryl, yet the two men recognize something in Daryl – a strength and determination that Alexandria needs.
When Aaron takes Daryl out into the garage, shows him a motorcycle, and explains that he would be a great help in recruiting new members, I think Daryl finally accepts his place in the new community – he is there to help weed out the weak, and what better way to do that then from the get-go.
In the end, I was left with a few thoughts:
- Sasha’s storyline bored me a bit. It felt… pat and predictable. Give me more.
- Michonne hanging up her katana was almost painful to watch! The idea of our Warrior becoming complacent is hard to stomach.
- Carol – oh, Carol! – I love you so. What more can I say?
- Daryl and Aaron are a great team, and I look forward to seeing who they find outside the walls.
- And then we have The Rick. What the feck is going on with him? I get that (once again I bring it up) his comment at the end of the previous episode was supposed to be provocative, harsh, but I didn’t see it that way. On the other hand, him dry humping the fence and seeming to feel the walkers out there was just weird! And not exciting weird… just weird, weird.
But my big question: Where the hell is Morgan?!?!