Monday, February 16, 2015

Walking Dead - Them Recap

This episode was a relatively silent, psychological affair.  The main focus here was on Maggie, Daryl and Sasha who were the three characters hit hardest by the deaths of Beth and Tyreese.   The opening sequence briefly showcases each of these characters wallowing in their own personal brand of misery and grief as they search for water.  Maggie sobs up against a tree, Daryl eats worms, and Sasha wanders in a dried up riverbed of dead frogs. 

Empty handed, the trio returns to the group, and they get back into their van, which must be in some desperate need of Febreeze.  Does Febreeze go bad?  I feel like it’s gotta be a must-have essential in this new, shower-less world. Moments later we see the van roll to a stop with a clunk, out of gas. The group decides to hoof it.  

(Side note – It’s kind of weird that the gang is so underprepared for this final 100 mile stretch as they seemed to be incredibly well prepared for their 500 mile journey from Atlanta to the Shire.  Is this an indication that our gang is starting to give up?)

On the road again, Rick carries Judith like a sack of potatoes in a carrier, and tries to give Daryl a pep talk.  Daryl doesn’t want to talk about Daryl, he wants to talk about survival.  He peels off from the group and heads to the woods to search for water, and Carol says she’s going with him.

Since we didn’t get to see Beth’s funeral, this episode acts like her wake, with all the characters lining up to interact with Maggie, offering advice and random presents instead of the usual frozen casseroles and elaborate arrangements from a local florist.  First, Carl gifts Maggie with a clunky yellow and pink music box, saying he found it while looking for water.  Maggie looks a bit surprised but takes it and thanks him. 

Carl lied.  We all know secret music boxes come from Junk Lady in Labyrinth.
Photo Credit: pandora society 
Next up it’s Gabriel’s turn to present Maggie with something.  He says, “Whenever you’re ready, I’m here.”  Maggie sternly rebuffs his approach. She says, “You don’t know shit.  You were there to save your flock, right?  Don’t act like that didn’t happen.”  Damn skippy.

Out in the woods, it’s clear that Carol didn’t come to search for water.  She came to confront Daryl.  She tells him that she thinks Beth saved both of their lives.  She gifts Daryl Beth’s knife and gives him a sweet and direct pep talk, encouraging him to face his grief.  She sweeps Daryl’s grease soaked hair from his face and gently kisses his forehead.  Caryl shippers all over the world rejoice.

Omnious music starts up in the background as our crew realizes they’ve attracted a small horde of walkers.  They move in a slow parade on the road behind our gang, and Sasha mentions to Michonne that she thinks she can take them.  Michonne throws some serious shade at Sasha and tells her no way. 

A bit later, the gang stands in action-hero formation on either side of a small overpass.  They start listlessly tossing the walkers over the decline, in an attempt to conserve their fading energy.  Suddenly Sasha goes rogue, grabbing one of the walkers by the collar and tussling with it for a moment before slamming her knife into its skull.  Don’t anger the beast, Sasha.  And by the beast I mean Michonne, who flips into full Momma Bear mode.  She hisses at Sasha to stop, but Sasha shrugs Michonne off like a sullen teen.

Crisis averted, the gang continues down the road.  They approach a small knot of cars, and Maggie rifles through one of them.  She walks over to the trunk and pops it open.    She finds a gagged walker, hands and legs tightly bound - Fifty Shades Gone Wrong.

Maggie stares at the walker with dead eyes and slams the trunk shut, not wanting to deal.  Thinking twice she goes back to dispose of the walker, but can’t get the trunk open.  She angrily jiggles the keys, gritting her teeth, frustration mounting on her face and she suddenly pulls out her gun.  Aiming the barrel at the lock with a shaky hand, she’s saved by Glenn who places a gentle hand on her shoulder.

Glenn’s presence seems to return her to the world, and she explains the situation to him.  He opens the trunk, quietly takes care of the walker, then turns to Maggie and says, “let’s go.”  Awww they’re such a sweet apocalypse couple.  They just get each other. Glaggie 4Eva.

That night the gang rests on the edge of the road.  Abe unscrews a small bottle of brown liquor and Tara argues that he’s going to make it worse.  Eugene remarks that it can’t get worse, when it totally gets worse.  A pack of snarling feral dogs emerges from the woods, teeth bared, ready to strike.

The gang bristles and barely has time to prepare for the attack when PEW PEW PEW!!  Sasha takes care of them in short order with her gigantic gun.   I'm willing to bet that Sasha wasn’t a fan of ‘Must Love Dogs’. 

To be fair, this movie kind of made me want to shoot something too.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia 
Rick is quiet for a moment, then turns and starts to gather kindling.  A bit later, everyone gathers around a campfire, chewing on greasy dog meat with pained faces.  Maggie watches as Gabriel crumples his priest collar and tosses it in the fire before taking a resigned chomp of juicy dog leg.  This scene marks yet another sign of the groups continued decent from humanity and the world that once was. 

(Side note – Like Bob’s leg the WD props team made the dog look super delicious.  Why would they do this to us?  I wanted to scream “Save me a leg!” while snuggling with my own sweet, beloved dog in front of the TV.  But my dog wouldn’t stand a chance in the apocalypse, so I guess it’s kind of a moot point.)

The next morning the group soldiers on.  Glenn is a smartie and appears to have conserved his water as he’s still got a half bottle remaining.  He offers it to Maggie who says, “I don’t know if I want to fight anymore.”  She’s basically asking herself the same question Tyreese asked in the last episode: Is this life worth living? Glenn says, “We fought to be here, and we have to keep fighting.”  Apparently this is what Maggie needs to hear, because she takes a sip of water.  Again – Glaggie 4EVA.

Down the road, Abe offers Sasha a sip of his hooch.  She says it’ll make things worse, and Abe sagely responds, “The way you’re going, you’re what’s going to make things worse.”  Sasha continues her sullen teen act and snaps, “We’re not friends.”  Abe just shrugs and takes another belt from his bottle.

The sun is high in the sky, beating down our gang, and everyone glistens with sweat, moisture they can’t afford to be losing.

Lucille Bluth would totally be drinking with Abe.
Photo Credit: Netflix screen shot
Daryl breaks off from the group again, saying he’s going to find water, but he does no such thing.  He finds a spot near some trees, and stares out at a barn.  The structure is reminiscent of the moonshine cabin that he and Beth burned to the ground, indicating the resurrection of the detritus from his old life following Beth’s death.  Daryl takes a drag off the stalest cigarette I’ve ever seen, and then slowly puts it out on his hand.  He starts to cry as the sun blinks through the trees.

Once Daryl rejoins the group, he finds everyone puzzling over something in the middle of the road.  A cache of water bottles has been left with a note simply stating ‘FROM A FRIEND’.  Eugene, clearly delusional from thirst, says, “If it’s a trap, we already have to be in it.”  He goes to grab a bottle and Abe takes two big strides and bitch slaps it out of Eugene’s hand without a word.  This is the first time we’ve seen them interact since Abe almost beat Eugene to death, and it serves as the sweetest bitch slap apology maybe in the history of ever.

Just then, a summer rainstorm suddenly materializes in the distance and everyone's all like:

Credit: giphy

The gang is super excited, but the happiness lasts for only a few moments before the wind kicks up and they realize they need to get to shelter ASAP.  Daryl leads them to the barn in the woods.  As the group clears the barn, Carol softly reminds Maggie that they can’t give up.

That night, Carl is adorably curled up on the floor with Judith while the rest of the group has a campfire chat.  Rick gears up for a speech, telling the tale of his grandfather’s experience in the war, and how he approached the experience as if he were dead.  Rick forcefully espouses this philosophy, saying, “This is how we survive.  We tell ourselves that we are the walking dead.”

Hey, that's the name of this episode!
Peter Griffin lives for these moments.
Photo Credit: Netflix screen shot
Rick’s heavy philosophy settles over the group for a few moments, when Daryl has his own teenage rebellion moment.  He echoes Carol’s sentiment from earlier in the episode, and says, “We ain’t dead” before he strides out into the storm.

That night, a walker onslaught rattles the barn doors.  Daryl attempts to keep the doors closed, but it’s not enough.  Starting with Maggie and Sasha, each member of the group wakes up and runs to help.  The wind howls relentlessly outside, and everything seems hopeless but the group stands strong and united as they fight to live.

It’s unclear whether or not the previous sequence was a dream because the next thing we see is Maggie waking up on the floor of the barn.  It appears as if her will to live has been rekindled.  She goes to sit with Daryl who is awake and has isolated himself on the far wall of the barn.  They chat with tenderness about how tough Beth was for a moment, and then she encourages him to get some sleep.

Just as Maggie starts to get up, Daryl hands her the music box from earlier in the episode.  He says, “Your gear box had some grit in it.”  Maggie smiles and takes the fixed music box, simultaneously a relic of the past and a symbol of hope for the future.

Maggie continues to make her rounds, walking over to Sasha and waking her up.   They venture outside and see a field of felled trees and impaled walkers.  They stand agog for a moment, and Maggie says, “It should have torn us apart.”  Sasha responds, “It didn’t.” 

(Side note – Is this supposed to indicate that there’s some divine intervention going on?  Our group was saved for some greater purpose?  Maybe Gabriel’s divinity saved them and he really is worth something to the group.)

The women sit at the edge of an over grown field, a gorgeous sunrise peeking over the distant horizon.  Sasha asks why they’re there, and Maggie simply responds, “For this.”  Maggie gives a short speech, reaffirming her belief in the world and their will to live.  “We’re gonna make it,” she says.  Their eyes well with tears, as they stare off into the distance, absorbing the healing power of the sunrise. 

Maggie brings out the music box, mentioning to Sasha that Daryl fixed it.  She opens it, and nothing happens.  The two women both break into much needed laughter when a handsome, squeaky-clean J. Crew model appears in the clearing.

The women immediately assume Charlie’s Angels stance - suns out, guns out.  How dare this dude interrupt their bonding moment?  Ugh, it’s like when a guy comes up to flirt at a bar when all you want to do is have a drink with a friend, amiright ladies?  Although this guy is totally kind of cute, so the ladies give him a shot.

The guy introduces himself as Aaron, and says, “I’m a friend.  I’d like to talk to the person in charge.  Rick, right?” The duo doesn’t know how to respond.  Maggie says, “How did you know?” and Sasha emits a slow, “Whyyyy…”

Aaron cheerily responds, “I have good news.”  Just then, music begins to tinkle creepily from the music box.

Some thoughts before I go:

- Maggie was so coated with grime in this episode that I couldn’t help but notice her sparkling honker of a wedding ring.  Good job, Glenn!  Not only is it totes gorge, it could also definitely double as an effective sneak attack weapon in a fight. IMHO: everyone should be wearing diamond rings. There’s enough to go around now.

- Daryl is starting to get further away from the gang, retreating to spend time in the woods rather than with the group.  He understands the woods, but isolating and self-harm are not signs of a healthy mental state.  Come back to us, Daryl Dixon. 

- The music box from this week and the grandfather clock from last week remind me of the ‘Museum of Civilization’ from Emily St Martin John’s great novel Station Eleven.  If you haven’t read it, go pick it up ASAP.

- The dogs striking out at humans remind me of the packs of wolves and weasels in Stephen King’s apocalypse classic The Stand.  Are the Walking Dead writers punking us?  If Rick starts to have weird visions of an old black woman and they start to head toward Colorado, all bets are off.

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