After last week’s lackluster midseason premiere, The Walking Dead heads into an episode that surely has to be better. This show never has two bad episodes in a row. So is this one good?
Don’t be sad, Maggie
“Them” opens with a very depressed Maggie barely able to muster enough willpower to kill a nearby walker. After watching actress Lauren Cohan be hilarious (and gorgeous) on @midnight last week, it was quite jarring to see her looking so empty and sad.
We also see Daryl eat a worm and Sasha get mad at a dead frog. In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, the group is really thirsty, hungry, and tired. They’re also getting cranky. Gabriel tries to offer Maggie some comforting words and is promptly (and awesomely) smacked down. Michonne tries to help Sasha and gets (very rudely) turned away.
About the only humanity we see is a touching moment where Carol pushes back Daryl’s hair to plant a kiss on his forehead (which made Walking Dead fans everywhere scream with delight). Oh, and Carl gives Maggie a broken music box.
Oh, PETA’s gonna love this…
As the group continues their march towards DC (?), they come up with an inventive way to get rid of walkers using little more than a cliff and some basic dexterity. Sasha decides that this is a good time to snap and starts taking out walkers on her own, ruining the plan and almost getting everyone else killed in the process.
Later, as the group sits and recovers (and Abraham enjoys some booze he found), Eugene breaks a classic horror rule and says that he doesn’t think things can get any worse. Because Eugene sucks, things get worse in the form of a pack of ravenous dogs. Sasha makes up for her earlier mistake by gunning down the crazy canines, which then get turned into a hearty dinner.
I’d like to point out that despite a lack of food and water up to this point, Judith has not been crying. She also managed to stay quite after a major zombie attack and automatic weapon fire. ‘Little Ass Kicker’ is either the best behaved baby in history or she’s been lombotomized.
Meanwhile, Noah whines about how bad things are while Gabriel burns his collar in a fire.
Here comes the rain (and a whole lot more).
From there, things get even more depressing. Sasha says she’s not friends with anybody. Daryl goes to smoke a cigarette, burns his hand on purpose, then starts to cry. Maggie finds a walker in the trunk of a car, freaks out, almost shoots the lock off, then tells Glenn she doesn’t want to live anymore.
When they find some bottled water in the middle of the road ‘from a friend’, it almost seems too good to be true. Eugene offers to test it for poison (good) and Abraham slaps the bottle out of his hand (CRAP!).
Then out of nowhere, the skies finally open up for the first time in five seasons, bringing much needed fresh water and a bit of relief. Then the wind and thunder starts up. Judith finally decides this is something worth crying about, which convinces the group to take shelter in the barn Daryl had claimed as his private weeping spot.
Jumping the Shark
After getting inside and bunking down, Rick gives the group a speech that ends with him using the ‘we are the walking dead’ line. This was supposed to be a big moment, but it just felt kind of dumb. Even when it was used in the comics (issue #50), it seemed incredibly obvious and way too self-referential.
I was much more moved by Maggie’s questioning about why the walker they found hadn’t shot herself before turning. When Carol responded that some people don’t give up (like them), it was a lot more effective.
Later that night, the storm really begins to rage (with Judith sleeping right through it). Daryl hears the barn doors start to open, goes to check them, and finds a horde of walkers outside. One by one, the rest of the group joins him in pushing the walkers back. It’s a blatantly obvious symbol for the group fighting together to stay alive, but it does make for a pretty cool looking scene.
Oh yeah, and Judith finally starts crying again.
Here comes the sun (and a whole lot more).
The next morning, Maggie wakes up… wait, wait, wait. How did everyone go back to sleep after that? Did the zombies just give up or something?
Nope. Turns out it was a magic tornado that uprooted trees EXACTLY where they needed to be so that they impaled all the walkers into the ground while not even touching the cabin!
Maggie also receives a regift of the music box Carl gave her from Daryl, only now it’s fixed. She gets Sasha and steps outside to witness the miracle of their survival. The music box breaks the first time she tries it, but that just makes the two most attractive women left in the world (both before and after the zombie apocalypse) laugh. Yes, it seems two of our most hurt and broken down characters are finally deciding that life might be worth living…or surviving, at least.
That’s when someone else shows up, strangely clean, a little too friendly, and knowing exactly who Rick is. The music box begins playing again. End scene.
Seriously? I skipped the SNL 40th Anniversary Special for this?
On one hand, I appreciate that the show finally gave us a harsher look at the actual survival aspect of what the characters have to deal with. On the other, there was more anger-filled mumbling than a bad film student production.
Also, I really can’t see how anyone who has been watching this show (even without the benefit of reading the comics) could thinking Rick’s ‘we are the walking dead’ quote was a new or earth shattering revelation. That’s what the whole damn show has been about!
And I’m still not over the fact that Judith hardly ever cries (unless it gives Psycho Lizzie a good reason to smother her). Keeping a baby in a situation like this was a brave choice by the show’s creators. But if you’re going to do that, you can’t have her become a cabbage patch doll the entire time while the adults barely struggle to keep it together.
This one did have some cool moments: The Carol/Daryl kiss, Abraham still protecting Eugene, the Maggie/Carol talk, etc. But overall it was just one long, drawn out trek to a great and promising cliffhanger…which is probably a lot what their fictional daily lives are like. That doesn’t make for very good television, though.