(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead, unless otherwise specified.)
I have to admit, people, when I saw the title for The Walking Dead, Episode 11, “Claimed,” I was like, “Claimed? What the hell does that mean?“ It was kind of ominous sounding, like some shit was going to go down, in a big way. Was someone going to get kidnapped, killed…claimed? I was nervous.
Episode 11, “Claimed,” definitely delivered plenty to thrills, chills, and nailbiting moments…and laughs! (Thank you, Abraham!)
Abraham…that guy rules. He’s not afraid to mess up some walkers, and he’s not afraid to bring the funny. And I think we could all use a little of that right about now with this show of ours. We’ve hung in, and shit’s been hard, and then now we’ve got Abraham, flanked on one side by his hot woman-comrade, Rosita…
(Ok, yes, Rosita happens to be my new girl crush…what of it?)
On Abraham’s other side stands Eugene, of the epic mullet (“The Eugene”) and the (supposed) walker cure. (And, yes, in that order of importance: epic mullet first, walker cure second. See, in my world, an epic mullet is a huge achievement and a gift to humankind…to all beings, really…another post for another time.)
Abraham doesn’t have a mullet, but he does have a handlebar, and he’s not afraid to back that shit up while making it super fun to watch. Episode 11 opens with a great shot of a street sign reading:
Tied to the sign is a colorful blue and red balloon (Spiderman?), a sign of past good times and children’s birthday parties…the balloon floats and bobs in the breeze, as three rapt walkers hiss and paw at it, trying to get it…it’s all red and shiny, and they like that!
As Abraham’s massive vehicle cruises by, the walkers immediately abandon the balloon and begin to lurch down the road after the truck.
Riding in the back of the truck, with Glenn lying unconscious beside her, Tara copies down the name of “Crook Rd.” into her palm, in black Sharpie marker, adding it to the list of directions she has already written on the back of her hand.
Tara’s all right…she’s got Glenn’s back by keeping track of where they are until he wakes up and decides what he wants to do. The truck stops, coming up to a line of cars, stopped in the road, and Tara is alarmed to see the trio of balloon walkers coming towards the back of the truck, and her.
As the walkers paw at the back of Abraham’s truck, Tara grabs up her assault rifle and prepares to fire upon them, only to be ordered down by Abraham: “Do not fire that weapon!”
Abraham then climbs out of the truck, and regards the sad walker trio. His face softens in a mixture of amusement and mock-pity:
And then, wielding a crowbar, Abraham steps to the walker trio and proceeds to go to town on them, slashing the first walker across the head with the curved, pointy end of the crowbar, then stabbing the long end into the second walker’s skull:
When the particularly tore-up female walker approaches Abraham, he laughs at her, “Awww, honey, look at you…you’re a damn mess.”
Tore-Up She-Walker doesn’t quite go down as easily as Abraham had counted on, to his surprise and annoyance. He tries to spear her in the head, but aims a little too low, merely impaling her onto the truck…
Abraham then turns to the first walker, who is starting to move on the ground. “And I’m not leaving you out,” he says, and the shot is from the ground walker’s perspective as Abraham smashes the butt end into the walker’s skull, rekilling it, before tossing the goopy gun back to Tara. He then yanks the crowbar from the female walker’s skull, freeing her body from the truck and causing it to slump in a wet, gory heap on the ground.
Abraham looks totally comfortable doing all this, like a man completely in his element.
When Abraham looks up from his ministrations and sees Tara regarding him, he asks her, “What? What?“
“I’ve never seen that before,” replies Tara. Abraham is confused, looks down at the body of the walkers, then back at Tara. He is puzzled, says, “I’ve seen you do the same thing,” meaning, of course, killing the walkers with the butt end of a rifle, or killing them, period.
“You smiled,” says Tara. “You were smiling.” Abraham takes a moment to register this, then says, “Well, I’m the…luckiest guy in the world.” And after a brief moment, he says, “Now, why don’t you help me with one of these cars? We’ve got some miles to go.”
Back at the Rick, Carl, and Michonne house, Carl and Michonne are pouring bowls of cereal, which they then eat dry with their fingers while joking about milk.
Michonne asks Carl if he ever tried soy milk. Carl says he tried soy milk once, and almost barfed…he then slips and almost says he’d rather drink Judith’s formula than drink soy milk. Carl stops himself, upset, and gets up from the table, leaves the room.
Rick is in the kitchen when Michonne comes in. He thanks her for making Carl laugh. “I’d almost forgotten what that sounded like,” Rick says. “I can’t be his father and his best friend…he needs you.”
Rick motions to Michonne, adds, “I know that’s a lot to throw at you, so let me know if you need a break.”
“I’m done taking breaks,” answers Michonne, quickly, and inside, I was like, Yes!
Michonne then asks Rick what the deal is: Is this house home, are they moving on, what? Rick suggests they just stay at the house while they figure it out. He is looking pretty messed up still, leaning on his good leg, facing Michonne in the kitchen.
Michonne looks at Rick, then agrees, saying they will need more supplies, and she and Carl will go out for some.
Rick offers to go with them, and Michonne puts the kibosh on that, says he should stay put and rest another day….if only the poor man could! Not knowing how short his rest is about to be, Rick agrees with a nod.
I love how out on the porch, as they say their goodbyes for now, Rick picks up on Carl’s sadness, and he asks Carl if everything is ok. Carl tells Rick he is just tired. Rick is a good dad, attentive and in tune with his son’s moods, his cues. He checks in often. I like that, and many other things, about Rick Grimes, especially in this episode.
After Rick said his goodbyes, went upstairs, and got into bed, I got a bad foreboding feeling about it all…
I actually typed, Why am I so scared for Rick right now? Surely there couldn’t be any walkers in any of the rooms… I did have a bad feeling about it all, though. I typed, What is going to happen?
Meanwhile, walking along, Michonne is trying to draw Carl out. She offers a can of crazy cheese that still has the seal on it. (This episode, of course, sent crazy cheese trending worldwide by the time Talking Dead came on.) When Carl refuses the delicacy, Michonne checks in with Carl, tells him he doesn’t seem fine when he tries to tell her he is.
Carl tells Michonne what he told Rick, that he is just tired.
Then, Michonne does a hilarious imitation of a walker, squirting her mouth full of crazy cheese and letting it gob out of her mouth, while making walker sounds. This does not elicit any laughter from Carl, which amazed me, because that shit was funny:
When Michonne looks questioningly at Carl, he dryly tells her that he was laughing on the inside. Michonne looks at him archly, then tells him that she had a three-year-old son, and that he found her to be extremely funny. This of course shocks Carl into silence, and I thought, Man, she is so brave and beautiful…she actually smiles when she says it, too.
Carl of course is full of questions about her son, and her life, before…they have found a house to check for supplies, and Michonne tells Carl that she will answer one question at a time, one room at a time, and only after they’ve cleared it.
Before the commercial break, a shot or Rick, sleeping in the bed, his hands folded over a book on his chest. We begin to hear the rough sounds of men’s voices echoing up the stairwell…Rick is sleeping so soundly at first, he doesn’t stir, but the voices grow louder, escalate.
Then a crash, followed by a raucous cheer, jolts Rick awake, and he realizes in an instant that he is not alone in the house, and that he is in danger.
On a Talking Dead interview, Andrew Lincoln talked about this scene, and of course I transcribed every word:
“What I loved about this episode is that you see a man that’s very, very scared…It’s kind of my (Rick’s) Mission Impossible, or Escape From Alcatraz…It’s about a man waking up and realizing he’s in extreme danger and very vunerable, and it’s about a man trying to escape from bad people.”
“This is a year and a half into the apocalypse, and we’re beginning to realize that the only people who are scavenging, and left moving, and not in civilization, have to be pretty ruthless, uncompromising human beings…people that would be surviving in this world…murderers, pillagers, vandals, rapists, and he (Rick) realizes instantly that he is in grave danger...There is no safety, out here, any more.”
This scene is so damn scary, I was gulping down chardonnay, and it still wasn’t making it any easier to watch. What did make it some easier, and completely riveting, was to watch Deputy Rick Grimes once again assess the situation at hand, get himself to a safe place and buy himself some time, and begin the “Mission Impossible” of getting himself out of that house, and intercept Michonne and Carl, before they too walk into certain danger.
In this case, Rick wakes, listens, checks Carol’s watch, and quickly and quietly gets himself under the bed when he hears one of the men coming up the stairs. Rick even has the presence of mind to bring the watch, book and his water bottle under the bed with him (of course, probably to hide the evidence that someone else had been there, but you know, it could be a while, and those things would be good to have if you were going to be there for a long time!)
It is a taut, nervewracking scene when Rick is hiding under the bed, sweating, watching the boots of one of the Downstairs Thug Boys pacing around the bed he is hiding under. We see the tip of the DTB’s rifle, his boots stopping, then pacing around…he checks the closet…under the bed, Rick presses his palm over the ticking watch face in his hand to muffle the sound.
Around the bed, boots pace, pause. Then, the mattress above Rick sinks down almost upon him, pressing him a little further down into the floor, as the DTB climbs into the bed. (Apparently, being a loud douchebag in the zombie apocalypse is hard work, and someone needs a nap.)
OMG, Rick is probably really missing his nap right about now…
Back at the supplies house, Carl is pressing Michonne, asks her son’s name, pointing out that the room they are in is actually two separate rooms, and they had already cleared the other one. Michonne hesitates, then answers, “Andre. His name was Andre Anthony.” Her voice is a little tight as she says it, and I realized that it was probably the first time she said her baby’s name aloud in a long time, if maybe ever, since losing him.
Ugh, the mom in me gets so upset with this stuff...it’s the worst thing imaginable.
Michonne tries to lighten the moment by telling Carl to make sure there isn’t a box of cookies under the whatever, and wanders out of the room. Carl follows her in the hallway, asks her how long it’s been…Michonne tells him it happened “after everything happened.” Michonne tells Carl that she has never told anyone, until just now.
Carl is so sweet when he replies, “Your secret’s safe with me.”
“It’s not really a secret,” says Michonne.
Carl smiles, says, “It’s still safe with me.” (Cute! I really love these two as buds.)
Then the sweet scene turned into a pink nightmare…the mom that had to shoot her four kids, then herself, in the heads to escape from the nightmare that the world had become. Let’s just scan through the pictures of that one and move on, shall we?
Ugggh. Another artistically amazing scene, complete with haunting music by Bear McCreary, that messed me up for a bit.
I think about those kinds of scenes too much, dwell on them, like, “Maybe they were sleeping when she did it, but how could she shoot all four of them before they woke up? Maybe she drugged them, or poisoned them…ugh, she was probably crying when she did it.” I have an overactive imagination, people, and it doesn’t matter that it isn’t real…I still obsess.
Kendall-Jackson, take me away!
Michonne closes the door of the Pink Room of Horrors behind her and presses her back to it, blocking Carl from seeing this heartbreaking scene. Once again, Michonne does exactly what needs to be done, as Carl says, “There’s a baby in there…” and quickly, Michonne says, “It’s a dog.” Carl seems satisfied with this answer.
As they turn to go, Carl shyly ventures to Michonne that maybe Judith and Andre are together, somewhere. Michonne smiles at this thought, says, “C’mon, it’s time to go.”
Meanwhile, back under the bed, the shit is getting even more fucked up and surreal as one of the other DTB’s strides into the bedroom and announces his rights to the bed that the other dude is napping in. The current occupant of the bed replies that this bed is “claimed,” solving the mystery of the episode’s title.
A scuffle ensues, ending with one guy choking the other guy on the floor, who stares wide-eyed at Rick as Rick watches him, head cocked to the side, as the guy loses conciousness:
I am not sure if the dude passes out or dies, but that seems like a bad call, choking your compadre to death, leaving his body on the floor, and taking a nap while he reanimates and chomps you in your sleep. Anyway, it is clear that these guys are total dicks. The other dude, the Mattress Victor, collapses into the bed, sinking the boxspring even deeper into poor Rick’s back. Christ!
Meanwhile, three hours away and counting, as Abraham’s truck hauls ass down the road, Glenn is freaking out. Tara has just told him that they passed the bus three hours back, and everyone around it was dead. Glenn is getting farther and farther away from Maggie, and he needs to get back. He bangs on the back windshield of the truck, yelling for Abraham to stop. When that fails, Glenn takes the butt end of the rifle he is holding and rams it into the windshield…that gets Abraham’s attention.
The truck stops and Glenn gathers his things, begins to walk away from Abraham and Co., down the road. Tara follows him, tells him she has written the directions on her hand and can get him back to the bus.
Tara is awesome, but I think her motivation more than anything is to try to make things right as much as she can, as she did play an active role in getting them so fucked up as they are now. She is having a hard time forgiving herself.
Abraham tries to impart some of his epic Abrahamisms on Glenn, to get him to abort his mission to find Maggie and help them with theirs. Abraham presents Eugene, the scientist who supposedly knows how the zombie mess all got started, and who is bringing the cure to Washington D.C., or at least his insights, anyway.
Until recently, Eugene and Abraham had been keeping contact with “the muckety-mucks” in Washington, but now, when they try to call the nation’s capitol, nobody is picking up. Not a great sign.
Glenn is digesting this all, including Eugene’s telling him the walker cause/cure information is “confidential” when Glenn asks about it. It’s like, everything is just getting weirder and weirder all the time, and it’s like Glenn can’t really fight it anymore, so he’s just going with it.
He tries to be cool, like, “Ok, well good luck with that, gotta go try to get back to my wife,” and Abraham turns on the hard-sell, some shit like, “It’s tough to watch the ones you love kick it, but you don’t gotta go out like that. Come save the world and do something with your life.”
And Glenn takes off his packs, turns to face Abraham:
Of course, Abraham does not let such acts go unchallenged. He tackles Glenn, and is clearly winning the fight when Eugene calls to them that they have company:
Eugene tries to take matters into his own hands, fumbling with his assault rifle and basically shooting everything up around him except the walkers, including the gas tank of Abraham’s truck. D‘oh!
The gunfire alerts the gang, who abandon the fistfight and begin to join forces, shooting up the walkers together…they all look like badass warriors, except maybe Eugene…his mullet’s still pretty epic, though.
Once all the walkers are dead, Abraham sees their other problem:
Meanwhile, back at the DTB house, Rick has managed to slide quietly out from under the bed and creep into another room, the kid’s room that Carl had checked out in Episode 9, when they first got to the house. Rick ducks into a small side room when one of the douchier, louder DTB’s comes into the room and stands just on the other side of Rick, bouncing a tennis ball between two windows…again, and again, and again.
Ugh, douchebag. I mean, why? Why do that? It’s fucking annoying, and I am not even really in the room.
While that guy is working on claiming the title of The Douchiest Man Alive, Rick Grimes is claiming the title of The Hottest Man Alive as he waits…and listens…and monitors...and improvises.
Once again, Rick-In-Charge brings it, people. Undetected by the ball-bouncing DMA, Rick stealths his way to the bathroom, and finds some big ol’ Downstairs Thug Boy sitting on the toilet seat, reading a comic or some shit.
I was thanking Baby Jesus that the toilet guy wasn’t getting down to some serious business in there, with his pants down, or the following scenes would have been super awkward:
Rick manages to get out onto the roof, with a shoulder pack and a gun…
(Doing his own stunts, Andrew Lincoln lowered himself from the roof in that scene, dropping onto the porch below…later, he said in an interview that the most distracting thing about shooting that scene was Norman Reedus mooning him from below…those wacky hot guys!)
Rick ends up crouching beside the porch, with that loud douchey guy above him eating the crap outta some can of food. He’s so annoying, he’s even doing that loudly…rattling the damn fork against the sides of the can. (Baby Jesus, please make it stop!) Rick peers around the corner and sees Carl and Michonne, walking up towards the house.
They are still some way away, so the loud DMA guy doesn’t see them, yet… Rick knows it’s now or never, grips his gun and reaches up, gripping the corner of the house, about to pull himself up and make his move when a scream comes from inside the house…it seems Rick’s “walker time bomb” has reanimated and make its presence known and is going nucking futs in the house…yes!
Thank you, Baby Jesus!
The DMA guy drops his can and runs into the house, and Rick runs towards Carl and Michonne, tells them to run, which they do, away from the house.
Rick has done it, gotten away from the bad guys against almost impossible odds, and now he, Carl, and Michonne are able to haul ass out of there.
Let’s all give it up for Rick Grimes, ladies and gentlemen!
Meanwhile, hours north on the lonely road, flanked now by a dead truck on one side and dead corn walkers on the other, Abraham has just asked Eugene how the hell did he manage to kill his truck?
Eugene looks away, mumbles something about not quite being familiar with the weaponry…he’s lucky he has Abraham buying his story and serving as a burly-chested, fire-haired bodyguard.
Abraham even takes the barb as Eugene tells him, “Trust me, I’m smarter than you.”
Not when it comes to firing an assault rifle, you’re not, Eugene!
As they follow Glenn, Abraham goes along with it, but does bitch to Tara about how they could be saving the world right now, instead of trying to find some guy’s wife. She basically calls him out, tells him his bullshit won’t work on her. Ha! I sense fun interactions ahead with these two.
Rick, Carl and Michonne are walking on the train tracks…they spot the banner for Sanctuary draped on a train car. The banner boasts its trademark claim: “All who arrive survive.”
Michonne looks questioningly at Rick, who says immediately, “Let’s go.”
Man, it looks like on next week’s previews that Daryl and Beth are encountering some shit on their journey…if I think of it now, they seem to have headed in the opposite direction of the way to Sanctuary…gulp!
Until next week, and enjoy the playlist:
Wax Tailor, “Que sera”
Eddie Vedder, “Rise” (for Rick, and all the prison peeps)
Social Distortion, “So Far Away” (for Glenn and Maggie)