The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 11, “The Distance”

“The Distance”

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s “The Walking Dead”/FX’s “Archer” unless otherwise specified.)

When we left off with Rick and the gang last week, at the end of Episode 510, “Them,” many members of our favorite crew were catching the last few moments of a rare, long stretch of sleep in an abandoned barn, after riding out a harrowing night of violent storms, invading walker herds, and personality conflicts (not necessarily in that order, or order of importance).

As the sun rose on a new day, Daryl tried to settle down for a few moments of rest himself, after keeping night watch over the others (and good luck with that, Daryl Dixon), while Maggie and Sasha stepped out to catch the sunrise, and a few moments of soul-sister share time, before the others awoke.

Upon stepping out of the barn, Maggie and Sasha were met with an incredible sight…the raging storm of the night before had blown down many tall pine trees, which lay all around the barn, but somehow missed the barn completely.

While any one of the felled pines could have crushed the barn and killed the gang inside, the barn remained miraculously untouched, and unharmed, by the trees and the storm.

The felled pines did, however, serve to skewer and crush the reanimated, rotting walker horde that had charged the barn doors, the night before, as the storm raged. The gang was forced to rush the doors and work together, struggling mightily as they pushed back at the barn doors from the inside, keeping the walkers back, until the storm, and the trees, took care of the threat from the outside.

Seeing the trees, and the skewered, helpless walkers pinned underneath, seemed to awaken something deep within Maggie and Sasha...the realization, perhaps, that maybe there was hope, after all, even in these dark times. Maybe there was a benevolent force looking out for them, and maybe there really was something to believe in, to live for, in this crazy world.

As the young women sat, and watched the sunrise, sharing ruminations, resolve, and laughter, they were approached cautiously by a well-kempt, preppy stranger who greeted them, introducing himself as “Aaron.”  

Looking down the barrels of Sasha and Maggie’s guns, Aaron, with hands raised, tried to reassure the girls that he was “a friend” who bore tidings of “good news.” Aaron, inexplicably, seemed to know things about the group already, referring to Rick, “the leader,” by name, and asking to speak to him.

As the young women processed all this, holding Aaron at gunpoint, the broken music box suddenly sprang to life… and as its tinkly music played, and the tiny plastic ballerina twirled, we TWD fans, along with Maggie and Sasha, were all thinking our own versions of, “Just what in the walker apocalypse is going on here?”

In the opening shot of The Walking Dead’s Episode 11, “The Distance,” we see members of the gang, awake now, sitting on the barn floor. Some of the gang, like Carol, Abraham, and Daryl, are checking, cleaning their weapons, while others, like Rick, and Gabriel, are sitting quietly, alone in their thoughts.  Judith is playing quietly on the floor, while Carl is collecting boards, presumably to reinforce the barn, or make a bench, or something.

The barn door creaks open, and it’s Maggie. “Hey,” she calls to the others, as she pushes the door open a little wider, steps in, followed by…

hey everyone this is aaron

“Hey, everyone…”

hey everyone this is aaron 3

“…this is Aaron.”

The gang springs to life, drawing weapons as Daryl quickly goes to the barn door, peers out, then gives Aaron a rough patdown (lucky, Aaron!) as Maggie hurriedly explains, “We met him outside, he’s by himself…we took his weapons and his gear.”

gang ain't playin 1gang ain't playin 2gang ain't playin 3gang ain't playin 5gang ain't playin 6gang ain't playin 8

As the barn door is closed behind him, Aaron looks nervously, in thanks, towards Maggie, and then towards Rick and the group, who stand and face him silently, weapons drawn.

As the barn door is closed behind him, Aaron looks nervously, in quick thanks, towards Maggie, and then towards Rick and the group, who stand and face him silently, weapons drawn. “Hi,” he manages, and at the sound of a stranger’s voice, Judith begins to cry. Papi Grimes fixes Aaron with this withering look, before handing the baby over to Carl. Uh oh, Aaron, the baby doesn’t like you...and neither does Papi Grimes.  Not the most auspicious of beginnings for you so far, my friend.

Aaron nervously tries to step forward, towards Rick, with a “Nice to meet you,” only to be met, one step in, to the sound of weapons being cocked, and Daryl stepping up behind him. Aaron wisely stops in his tracks.

Rick, making no move to reply to Aaron's greeting, regards the stranger a moment more before asking, hoarsely,

Rick, making no move to reply to Aaron’s greeting, regards the stranger a moment more before asking Maggie, hoarsely, “You said he had a weapon?” As Aaron tries to not pee his pants (and I tried not to swoon over how hot Rick-In-Charge was being during this whole exchange), Maggie steps forward and hands Rick Aaron’s handgun.

rick sniffs gun, vibes aaron

Rick checks the chamber of Aaron’s gun, then sniffs the weapon, to see if it had been fired recently…then fixes Aaron with this look…

ricks like, yeah this is happening

…before putting Aaron’s gun in the back waistband of his pants, not breaking his gaze from Aaron’s face, like,Yeah, bitch, this is happening…I’m taking your gun…what are you gonna do about it?”

Aaron, of course, does, says nothing about Rick's taking his gun. Rick asks Aaron, softly,

Aaron, of course does, and says, nothing about Rick’s taking his gun. Rick asks Aaron, softly, “There somethin’ you need?”

(And at this point in the watching, I was getting all Cheryl Tunt and shit, like):

“Oooo, yeah, even that little bit’s enough to get the engine revved up!”

sasha sez he has a camp nearby and they are auditioning for membership

Sasha speaks up, saying that Aaron says he has a camp, nearby, and they want them, Rick and the gang, to “audition” for membership…

aaron audition moment

Aaron looks over at Sasha with some alarm, as this pronouncement is going over about as well as can be expected with this seasoned band of warriors...not very.

aaron explains audition term

Backpedaling like a motherfucker, Aaron quickly adds, “I – I wish there were another word…“audition” makes it sound like we’re a dance troupe…that’s only on Friday nights.”

aaron explains audition term 2

Aaron’s smile dies as his attempt at a joke falls flat…

The gang is not amused, Aaron, but I, for one, was laughing my ass off watching this scene.

The gang is not amused, Aaron. (But I, for one, was laughing my ass off, by this point, watching this scene…like, “Oh, no you DID NOT, Aaron.”)

Aaron’s voice is pretty shaky as he explains that it’s not a camp, it’s a community, and he, Aaron, thinks that our fine gang would make, “valuable additions.”  Aaron adds, quickly, that it’s not soley his “call,” that his job is to convince them to follow him back “home,” to his community…

As Rick glares at him, shifting his weight back and forth, one foot to the other, Aaron backpedals again…sounding like a rookie Alexandria Amway salesperson, Aaron tries the up-until-now-foolproof “Seeing Is Believing” selling technique:I know…if I were you, I wouldn’t go either…not until I knew exactly what I was getting into.

And with this, Aaron turns to Sasha, asking her, “Sasha, would you hand Rick my pack?” and earning himself this look from Sasha….

...and another peal of laughter on my part, watching this. Aaron, Aaron, Aaron, you dumbass...you've been listening to this gang for two weeks (and btw, creepy, much?) and this is the best presentation you could come up with? Two words: Weak. Sauce.

…and another peal of laughter on my part, watching this. Aaron, Aaron, Aaron, you dumbass…you’ve been listening to this gang for the last two weeks (and btw, creepy, much?) and this is the best presentation you could come up with? Two words: Weak. Sauce.

After a pregnant pause (ha ha, get it? Sonequa Martin-Green is pregnant at the filming of this episode), Sasha brings Rick Aaron’s backpack, and Aaron tells Rick to look in the front pocket.

As Rick pulls out an envelope, Aaron continues his “Seeing Is Believing” sales pitch, telling the group that while nothing he can say will convince them to follow him to his community, these (pictures) might…while Aaron apologizes for the poor picture quality, as they were taken with an old found camera, Daryl interjects, growling something to the effect of, “Words/Talk/Pictures/Cameras don’t mean/prove shit.” (Repeated playbacks yielded zero clarity on what exactly Daryl said, but it ended in something like “prove shit,” and he sure wasn’t sounding impressed with Aaron at this point.)

Aaron looks back at Daryl, nervously agrees that,

Aaron looks back at Daryl, nervously acknowledges that, “You’re absolutely, 100% right” (about whatever it was that you said.)

Rick looks at the first blurry picture, of tall walls, reinforced with diagonal supports bracing the walls from the inside, making a solid-looking barrier.

picture of walls

As Rick looks at the first picture, Aaron says, “That’s the first picture I wanted to show you, because nothing I say about our community will matter unless you know you’ll be safe. If you join us, you will be.”

Aaron bring his sales pitch home, extolling on the walls’ impressive stats and dimensions: “Each panel (of the wall) is a 15 ft. high, 12 ft. wide slab of solid steel, framed by cold-rolled steel beams, and square tubing.” 

Aaron continues, the emotion building in his voice as he gets swept up in his own fervor, “Nothing, alive or dead, gets through that without our say-so.”

As Daryl, and the rest of the gang, listen, Aaron continues his spiel,

As Daryl, and the rest of the gang, listen, Aaron continues his spiel, “Like I said, security is obviously important…”

…in fact, there’s only one resource more critical to our community’s survival:  the people.”

Together, we’re strong. You could make us even stronger.”

Aaron ends his sales pitch soliliquy with some big, velvet-painting puppy dog eyes. I mean, really, who doesn't want to believe him? But...doesn't this pitch seem a little, um, canned, practiced, like it's been used on other people? Does salvation really come in the form of...this guy?

Aaron ends his sales pitch soliloquy with some big, velvet-painting puppy-dog eyes. I mean, really, who doesn’t want to believe him? But…doesn’t this pitch seem a little, um, canned, practiced, like it’s been used on other people? Does salvation really come in the form of…this guy?

Ooooo...I think I see a familiar face...

OooooI think I see a familiar face…

Ummm...Rick Smash! don't think so.

Ummm, Aaron? Rick Smash! no likey your blurry pictures and your talky talk about big walls and impressive dimensions and all that shit…

Rick Smash! no likey.

It gives him a headache, and makes him see red and want to smash things…smash YOU.

And if Rick Smash! no likey, I no likey.

And, if Rick Smash! no likey, me no likey…

And I am, now and forever, riding in Rick Smash's! car...

…because I am, now and forever, riding in Rick Smash’s! car.

go rick smash go

🙂 ❤

rick went smash and we likey

As the others run toward Aaron’s unconscious form, Rick Smash! shakes out his fist, and looks down at Aaron, like, “STOP. FUCKING. TALKING.

ricksmash one last look

I love this last look he gives Aaron before walking off. TLA Rick Smash!

A few thoughts, before we move on.  Back at this early point in the watching, and even now, I remain utterly unclear about Aaron’s, and Alexandria’s, motives.  While I do not get an initial hit that they’re totally bad, I don’t think they’re totally good, or harmless, either. Something stinks. This “audition” shit.  And this sales pitch-style presentation. What’s up with that?

Rick and the gang didn’t need a whole presentation when they interviewed prospective candidates for the prison community. They just asked the three questions.

Simple. Straight up.  No Friday night song and dance routine, with blurry pictures and talk of walls and dimensions.

(And, speaking of the three questions, Aaron majorly fails the three questions when Michonne puts them to him in the back of Glenn’s Walker Massacremobile. And, sometimes, the Bear McCreary music gets really dark and twisty when the focus is on Aaron. Don’t think I haven’t noticed that shit.)

Aaron’s spiel feels really contrived to me, like something is being misrepresented, or not presented, like there’s some catch, some important, major detail about the agreement that’s hidden somewhere in the fine print of the whole Alexandria contract, and you only find out what it is once the gates close, and lock, behind you.  And by then, it’s too late. You’re in there.

As Aaron said, himself, “Nothing, alive or dead, gets through (those walls) without our say-so.”

Sounds to me like that shit goes both ways, that once you’re in those walls, you are not exactly free to come and go as you please. (Not like the beautiful prison days, when all were free to do as they wished, within reason, of course, and after their chores and culling-the-walkers-at-the-fence shift was done for the day.)

And what’s with the spying?  For two weeks?  How the fuck did Aaron and his gay boyfriend manage that, to track the gang and spy on them, for two weeks?  And what would a community’s motivation be, to put that much effort into screening potential future citizens, in such sneaky and invasive fashion, for such a long period of time?

My only guesses at this point are: 1) they need to recruit soldiers, as they are in a war, conflict, or standoff with someone, some other established community, nearby; or, 2) they want to procreate and populate, and they just happened to find our smoking hot band of love warriors, and they want to get on that shit.

Either way, they have a major agenda, and while Aaron seems likeable enough (when he isn’t being shady), it seems pretty obvious he isn’t telling the whole story.

We all know, at this point, that something is amiss with Alexandria. There is never an offer of any kind of shelter, or respite, without its asking price, and what Alexandria’s asking price is, exactly, remains to be seen.

But, whatever the case, or the price, may be, it looks like Friday Night Dance Troupe just got a lot more interesting!

And, dorky and shady as Aaron may be, he does have some serious pros to put on the negotiation table…

First off, Friday Night Dance Troupe. I mean, obviously, right? If you remember, Aaron mentions the dance troupe right away, even before talking about the tall steel fences…that was no accident, people!

All I gotta say is, if Daryl and Carol had a Dirty Dancing moment at Friday Night Dance Troupe, I would like, die of happiness.

Next:  Aaron’s appearance. He is obviously clean, manicured, well-fed, well-cared for. He’s rocking the sporty outerwear that’s lined on the inside.

Chris Hardwick joked on Talking Dead that Aaron looked like a “Land’s End” model…ha!

Not only does Aaron look like a sheltered, suburban preppy, he acts like one. Aaron is not exhausted, bereft, starving, stressed-out. He hasn’t been for a long time, so long, actually, that he seems to have forgotten what all that was like, back in the day, before he became Fabulously Gay Ambassador of Alexandria.

Aaron is so yuppified, living the vanilla dream behind Alexandria’s steel walls, that he even attempts a little joke about Friday Night Dance Troupe in an attempt to disarm the gang, to get in with them.

When his attempt is met with vacant looks, and glares, instead of laughter, smiles, or nods, Aaron gives a little shake of his head… it was like he was either really surprised that they didn’t like (or get) his joke, or he was honestly in a place so far removed from where the gang was at, in that moment, that he had to quickly rethink his approach.

Aaron lives in his own house, for God’s sakes, and his backpack is filled with more canned goods than the gang has seen in a long time.  Our gang is starving, literally. They are physically and emotionally exhausted. They are having to shoot, kill, and eat wild dogs for survival and sustenance. Poor Daryl is eating worms, and Aaron balks at having to take a spoonful of applesauce. What a baby.

By all appearances, Aaron seems to be living like a pampered housecat within the steel confines of Alexandria…that is, when he’s not being sent off for weeks at a time to spy on promising nomadic groups, assess their potential value to the community, approach them, try to sell them on Alexandria, and bring them back there to “audition” for membership to the community.

Anyway, speaking of babies, we come to our next huge trump card in Aaron’s hand: Baby Judith. 

Having Baby Judith in the gang changes the stakes, because the longer that baby is out in the open, without shelter or proper nourishment, the greater the risk is that she will not survive these coming days, despite her father’s, and the gang’s, best efforts.

Alexandria, trap or not, seems to offer the best hope for Baby Judith’s, and the rest of the gang’s, immediate survival.

Alexandria is a big question, and a big risk, but the gang is fast running out of time, and out of options, these dire days, and offers like Aaron’s are rare indeed.

Rick Smash! may have beaten Aaron unconscious, for a moment, but the offer, with all its questions, remains…should the gang go with Aaron?

Is the promise of shelter, and protection, that Alexandria offers, with all its red flags and unknowns, worth the risk?

Many in the gang are thinking yes, and after Aaron’s burly beatdown, Rick Smash! finds himself outnumbered by those who are of the opinion that Aaron may really be a good guy, after all, and maybe Rick Smash! shouldn’t have punched him.

I, of course, was still fanning myself from all the hotness of the Rick Smash! beatdown moment, but I could definitely relate to Michonne and the rest of the gang’s collective thought, that they are tired and hungry and sick of all this shit, out here, and maybe they do want to go see what Alexandria is all about.

Michonne is definitely in this latter category. As Carl and Judith’s Newmom, she has the children to think about.  So, as Aaron lay unconscious on the barn floor, Michonne whisper-hisses to Rick, “So we’re clear, that look wasn’t a ‘let’s attack that man’ look, it was a ‘he seems like an ok guy to me’ look.”

michonne talks to rick 1

Ha ha, great early Richonne girlfriend-schools-the-new-boyfriend-on-the-communication-works moment. Those are bound to happen, especially when your new future boyfriend is prone to hulking out and becoming Rick Smash!

Rick basically looks at Michonne, unremorseful, and says, “We gotta secure,” before ordering Carl to dump Aaron’s pack, saying, “Let’s see who this guy really is.”

Michonne, who is no ordinary woman, and who can hulk out pretty ferociously, herself, will not be deterred. She tries again, saying Rick’s name, but he is now in full Rick In Charge/Deputy On The Edge mode, striding around, ordering everyone to be on the alert. ” Everyone else, eyes and ears open. They’re coming for us…we might not know how, or when, but they are.”

Maggie, kneeling beside Aaron's unconscious form, turns and gently tries to chime in the voice of reason.

As Carol and Daryl bind Aaron’s hands behind his unconscious form, Maggie, kneeling, turns to Rick and gently tries to chime in, back up Michonne, be a voice of reason, “Me and Sasha, we didn’t see him…if he wanted to hurt us, he could have.”

Rick-In-Charge does not respond to this, as he has a barn to secure.  He loudly asks if anyone sees anything. Glenn peers out through the slats of the barn, reports, “Just a lot of places to hide.”

“Keep looking,”  barks Rick In Charge, and Glenn turns (a trifle wearily) back to his post.

Rick strides over to Carl, who has emptied the contents of Aaron’s backpack, and asks him what he found.  Carl hands Rick an orange flare gun.

“I’ve never seen a gun like that before,” Carl says to Rick. Rick takes the gun, looks in the chamber, then up at Aaron, begins to stride over to him.

Aaron is beginning to come to, realizing where he is, and what is happening. He looks up at Maggie, who is trying to blot his bloody left ear, and then gives a small laugh, remembering. “That’s a hell of a right cross, there, Rick,” he says, loudly.

Wow, maybe Aaron isn't such a wuss, after all. Maybe he teaches the cardio kickboxing class at Alexandria on Thursday nights.

Wow, maybe Aaron isn’t such a wuss, after all. Maybe he teaches the cardio kickboxing class at Alexandria on Thursday nights.

“Sit him up,” Rick orders. Maggie begins to suggest that maybe that’s not the best idea, but Aaron assures her he’s fine. Rick, who doesn’t care either way, says, “He’ll be fine, sit him up.” Michonne’s sitting there, thinking, “I am so annoyed with him right now…but this alpha male thing he’s got going is totally turning my crank right now…damn him!”

Michonne and Maggie help sit Aaron up, who begins to say, “You’re being cautious…I completely understand – …” when Rick interrupts him, asking, “How many of your people are out there?” 

When Aaron looks questioningly at Rick, not answering, Rick holds up the orange flare gun. “You have a flare gun, you have it to signal your people…how many of them are there?

aaron asks does it matter

For the first time since coming into the barn, Aaron’s demeanor closes down to something less than his open, easygoing manner of before. Aaron looks worried, seems to be stalling. “Does it matter?” he asks Rick.

rick says it does matter

Rick’s manner, on the other hand, is pure Interrogation Room. “Yes,” he whispers, in answer to Aaron’s question….

yes it does

“…yes, it does.”

Aaron backpedals, conceding that, “Of course, it matters how many people are actually out there, but does it matter how many people I tell you are out there?”

aaron as aaron talks3 rick as aaron talks

Aaron continues,Because, I’m pretty sure that no matter how many people I tell you are out there…”

“…8…”

“…32…444…”

“…zero... No matter what I say, you’re not going to trust me.”

Rick looks down at Aaron, retorts,

Rick looks down at Aaron, retorts, “It’s hard to trust anyone who smiles after getting punched in the face.” Oooo, burn, Aaron!

Aaron, however, retorts in kind,

Aaron, however, retorts in kind, “How about a guy who leaves bottles of water for you in the road?”

Rick looks at Daryl, who turns to look at the bottles of water on the table, which are indeed the same brand as the bottled water on the road. Daryl whirls back on Aaron, steps towards him. “How long you people been followin’ us?” Daryl growls down at him.

Aaron answers immediately, with an incredulous laugh,

Aaron answers immediately, with an incredulous laugh, “Long enough to see that you practically ignore a pack of roamers on your trail…long enough to see that despite a lack of food, and water, you never turned on each other.”

Aaron looks around at the group, as if marveling at them. “You’re survivors, and you’re people… Like I said, and I hope you won’t punch me for saying this, again, but that is the most important resource in the world.”

This statement is true enough, and the gang exchanges looks, registering the import of these words. Rick steps towards Aaron and asks again, softly but menacingly, “How many others are out there?”

Aaron knows the stalling time is over. “One,” he answers. No reply, excepting a small shake of Rick’s head. Aaron continues, “I knew you wouldn’t believe me…if it’s not words, if it’s not pictures, what would it take to convince you that this is for real?”

Still no reply from the gang. Aaron has a thought,

Still no reply from the gang. Aaron has a thought, “What if I drove you to the community? All of you? If we leave now, we’d get there by lunch.”

Rick replies that he’s not sure how the 15 of them would all fit in the car that he, Aaron, and his one friend drove down here in. Aaron is quick to reply that they took separate cars, that they wanted to be able to bring an entire group back “home” if they found one.

“There is enough room for all of us,” Aaron tells them.

New Carol asks, skeptically,

New Carol asks, skeptically, “And you parked just a couple of miles away, right?

Aaron’s reply is immediate, “East on Ridge Road, just after Route 16…we wanted to get them closer, but then the storm came, blocked the road…we couldn’t clear it.” It does sound like Aaron is telling the truth about all this, as there is no hesitation in what he says, no guile in how he says it.

Rick, however, is not convinced. “Yeah, you really thought this through…”

“Rick,” Aaron protests, “If I wanted to ambush you, I would do it here…light the barn on fire, pick you off as you ran out the only exit…” Another good point by Aaron.

As Rick and Aaron regard each other, Aaron says, earnestly, looking into Rick's face,

As Rick and Aaron regard each other, Aaron says, earnestly, looking into Rick’s face, “You can trust me.”

can they trust him.

The gang stands around, looking down at Aaron. Of course they want to believe him, want to trust him…but can they?

michonne volunteers

Michonne turns to Rick, volunteers to go check out the cars.

“There aren’t any cars,” Rick replies. Michonne counters, voice soft, “There’s only one way to find out.”

“We don’t need to find out,” replies Rick.

Michonne counters,

Michonne counters, “We do. You know what you know…you’re sure of it. I’m not.” Rick regards Michonne, has no ready reply. (Watching this, I was thinking, “Man, she is so good for him!” ) Michonne is strong enough to stand up to Rick, but she’s cool enough to do it respectfully, and not make him feel like a dick for just wanting to protect his people. Richonne is some mad sexy when they butt heads! I kept wanting them to take it to the barn floor, and wrestle it out.

Maggie interrupts the sexual tension by siding with Michonne.

Maggie interrupts the sexual tension by siding with Michonne. “Me neither,” she says, simply, giving Rick a small, “I’m sorry, I love you, but I gotta go see for myself,” smile, with the barest shake of her head.

The days of the Ricktatorship are long gone...Rick looks down, knows he must give in.

The days of the Ricktatorship are long gone… Rick looks down, and deep down, he knows he must give in. Still, so unwilling to risk any of his people, Rick tries to talk Michonne out of it…

...he says, hoarsely,

…he says, hoarsely, “Your way’s dangerous, mine isn’t.” Michonne responds, “Passing up a place where we can live? Where Judith can live?

That’s pretty dangerous.”

Michonne's face softens.

Michonne’s face softens. “We need to find out what this is,” she says, softly, looking into Rick’s face. Her voice is reassuring, “We can handle ourselves.”

Michonne's face, and manner, become firm, no-nonsense.

Michonne’s face, and manner become firm again. Her voice is no-nonsense. “So that’s what we’re gonna do.”  It is settled. Rick, and everyone else, knows it.  (OMG, I am loving Michonne so hard right now.)

Rick is bested, and he knows it. Top Mama has spoken. He shakes his head, then turns and calls to Abraham.

“Yeah,” Abraham agrees. “I’ll walk with them.” He draws up his rifle and walks over to the others.

“Rosita,” Rick calls next. Rosita nods, looks down a moment, then says, “Ok.”

Rick asks Glenn if they have enough firepower if there’s trouble. Glenn replies, “We got what we got.” As Daryl pulls Aaron up and leads him towards the back of the room, Rick tells Michonne and the other volunteers that the “walkies” are out of juice, so if they’re not back in 60 minutes, they will come after them.  Michonne nods, looks at Rick a moment.

Michonne has got her game face on, looking like a total badass.

Michonne has got her game face on, looking like a total badass.

Rick says, as she’s about to go, “This might be just what they want…”

Mmmm, can’t help but get that last word, last dig in, huh, Rick?

Michonne's reaction to Rick's baiting comment is awesome...she narrows her eyes, says nothing, turns and walks out the door.

Michonne’s reaction to Rick’s baiting comment is awesome…she narrows her eyes, says nothing, turns and walks out the door. Gotta believe in your woman, Rick Grimes.

After the volunteer troupe leaves, Rick turns to the others, says that if they're all in the barn, they're a target. He orders them outside, in groups of twos, within eyeshot. Daryl tells him he's got the area covered. They file out, leaving Rick, Aaron, and Judith in the barn.

After the volunteer troupe leaves, Rick turns to the others, says that if they’re all in the barn, they’re a target. He orders them outside, in groups of twos, within eyeshot. Daryl tells him he’s got the area covered. They file out, leaving Rick, Aaron, and Judith in the barn.

As Rick peers out through a crack in the barn door, Aaron tells him that before the turn, he, Aaron, worked for an NGO, delivering food and medical supplies around Nigeria. Aaron says that he had guns pointed in his face by

As Rick peers out through a crack in the barn door, Aaron tells him that before the turn, he, Aaron, worked for an NGO, delivering food and medical supplies around the Niger River delta. Aaron says that he had guns pointed in his face by “bad people” every other week.

“You’re not bad people,” Aaron says to Rick. “You’re not going to kill us, and we are definitely not going to kill you.”

Still peering out, Rick replies,

Still peering out, Rick replies, “Just because we’re good people doesn’t mean we won’t kill you.”

Rick then turns, looks down at Aaron.

Rick then turns, looks down at Aaron. “If the five of them aren’t back in an hour, I’ll put a knife in the base of your skull.”

Meanwhile, Glenn-In-Charge is trying on the hardline approach, you know, just to see if it fits. “Eyes open, everybody. Weapons up. If you see anybody coming at us, you fire.

Abraham agrees, “Copy that,” while Maggie looks away. She makes it look like she’s scanning the horizon, but I feel like she’s more trying not to look embarrassed for her boyfriend right now, while letting him have his moment.

Michonne turns to look at Glenn, studies his face a moment before looking ahead once more, and asking, “So, if we see someone, we just shoot them?

Looking away, Maggie agrees,

Looking out to the side horizon, Maggie chimes in, “That’s a good question.”

“What if it’s someone like us?” Michonne asks Glenn.What if Aaron’s telling the truth? What if it’s someone who has nothing to do with this?”

“We’re five people walking with guns,” replies Glenn. “Nobody’s coming up to say hello.”

“But, that’s exactly what happened,” Michonne points out, reasonably.

“If it’s someone like us,” Glenn replies, “Then we should be afraid of them.”  Ha!

Glenn continues, wondering aloud, if Aaron and his person/people were really watching them, then they saw what they did, yesterday. (What, eating the dogs? Killing the walkers? What was so bad about that? What the hell else were they supposed to do?)

Glenn continues, after seeing what they, the gang, are capable of doing, why would Aaron’s people want them, the gang, to come live with them in their community? (I am thinking back to my “soldiers for hire” theory in answer to this question, but of course, “hot babymaking potential” is still on the table of possibilities.)

Michonne muses, “People like us saved a priest…saved a girl who rolled up on the prison with the Governor.” Michonne smiles, shaking her head, adds, “Saved a crazy lady with a sword. He saw that.”

Glenn replies, grimly, “I don’t know what he saw.”

The shot pans out, until we see the open field, and the gang of volunteers are now far away.  And we see, crouching behind a stilled tractor…

Someone's watching.

Someone’s watching…

Meanwhile, Baby Judith is hungry, and crying, as Rick tries to crush some acorns in a bowl, presumably to feed to her.

Yuck. I have read that while acorns are certainly edible, and can be crushed to make a meal, or a flour, that they are extremely bitter, and must be soaked in water for a long, long time to leach the bitterness out.

Yuck. I have read that while acorns are certainly edible, and can be crushed to make a meal, or a flour, that they are extremely bitter, and must be soaked in water for a long, long time to leach the bitterness out. Good luck feeding those to that baby, Rick Grimes. You will hear some real crying then.

Aaron looks nervously towards the barn door, then towards Rick, who is on one knee, holding the wailing baby, trying to crush the acorns in a bowl. “You did see the jar of applesauce in my bag, right?” Rick looks at him, says nothing, goes back to trying to crush acorns with one hand, while holding his crying baby daughter in the other.

Aaron says, “This isn’t a trick…this isn’t about trying to get you to like me.  This is about self-preservation, because if the roamers hear her and come this way, I know I’ll be first to go.”  Rick looks up, shifts his daughter to his other arm, and stands, goes to the table, where a sealed mason jar of applesauce sits.

Rick looks at Aaron a moment before turning his attention back to the task of opening the jar (one handed, parents learn to do everything one-handed when there’s baby-holding and baby-carrying going on), spooning up some applesauce, and walking over to where Aaron is sitting, on the barn floor, hands bound behind him, around a support beam.  Rick wordlessly holds the spoonful of applesauce to Aaron. You first.

Aaron looks up at Rick, horrified.

Aaron looks up at Rick, horrified. “Do you think that I’m trying to poison your baby daughter?”

Aaron protests,

Aaron protests, “I’m tied up, and you’ve already expressed a desire to kill me by sticking a knife in my head, so how would cruelly killing your daughter help the situation?” Rick counters, a little crazily, that maybe she doesn’t die, maybe she just gets sick, and Aaron’s the only one who can save her, and then he, Rick, loses. Awww, you are a little crazy right now, Rick, and I can’t tell if your beard is real or fake, but I still love you, crazy-ass imaginings, fake-ass looking beard, and all.

Aaron replies that he is the only one who can help her, as he has the applesauce, and so they all win. Rick, undeterred, holds the spoonful of applesauce out to Aaron: Eat.

“I hate applesauce,” Aaron whispers miserably. He tells Rick his mom used to make him eat foods he disliked to make him more “manly.” That actually really sucks, and I do feel real bad for Aaron about that, but I can’t help but think, “You wanna try a real manly treat, Aaron? Try eating dog. Now, eat the fucking applesauce, and be done with it, so poor Baby Judith can eat her lunch!”

Aaron balks a moment more, until Rick reminds him that he, Aaron, will be first to go if Judith’s crying attracts “roamers.” Aaron opens up, and the applesauce goes in.  Rick can’t resist tasting the spoon, after.

It made me think, when was the last time Rick, or any of them, tasted the sweetness of fruit, or had an apple? Probably a long time, like back at the prison. And here Aaron is, balking at taking a spoonful of applesauce.

As Rick turns away to begin feeding Judith, Aaron tries to tell him that at the community, they can find a place for Rick and his children to live that would be so big, that nobody would be able to hear her cry outside the walls. Rick looks at Aaron a moment, then says,

As Rick turns away to begin feeding Judith, Aaron tries to tell him that at the community, they can find a place for Rick and his children to live that would be so big, that nobody would be able to hear her cry outside the walls. Rick looks at Aaron a moment, then says, “You have 43 minutes.” Aaron’s like, “Gulp.”

Meanwhile, the volunteers have found something…

Michonne looks over at Glenn and Maggie.

Michonne looks over at Glenn and Maggie. “He was telling the truth,” she says.

rv and car

Well, he was telling the truth about that, anyway…

The volunteers hear a noise in the woods, and they draw their weapons. Glenn barks at whomever it is to put their hands in the air, come out where they can see them. After a moment’s more rustling, we see:

Mr. and Mrs. Walker.

Mr. and Mrs. Walker. “Honey, look, our brunch guests have arrived! Welcome to our woods…you’re just in time…I was just telling the wife, ‘Sure am getting hungry!’

Abraham says, “I got it,” and from behind, Rosita says, We got it.” They stride forward to take care of Mr. and Mrs. Walker.

Hi, I’m the missus! Boy howdy, you’re a big one...and aren’t you  a real sight for sore eyes…and sore face…and sore everything else. I could just eat you up! In fact, I think I will…if you just hold still a sec…”

woods walker say hey

Hey, that’s my arm! Was my arm…you’re not exactly friendly, you know that?”

woods walker say hey no fair

Rosita finishes Mrs. Walker off with a bash to the head…

mr walker gets a spear to the head

…before going to town on Mr. Walker.

mr walker go bye bye

Um, I think I’ll just lie down here and take a little nap before brunch.”

Abraham turns towards Rosita.

Abraham turns towards Rosita. “Thanks,” he says, simply.

Abraham sneaks a look at her face, but Rosita does not turn to look at him. After a moment, she walks away.

Abraham sneaks a look at her face, but Rosita does not turn to look at him. After a moment, she walks away.

abraham and rostia clear the rv

Abraham and Rosita clear the RV, negotiating the the close space and the awkwardness between them.

abraham exclaims and pulls a can from cupboard

Then, Abraham pulls a can out of the cupboard, exclaims softly, “Gracious Ignacious.”

getti rings

S’Getti Rings … were those the kind the Gov dumped out the window?

Abraham gives a little laugh, “Oh-ho, it has been a while.” Rosita, smiling, remembers, “I think I saw Rex eat three cans one night.”

“Four,” Abraham remembers. “Sonuvabitch knew if he didn’t toss ’em back, I’d a come for ’em.”

abraham looks down at the can remembering

Abraham looks down at the can, remembering Rex…

rosita is sad remembering

…and the happy memories turn into sad ones, as they think of Rex, and times past, and all the things, people they have lost.

Abraham approaches Rosita, asks her back at the fire truck, after Eugene…did she think he was going to hurt her?

“No.” Rosita’s reply is immediate.

“It’s not you,” she says. They both look away for a moment. (Well, that’s a little promising, right? Like maybe there’s a chance for reconciliation, or maybe a slow dance at Friday Night Dance Troupe?) I really like these two together!

Later, back at the barn…

back at the barn

You’re lucky you were telling the truth, Aaron.

ricks like if only we had a can opener

These cans of food are seriously bringing up some emotional memories for the gang.

Rick turns and informs Aaron that the cans of food, “These are ours now.” Aaron wearily concedes that there is more than enough. This recruitment run has been way tougher than Aaron bargained for…here he is, sitting on a barn floor with his hands tied behind his back, tethered to a barn pole. He probably really needs to pee.

Usually,at this point, Aaron’s probably basking in the thanks and adulation of the rescued survivors, driving the latest imports back to Alexandria, and regaling his captive, adoring audience with amusing tidbits about the latest Alexandria antics (real or fake, remains to be seen) while the survivors nod and exclaim and over-laugh at Aaron’s jokes, chowing down cold canned foods and chugging applesauce in the back seats.

Rick adds that the canned foods are theirs, the group’s, whether or not they decide to go back with Aaron…at this point, Carl interjects, asks his father incredulously, “What do you mean, why wouldn’t we go?

NewMom Michonne chimes in, backing Carl up, answering his question while addressing the group, “If he were lying, or wanted to hurt us, but he isn’t...and he doesn’t. We need this. So, we’re going, all of us. Somebody say something if they feel differently.”

rick has nothing to say

Nobody says anything. Rick doesn’t say anything.

daryl says this barn smells like horseshit

Addressing Rick, from the floor, Daryl says,I dunno, man…this barn smells like horseshit.”

michonne waits for rick's response

Michonne looks over, awaiting Rick’s response.

rick says yeah, were going

Yeah. We’re going,” Rick relents.

michonne is pleased

Michonne looks up like a satisfied queen. She is pleased.

Rick turns to Aaron and asks him where the camp is.  Aaron, reading into the question, stammers that usually, when he brings recruits back, he is the one driving.  Aaron assures the gang that he while he thinks they’re good people, in fact, he’d bet his life on it, he’s not willing to bet his friends’ lives…

Michonne steps forward, in a role reversal with Rick, who hangs back, and interrupts Aaron.

Michonne steps forward, in a role reversal with Rick, who now hangs back, and interrupts Aaron. “You’re not driving, she says. “So, if you wanna get home, you have to tell us how.” Top Mama Michonne is kicking ass and taking names!

Aaron looks over at Rick, who is crouched down with pen and paper, ready to take notes...on directions to the camp, and on how hot his boss lady gf is when she's taking charge and getting it done!

Aaron looks over at Rick, who is crouched down with pen and paper, ready to take notes...on directions to the camp, and on how hot his boss lady gf is when she’s taking charge and getting it done!

Aaron nods, conceding, says to take Route 16 North, and then he’ll tell them more when they get there. Rick counters that they will take Route 23 North.  (On Talking Dead, later that night, guest Paul Feig and Chris Hardwick poked some gentle fun at Rick Grimes for insisting on taking another route, but I do see where there could be ambush points set up along a preplanned route.)

Aaron protests that while Route 16 is cleared, Route 23 is not. Rick insists that they will take Route 23, and they will leave at sundown.

Sasha asks, in disbelief, “We’re doing this at night? Rick replies that he knows it’s dangerous, but they can’t come rolling up to the gates during the day…if it turns out not to be safe, they need to get gone before anybody knows they are there.

Aaron insists that nobody is going to hurt them. “You’re trying to protect your group, but you’re putting them in danger.”

Rick crouches down, looks right at Aaron.

Rick crouches down, looks right at Aaron. “Tell us where your camp is…we’ll leave right now.” Aaron looks around, then sadly shakes his head. He can’t.

Rick looks to the others, stands, tells them to eat up, as it’s gonna be a long night. Rest up.  He walks out of the barn, and after a moment, Michonne follows him.

michonne out by car 1

Rick is crouched at the car, talking who-rides-with-whom logistics, then looks up, asks Michonne if she’s ok. (He really is scoring some major bf points in this episode.)

did you mean were going for real

Michonne asks Rick if back there, when he said they were going, was that for real, or was that just to find out where Aaron’s camp was?

rick stands says were going

Rick stands, tells Michonne they are going. For real.

rick asks michonne what did she hear

Rick then asks Michonne that back at the prison fence, when she first approached, what did she hear?

michonne answers that she heard nothing

Michonne replies that she heard nothing. “Terminus?” asks Rick. Again, Michonne answers, “Nothing.”

rick says he will need to decide

Rick nods. “Some time tonight, we’ll be outside his camp’s walls, and without seeing inside, I’m gonna have to decide whether to bring my family in. He (Aaron) asked me before what it would take for me to believe it was real. Truth is, I’m not sure anything could convince me to go in there. But, I’m gonna see.” Rick turns away, towards the car, and gives Michonne one last, sweet look. “I wanna see,” he says to her. ❤

Later…

It's a tailights caravan on Rt 23 N.

It’s a tailights caravan on Rt 23 N.

Aaron looks like he's about to suggest a game of

Aaron looks like he’s about to suggest a game of “I Spy.”

...when Rick finds Aaron's license plate collection in the glove compartment. At Rick's questioning look towards Glenn, Aaron leans forward from the back seat.

…when Rick finds Aaron’s license plate collection in the glove compartment. At Rick’s questioning look towards Glenn, Aaron leans forward from the back seat. “Oh,” he explains, “I’m trying to collect all 50 states…”

“…and put them on a wall in my house.”

“You have your own house?”

Aaron looks over at Michonne, nods, gestures towards the envelope of photographs on his pack, invites her to “see for yourself.”

Michonne reaches for the envelope, looks at the pictures of a charming wrap-around porch that boasts a fabulous view of the wall and bracings.

Michonne reaches for the envelope, looks at the pictures of a charming wrap-around porch, which overlooks an enviable view of Alexandria’s walls and bracings…

Aaron allows himself a smile, looking on as Michonne flips through the pictures. Houses, buidlings, the wall...but something key is missing from all the pictures...

Aaron allows himself a smile, looking on as Michonne flips through the pictures. Houses, buildings, the wall…but a key element is missing from all the pictures…

Michonne, alarmed, looks up, asks Aaron why he doesn't have any pictures of his people?

Michonne, alarmed, looks up, asks Aaron why he doesn’t have any pictures of his people?

Aaron's self-satisfied smile of before quickly disappears, and he begins to stammer out some bullshit about how he tried to take a group picture, but the exposure, and then problems with the developing...he's clearly lying. But why? My first three guesses, right off the top of my head: 1) They were all shut inside the factory warehouse, mass-producing some product that Alexandria makes and sells to other outside communities, like...license plates, and they only get two 15-minute breaks every 12 hours; 2) Everyone in Alexandria is bound and gagged in their respective gimp closets, except for the dominants who keep watch over them; 3) Alexandria is actually a leprosy colony, and the inhabitants, while still techinically living, are losing flesh and limbs at a rate that rivals the decomposition of the walkers. What's your guess?

Aaron’s self-satisfied smile of before quickly disappears, and he begins to stammer out some bullshit about how he tried to take a group picture, but the exposure, and then problems with the developing…he’s clearly lying. But why? My first three guesses, right off the top of my head: 1) The people were all shut inside the factory warehouse, mass-producing some product that Alexandria makes and sells to other outside communities, like…license plates, and they only get two 15-minute breaks every 12 hours; 2) Everyone in Alexandria is bound and gagged in their respective gimp closets, except for the dominants who keep watch over them; 3) Alexandria is actually a leper colony, and the inhabitants, while still technically living, are losing flesh and limbs at a rate that rivals the decomposition of the walkers. What’s your guess?

Michonne knows immediately that Aaron is lying, and looks to the front seat, asks Rick,

Michonne knows immediately that Aaron is lying, and looks to the front seat, asks Rick, “Did you ask him the three questions?”

Everyone looks at Rick, who seems to be, like,

Everyone looks at Rick, who seems to be, like, Um, no, I did not…shit was going on, and I did kind of forget to ask the three questions…and, btw, there are 15 of us, and why is it always my job to ask the three questions? You motherfuckers know the three questions, and aside from Baby Judith, who can’t talk, maybe one of you could have thought of that shit, and asked...I was all sleuthing the flare gun and shitdoes it always have to be me, asking the three questions?

Rick does not give voice to his internal monologue, simply answers, “No.”

So, Michonne turns to Aaron, and asks the first of the three questions, “How many walkers have you killed?”

how many walkers have you killed

Aaron feigns ignorance, or confusion, at the direct question. “I’m sorry, what? Michonne repeats the question. “How many?”

aaron plays dumb

As Glenn listens, and waits, for Aaron to answer...

As Glenn listens, and waits, for Aaron to answer…

Rick, looking ahead at the road, awaits Aaron's answer...he hems and haws before answering, a trifle defensively,

Rick, looking ahead at the road, listens, and waits for, Aaron’s answer, as well. Aaron gapes at Michonne, indignant, hems and haws before answering, a trifle defensively, I don’t know…a lot.”

Michonne continues to the second question: “How many people?”

This time, Aaron's reply is more immediate.

This time, Aaron’s reply is more immediate. “Two,” he answers. “Why?” MIchonne asks the third question, looking at Aaron. Without missing a beat, Aaron replies, “Because they tried to kill me.”

Look what Rick's found...

Look what Rick’s found…“Hey, Aaron, are you starting a collection of parabolic microphones from all 50 states as well?”

Glenn, who is driving, looks back at Aaron, shocked.  “You were listening to us?”

Aaron actually manages to sound a little testy at being asked this question, says something like, Yes, yes, I told you I was watching you…listening is a part of watching, duh…what part of, ‘I was spying on you’ do you people not understand?”

Rick says, quickly, that the others in Aaron’s group probably have mic’s like these, and they probably heard the gang’s plans. “This isn’t safe,” cries Rick, and then those words ring especially true, as Rick and Glenn brace themselves for the oncoming threat in the road…

rick and glenn brace

Look out…!

night hiker walkers

…for the horde of NightHiker Walkers!

walker guts on the windshield

As Glenn plows through the rotting walkers, their blood and guts smear the windshield, making it impossible to see out…

rick in shotgun walker slime

Rick’s first thought is of the RV behind them, but Glenn tells him to stay in the car, that the RV would have seen what was happening and are either behind them, or they were able to get away…

aaron and michonne freaking

In the back seat, Aaron is freaking while Michonne braces herself…

glenn plowing some walkers

Have I mentioned how much Glenn rules in this episode?

the massacremobile

Aaron’s classic old car has become a Walker Massacremobile.

The car finally clears a space from the walkers, and skids to a stop.  Rick jumps out, and sees no sign of the RV.  It seems they must have turned around, and Rick tells Glenn they will double back and meet the RV back up the road.

Glenn quickly tries to wipe the windshield clean before jumping back in the car...

Glenn quickly tries to wipe the windshield clean before jumping back in the car…

...and of course, the car won't start.

…and of course, the car won’t start.

And, here come the walkers.

And, here come the walkers.

Aaron is freaking the fuck out, of course. Michonne volunteers to go out and see what she can see, and goes out to the front hood, pulling walker guts and limbs from out of the hood and grille.

michonne pulls walker parts out of the car's hood

As the walkers near, Aaron, panicked, cries out that they are closing in. Rick turns to him and grinds out that they know that. Glenn frantically keeps trying to start the car, to no avail, of course…and then, Glenn sees something light up the sky. “Look!”

Someone has shot a flare up, obviously to signal Aaron. But, who?

Someone has shot a flare up, obviously to signal Aaron. But, who?

Aaron, upon seeing the flare go up, really starts to freak out.  He keeps saying, “This is over, I’ve gotta get out of here.

Rick turns and watches Aaron freaking out.

Rick turns and watches Aaron freaking out. “What’s going on?” he demands, but Aaron is in full bail mode. With hands still tied behind his back, Aaron kicks open the back door of the car, sending Michonne flying, and charges out into the night. Holy crap, dude.

Michonne starts to go after Aaron, and when Rick tries to call her back, she replies that the way to find the others is to go after Aaron.  They abandon the car and run into the woods, in the direction that Aaron went, and must engage in some serious walker slaughter.  As Michonne slices and dices with her katana, Rick fires upon the walkers, calling to Glenn to clear the way for them (I think that’s what he said).

night walkers glenn tries to clear a path out

Good shot, Glenn.

Good shot, Glenn.

Oh, no, Glenn, look out behind you!

Oh, no, Glenn, look out behind you!

Glenn narrowly avoids getting bitten.

Glenn narrowly avoids getting bitten.

Glenn smashes Look Out Behind You's undead brains in against a rock.

Glenn smashes Look Out Behind You Walker’s undead brains in against a rock.

Glenn hears a struggle nearby, finds…

Aaron, hands still tied behind his back, braced against a tree trunk, kicking at a walker.

Aaron, hands still tied behind his back, braced against a tree trunk, kicking at a walker.

Glenn thinks about it a minute, then, with a shake of his head, he goes to help Aaron, rekilling the walker and cutting Aaron’s hands free.  “Run if you want, “ Glenn tells Aaron, “I’ve got other things to worry about.” As Glenn turns to leave, Aaron quotes Glenn’s words to Daryl, the day before, back to him:

We can make it, but we can only make it together.”

“You said that,”  Aaron tells Glenn. “I was listening.” Creepy! What the hell is the deal with these people?

Meanwhile, Richonne is calling for Glenn, and fighting off some mad walkers in their neck of the woods. Rick’s gun runs out of bullets, and the walkers keep coming, so he pulls out the flare gun and aims it for one walker’s head, creating my new walker obsession, affectionately named on Talking Dead as Rick’s Little Bit of Flare Walker:

rick fires at the walker flare walker 1 flare walker 2 flare walker 3flare walker 4

How I love him. <3

How I love him.

Now officially out of firepower, Richonne must do The Dance of the Double Katana on the oncoming walkers…

richonne's dance of the double katana

Then, a hail of bullets comes from behind the walker horde, felling them in their shuffling tracks.  Rick and Michonne see, once the smoke clears…

Glenn and Aaron have come to save the day. Aaron holds up his hands, offers for Rick to tie him up again, if he needs to, but please hurry...methinks Aaron secretly is beginning to enjoy this!

Glenn and Aaron have come to save the day. Aaron holds up his hands, offers for Rick to tie him up again, if he needs to, but please hurry…methinks Aaron secretly is beginning to enjoy this getting tied up business!

Rick Grimes says,

Rick Grimes says, “Pass.”

As they emerge onto the open road, Rick turns to Aaron and asks where their people are. Aaron replies that he doesn’t know.  Rick tells Aaron that if this all is a trick to get their gang where Aaron’s people wants them, “Your people are gonna die tonight.” (Whew, another Cheryl Tunt shiver just went through me…so delicious, Deputy Smash!)

They reach an abandoned looking industrial park...Rick whistles his singsong whistle, and Daryl, who has been outside, keeping watch, waves to them and pounds on the door, signaling the others, inside.

They reach an abandoned looking industrial park. Rick whistles his singsong whistle, and Daryl, who has been outside, keeping watch, waves to them and pounds on the door, signaling the others, inside.

The gang reunites... Yay!

The gang reunites…Yay!

Aaron begins calling for Eric. He rushes inside, and when he hears a voice, he runs into a room, and finds…

eric

His totes adorbs bf, Eric.

eric says he likes maggie

Poor Eric’s ankle is injured. He likens it to a Volleyball injury. Maggie thinks it might be brokenI like her,” Eric tells Aaron. (Lucky, Maggie…you found a fabulous gay bestie, which I keep asking Santa for,  for Christmas, and have yet to get…I am lime green jelly!)

eric tells aaron it's not a big deal

Aaron is so upset seeing his love’s injury...Eric playfully chides Aaron, saying it’s “your fault” he got injured, as he loves Aaron so much that it makes him worry about him and do stupid things, like getting a tractor tire rolled over his ankle.

man make out sesh

Aaron rushes to Eric and pastes one on him, which made me cheer out loud. Man make-out sesh on prime time television…thank you, TWD!

eric found another license plate

Eric pulls out a gift for Aaron…a license plate from a state he does not yet have.  Aaron cannot bring himself to tell Eric the truth, but Eric figures it out. “You lost the license plates,” he guesses.  Aaron deadpans, “I lost the car.”

rick interrupts the mens giggle

Their giggle is interrupted by Rick, who has come in the room and is watching their interaction. “Hi, I’m Eric!” says Eric brightly. Aaron excuses himself and goes outside with Rick.

Aaron thanks the group for saving Eric.  He tells them he is indebted to them, and he will make sure he repays his debt to them when they get to their new community, Alexandria. Aaron tries to excuse himself to go back and be with his partner, but Rick tries to put the kibosh on that, telling Aaron he is going to sleep out there, with them, where Rick can keep an eye on him.

Aaron looks Rick square in the eye and tells him the only way he, Rick, his going to keep him, Aaron, away from Eric is to shoot him.  Glenn intervenes, and pulls Rick aside, telling Rick that Aaron told them where his camp was, that he was telling the truth about there being only one other person with him (Eric), and that both men are unarmed, one with a broken ankle.

“I want us to be safe too…I can’t give up everything else. I know what I said, but, it does matter.” Maggie, listening to this, is probably falling in love with Glenn all over again, in this moment.

Rick nods.  “All right,” he says. The voice of reason has spoken.

And so, the next morning, the gang is Hauling Ass To Alexandria (Isn't that the name of the country western song?).

And so, the next morning, the gang is Hauling Ass To Alexandria (Isn’t that the name of the country western song?).

In the back of the RV, while Eric sleeps, Aaron watches over him. Noah comes in with a bottle of water and a bottle of pills. Aaron says he wants to let Eric sleep, but Noah says the pills are for Aaron, as he knows that his hands must be hurting.

In the back of the RV, while Eric sleeps, Aaron watches over him. Noah comes in with a bottle of water and a bottle of pills. Aaron says he wants to let Eric sleep, but Noah says the pills are for Aaron, as he knows that his hands must be hurting.

As Noah turns to leave, Aaron asks him about his leg. Noah tells Aaron that he hurt it in a car accident with his dad, and he did get medical attention, so he feels lucky he can walk at all. Aaron tells Noah that they have a surgeon, Pete, who is gifted and who Aaron has seen

As Noah turns to leave, Aaron asks him about his leg. Noah tells Aaron that he hurt it in a car accident with his dad, and he did get medical attention, so he feels lucky he can walk at all. Aaron tells Noah that they have a surgeon, Pete, who is gifted and who Aaron has seen “do wonders” with others. Noah takes this in, asks, “Yeah?” Aaron nods, and Noah walks away, hopeful for the first time in a long time.

In the front of the RV, Eugene is teaching the rules to Seven Card Stud. Tara, I think, asks him a

In the front of the RV, Eugene is teaching the rules to Seven Card Stud. Tara, I think, asks “Seriously?” to one of the finer points of the game, and Eugene replies, “Serious as two copulatin’ dogs.” Ha!

Rosita, riding shotgun, points out the Washington Monument, which is visible in the horizon.

Rosita, riding shotgun, points out the Washington Monument, which is visible in the horizon. Abraham, look!”

Abraham, who is driving this RV, looks over and takes in the sight of something he has been striving to see, firsthand, for so long...

Abraham, who is driving this RV, looks over and takes in the sight of something he has been striving to see, firsthand, for so long…

He looks over at Rosita, who jokes,

He looks over at Rosita, who jokes, “Eyes on the road!”

Rosita is happy, though, you can tell.

Rosita is happy, though, you can tell.

Abraham looks down at the console. The battery light is on.  He asks Rosita how long they’ve got, and she says they are halfway there.  Abraham smiles, says they are going to make it…

A ways down the road, however...broken down again.

A ways down the road, however…broken down again.

Abraham's bummed (

Abraham’s bummed (“Might as well paint it red and put a ladder on it”), but Glenn says all it needs is another battery. Abraham asks him where they’re supposed to get one of those. Glenn brings him around to the other side of the RV, and shows him…

...a backup battery. Abraham asks Glenn how he knew it was there, and Glenn smiles in a silent homage to Dale. <3

…a backup battery. Abraham asks Glenn how he knew it was there, and Glenn smiles in a silent homage to Dale.

Meanwhile, sitting on the hood of the back car, Michonne looks over at Rick, tells him the fight's over...it's time to let it go. Michonne, Michonne, Michonne, the fight is never over, or there wouldn't be a show...but maybe everyone can get some rest, and some food, and a chance to party naked for a while.

Meanwhile, sitting on the hood of the back car, Michonne looks over at Rick, tells him the fight’s over…it’s time to let it go. Michonne, Michonne, Michonne, the fight is never over, or there wouldn’t be a show, would there?  But, maybe everyone can get some rest, and some food, and a chance for some consenting adults to party naked, for a little while, anyway.

“I know it’s hard, after it’s kept you warm, and alive, and fed…but the fight, it turns on you. You gotta let it go.” Michonne speaks from a place of knowing, and Rick listens to her, looking tortured, and hot, and majorly hairy.

I think, judging from the recent pictures of Andrew Lincoln, and the recent interviews, that a clean shave is in Rick Grimes' not-too-distant-future...and if it's Michonne who does the shaving, well, I would pretty much die of happiness at that scene, as well.

I think, judging from the recent pictures of Andrew Lincoln, and the recent interviews, that a clean shave is in Rick Grimes’ not-too-distant-future…and if it’s Michonne who does the shaving, well, I would pretty much die of happiness at that scene, as well, especially if she uses her katana’s blade.

Rick tells Michonne that Bob was telling him the same thing, when to give up the fight, and let the world and others in again.  Rick tells Michonne he needs a moment, then goes off and, from what I gathered, stashes Aaron’s handgun in a plastic blender...just in case.

And then, they arrive at the gates of Alexandria.

they pull up to the gates

Rick looks at the gate.

Rick looks at the gate.

at the gate 4 children playing

Then Rick hears the one sound that could convince him to enter those gates...the sound of children playing inside the gates.

at the gate 5 rick looks at michonne

As the happy sounds wash over them, Michonne gives Rick a sweet smile. When is the last time anybody heard that beautiful noise, the sound of children playing? Too long.

at the gate 6 hand on hand

Michonne puts her hand on Rick’s a moment, then turns to him, asks him if he’s ready. After a moment, Rick tells her he is. He takes his hands off the steering wheel, puts the car in park, and gets out of the car to get Judith from the back seat.

at the gate 7 at the gate 8 baby and rick lock eyes at the gate 8 get that baby

at the gate 10 rick and judith love look

The only thing hotter to me than Rick Smash! is Papi Grimes, loving on his children with infinite love and tenderness.

at the gate 11

Well, darlings, of course this week’s Deadie goes to Andrew Lincoln, and Rick Grimes, for being such a beautiful badass, a loving father to his children, his new gf, and his chosen family, and for choosing to believe…and for stashing that handgun in the plastic blender…just in case.

Live long and prosper, my WD darlings. <3 Spock forever!

Live long and prosper, my WD darlings. ❤

Until next week, and enjoy the playlist.

Playlist:

Cake, “The Distance”

Mudhoney, “Halloween”

Plague Vendor, “Black Sap Scriptures”

The Knife, “Heartbeats” (for Abraham and Rosita

Love Battery, “Float”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Runaway”

Land of Talk, “Yuppy Flu”

The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 10, “Them”

“Them”

In The Walking Dead’s Season 5, Episode 10, “Them,” we, the viewers, along with our righteous gang, are finally getting that chance we’ve been waiting for, to slow down, take a long, ragged breath, and process, for a moment, everything that has happened, thus far, in the relatively short period of time since the prison community was struck down, first by a highly lethal virus, then, by a madman and his army…and so on.

Our gang has suffered so much loss in this brief space of time.  Maggie, at this point, has lost her entire family,  She, and Daryl, are reeling over Beth’s senseless murder at the hands of Dawn Lerner, after a hostage trade negotiation at Grady Memorial went horribly awry.

Sasha has lost, in rapid, horrifying succession, first, her sweet boyfriend, Bob, and most recently, her beloved brother, Tyreese.

Noah has just discovered that his mother, twin brothers, and entire community have been brutally murdered by an unknown enemy. He, too, has lost his entire family at this point.

Abraham, having lost his entire family, before, when they ran away from him in terror and were attacked by walkers, has suffered another blow: Eugene Porter’s confession that he had been lying, the whole time, about having the key to a cure for the walker epidemic. With Eugene’s confession came the crushing realization, for Abraham, Rosita, and many others of the group, that there may not be an end in sight to the horror and savagery that the world has become.

This hell that they are living, every day, may be all that there is.

Abraham had embraced Eugene’s lie readily, before, as it gave him a mission, and a reason to continue on. Now, Abraham seems to be grappling with the same doubts and uncertainties as everyone else.  In Episode 510, we see Abraham taking frequent pulls from a bottle of liquor he has found in a sweep of abandoned cars, and there is not much direct interaction between him and Rosita, at this point.

On top of everything else, poor Abraham may have lost the love of his hot, sexy girlfriend (I truly hope this is not the case, Abraham, my man, but if so, maybe she’s still up for a fwb scenario now and again on those cold postapocalyptic nights…here’s hoping, bud!).

Carol is sure to be feeling the loss of Tyreese keenly, as he, and she, shared, just between them, the terrible knowledge and grief of Lizzie’s downward spiral into insanity, and then, Mika and Lizzie’s tragic deaths back at the pecan grove.

And now, Carol is watching, and feeling, Daryl pull away from her, and the group.  While Carol seems to be keeping herself open and available for him, and reaching out, letting Daryl know she’s there, Carol also knows that she needs to keep giving him the time and space he needs, right now, to process the loss of Beth, and work through his grief.

I personally think it must suck for Carol, deep down inside, to see how hard Daryl is grieving for Beth, on some level, as it confirms that he had deep feelings for the beautiful young girl.

And, like I said, if Daryl and Beth had been together longer, just the two of them, well, we all probably agree that something would have happened, sooner than later.  

In my personal estimation, judging from how things were progressing, from the span of Season 4’s “After,” to “Still,” and then, finally, “Alone,” the making out would have happened more on the sooner scale.

Remember, in “Alone,” when Beth asked Daryl what made him change his mind about the goodness of people, and he fixed her with that sweet love look, at the kitchen table?

He was all like:

IMG_3909

And she was all like:

IMG_3914

(Sorry for the reflections, it was back before I knew how to do a screenshot.)

But, reflections aside, those archival shots from “Alone,” to me, are photographic proof of:

L-O-V-E. Young, wild, (kind of) forbidden, natural, blossoming LOVE.

Daryl is good at holding his cards close to his chest, but he’s not good at lying. Daryl doesn’t lie.  If he can’t be honest, he’ll keep silent. He won’t say it.

Daryl showed his love for Beth, clearly, in actions more than words, back in Season 4, and later, in the first part of Season 5, Daryl shows his love for Carol in actions, and in words (because that’s how the grown women do…you gotta show them in actions and in words, none of this “one or the other” business. Grown women need to see you got all the skills.)

In “Consumed,” Daryl clearly, and honestly, communicates his love, and his intention (“I’m trying”)  to Carol, and when we saw that episode, it showed us how far Daryl has come in owning and expressing his heartfelt emotions.

This is something he hasn’t been able to do before, and I find it very beautiful and endearing to see this sweetness blossoming in Daryl. It’s such a crazy-ass thing that it took an apocalypse, and the gathering of fine people who came into his life because of it, for Daryl to get to the point where he could open up and be who he really is.

And, I said, before, if I were Carol, and I saw how bad the object of my singular love and affection was pining for someone else, well, that personally would really suck for me. But, it’s honest, and that’s how Daryl does it, and to be with Daryl would mean that New Carol would have to roll with that.

New Carol, being the champion that she is, seems to know all that, and she seems to be able to not take it too personally, or too hard, when Daryl rebuffs her, pushes her away, and goes off, alone, which is often, in Episode 510.

Carol knows Daryl pretty well by now, and she knows that this is what he needs to do, and how he needs to do it, and hopefully, when he is done, he will be ready and happy to come, fully and ready to party naked, back to Caryl.

And, with this, I am raising my coffee in a toast:  To Caryl!

Moving on, now, to other characters…

Tara has been remarkably resilient, and adaptable, since we first met her back in the middle of Season 4. Tara has also had to come to grips with the loss of her entire family: her sister, her niece, her father, and her new girlfriend, Alicia.  Tara, who fell prey to the Governor’s lies, has also had to come to grips with her own naivete, guilt, and self-doubt for playing a part in the destruction and massacre of the prison.

Tara has made her apologies, and her peace, with Maggie, and the others in the group, and, as she is funny, solid in a crisis, and a good friend, Tara seems like she may play a key role in helping the others heal their wounds and open back up to each other.

The gang is having a hard time finding the balance between nursing their private wounds and keeping open and communicative with the good folks around them, who are also hurting, exhausted, hungry, thirsty…demoralized.

And speaking of social retardation… Eugene Porter and Father Gabriel, the Oddball Outsiders, have lost a good degree of standing within the group with their respective revelations.

Eugene, of course, was forced to come clean and confess to lying about having the walker cure,and basically using Abraham, Rosita (and a number of fine men and women who died in the cause of getting Eugene to Washington, D.C.) as bodyguards, and protectors.

While the zeal of having a mission, and something to believe in, was certainly a positive thing for Abraham, and others, that geeky shoe was bound to drop sooner or later…and now, here we are, and it will be interesting to see how the story of Eugene Porter unfolds at this point in the TWD storyline, and what role he will ultimately end up playing in the group.

And Gabriel...well, Gabriel finally confessed his big sin to someone other than God, and tearfully unburdened himself to the gang, back at his cursed church, about how, in the beginning of the turn, he kept the church doors locked when his frightened parishioners came to the church, seeking refuge there, and did not let them into the church.

(Something about it being too late, or too early. Not a good time, apparently. Come back during business hours, which are posted on the door…yes, that door, the one you are pounding on.)

Despite his congregation’s desperate cries and pleas, Gabriel still refused to let them in, and so the helpless families were swarmed and savagely attacked by walkers, who were attracted to the noise of the families’ cries, pleas to be let inside the church.

And, as the poor men, women, and children of his congregation were torn apart by walkers, Gabriel cowered within the safety of the church’s walls, alone, listening to the horror and the savagery as it happened.

Gabriel, once a spiritual leader, is struggling mightily with his self-hatred, self-condemnation, and his loss of faith in God right about now, and this theme, losing faith in God, resounds with other characters, especially Maggie, in Episode 510.

Glenn, who has always been such a source of positivity, strength, and reason, for the others, has seemingly lost his faith, and his will, as well, after watching so many people he loved and cared for die tragically, needlessly, horribly.

His driving force, his love for Maggie and concern for the others in the group, spurs him onward, but as we saw in last week’s episode, “What Happened and What’s Going On,” Glenn is struggling within himself, wondering aloud to Rick if anything matters, anymore.

Each member of the gang is struggling with their own version of Glenn’s question: Does anything matter, anymore?  What can someone truly put his/her faith, intention, and energy into striving for, in this world, as it is now?   What is the point in trying to build anything good, or lasting, when it can all be torn away, brutally destroyed, in the blink of an eye?

Nowadays, even the very concept of having hope, or a dream, or faith in anything good seems to be ripped away before the hope, or the dream, can even materialize. The promise of building a lasting home at the prison was snuffed out by one man’s obsessive desire for vengeance.

The offered promise of a Sanctuary turned out to be a trap, and a place of unspeakable evil and brutality.  Eugene’s promise of a cure was nothing but a lie concocted by a weak, insecure young man (and his egregious mullet) to buy himself some time, protection, and a ride to D.C.

Carol and Tyreese’s hope of settling in at a quiet, cozy farm house nestled in a pecan grove, and enjoying a quiet respite, with Mika, Lizzie, and Judith, ended suddenly and tragically, with the deaths of the two young sisters.

The brief hope, and promise, of finding Beth, and getting her and Carol back, alive and safe, ended in Beth’s violent and senseless murder.

And most recently, the promise of a potential new home for the gang, in Noah’s family’s walled, secure neighborhood outside of Richmond, resulted in the gang’s discovery of the grisly aftermath of  the massacre of an entire peaceful community, including Noah’s mother and little twin brothers, and ending in the heartbreak of Tyreese’s painful, agonizing death.

Hershel. Lilly. Megan. Mika. Lizzie. Bob. Beth. Noah’s mother, and little brothers. And now, Tyreese. Not long ago, they were alive. They were loved. They were family.

And now, they are gone. All of them.  And our sweet gang, both as individuals and as a collective, must find a reason, deep within themselves, to carry on, despite carrying the heavy burden of so much grief, and so much loss.

The opening shot of Episode 510, “Them,” shows a pair of eyes, closed, crying…the shot pans out, and we see, of course, that it is Maggie, sitting against a tree, crying quietly.

Her eyes and face are swollen, as if she has been crying, on and off, for a long time.

maggie cry 1 maggie cry 2 maggie cry 3

maggie faces tuib walker1

Maggie’s much needed cry is then rudely interrupted by Tangled Up In Blue Walker, who comes hissing and pawing at her, but gets entangled, and stuck, in the hanging vines of the tree. Maggie gets up, annoyed, like, “Can’t a girl have a moment to herself?” 

maggie stabs tuib walker

Maggie easily rekills Tangled Up In Blue Walker with one quick thrust of her knife into its decaying skull…

maggie resumes her cry

…and then sinks miserably back down against the tree to resume her cry, with the dead walker’s body draped, unnoticed, in the vines behind her.

Meanwhile…

daryl digs

We see a tanned, muscled arm digging deep in the mud...for water, it seems.

daryls worm

…no water, but we see the digging has yielded a tasty morsel…

eat the worm 1

Eat the worm, Daryl Dixon!

daryl ate the worm

Daryl eats the wriggling earthworm so matter-of-factly, without registering any distaste or disgust while doing so, that it seems like something he’s done many times before, and that somehow makes him even hotter, and even more beautiful, and endearing, if that is even possible…

daryl worm picnic

…especially when the shot pans out, and he’s sitting like a little boy, having his own little worm picnic. I have thought about Daryl as a boy so many times (the boy whose mom died drunk, and passed out, in the house fire, leaving him to be raised by a drunk dad and a sadistic older brother) and it makes the mom in me, and the woman in me, feel so much love and hurt in my heart for him.

Sasha, meanwhile, walks along a creek bed, which has run dry.  She crouches, and digs a moment, but there is no water to be had, here.

sasha crouches at creek 1

creek dry frogs

Sasha sees the bodies of many frogs, belly up, along the dried creek bed. Would frogs just lie back, and give up the ghost, as a creek dried up, or would they hop away? I don’t know much about frogs, but it’s not the first time I have wondered if all this decay and pestilence in the post-apocalyptic world is poisoning the water, air, soil, food supply.

sasha kicks at creek dry frog

Alarmed, Sasha angrily kicks the dirt, partially burying the frog.

Looking up, Sasha sees Daryl and Maggie approach, look down at her from the top of the bank.  Sasha wordlessly shakes her head. No water here.

daryl and maggie turn away

Daryl turns away, crossbow over his shoulder, while Maggie looks down at Sasha, standing in the dried creek bed littered with dead frogs, a moment more. No words are exchanged between any of them. Maggie then turns away, and follows Daryl. After a moment, Sasha heads up the bank, after them.

maggie sasha daryl head back

As they head back to the group, who sits, waiting, in the road, Sasha signs, “Oh, shit.” Not one of the three found any water to bring back.

daryl sunspots

The sun beats down on them…

how much longer we got

…as they trudge back to the group, empty water bottles hanging from their bags, belts. “How much longer we got?” Maggie asks. “About 60 miles,” replies Sasha. Maggie gives a small shake of her head, says grimly, “I wasn’t talking about that.”

After the opening credits, we see a brief shot of the front end of a truck, stopping. We hear Abraham’s voice saying that the truck’s run dry, like the other one.  Rick’s reply is immediate, “So, we walk.”  We see legs, boots coming out of the truck, and the rays of the hot sun beating down.

boots coming out of trucksun spots

daryl rick judith

As they walk, Daryl turns back to look at a small group of walkers that are shuffling slowly behind their group, maybe 50 yards back.

daryl looks back

Rick, holding Judith, turns to regard the potential threat. “We’re not at our strongest,” he says. “We’ll get them when it’s best, high ground, something like that.”

Turning back around, Rick adds, “They’re not going anywhere.”

Rick turns to Daryl.

Rick turns to Daryl. “It’s been three weeks since Atlanta…I know you lost something back there.” (Besides feeling the exquisite pain of this moment, I just need say that, in my opinion, there cannot be too many scenes like this one, of beautiful men holding babies and talking about feelings.)

Daryl does not reply. Judith give a little whimper, and Daryl looks down at her. “She’s hungry,” he says.

Rick pulls Judith up a little closer to him.

Rick pulls Judith up a little closer to him. “She’s ok,”  he says, looking forward. His voice falters just a moment as he asserts, “She’s gonna be ok.” (Exquisite pain, watching this…exquisite pain.)

“We gotta find water, food,” Daryl says.

Looking like a beautiful Moses, Rick looks up at a couple of clouds, forming, and says that it's gonna rain, sooner or later.

Looking like a beautiful Moses, Rick looks up at a couple of clouds forming, and says that it’s gonna rain, sooner or later.

Daryl hands the crossbow to Rick, tells him that he's going to take a run.  Carol is close behind, seems like she may have heard the men's earlier exchange.

Daryl hands the crossbow to Rick, tells him that he’s going to take a run. Carol is close behind, seems like she may have heard the men’s earlier exchange.

As Daryl turns to leave, Rick chides, gently,

As Daryl turns to leave, Rick chides, gently, “Don’t be too long.” Seems that Daryl takes a lot of opportunities to dip out, these days, going off for long stretches of time. Carol speaks up. “I’ll go with you.” Daryl replies, “Nah, hey, I got it.” Ouch, my heart for you, Carol! 😦

Not to be deterred, New Carol shakes her head, starts after him.

Not to be deterred, New Carol shakes her head, and starts after him. “You gonna stop me?” she asks, wryly. Daryl turns to her, pauses, waits for her. Not so fast, Daryl Dixon!

carl hands maggie music box 1

Carl catches up to Maggie and gives her a gift, a music box he found while looking for water. He tells her it doesn’t work, but he thought she would like it.

magglie music box 2

As Maggie opens the box, it is easy to imagine that the little blond ballerina inside would remind her of Beth. This sweet gesture brings a small, rare smile to Maggie’s face…

maggie thanks carl 1

…and she turns and thanks Carl.

maggie thanks carl

Some of my WDO buddies still hate on Carl, but I really love him. He is becoming such a sweetie, and has really had to roll with some hard times. Can’t hate the little man for having his tween tool moments back in the day (and ps, he really didn’t mean to kill Dale. That shit was a total accident).

gabriel chafes at the collar

As Carl walks ahead, Maggie turns to see Gabriel, behind her, pulling at his priest’s collar. Seeing her look, Gabriel jokes that he used to call the collars the modern-day incarnations of the hot, itchy “hair shirts” that priests, in times before, were forced to wear as an act of atonement. Besides the unspoken sentiment that there wouldn’t be a shirt hairy enough for Gabriel to wear to “atone” for his horrible betrayal of his own parishioners…

gabriel hair shirts maggie 1

…Maggie tells Gabriel, without looking at him, that she knows what hair shirts are, that her “daddy” was religious.

gabriel hair shirts maggie 2 PNG

Staring ahead, Maggie adds, “I used to be.”

Gabriel begins to offer to Maggie his services as a spiritual counselor, if she ever wants to talk about her father, or Beth, and Maggie interrupts him, with as much politeness as she can manage, “Please stop.”

Gabriel continues, in his automatic priest-mode, “Whenever you’re ready, I’m here.”

Staring straight ahead, Maggie replies,

Staring straight ahead, Maggie replies, “You never even met them.” Gabriel replies, “I know you’re in pain.”

Maggie whirls on Gabriel.

Maggie whirls on Gabriel. “You don’t know shit,” she tells him. “You had a job…you were there to save your flock, right? But you didn’t…you hid. Don’t act like that didn’t happen.” And with that, Maggie stalks off.

Some ways down the road, the gang trudges along, while the walkers behind them have gained in number, and are gaining on them, only about 20 yards away, and their telltale hiss and slaver are audible in the background.

walkers getting closer

Sasha looks back at the walkers, then at Michonne, tells Michonne,

Sasha looks back at the walkers, then at Michonne, tells Michonne, “We can take them.” Michonne sides with her future bf and replies that, “Rick’s right…we barely have anything left. No use in spending it all now.”

Sasha, however, is not so easily deterred.  She’s in pain, she’s pissed, and she’s spoiling for a fight. “I can take them,” she insists.

Michonne knows too well what is going on, here.

Michonne knows all too well what is going on, here. “Your brother was pissed too, after what he lost, “ she tells Sasha. “It made him stupid.” Sasha whirls on Michonne.  “We are not the same,” Sasha says. “We never were.”

Michonne looks at Sasha, not unkindly. “But, it’s still the same,” she says to the young woman.  “It just is.” Sasha has no reply to this, just turns and walks away from Michonne.

Meanwhile, out on another water run, Carol asks Daryl if he’s found anything…he says everything’s too dry.  Carol suggests they start heading back, and Daryl is quick to suggest that Carol go on, without him.

Carol looks at Daryl.

Carol looks at Daryl. “I think she saved my life,” she says, referring, of course, to Beth. “She saved your life too, right?”

Daryl does not reply.  Carol walks over and hands him a knife, sheathed in a blond leather casing.

carol hands daryl beth's knife

“It’s hers,” Carol says simply. Daryl takes the knife, looks at it a moment, still says nothing.

“You’re not dead,” says Carol, softly, mirroring Daryl’s words to her, some time ago, back to him. “I know you…you have to let yourself feel it.

carol smooths daryls hair

Carol reaches out and gently, tenderly smooths Daryl’s hair back…

carol kisses daryl on head

…then kisses him on the forehead, stand back, looking at him. “You will,” she says, laying a gentle hand on Daryl’s shoulder.

carol looks at daryl

Some TWD fans posted disappointment at this motherly, rather than loverly, show of love on Carol’s part, but I think it’s exactly what Daryl needed in the moment…pure, supportive, unconditional love, to take the time he needs to grieve Beth’s death. Super awesomeness, New Carol-style.

Meanwhile…

rick looks down the drop

Rick looks down at the steep drop from the bridge…here is the gang’s opportunity to take care of the walker herd that’s been tailing them all day. The gang is in formation, lined up on either side of the bridge.

rick looks to others

Rick wordlessly nods to Abraham, the others, as he walks towards the walker herd.

gang in bridge formation

Abraham nods back. They are ready.

rick faces the herd

Rick and the gang face the herd of walkers.

rick pitches one down

As the first walker approaches Rick, Rick sidesteps, stumbling a moment, then sends the walker flying down the steep embankment of the bridge, using the walker’s forward momentum to propel it downward, without using too much of his own energy, aikido-style.

abraham pitches two down

Using this same technique, Abraham sends two more flying down the steep drop.

glenn pitches one down

Glenn and Michonne both use the technique successfully. It seems to be working…

sasha knifes hes and breaks formation

…until Sasha breaks formation, striding up to her walker and spearing it in the head with her knife.

rick says flank her, machetes walker

Rick assesses the situation immediately, tells the gang to stay in line, and flank Sasha. They must fight now, as the walkers are coming more quickly and aggressively, responding to Sasha’s escalation. Abraham grumbles that the plan is “dicked” as he and Maggie unsheath their knives and prepare to go to battle.

michonne grabs sasha's arm

Michonne grabs Sasha’s arm, tells her to stop, to go, as Sasha is not thinking clearly, and is a danger to herself and others.

rick must battle

Rick and the others, so weak already, must go to battle with the oncoming walkers.

rick almost gets bit

Rick narrowly escapes getting bitten by a walker…thankfully, Daryl is there to pull the walker off.

gang must fightsasha being all crazy and shit

michonne tells sasha i told u so

Michonne pushes Sasha away and quickly beheads the last of the attacking walkers, then points down at Sasha. “I told you to STOP,” Michonne tells her angrily.

sasha feeling dumb

Winded, Sasha seems to grasp how nearly she cost herself, and the others, their lives with her anger and recklessness. She stands, however, and faces Michonne with a look of pure attitude, before stalking off, sheathing her knife.

Later, down the road, Carl sees some abandoned looking cars in the distance.  As the gang approaches the vehicles, Maggie looks in the windows of one car, checks inside, finds nothing useful, but sees the keys in the ignition. Maggie takes the keys and goes around to the trunk, opens it, and makes a horrible discovery…

maggie finds kidnapped walker

…inside the trunk of the car, a woman walker is gagged, with hands and feet bound. As with so many walkers we encounter on TWD, we will never know the full story of Hostage Walker, but we know it is another violent and horrible end to a person’s life. On Talking Dead, later, guests Lauren Cohan, Seth Gilliam, and Robin Lord Taylor speculated on how Hostage Walker may have reminded Maggie of Beth, as Beth was abducted in a car, as well.

maggie looks down at kidnapped walker

Maggie regards Hostage Walker for a moment, before closing the trunk on the whole situation, without bothering to rekill the walker.

maggie remorse

As she turns to go, Maggie hears the walker moving inside the car trunk, thumping against the confines of the closed, dark space. Maggie returns to the trunk, but cannot get it open. The keys are stuck. Maggie pulls out her pistol, ready to blast the lock of the trunk.

Glenn steps up, reaches a hand out to Maggie and stops her from shooting the lock.  When Maggie tells him about the walker in the trunk, Glenn steps forward, manages to get the trunk open, and rekills the walker with a knife to its head.  He then turns to Maggie, and gently says,

Glenn steps up, reaches a hand out to Maggie, and stops her from shooting the lock. When Maggie tells him about the walker in the trunk, Glenn steps forward, manages to get the trunk open, and rekills the walker with a knife to its head. He then turns to Maggie, and gently says, “Let’s go.”

Daryl, of course, has taken this opportunity to once again go off by himself and “take a sweep” of the woods, but has found nothing but a ravaged deer carcass and a dead body against a tree.  When he comes back, the gang is sitting at the roadside, resting. No food, no water to be had, but Abraham did find a bottle of liquor, which he cracks open and starts taking pulls from.

Abraham sniffs the bottle, then takes a drink.

Abraham sniffs the bottle, then takes a drink. “It’s not going to help,” Tara remarks to the others. “He knows that,” Rosita replies. Eugene adds that Abraham is a grown man, but he, Eugene, cannot imagine how things could get any worse. Eugene, Eugene, Eugene, haven’t you watched enough movies in your once-sedentary life to know that whenever you say something like that, something terrible happens?

wild dogs

Like, I don’t know…wild dogs, for instance?

sasha goes sniper on the dogs

Luckily, Sasha is there to take the dogs out, sniper-style.

wild dog for dinner

Wordlessly, Rick takes a long stick, breaks it over his thigh...looks like tonight’s dinner entree is…

...wild dog meat. (My WD buddy texted me, How are they going to feed that to the baby? I truly didn't know, but figured that maybe Rick could chew it up a bit and then feed it to Judith, so it would be easier to eat, Emperor penguin-style?  Rick Grimes could even pull off making that look sexy...hey, whatever it takes, you know?)

…wild dog meat. (My WD buddy texted me, How are they going to feed that to the baby? I truly didn’t know, but figured that maybe Rick could chew it up a bit and then feed it to Judith, so it would be easier to eat, Emperor penguin-style. Rick Grimes could even pull off making that look sexy…hey, at this point, whatever it takes, you know?)

Noah, freaked, is not eating, and is looking over at one of the dog's collars, which reads,

Noah, freaked, is not eating, and is looking over at one of the dog’s collars, which reads, “Duke.”

Sasha steps up with some more wood for the fire, and Noah tells her that her brother, Tyreese, tried to help him. Sasha looks down at Noah, who then looks up at her, says, “I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”

Sasha looks grimly down at the young man. “Then you won’t, she says, her face immovable.  Noah looks down at these harsh words.

Sasha softens a bit, tells Noah,

Sasha softens a bit, tells Noah, “Don’t think, just eat.

gabriel takes off collar

Meanwhile, as the gang sits around, eating, Gabriel pulls his ragged priest’s collar off his shirt…

gabriel throws collar into fire

…and throws it into the fire. Without watching the collar burn, Gabriel takes another bite of meat, stares off, chewing. Maggie watches this, taking it in.

Later, Glenn is trying to get Maggie to take a drink of water. She refuses.  “Ok,” Glenn relents, on the water, anyway. “Why don’t you just talk to me?”

(Later, my WD buddy and I talked about how we were glad that Glenn was making himself available to offer support, counsel, and comfort to Maggie, even though he was going through his own doubts, and darkness.)

Maggie tells Glenn that she never thought Beth was alive, that after seeing their father, Hershel, get killed, she just…didn’t, or couldn’t, think about Beth being alive. Learning that Beth was alive, and then thinking she was going to see Beth, be reunited with her sister, and then seeing Beth, dead, in Daryl’s arms, the same day…Maggie confesses to Glenn that she doesn’t know if she can fight the darkness, any more.

Glenn tells her she can, that they must keep fighting it, that that’s who she is, who they are.  He urges Maggie to drink, and she does, taking a tiny sip from the water bottle.

Abraham walks alongside Sasha, offers her a drink from his bottle.  She refuses, saying that it’s gonna make things worse.

“The way you’re going, you’re what’s gonna make things worse,” retorts Abraham.  Sasha looks down, digesting this.  “Hey,” says Abraham. Sasha looks back up at him. “You’re among friends,” he says to her.

Sasha shoots him one of her looks. “We’re not friends,” she snaps, and walks ahead. Abraham thinks a moment, then shrugs, unconcerned, and takes another pull from the bottle.

Glenn, meanwhile, tries to offer his water bottle to Daryl, who refuses it, even at Glenn’s insistence.

“We can make it,” Glenn reminds Daryl. “But we can only make it together.”

Daryl hangs back, tells Abraham to tell the others he went looking for water.  Abraham says nothing, takes another pull from his bottle.

daryl sees the barn

In the woods, Daryl sees a barn in the distance.

He sits against a tree, looking at the barn.

He sits against a tree, looking at the barn.

Pulling out a stash of battered cigarettes and a lighter, Daryl lights one up.

Pulling out a stash of battered cigarettes and a lighter, Daryl lights one up. Poor guy’s eyes are swollen, and he looks like he’s really in a bad way.

After taking a couple of long drags off the cigarette, Daryl takes the lit end and presses it into his hand.

After taking a couple of long drags off the cigarette, Daryl takes the lit end and presses it into his hand, burning himself.

daryl burns hand

It’s the type of thing you could imagine Daryl doing to himself at a young age, ritualistic cutting or burning, a behavior which most often starts in the tween or teen years.

The searing pain seems to bring Daryl a much-needed release...

The searing pain seems to bring Daryl a much-needed release…

...as Daryl's tears finally start to flow.  Overhead, there is a rumble of thunder, suggesting the dry spell is about to break.

…as Daryl’s tears finally start to flow. Overhead, there is a rumble of thunder, suggesting the dry spell is about to break. It is a recurring theme in classical poetry, and prose, that tears, and rain, symbolize rebirth, and renewal.

When Daryl gets back to the gang, Rick hands him a note that was left for them, along with an offering of many bottles of water, in the road…

from a friend

“From A Friend”

water bottles

As thirsty as they are, it would be so tempting to take the risk and drink the offered water, but Rick tells the group that they can’t risk it, as they do not know who the water is from, or what their intentions are.

Eugene steps forward and grabs a bottle, saying he’ll be “quality assurance,” and is about to drink, when:

Abraham steps quickly forward and slaps the bottle right out of Eugene's hand, sending the water flying.  Eugene looks like he is about to cry, and Rick tells him, gently, that they can't take the risk.

Abraham steps quickly forward and slaps the bottle right out of Eugene’s hand, sending the water flying. Eugene looks like he is about to cry, and Rick tells him, gently, that they can’t take the risk.

In that moment, the group begins to feel drops of water falling on them…it’s raining!

gabriel rain

Gabriel tearfully looks to the heavens and apologizes to the Lord, presumably for his loss of faith, burning the collar.

rain 1 rain 2 glenn rain maggie rain sasha rain daryl rainrick sees storm coming

At a loud clap of thunder, Rick stands and looks to the horizon, sees…

bad storm coming

A dark storm cloud is coming. Daryl shouts to Rick that there’s a barn nearby, and the gang all runs to take shelter there.

gang clears the barn

The gang goes through the ritual of “clearing” the barn of any walkers, or living foes…

maggie sees bible

Maggie sees a bible on top of a stack of books…

i died in a barn walker

…before opening a door to a side room and discovering the reanimated, cobwebby remains of I Died In A Barn Walker.

some people can't give up

It is unclear exactly how I Died In A Barn Walker originally died…hunger, lack of water, illness, exposure, walker bite? Maggie rekills the walker with a single spear of her knife to the walker’s skull, then remarks to Carol that the woman had a gun, which is shown, leaning up against the wall of the room.  “She could have shot herself,” Maggie wonders aloud.  Carol muses that, “Some people can’t give up,” and looking sideways at Maggie, adding, significantly, “Like us,” before walking away, leaving the young woman to process this.

Later, the gang tries to get some much-needed rest in the barn, with the sound of the rain pouring outside.

gang tries to sleep

he's gonna be ok

Huddled around a small fire, Rick looks over at this sleeping son. “He’s gonna be ok,” Carol assures him, adding that Carl, being young, will be able to bounce back sooner than any of the adults will.

Rick says that he used to feel sorry for kids who have to grow up in these times, as they will never get to experience what it feels like to have a protected, happy, carefree childhood. But, Rick says now, he wonders if he got it wrong.

Rick wonders if kids growing up in these times actually have it easier, as

Rick wonders if kids growing up in these times actually have it easier, as “growing up is getting used to the world.” Daryl listens to this, in the darkness. Even before the turn, as a child, Daryl had a hellish world that he had to grow up in, to “get used to.”

Michonne speaks up.

Michonne speaks up. “This isn’t the world,” she says, simply. “This isn’t it.” Glenn looks back, into the other room, where Maggie is lying down. “It might be,” he says, quietly.

Michonne counters, “That’s giving up.” Glenn counters that that’s just being realistic. Rick says that until they see otherwise, this, what they are living, is the world they must survive in.

rick says this is what they need to live withrick talks about his grandfather

Rick then tells the group that when he was a kid, and he asked his grandfather if he ever killed any Germans in the war, his grandfather wouldn’t answer, telling young Rick that such topics were “grown-up stuff.”

When young Rick then asked his grandfather if any Germans ever tried to kill him, his grandfather got real quiet, then told his grandson that he was already “dead, as soon as he stepped into enemy territory.”

Rick’s grandfather told him that every morning, when he awoke, and had to prepare himself to go back into battle, he would tell himself, “Rest In Peace, now get up and go to war.”  

Years later, after pretending he was dead, every day of his tour in the war, Rick’s grandfather made it back home, alive.

“That’s the trick of it, I think,” Rick tells the others. “We do what we need to do, and then, we get to live.”

Rick continues, saying that no matter what they find in D.C., they will be ok, because “This is how we survive. We tell ourselves that ‘We are the walking dead.'”

Daryl and Glenn exchange looks, then Daryl asserts, softly, “We ain’t them.”

Rick tries to echo his agreement, that they are not them, the walkers… (Dude, it was a metaphor! I was just getting a little caught up in the moment…awww, c’mon dude, that’s not what I meant! Come back!)

Daryl, however, has had enough of this conversation, and he stands up, collects his things, and turns to leave, but not before turning back to Rick and the others, and saying, once more, “We ain’t them,” before walking out of the room.

Poor Rick, but hey, buddy, you tried…and I (among many others in the TWD family, I am sure) was cheering this epic speech as it was being delivered.

Personally, it made me think of all those years ago, back in 2004, when I bought the first two issues of The Walking Dead comic series (which had just come out, and was sending shockwaves, and geekgasms, throughout the entire comic book community).

The clerk at the comic book store told me, “And the name, ‘The Walking Dead,’ you don’t know if it applies to the zombies or the living human survivors.”  

Ah, memories! 🙂

Meanwhile, Daryl stalks off into another room, sees the chain barring a main set of doors has come a little loose, and the winds from the storm are blowing the doors open and closed against the chain, giving little glimpses of the raging storm outside.

Daryl puts down his crossbow and goes over to fix the chain, and sees, outside, coming fast towards the swinging doors of the barn:

A horde of walkers! Ahhgh!

A horde of walkers! Ahhgh!

daryl bars the door

Daryl cries out in alarm, hurriedly tightens the chain, and then presses his back against the doors, and the press of hissing, snarling walkers trying to push through.

daryl and maggie bar the door

Maggie sees Daryl, runs to help…

all the gang bars the door 2

And one by one, all the gang runs to help hold the doors steady against the crush of walkers. It is a terrifying, amazing scene, capturing the mayhem of another life and death moment in WD.

rick bars door

As the gang works together, despite their individual pain, beliefs, differences with each other, to do whatever it takes, in this moment, to survive together, Rick and Daryl exchange a long, significant look as they push against the walkers with all their might. I like to think they were like, “Dude, I’m sorry for the weirdness back there…I didn’t mean it! I love you, man!”

all the gang bars the door

The next shot, it’s morning…

maggie awake

As Maggie opens her eyes, it seems she may be thinking (along with the viewers), “Was that all a dream, last night?”

Maggie looks into Baby Judith's sweet face.  The baby is awake, but seems to know to let her dad sleep a little longer...Rick, once again, is looking like the hottest single dad ever, sleeping, holding his baby girl.

Maggie looks into Baby Judith’s sweet face. The baby is awake, but seems to know to let her dad sleep a little longer…Rick, once again, is looking like the hottest single dad ever, sleeping, holding his baby girl.

Maggie stands up, looks around at the others, sleeping in the barn.  She then sees Daryl, who is sitting awake, against the far wall.  It seems like he has stayed up, keeping watch as the others slept.

Maggie goes over and sits down next to Daryl.  She gently urges him to get some sleep, tells him,

Maggie goes over and sits down next to Daryl. She gently urges him to get some sleep, tells him, “You can rest now.”

They look over towards Sasha’s sleeping form, and Daryl says, of Tyreese, “He was tough.”

Looking over at Maggie, Daryl adds,

Looking over at Maggie, Daryl adds, “She was tough, too. She didn’t know it, but she was.” This brings a smile to Maggie’s face, and they share a moment, remembering Beth.

Daryl then hands Maggie the music box, saying, simply,

Daryl then hands Maggie the music box, saying, simply, “The gear box had some grit in it.” It is easy to imagine Daryl, keeping watch, cleaning and fixing the music box while the others slept. How we love thee, Daryl Dixon!

Maggie thanks Daryl, smiling sweetly at him, and then gets up, music box in hand, and goes over to wake up Sasha.

Maggie thanks Daryl, smiling sweetly at him, and then gets up, music box in hand, and goes over to wake up Sasha. “C’mon,” she whispers, and Sasha gets up to follow Maggie, as Daryl prepares to get some sleep.

walkers in the tree

As Maggie and Sasha step outside, they are greeted by an incredible sight. All around the barn, tall pines are felled by the fearsome storm of the night before, spearing and pinning the walker herd helpless, but miraculously missing the barn, which would have been crushed under the huge old trees.

god saved the gang

As the girls look around in wonderment, it seems that Maggie may be rethinking her faith in God…the recent events certainly make a strong case for some benevolent, divine intervention.

the dawn of a new day

It’s the dawn of a new day.

sasha and maggie sunrise

Sasha and Maggie sit down, take in the beauty of the sunrise. “Why are we here?” asks Sasha. “For this,” Maggie replies. It sounds like the answer her father, Hershel, would have given.

the psoams

Sasha and Maggie, the PSOAM’s (Post Apocalyptic Sisters On A Mission), look out at the sunrise. Sasha begins talking, says that Noah had told her that he didn’t think we could make it. “That’s how I feel,” Sasha confesses to Maggie. Maggie tells her that she, Sasha, is going to make it. “We both will,” says Maggie. “That’s the hard part.”

Maggie then reaches into her bag, and pulls out the music box.

Maggie then reaches into her bag, and pulls out the music box. “Daryl fixed it,” she tells Sasha, but when Maggie tries to wind it up…nothing. The music box stays silent, the tiny ballerina doesn’t move.

Maggie stares down at the dead music box, pans,

Maggie stares down at the dead music box, pans, “You gotta be kidding me.” The PSOAM’s share a laugh at the absurdity of it all…

...as some well-kempt, preppy dude comes onto the scene, interrupting their giggle moment.

…as some well-kempt, preppy dude comes onto the scene, interrupting their giggle moment. “Um, hello, excuse me…”

psoams aint playing

The PSOAM’s ain’t playing. They immediately leap up to their feet, weapons drawn. The stranger cautiously approaches, hands up, introduces himself as “Aaron,” says he is a “friend.” Aaron tells the girls that he would like to talk to the leader of the group…Rick, right?

aaron comes on the scene 2

Maggie starts to ask, “How-?” and Sasha cuts in, asks, “Why?” Aaron smiles, says he has some “good news.”

aaron says he has good news

Who the hell is this guy? And how does he know Rick’s name?

music box working now

And suddenly, the music box kicks on, starting to play its bright, tinkly music as the tiny ballerina twirls around and around.

Well, darlings, if God is indeed having a hand in all this, one thing is clear…God has a really crazy sense of humor!

Deadies this week go to our three walking wounded soldiers: Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Daryl (Norman Reedus), and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green).

Playlist:

Lightning Bolt, “Ride The Sky”

Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ In The Wind”

Phantogram, “Turning Into Stone”

City and Colour, “Sleeping Sickness”

Georgiana Starlington, “Dry As A Bone” (currently not available on Spotify, but great track if you can find it…I’ll keep checking in to get it directly to readers if and when I can…perfect for this episode)

Tori Amos, “God”

Aaliyah ft. Missy Elliot, “Best Friend” ( for the PSOAM‘s, Maggie and Sasha)

The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 9, “What Happened and What’s Going On”

“What Happened and What’s Going On”

(All images used are screen caps from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” unless otherwise specified.)

Prologue

________________________________________________________

Well, people, dally as I might, it’s time to face the beast.

It’s been 24 hours since Sunday night’s airing of The Walking Dead’s Season 5 mid-season premiere episode, “What Happened and What’s Going On,” and I am finally ready to start writing.

If you’re new here, welcome aboard the crazy train. These posts take a while, because I am a mom, wife, and working stiff, and the writing happens in the hours between the million things I have to do, all the time.

My WD buddy, who is ever-so-wise, says that she likes reading my posts sometime on Sunday, before watching that night’s WD episode. Great idea, and it buys me some valuable time! 🙂

My posts are ever evolving into something I cannot even begin to define, and my Season 5 writing schedule has come to include a Friday All-Nighter, or as close to one as I can manage.  This long stretch of writing in the lonely hours begins when I get home, around 8pm, from my day job (the paycheck one, not the mom one).

Once I get home, and make sure everyone is taken care of, tucked in, kissed and cuddled, I begin the process of getting myself set up for a full night of rewatching and writing.  The set up, of course, covers all angles, from cozy pj’s and slippers to a full-spectrum beverage selection, including water, green tea, and whatever else I select to kill the pain and keep myself going, for long, long hours until I click on “Publish,” usually sometime right before dawn.  If I have the energy, I will then have one more celebratory beverage and watch an episode of Archer before collapsing into bed.

So, the posts are usually up by Saturday morning, available for readers to recap and reimmerse into the previous week’s WD episode.

Sorry if that feels late, but it comes when it comes, and until I can quit my day job and devote full time to this kind of thing for my daily doubloons, it will just have to be something we all look forward to. Especially me.

And, on the bright side, once a post is published, it will be available online for the rest of our natural lives, and beyond. 🙂

The only reason I am able to do any of this is because my husband is awesome, and he supports my crazy endeavors, as I support his.  We have grown together so much over the years of being friends, sweethearts, then married sweethearts, fellow artists, and lifetime compadres who are raising two spirited young boys together, and these fine days, we are knocking it out of the ballpark as far as putting in a righteous effort in the name of love and family (blood, marriage, and extended…you know who you are!).

It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.  It’s everything.

So, as today is Valentine’s Day, I would like to show my sweetie an extra nugget of love, and brag on him to the world.  I do not normally post personal pictures on this blog, but this is just too beautiful not to share.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce my husband:

Like. A. Boss. This pic was taken last weekend at a buddy's backyard bowl. My husband is a pro/am skateboarder, an amazing drummer, and a master carpenter who could build a house from the foundation up.  He is amazing, and when he skates, it's pure fire and poetry. True Story: When we were first courting, I was at his place, sitting on the couch.  I picked up an issue of Thrasher and opened right to a full-page picture of my husband doing this trick...

Like. A. Boss. This pic was taken last weekend at a buddy’s backyard bowl. My husband is a pro/am skateboarder, a genius drummer, and a master carpenter who could build a house from the foundation up. He is amazing, and when he skates, it’s pure fire and poetry. True Story: When we were first courting, I was sitting on his couch, and I picked up an issue of Thrasher magazine and opened it right to a full-page picture of my husband doing this trick. I was like, “Well, ok, then, I guess you can be my boyfriend!” 🙂  I love you, sweetie. Thank you for being my forever boyfriend.

Sorry to be so sappy, but it’s Valentine’s Day, for chrissakes, and sometimes you gotta shout it from the rooftops, even if it’s cheesy.

Sometimes, you gotta be like:

john  cusack

And, I am happy to report, this post is really turning out to be about LOVE 

As harrowing as this episode was, it was deeply beautiful, a work of pure artistry and mastery, and is an amazing tribute to Tyreese, and Chad Coleman.

Our man, Greg Nicotero, is evolving into a true visionary as a director. And Scott M. Gimple…within that calm, serene exterior beats the heart of a crazy genius and a beautiful madman.

Gimple and Nicotero are the top generals of Kirkman’s Army, the on-point, forever family team of cast and crew, the TWD Family. 

Nicotero, Gimple, and Kirkman’s Army will enforce, all day, every day, The Law of Kirkman.

For those of you who know the Law of Kirkman, say it with me:

Kirkman does as Kirkman wants, and Kirkman can, and will, play with our emotions. It’s nothing personal; it’s how he do!

Speaking of…my friend Mona told me that she read that the unexplained Gareth line in the Season 5 trailer, the one I based a whole Evil Terminal Twin Conspiracy Theory on, was put in there just to throw everyone off the Season 5 plot trail.

Is that true, Robert Kirkman?  Would you really do us like that?

<Mentally insert image of Kirkman here, smiling and pointing upward ^^^ towards aforementioned Law of Kirkman, “Um, think you just answered your own question!”>

Kirkman, Kirkman, Kirkman…I know it’s not personal…it’s just how you do. But, once again, I do know why Chris Hardwick yells, “Kirkman!”

Pretty tricksy, Precious, but I’m not 100% giving up on the ETTCT,  yet…

However, many in The Comic Set are buzzing these days about many clues, references, and “Easter Eggs” in Episode 509 that may suggest the imminent arrival of new, darker, meaner characters from the comic series into the WD Season 5 storyline.

On this, I will say no more, but the information is of course out there for those who want to find it.  I will point out what I see, in this post, but not elaborate in a spoilerish fashion.  Who knows what will happen? All will be revealed in due time, and as my WD buddy says, “The show is different!”

So, perhaps we are done with the Terminan chapter, for now, and we’re moving on to bigger, badder, and meaner villains. It certainly appears that way.  

It is safe to say that after watching Episode 509, “What Happened and What’s Going On,” that our gang certainly has more immediate, pressing issues at hand than worrying about Potential Future Terminans.

What the gang finds upon their arrival at Shirewilt Estates completely snuffs any promise of community, and shelter, or respite of any kind to be had there. The meaner characters have already paid a visit, and they left their calling card of unprecedented carnage and cruelty, lying among the wreckage and devastation of the once surviving walled community.

So sad, scary, and not good. So not good.

My WD buddy posted on my barnfullawalkers FB page: I’m thinking of starting a Walking Dead support group. 

https://www.facebook.com/barnfullawalkers

Brilliant, right?  I was in complete awe and agreement with this visionary plan.

I posted in reply: I am Joe’s complete lack of serotonin.

Greg Nicotero said on Talking Dead that Episode 509 was a very “manipulative episode.” 

It certainly was, and the shock of it made it all the more effective, and affecting, for the viewers. After losing two key, beloved characters within the first part of Season 5, we TWD fans were certainly not expecting to lose another beloved member of our sweet gang so quickly, and in such devastating fashion.

Tyreese! <sob!> ❤

Earlier that week, when we TWD fans were all watching the First Two Minutes trailer that AMC released for Episode 509 online, we all thought the funeral and burial we were seeing was for Beth, right?

Right…

Personally, I was feeling pretty certain this episode was going to focus on the different members’ grief and process over Beth’s death, and the group’s deciding of what the next step(s) would be, and of course, the challenge of “surviving together” in the open, without shelter or ready food/water supply, vulnerable to both walkers and living predators.

In my Season 5 2.0 prepost, “Surviving Together,” I thought I was being all cute and clever, talking about romantic hookups and stuff like that.

Being the Prime Time Pollyanna that I am, I thought that we TWD fans were going to be eased in to the mayhem that was soon to come in Season 5 2.0.  I know, I know. Mock away. Laugh.

I’m feeling pretty dumb about a whole bunch of things right about now, especially since, apparently, Tyreese’s name has two “e’s” in the middle, and I’ve been spelling our man’s name wrong, with only one “e” in the middle, THIS WHOLE TIME.

<Mentally insert here the peals of laughter and mockery from The Comic Book Set, who of course know how to properly spell Tyreese’s name, and who clued in to the many references from the comic series that were hidden within Episode 509we know, we know, you guys are so much smarter than us Prime Time Pollyannas!>

I realized the distressing Tyreese Misspelling Debacle as I, emotionally shattered and tipsy from too many 420 tall boys ($1.59 each, 2/$3.00 at the neighborhood bodega, so of course that shit’s my new tech), began watching Talking Dead (finally!) after 75 minutes of Better Call Saul being wedged in between TWD and TD.  

And. speaking of, while I do love Bob Odenkirk as much as anyone (being a devotee of Mr. Show, back in the day, and of all things that are Bob Odenkirk), and I do want his new show to literally bathe in critical praise and mad success, I’m thinking a better name for that manuever would be Better Never Do That Again, AMC

Seriously, dude.  It wasn’t good.

I was teetering on the brink of a nervous episode by the time TD came on, and judging from the two or more times Chris Hardwick came on air during the commercial breaks, reassuring the viewers that the Better Call Saul “cuts, butts, and coconuts” situation was a one-time thing only, I can only guess I wasn’t the only TWD fan who was drinking too many tall boys and quietly freaking the fuck out (quietly, you know, as not to wake the children).

And then, when TD finally came on, and Chad Coleman and Greg Nicotero were being introduced as the featured guests, there it was, towards the bottom of the screen: the name, “Tyreese,” with two “e’s” in the middle, not one, as I had always written, had always thought I had seen when reading Tyreese’s name in social media, regular media, etc.

For the upteenth time that night, I was sitting on the edge of the couch, mouth slack, drunk, staring in disbelief at the tv screen, like:

That was it. I was done. Talking Dead was recording on DVR, so I, feeling like a total amateur, threw in the fake-blood soaked towel and went to bed, tossing and turning through a harrowing night of about 3 1/2 hours’ total sleep, filled with horrific zombie dreams, sour stomach, and parched throat (courtesy of way too many 420 tall boys and not enough water, or sense).

The next morning, jolted awake at 6:30 am by the phone alarm, and feeling like the complete opposite of a total champion, I somehow managed to pull it together and get the kids off to school. Then, I came back home to pound coffee and watch Talking Dead, along with my WD buddy, texting back and forth with her all the while.

Seeing Chad Coleman, happy, healthy, and laughing, and hearing Greg Nicotero talk about some of the finer points and details about the making, and storyline, of Episode 509 helped me feel a little better.

And, before I end this long-ass preamble and get to it, I know that I have been spelling Lizzie’s name wrong the whole time as well. While I caught that mistake back in Season 4, and tried to spell it the correct way, Lizzie, instead of Lizzy, I just couldn’t make the switch in my head.

Every time I tried to type out, “Lizzie,” it threw me off. So, I stuck with my dyslexia and my incorrect spelling, and Lizzie stayed Lizzy in my world.

I guess when you grow up listening to a lot of Thin Lizzy, it makes a deep impression in your psyche.

To honor Tyreese, and the other fallen members of our sweet gang, I will do my best to spell everyone’s name correctly in this post.

Thank you for your patience.

_______________________________________________________

“What Happened and What’s Going On”

The opening images for Episode 509 show, first, a shovel being speared into the earth, again and again, suggesting a fresh grave being dug.

digging grave

Next, we see a framed drawing of a cozy house nestled in the woods,with an inviting front porch. The framed drawing is set on a dresser or desk of what looks like a child’s room…we will see images of this drawing, this house, again in the episode.  It is one of the key images used to show passage of time, and turn of events, as Episode 509 progresses:

picture 1 of house in woods

The next shot is from inside a moving car, the sun flickering through the trees as the car speeds past. We hear the sound of a woman crying softly, layered over the images of the sun, and the trees, and the car’s movement.

We then see a shot of Maggie sitting on the side of the road, shot from the perspective of inside a stopped car, doors open, crying. She is alone, crouched over a small fire, her knees drawn up to her chest protectively, sobbing.

maggie crying

A brief, flickering image of a white house, from the perspective through an open doorway. We can see a smear of blood on the door frame, and we then see a close up of Noah, crying, a bleeding scratch on his forehead:

noah crying, bleeding scratch on forehead

We hear Gabriel’s voice, eulogizing, as the shot pans over what is obviously a funeral service, and burial, in a field.  We see the figures of Gabriel, and Rick, and others from some distance back, through the fan of a weeping willow’s branches. It is hard to make out individual figures, and it is easy to assume that this service is for Beth, who was killed in the Season 5 midseason finale, “Coda.”

gabriel service

Gabriel’s voice intones, “We look not at what can be seen, but we look at what cannot be seen, for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal…”

We see images of the gang, running with guns towards parked cars, peering inside them, clearing them before yanking the doors open, as the haunting and beautiful strings of the Bear McCreary music weave in and out with Gabriel’s voice, as he continues his eulogy:

“…for we know if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.”

As the strings of the music, and Gabriel’s voice, intertwine, we see flashes of three photographs of identical twin boys, Noah’s little brothers (aka the Lil Bros <3):

lil bro snap 1 lil bro snap 2

These snapshots of the sweet Lil Bros are the second of a series of significant, recurring images we will see again in Episode 509.

These snapshots of the sweet Lil Bros are the second of a series of significant, recurring images we will see again in Episode 509.

Next, a lone image of the prison watchtower, with fences still intact…and then we see Noah and Rick, sitting in the back of a parked van with its back doors opened to a campfire.

Noah is talking about Beth, telling Rick, “She was gonna to come with me.”

Rick looks at the fire, then down, then at Noah, asks, “How far?”

Noah replies, “Outside of Richmond…Virginia.” Rick, processing this, looks straight ahead towards the fire, gives a shake of his head as he calculates the distance, and the risk, of such an endeavor.

We hear a baby’s wail, then see the image of a bullet hole in a wall, then a shot of what looks like a street in Woodbury, still intact, with a solar panel, and a garden box filled with growing cabbages, a shovel propped against it.

Woodbury was a sweet setup, especially in retrospect...didn't really think that one through, did you, Gov?

Woodbury was a sweet setup, especially in retrospect…didn’t really think that one through, did you, Gov?

We hear Rick’s voice, first, then see him standing beside the white van, surrounded by Glenn, Noah, Eugene. “It was secure,” Rick is telling the group, “It has a wall, homes, twenty people. Beth wanted to go with him…she wanted to get him there.

Rick continues, pitching this, “It’s a long trip, but if it works out, it’s the last long trip we’ll have to make.” As Rick talks, Glenn is looking down, not looking convinced.

“What if it isn’t around anymore?” Glenn asks dully. “Then we keep going,” Rick replies. Michonne adds, “Then, we find a new place.

Next, we see our first glimpse of another key, recurring image of Episode 509, the skeleton, long dead, half buried in the ground:

skeleton in ground 1

This image is followed by another recurring image, a painting in yellow of a happy sun on concrete, as one might see on a playground.

This image hearkens back to happier days, of children playing on playgrounds, running, laughing...living.

This image hearkens back to happier days, of children playing on playgrounds, running, laughing…living. We also see, however, what looks like blood stains on the concrete, clouding the rays of the painted sun.

The scene shifts, and we see the white van, driving past mile marker 221 in South Carolina, suggesting that the gang is indeed heading to Richmond area, to Noah’s home.

We see a shot of Baby Judith, lying in a makeshift crib, self-soothing, chewing on her finger…

Sigh...worried, so worried for Baby Judith, for all of our sweet gang.

Sigh... Worried, so worried for Baby Judith, for all of our sweet gang.

…we then see another image we will see again in Episode 509, of a walker woman trapped in a crashed station wagon, which appears to have slammed t-bone style into a red pickup truck.  The walker paws at the driver’s side window, and we see the driver’s side door is riddled with bullet holes.

walker in car

We see another image of someone digging a grave…he is wearing black jeans, and boots, like Rick’s.

And, then:

We see this image of a little girl sitting, wearing a blood-soaked shirt, with another girl sitting beside her... we cannot see their faces, at first, but then we recognize the girls....

We see this image of a little girl sitting, wearing a blood-soaked shirt, with another girl sitting beside her. We cannot see their faces, at first, but it just takes us a second to realize who they are….

The camera pans up to the girls' faces, and we see Mika, and Lizzie, looking down at Mika's bloodied shirt, with bemused smiles, before looking up at the camera.  Both girls have blood on their faces from their head wounds. They are smiling, serene. Looking into the camera, smiling,  Mika says,

The camera pans up to the girls’ faces, and we see Mika, and Lizzie. Mika is looking down at her bloodied shirt, with a bemused smile, while Lizzie looks at her sister’s face, waiting. smiling. Both girls have dribbles and specks of blood on their faces from their head wounds. Mika looks up to her sister’s face, and they share a smile in silent accord, and then both girls look into the camera, peaceful, smiling.  Mika says, “It’s better now.”

The final image of the opening montage, before the iconic Bear McCreary title sequence begins, is of the framed drawing of the cozy house, which appears to have been knocked to the floor.  We see spots of blood on the floor around where the picture lay, and then, drops of dark blood begin to fall, and pool, onto the image of the house, obscuring it, covering it…

picture 2 of house blood

After the opening title sequence/commercials, we see a shot of an open road, flanked by trees, like a state road, rather than a major highway.  It would make sense to take these lesser used roads on this journey, as the highways are sure to be choked with backed up cars of once terrified people trying to escape the hell that was happening all around them… cars would have run dry of gas, or been abandoned long ago, and many would contain the long-deceased remains of decaying corpses…and certainly, trapped within the cars, or roaming in “herds” along the highway, would be walkers. Many, many walkers.

(Remember back in Season 2, that burly scene when the gang is on the highway, and must hide from their first-ever walker horde, and Andrea, later, refers to it as a “herd?” And when the second walker herd passes, Sophia spooks, and bolts out from under the car, and Rick goes after her, only to lose her when he must deal with two tenacious walkers? So much has happened since then…that season feels like forever ago!)

driving opener

This is def the more scenic route.

dayvan cowboys

The Dayvan Cowboys, with Tyreese at the wheel.

Rick asks Noah how far out, at this point. Noah checks the odometer, looks back towards Rick, guesses, “Five miles.”

Rick radios Carol, lets her know that they are halfway there. He is checking the radio’s range, and checking in with Carol’s group, who are travelling some ways behind Rick’s group.  Carol reports that “everyone’s holding tight”, and that they just reached the 500 mile point.  

“Maybe this can be the easy part, “ says Carol.

“God, I think we’re due,” Rick replies. He then tells Carol to give them 20 minutes to check in.

New Carol, solid as ever, replies, “If we don’t hear from you, we’ll come looking.”

“Copy that,” Rick replies, signing off.  Noah turns to Tyreese, tells Tyreese that he, Noah, has been wanting to tell him something.

“What’s that?” Tyreese asks, looking ahead, not at Noah.

noah says trade right play

Looking over at Tyreese, Noah tells him that “the trade…it was the right play.” Tyreese does not reply.  Noah continues, “It worked…it did work, just…something else happened, after.”

Tyreese keeps his gaze focused forward, grips the steering wheel.  “It went the way it had to…the way it was always going to.” After a moment’s silence, Noah muses, “Never wanted to kill anybody before.”

Tyreese finally turns to look at the young man beside him. “I’ve wanted that,” he tells Noah. “But, it made it so I didn’t see anything except what I wanted…I wasn’t facing it.”

During this exchange, Glenn, sitting in the very back of the van, is looking at his reflection in a cd, turning it this way and that, warping the reflection of his face.  He has been very quiet.

During this exchange, Glenn, sitting in the very back of the van, is looking at his reflection in a CD, turning it this way and that, warping the reflection of his face. He has been very quiet.

Noah looks at Tyreese. “Facing what?” he asks.

Tyreese answers, “What happened…what’s going on. 

Tyreese continues, telling Noah, as the others listen, that his father used to tell him, and Sasha, that it was their duty as “citizens of the world” to keep up with the news. Even as a little boy, when Tyreese rode in his father’s car, he would hear reports of atrocities worldwide that his young mind couldn’t “wrap my head around.”

But, no matter how disturbing the new story, Tyreese and Sasha’s father would not change the channel, forcing himself, and whomever was riding in the car with him, to face it. Keeping your eyes open.

Tyreese adds that his father used to call that, “Paying the high cost of living.”

Noah tells Tyreese that he lost his dad in Atlanta, then wryly adds that he thinks his dad “would have liked yours.”  Tyreese nods, with a little smile, and Noah nods too, adding that he still has a mom, and two younger twin brothers…as he says this, Noah’s mouth, and voice, is tight with his anxiety and worry.

Noah takes a deep breath, and turns to look out the side window. He adds, “I hope.”

Tyreese, looking back at the road, tells Noah, gently, “I hope so too.”

Noah looks at the odometer again, back at Rick. “Two miles,” he says.

Looking like a beautiful sage, Rick tells Tyreese to pull over in the woods, that they will take the rest of the way on foot, stealth-style.

Looking like a beautiful sage, Rick tells Tyreese to pull over in the woods, that they will take the rest of the way on foot, stealth-style. Noah protests, “We don’t need to.” Rick replies, “Just in case.”

glenn presses cd 2

Meanwhile, in the back seat, Glenn begins to grip the CD more tightly…

glenn presses cd 3

..pressing it…

glenn snaps cd

…until it snaps into pieces.

Tyreese parks the van in the woods, right next to a red pickup truck which has been t-boned by a station wagon. The station wagon’s driver’s side door is riddled with bullet holes, and trapped inside is the woman walker we saw our first glimpse of in the opening sequence. The walker hisses and paws at the driver’s side window.

As the gang steps out of the van and looks around, Rick remarks that it is a good spot, that the van will look from a distance like it was part of the accident.  Rick then turns and regards Lemme Outta Here Walker, watches her a moment, his eyes narrowing in contempt, disgust…

walker in car 2

rick smash moment

I got a little secret thrill seeing this momentary glimpse of Rick Smash!  I have such a crush on him.  Andrew Lincoln can convey so much with just the barest shift in his eyes. If only there were time to smash…next time, Rick Smash! Noah beckons, “This way,” and after a moment, Rick Smash! turns and follows the others.

As they walk away, Tyreese is the last to follow, turning to look at Lemme Outta Here Walker once more before continuing on after the others. As they walk through the woods, the gang passes the long-dead skeleton in the ground.  This is the second time we have seen this key image of Episode 509:

tyrese sees ground skeleton 2

Tyreese is the only one who looks at the skeleton as they pass.

gang approaches barb wire fencing

As the gang approaches a barbed wire barricade strung across the treeline, Michonne asks Noah if his people did this. Noah replies that they, “Wanted tomust have.”.

gang goes through barb wire

Then, one by one, the gang, led by Michonne, then Rick, step nimbly through the openings, holding the wire down and away. A cry from behind catches Rick’s attention…

noah gets cut by barb wire

Noah has cut himself on the barbed wire when trying to step through. Rick asks him if he’s ok, and Noah seems shaken, but assures them he’s fine, and begins to walk more quickly through the woods, towards the homes. Rick pauses a moment, looking around, before following the others.

rick reaches out to slow noah

Rick catches up to Noah, reaches out and pulls Noah back, asks him if they had spotters, or snipers, on watch at the community. Noah tells Rick that they had built a platform on a truck, and parked it in the front. If there was a spotter there, certainly he or she would have seen figures coming through the wire, approaching…

shirewilt sign, no spotter

… the entrance of Shirewilt Estates. But there is no movement, no signs of life. No spotter.

Glenn turns to the group, says,

Glenn turns to the group, says simply, “Not today.” It is the first time he has spoken this episode. Noah seems to be grasping the import of this, the fear and dread beginning to show in his face as he searches Rick’s face for Rick’s reaction, for answers.

Limping quickly, Noah leads the gang uphill to a road that leads up to the gates of the walled community.  They pass the torn up remains of what looks like a dog, with flies buzzing around it. Noah hurries along, refusing to look down at the carnage, but Tyreese once again does not turn away, and looks down at the buzzing remains a moment.  Just beyond the dog, a simple wooden grandfather-style clock is lying in the middle of the road, and once again, Tyreese is the one member of the gang to pause a moment, taking in this bizarre and symbolic image.

tyreese passes clock

Both Andrew Lincoln and Greg Nicotero made refrences to director Terrence Malick’s style of layering stunning visual effects and evocative symbolic imagery into his films, when discussing the intention and inspiration behind the making of Episode 509. The grandfather clock, lying askew in the road, seems to suggest both the ruin of Noah’s community and the fact that Tyreese’s time is running out.

noah bangs, listens at gate

Noah runs to the locked gate, bangs it loudly, listens. There is no response from the other side.

noah searches glenn's face

Glenn scales up and peers over the stone wall, as Noah anxiously watches Glenn’s reaction to what he sees on the other side.

glenn looks at noah

Glenn peers over the fence, then turns to Noah. His face says it all. Glenn looks away from Noah, shaking his head slightly, sadly.

Noah, stricken, sobs and scrambles up the fence and jumps down to the other side. Rick and the others follow.  Noah limps quickly ahead, the shock, horror, and anguish on his face growing as he looks around frantically, taking in one awful sight after another:

burned out house

The burnt out remains of a neighbor’s home…

shirewilt carnage 1

…dead bodies littering the street, as a lone walker shuffles along…

noah collapses in grief

Noah collapses to the ground in grief and despair.

wolves not far sign

As the others pace around, looking out for danger and keeping close to Noah, we see a sign painted on the fence behind Michonne, which reads, “Wolves Not Far.”  More ominous foreboding in Episode 509

tyreese watches noah sob

Tyreese tries to offer comfort to Noah, telling him, “You’ll be with us, now,” but of course, Noah is inconsolable in this moment. Tyreese, pained, watches Noah sob, at a loss for how to help the poor young man who has lost so much.

rick approaches noah

Rick approaches Noah, kneels down. “I’m sorry, Noah,” he says, “I truly am.” After a moment, Rick suggests that they take a quick sweep for supplies, then head back.

michonne's face at rick's suggestion

Michonne turns at this, angry. “Then what? she snaps. She then turns away, and stalks off, ostensibly to take care of the walkers, as “they’ve seen us.” The constant horror, heartbreak, and disappointment…the constant loss…they are all struggling to assimilate this new crushing blow.

rick your gf is pissed

Rick, your future gf is in a pretty bad way right now…gonna have to figure out a way to attend to that, later, my good man. (Hint: She masks her pain and hurt in anger, dude. You’re welcome.)  Ps. Happy Valentine’s Day, Rick Grimes

rick radios carol, it's gone

As Michonne goes to mess up some walkers, Rick radios Carol. “We’re here,” Rick tells her. “It’s gone.” Rick clicks the radio off and shakes his head, struggling too.

Glenn, Michonne and Rick go to take a quick sweep, while Tyreese offers to stay back with Noah.

michonne smashes glass

As Rick, Glenn, and Michonne approach one house, Michonne smashes her boot down on a framed boy’s little league jersey…

good for you, buddy

Rick reaches out and touches Michonne’s arm gently, with two fingers, briefly, respectfully. (Excellently done, Rick Grimes! You still got it, bud…never a doubt in my mind! :))

Michonne looks sideways at him, then bends down and yanks the shirt out of the broken glass. “Clean shirt,” she says, turning to walk away.  “We’ll figure it out,” Rick says to her.  Michonne’s voice is tightly controlled as she echoes, “We will,” and then goes to the garage to collect some garbage bags.

Rick approaches Glenn.  “You didn’t think it (the Shirewilt community) would still be here?” he asks Glenn.

Glenn looks back at Rick. “Did you?” he asks, incredulously.

Rick tells Glenn that he saw, right after Beth was killed, the shock on Dawn Lerner’s face right after she shot Beth…she didn’t mean to do it, and Rick saw that, but he still wanted to kill Dawn. Right or wrong, meant to or not, Rick wanted to kill her.

Rick continues, tells Glenn that he didn’t know if Noah’s community would still be here, but Beth wanted to get Noah here. Beth wanted to get Noah back home.

this was for beth

Rick tells Glenn, “This (bringing Noah back home) was for her.” Rick pauses, looks away, adding, “And it could have been for us, too.”

street close up carnage

But, alas, that hopeful scenario is not meant to be. Not here, anyway.

poor noah

Meanwhile, poor Noah is trying to process this loss.

tyreese counsels noah

From behind Noah, Tyreese begins to talk about how he wanted to die after all the things, the people, he lost…he was blinded by his anger, and grief, putting himself in front of a whole group of “those things,” ready to mete out his anger on them, until they took him.

He kept going, despite his pain and grief, and then, he ended up being there for Judith when she needed him.

tyreese says he was there to save Judith

Tyreese tells Noah, “I saved her, and I was able to bring her back to her dad. And that wouldn’t have happened if I had just given up.” As I rewatch this scene, it really feels to me that Tyreese considers his being there to protect, and save, Judith, and reunite her with Rick and Carl, was his reason, his highest purpose, in surviving up to this point in the apocalypse. He has done what he needed to do, and I think that plays a big part in Tyreese’s acceptance in the end, when he decides to let go.

noah, this isn't the end

Tyreese reaches down, tells Noah, “This isn’t the end.” Noah seems to register this, starts to stand, to Tyreese’s gentle encouragement.

noah bolts, tyreese follows

Then, Noah starts to limp quickly, then run, towards his home, with Tyreese running after him, calling for him.

glenn talks about ragin face

Meanwhile, back at the driveway, Glenn begins talking. He’s been thinking of the guy in the storage car, back at Terminus, who he insisted on stopping for, and saving (good ol Ragin’ Face Tat Tweaker, who is most likely Ragin’ Face Tat Walker, now). Glenn says that after the loss of Washington, and Beth, nowadays, he wouldn’t have stopped to save that man. Glenn adds, “And I sure as hell would have shot that woman (Dawn Lerner), right or wrong.”

This image, of Glenn holding this baseball bat, is considered a potential

This image, of Glenn holding this baseball bat, is considered a potential “Easter Egg” by The Comic Book Set, a possible foreboding that events may mirror the comic series storyline in the future.

michonne says we need to stop

Michonne steps forward at this, says, “We need to stop.” At Rick and Glenn’s questioning looks, and silences, Michonne says, “You can be out here too long.”  Wise words from a woman who knows.

tyreese and noah at noah's house 1

Tyreese and Noah face each other in front of Noah’s house. Tyreese tries to tell Noah that he, Noah, doesn’t want to go in there. Noah insists, “Let me see it.” After a moment’s hesitation, Tyreese draws out his knife, tells Noah, “Me first.”

noah's dead mom

After knocking at the front, Tyreese, then Noah, walk through the doorway, as the front door is open. They push through the screen door. and as they enter the living room, the awful sight of Noah’s mom, head bashed in, lying dead on the floor.

noah bends over his dead mom

As Noah bends over his mother’s body, Tyreese hears a noise from the back of the house. As Noah covers his mom’s body with a large cloth, Tyreese makes his way slowly, quietly down the hallway to investigate, to “clear” the house.

noah's lil bro walker under door

Tyreese hears, then sees, the heartbreaking sight of what is surely one of Noah’s little brothers, now a walker, trapped in a room, hissing and pawing at the door. We see only one set of foot shadows under the door…and Noah’s brothers were twins.

Tyreese makes his way into another room, a child’s room, and sees a dead body lying still on a twin bed.  Tyreese’s face registers his pain at seeing this, and then his attention is caught by four photographs taped to the wall. The first three pictures are the snapshots we saw of Noah’s little brothers in the opening sequence of Episode 509, and the last photograph is of Noah and his little brothers together, at a movie theater, it appears.

lil bro snap 1lil bro snap 2

These snapshots of the sweet Lil Bros are the second of a series of significant, recurring images we will see again in Episode 509.

noah and his lil bros

shadowy figure behind tyreese

As Tyreese stares at the pictures, we see a shadowy figure begin to move behind him. Tyreese, transfixed by the images of Noah and his sweet Lil Bros, does not notice this.

lil bros tyreese looks

Tyreese cannot tear his gaze away from this picture of Noah’s Lil Bros, with their mirth and mischief, sweetness, youth, and innocence shining from their bright, happy faces in this sweet picture.

lil bro close up 1

lil bro close up 2

tyreese looks at pictures

Tyreese hears, too late, the hissing noise behind him, and he whirls around to see Lil Bro Walker, who has come right up behind him.

lil bro walker 1

lil bro walker bites tyreese

Before Tyreese can react, Lil Bro Walker lunges forward and savagely bites into Tyreese’s arm.

Tyreese screams in pain, and shoves Lil Bro Walker back, hard, with his foot.  The child walker flies backwards, taking a bloody chunk of poor Tyreese’s arm with it, in its teeth. Tyreese, in shock and pain, faces the child walker, who bares its teeth and hisses savagely at Tyreese, about to attack again.

lil bro walker rears back

I am grateful that Kirkman, Gimple, Nicotero and the rest of Kirkman’s Army go easy on us with not showing tons of child walkers on WD, because, one, they are really heartbreaking, and, two, Lil Bro Walker is truly terrifying. Kudos to the child actor who plays Lil Bro Walker, and kudos to Nicotero’s Army for an incredible job with makeup and effects, especially in this shot.

As Lil Bro Walker is about to lunge for Tyreese again, Noah runs forward and plunges a knife into his reanimated little brother’s skull, rekilling the child walker.

noah rekills lil bro walker

noah tells tyreese to stay put, hell get them

As Tyreese, in shock, clamps his hand over his torn, bleeding wound, Noah is freaking, but assures Tyreese that he’s ok, to stay put, that Noah will go get the others.

radio 1

And, as Noah runs out of the room, leaving Tyreese alone, we see the large radio, another recurring image from the opening sequence. The radio looks like an old, retro style model from long ago.  This harrowing, heartbreaking scene ends with Tyreese quietly crying, sitting on the floor, holding his bitten arm.

After rewatching the Tyreese/Lil Bro Walker bite scene, I texted my WD buddy: I am Joe’s complete and total devastation.

picture framed house and radio 1

After the commercial break, we are taken back to the room where Tyreese has been bitten…the framed picture has fallen to the floor. (I, watching this episode twice now, know that the house pictured here is not a rendering of Noah’s house…his house looks nothing like it…does anyone know whose house this is?) We then hear the static of a broadband radio being dialed to a news station.

We hear a newscaster’s voice, in melodious British accent (Andrew Lincoln’s voice, with his natural accent, was used as the voice of the newscaster) on the radio:

“At least 68 citizens of the republic have been killed in four deadly attacks along the main coastal district. The group has continued their campaign of random violence, moving across the countryside unfettered, the republic’s military forces in disarray…”

(While some have speculated that this newscast was from the first days of the walker apocalypse, I read that it was actually a reference to the Rwandan genocide campaign from a couple of decades ago…this would certainly mirror the timeline of Tyreese having a flashback moment, in this moment, in his feverish, near-death delirium, of a NPR or BBC newscast he may have heard back as a child, riding in his father’s car, all those years ago.)

tyreese's bitten arm close

Tyreese’s bite wound is super gnarly...when he draws his hand away and looks at it, you can see the chunk that Lil Bro Walker took out of Tyreese’s arm. Poor Tyreese is bleeding out, hard…

tyreese sweating, looking at his wound

Poor Tyreese is sweating, certainly in shock and probably in the first throes of the fever that will eventually kill him, unless an extreme measure, like amputating the bitten appendage in time, is taken. Wrenching, truly awful to imagine, but total amazement at the raw beauty and artistry of this episode. (Standing ovations all around for the WD cast and crew, but especially to: Greg Nicotero, directorial prodigy (Deadie for Best Director); Scott M. Gimple, writing genius (Deadie for Best Screenplay); Chad Coleman, who delivered an outstanding, fearless, heartful performance as Tyreese (Deadie for Best Leading Actor); Jesse Tyler Williams, the young gun on the rise,: Andrew Lincoln (always), Danai GuriraSteven Yeun, and of course all the returning WD alums: David Morrissey, Lawrence Gilliard, Jr., Emily Kinney, Chris Coy, Brighton Sharbino, and Kyla Kenedy.  And, definitely that kid that played Lil Bro Walker.)  Bravo, all.

ghost of shitty martin 1

Then, a familiar voice, as the camera pans across the floor and up to reveal The Ghost of Shitty Martin. Martin’s neck is slashed from Sasha’s knife, and his clothes are soaked with his blood. He is sitting on the floor, against the wall, with hands and feet bound, the way he was at the cabin when Carol and Tyreese captured him.  “I tried to tell ya,” sighs Martin, with a little shrug. “I tried to tell ya, man. It was gonna be you.” Martin is chewing gum, regarding Tyreese with a little smile, which widens as Martin enjoys a private joke. Martin then points his bound hands at Tyreese, says, with laughter in his voice, “You’re the kind of guy that saves babies.

Tyreese regards The Ghost of Shitty Martin with no small amount of horror at what, and who, he is seeing, and hearing.

Tyreese regards The Ghost of Shitty Martin with no small amount of horror, but listens to Martin’s words, cruel and mocking as they are. Martin’s words contain a message, as he voices questions and uncertainties that Tyreese has been asking, and holding, within himself.  One of these key questions is: If Tyreese had killed Martin, like he said he did, back at that cabin, when Martin attacked Judith, would things have turned out differently, for the better?  Did he make the right decision, letting Martin live?

martin asks tyreese question about gareth

Martin’s Shitty Ghost leans his head back to touch the wall, asks Tyreese, “Do you think Gareth would have been able to follow you guys if you had just put a bullet in my brain, or cut me up like your sister did?” When Tyreese reacts, starting to rise up to Martin, Martin, laughing, motions him back down, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t get up.”

Martin continues, “If I hadn’t told Gareth you were there, maybe he wouldn’t have gone after you, or maybe they wouldn’t be dead. Maybe Bob wouldn’t be dead.  Maybe him being alive, maybe something about that would have changed things with Beth…domino shit.”

Martin looks away, gives a little shrug.

Martin looks away, gives a little shrug. “Maybe not,” he says, musing. Masterful performance from Chris Coy in this episode. I am busting a power move right here, right now, and awarding our man a Deadie for Best Supporting Actor in Episode 509.

Martin’s Ghost continues his mindfuck on Tyreese, musing, “Maybe you wouldn’t be bit right now.” Tyreese leans forward, feverish and sweating, and then we hear a familiar, beloved voice interrupt Martin’s mental manipulations with, “Man, that’s bullshit.

Tyreese looks up to see:

Bob!

Bob! 🙂

Bob faces right to the camera, telling Tyreese, straight up, “I got bit at the food bank. It went the way it had it, the way it was always going to. Just like this.

tyreese is haunted

Just then, we hear the crackle of the radio, and the newscaster is reporting about the militants “terrorizing the villages at night, carrying out revenge attacks involving hacking up innocents with machetes, and in some cases, setting them on fire.”

Super burly stuff for a young child to hear, the reality, brutality, and horrors of the world.

Martin's voice overlaps the end of the horrific news report.

Martin’s voice overlaps the end of the horrific news report. “If you just did it, if you didn’t lie like a bitch, maybe it would have changed things. Maybe the bill would have been paid.”

And then, we hear another familiar voice, with a telltale huskiness and accent. “The bill has to be paid,” the voice asserts.

Tyreese looks up and is shocked to see…

The Motherfucking Gov is IN THE HOUSE

The. Gov. Is. In. The. House.  And, he’s thinking it’s time to GET PAID. 

Tyreese is all like,

Tyreese is all like, “Gulp.”

“You told me you’d do whatever it took to earn your keep. That’s what you said. Hmmm? Remember that?

The crackle of the radio, and we see the moving shadows, under the door, and hear the hiss and slaver of Lil Bro Walker #2, still trapped in the room across the hall.

Then, we hear a young girl’s voice speak, with quiet confidence and conviction, “It’s better now, Tyreese.”

And we, and Tyreese, see:

Mika and Lizzie

Mika and Lizzie

“It is, Mika echoes her sister’s words. “It’s better now.”

“It’s not better now, “ the Gov interrupts, loudly, striding towards Tyreese. “You know goddamn well that…” And as the Gov’s face comes closer and closer to Tyreese’s, it becomes:

Second Act Walker, on full attack...poor Tyreese! Can't the man have his existential, near death moment in peace?

Second Act Walker, on full attack. Poor Tyreese! Can’t the man have his existential, near death moment in peace?

Apparently not, and Second Act Walker brings it with everything its got.  It is one of the most terrifying walker attack scenes yet in TWD, as we see close-up, and hear so clearly, the snapping, relentless, deadliest weapon the walkers have: their teeth.

second act walker snapping at tyreese

second act walker's teeth

With this scene, we get many shots like this one, that shows what it would be like to be attacked by a walker, as Second Act Walker lunges and snaps its teeth at Tyreese’s face. Tyreese fumbles for his ever-handy hammer, but his bitten arm is too weak, and he drops it. Second Act Walker keeps coming and coming…

So, Tyreese goes with the only option left to him, and offers Second Act Walker his bitten arm. Second Act Walker sinks its teeth into Tyreese’s arm, making Tyreese howl in pain. With Second Act Walker still clamped onto his arm, Tyreese finds a geode and bashes Second Act Walker in the skull, finally rekilling it.

Tyreese is in agony now, struggling to get himself under a desk for some degree of cover.  He looks up at Second Act Walker, dead, body slumped over a desk chair.  The walker's blood is dripping...

Tyreese is in agony now, struggling to get himself under a desk for some degree of cover. He looks up at Second Act Walker, dead, body slumped over a desk chair. The walker’s blood is dripping…

picture framed house and final blood

…onto the framed picture of the little house, symbolizing the death of the days of home, hearth, comfort, and safety. A thought…could this house be a representation of the house from “The Grove?” It really looks like it.

Meanwhile, Michonne has an idea: Why don’t they use the garage doors to barricade the opening in the wall, park cars to reinforce, until they brick the wall back up?

Rick and Glenn turn to look at the wall, considering Michonne's idea, but it's looking pretty obvious to me that some living foe rammed the stone wall down...aren't those tire tracks, still on the ground, from where the vehicle plowed through?

Rick and Glenn turn to look at the wall, considering Michonne’s idea, but it’s looking pretty obvious to me that some living foe rammed the stone wall down…aren’t those tire tracks, still on the ground, from where the vehicle plowed through?

Rick adds that this development is surrounded by forest, and there’s no clear line of sight.  Whoever, or whatever, would be coming would be on their community before they, the gang, even knew the enemy was there.  Michonne is having a hard time letting go of the Shirewilt setup as their future home, and she suggests they cut down the trees around them, use the wood to build up the walls.

As Rick and Glenn exchange questioning looks, Michonne urges, “Come on…look!” They follow her out, through the opening in the wall, and see…

Carnage like we haven't seen yet on TWD...lower torsos, legs intact, which look like they've been sawn clean through...arms, legs scattered throughout.  What, and who, did this? Seems like they'd have to have a large circular blade, like a tree-cutting truck would have. Shirewilt is not the place to stay...but, where can they go?

Carnage like we haven’t seen yet on TWDlower torsos, legs intact, which look like they’ve been sawn clean through…arms, legs scattered throughout. What, and who, did this? Seems like they’d have to have a large circular blade, like a tree-cutting operation would have. Shirewilt is clearly not the place to stay…but, where can they go?

Just as Glenn is hitting rock bottom, telling Rick that, basically, nothing matters, Michonne says one word:

Just as Glenn is hitting rock bottom, telling Rick that, basically, nothing matters, Michonne says one word: “Washington.” Michonne continues, saying that while Eugene lied about the cure, he thought of Washington, D.C. for a reason. “It’s only 100 miles away…there could be people there.

Michonne gestures to the devastation around them.  “This is what ‘making it’ looks like.”

Michonne looks at Rick, and asks,

Michonne looks at Rick, and asks, “Don’t you want one more day with a chance?” And with those words, Michonne voices the one reason to keep going, to keep on, at this point: While placing hopes and dreams on a specific place, or plan, can fall through, living their lives and trying to get one more day with a chance, for themselves and their chosen family, is a real, positive reason to keep going in these dark times.

Stepping up like a good future boyfriend, and a hot future boyfriend, Rick, looking at Michonne's face, agrees that they should go to Washington.

Stepping up like a good future boyfriend, and a hot future boyfriend, Rick, looking at Michonne’s face, agrees that they should go to Washington. “It’s only 100 miles away,” he says, echoing Michonne’s words. Put another boyfriend point up on the board for Rick Grimes, ladies and gentlemen!

The sound of cries interrupt Richonne’s sweet moment, and they work together to kill the walkers that have descended upon Noah, who is holding them off with a length of garden fencing.  Noah tells the others that Tyreese has been bitten, and they rush after him towards the house.

radio 3

Once again, a shot of the radio, and once again, we hear the crackle and static of the dial turning, finding a station…and this time, we find music. Beth, singing with her beautiful voice, playing guitar, a haunting song about a “struggling man.” And Tyreese, so hurt, so ill, in such pain, most certainly is struggling now.

beth, mika and lizzie

Beth finishes her song, and looks at Tyreese, along with Lizzie and Mika. “It’s all right, Tyreese,” Beth tells him. “You have to know that now.”

Bob tells Tyreese that it's ok that he didn't want to be a part of it any longer.

Bob tells Tyreese that it’s ok that he didn’t want to be a part of it any longer.

Beth’s voice adds, “You don’t have to be a part of it.” Then we hear laughter, and the shot pans over, once again, to The Ghost of Shitty Martin.

“That’s your problem, right there,” says Martin. “What’s my problem?” asks Tyreese. “You didn’t want to be a part of it, but being part of it is being, now,” Martin replies.  “It’s what it is. Open your eyes.”

Lizzie, I think, chimes in, tells Tyreese that he doesn’t have to be a part of it. “You don’t,” says Mika. We see a pair of boots stride over, and the Gov crouches down to get more on Tyreese’s level.

“You said you’d earn your keep,” says the Gov. “You had no idea what you were even talking about, did you? Did you?? Your eyes were open, but you didn’t wanna see, even though I made you see it… I showed you. But, did you adapt? Did you change? No! You would sit in front of a woman who killed someone you love, and you would forgive her!

Bob chimes in, says, “That is all there is.” The Gov says, This is all there is. This is it.” Tyreese struggles mightily to stand, pulling himself up using the desk, standing on shaky feet.  Tyreese faces the Gov.

“I didn’t know who I was talking to,” Tyreese says.”I told you I’d earn my keep, but I didn’t know you. I know who I am. I know what happened, and what’s going on. You didn’t show me shit.”

Tyreese points his bloody arm, finger, at the Gov.

Tyreese points his bloody arm, finger, at the Gov. “You dead,” Tyreese tells him. “Everything you were, is dead. It’s not over. That’s why I forgave her. It’s not over. I didn’t turn away. I kept listening to the news, so I could do what I could to help! I’m not giving up, you hear me? I’m not giving up. Ain’t nobody’s gotta die today.”

In response, the Gov goes all art film, saying,

In response, the Gov goes all art film and shit, saying, “You have to PAY THE BILL,” and shoves Tyreese back, against the wall. Tyreese, too weak now, slumps to the floor.

Tyreese, fading out, sees Mika and Lizzie sitting in front of him.

Tyreese, fading out, sees Mika and Lizzie sitting in front of him.

Lizzie and Mika gently reach out and take Tyreese's arm, looking at the blood with quiet concern, but not fear. The look up at him, and gently begin to pull at the arm...

Lizzie and Mika gently reach out and take Tyreese’s arm, looking at the blood with quiet concern, but not fear. The look up at him, and gently begin to pull at the arm…

...and the scene shifts quickly to Rick, Glenn, and Michonne, holding Tyreese while Michonne swiftly amputates poor Tyreese's bitten arm.

…and the scene shifts quickly to Rick, Glenn, and Michonne, holding Tyreese while Michonne swiftly amputates poor Tyreese’s bitten arm.

The following scenes depict the mayhem of getting out of Shirewilt and getting Tyreese to a safer place, to cauterize his wound and tend to him. It is not an easy task.

On a light note, Chad  Coleman said on Talking Dead that Andrew Lincoln and Steven Yeun dropped him at least a couple of times filming this scene.

On a light note, Chad Coleman said on Talking Dead that Andrew Lincoln and Steven Yeun dropped him at least a couple of times filming this scene.

gate crasher walkers

At the gates, the gang must break the chains and then face the crush of the Gate Crasher Walkers.

gate crasher walkers 2

As Noah stays with Tyreese, keeps talking to him to keep him awake, alive…

gate crasher walkers 3

…the gang manages to get through the barbed wire fencing, and to the car.

Tyreese is loaded into the car.

Tyreese is loaded into the car.

Rick gets stuck in mud and squeals wheels to get out of there, crashing into the red truck in the woods, which contains a large amount of snapping upper torsos with

Rick gets stuck in mud and squeals wheels to get out of there, crashing into the red truck in the woods, which contains a large amount of snapping upper torsos with “W’s” carved into their foreheads. Who is responsible for this mess? I imagine we will find out soon enough…

The gang speeds down the road, and Tyreese can hear another news report…cannibalism, fires, mutilation of children.  The list of horrors goes on and on, mirroring the events and hells that Tyreese and the others have faced.

“Turn it off,” says Tyreese.

Bob turns to look at Tyreese.

Bob turns to look at Tyreese. “You sure?” he asks.

“It’s ok, Tyreese,” says Beth, who is driving this car. She no longer has blood on her, and her head wounds, scars are gone. “You’ve gotta know that now.”

Mika and Lizzie are riding in the back with Tyreese. Their wounds, and blood, are gone now too.

“It’s not just ok,” says Lizzie. “It’s better,” agrees Mika.

So, Tyreese lets go.

So, Tyreese lets go.

bob smiling

RIP Tyreese <3

RIP Tyreese ❤

Enjoy the playlist, gang, the biggest yet in the history of barnfullawalkers: 10 songs of love, and loss, lament, and laughter for Tyreese, TWD’s Tower of Power

Tyreese was the biggest man, with the biggest heart, carrying the biggest love inside. RIP Tyreese.  Sorry I spelled your name wrong all those times before, but I was talking the whole time about how awesome you are 🙂 One Love, Tyreese

IMG_0242IMG_0243

Somebody get that man an Ergo baby carrier!

Tower of Power Playlist:

Wax Tailor, “How I Feel”

Stevie Wonder, “I Wish”

Nas, “One Love” (One Love, for Tyreese, and for our sweet gang, living and departed:  “I even got a mask and gloves, to bust slug for one love” <3)

Moby, “One Of These Mornings” (feat. Patti LaBelle) (For Noah’s poor mom, and Lil Bros 😦  I am so sorry, Noah!)

Panda Bear, Boys Latin

Boards of Canada, “Dayvan Cowboy”

Mos Def, “Love”

TV On The Radio, “I Was a Lover” (U sure were, Tyreese <3)

Jeff Buckley, “Hallelujah” (RIP Tyreese…you’ve got some good souls escorting you, and waiting for you, on the other side. <3)

Florence and the Machine, “You’ve Got the Love” (to #TWDFamily, all around the world…you’ve got the love I need <3)

The Walking Dead, Season 5 mid-season prepost, “Surviving Together”

“Surviving Together”

(All images used in this post are screen caps/promotional photos from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and the AMC official website.)

Hello again, dear readers, and may I begin my WD Season 5 mid-season prepost by wishing each and every one of you a Happy New Year…may 2015 be filled with love, luck, health, prosperity, and unprecedented fabulousness for us all.

This year, may we all pay it forward and share the love, especially with our dear gang, Rick Grimes and the Train Car Superstars & the New Additions (namely: New Carol, Tyrese, Baby Judith, Father Gabriel, and Noah).

Our gang needs the love, people, now more than ever.  They are hurting, bad, especially now, after the senseless murder of Beth.  Each one of our gang has experienced, at this point, a series of recent, significant losses on many levels: the loss of loved ones, the loss of home/shelter, the loss of previously-held ideals or belief systems, and the loss of the dream that somehow Eugene Porter did possess the knowledge and ability to cure the walker epidemic, and humanity could begin the process of setting the world right again.

It has been one cruel, horrific blow after another for our gang, as they have been forced, again and again, back out into the open, where they must fight for their lives all day, every day, against both the savagery of the undead walkers and the predatory nature of other living survivors.

As Daryl tells Father Gabriel, back in Season 5‘s episode, “Strangers,” compared to the constant threat the walking dead pose to the group’s very survival,(the living) people are worse.”

In this post-apocalyptic world, murderers, bandits, pillagers, and rapists roam the open, ready to kill whomever comes across their paths just to get whatever valuables or resources their poor victims possess. We all remember Dirty Joe and his band of Downstairs Thug Boys, who Rick eluded and escaped from, undetected (in pimp deputy fashion) in Season 4’s “Claimed,” and who poor Daryl was forced to join up with, for a spell, after Beth was abducted in the black Grady Memorial car in “Alone.”  

We TWD fans will certainly never forget the bloody and explosive confrontation in the Season 4 finale, “A,” when Joe and his band of degenerates finally track down Rick, Michonne, and Carl, preparing to finally mete out their revenge on Rick (for killing their buddy, Lou, back at the house, and leaving him to turn and attack the others) by first killing Daryl (who showed his love and loyalty to Rick, Michonne and Carl by offering Joe his life for theirs, thus pissing Joe, and Joe’s Daryl boner, off big-time), then gang-raping and killing first Michonnethen Carl, while Rick would be forced to watch, then, finally, shooting Rick dead.

Well, that was the plan, anyway…but thankfully, Rick Smash! had some ideas of his own, and the rest of that tale, my friends, is a now-classic moment in TWD history.

Joe, meet Rick Smash!

Joe, meet Rick Smash!

See that, Joe?  That's your neck and shit...

See that, Joe? That’s your neck and shit…

At this point in the zombie apocalypse, for any living ZA survivors who are out in the open, without a shelter or community to call their own, shit can go south at any moment. But, as we are finding, while established communities do exist, many are like well-guarded, impenetrable fortresses that seem to base their strength on the exploitation of the weak as much as anything else in these dire times…you get a roof over your head, but it comes with steep cost and a big side of crazy (think Woodbury, Sanctuary, Grady Memorial.)

As Abraham told Glenn, as they stood night watch together at the bookstore window in Season 5’s “Self Help,” anybody still alive at this point in the apocalypse is strong, and if they’re strong, and they can help you, then you help them…but, if they’re strong, and they can hurt or kill you, then you have to kill them.  It’s a brutal, uncompromising reality of these times:

Never let your guard down. Kill or be killed. Surviving together is all that matters.

Dirty Joe laid it out for Daryl in Season 4’s “Us,” with surprising eloquence for a roughneck sociopath: “See, goin’ it alone, that’s not an option nowadays…still, it’s survival of the fittest.  That’s a paradox, right there.” 

The Walking Dead’s Season 5 mid-season finale episode, “Coda,” ended with the shot of our gang, Daryl in the center, bearing Beth’s lifeless body in his arms, facing out into the blasted skyline of Atlanta from the parking lot of Grady Memorial Hospital.

The final shot of the Season 5 midseason finale...

Where does our gang go,  from here?

AMC has released three separate trailers, the last being the first two minutes of the upcoming TWD Season 5 mid-season premiere.  

Check them out:

It appears, especially from the video of the first two minutes of the Season 5 mid-season premiere, that the gang is planning on going north to Noah’s home town, outside of Richmond, Virginia.  It is about 530 miles from Atlanta to Richmond, travelling along the interstate highways of I-85 N and I-95 N, and going through, or near, the cities of Charlotte, Thomasville, and Durham, North Carolina.

In the trailer, we see images of the prison, Hershel’s farm, and what looks like Noah and his twin brother, and perhaps their home, a cozy little house nestled in the woods. Back in Season 5’s “Slabtown,” Noah tells Beth that he wants to get back up to the Richmond and reconnect with his mom.  From what Rick says in the trailer, it seems that Noah’s destination is a secure place with walls, homes, and twenty people.

“It’s a long trip,” says Rick, “but if it works out, it’s the last long trip we’ll have to make.”

Glenn, looking down, is taking this all in, asks, “What if it isn’t around anymore?”

Rick-In-Charge’s reply is immediate. “Then we keep going.”

Michonne’s voice adds, “Then, we find a new place.”

It is an epic journey, a tall order, even for Rick Grimes and the Train Car Superstars & the New Additions. 530 miles is a long way, especially when travelling through some heavily populated areas en route to their final destination.

There are surely many obstacles our gang must face along the way, and if the first half of Season 5 is any indication, Rick and the gang are going to come up against all sorts of new dangers in Season 5 2.0.  

Walkers. Nomadic, predatory living savages on the roam. Psychotic societies. Hunger, exposure, exhaustion, grief, despair.

I, dear readers, like you, can only speculate, ruminate, self-medicate…and hope against hope that our gang can make it to Noah’s family’s compound alive and intact.

Here are some thoughts, questions, and predictions I can offer, along with my constant prayer, my constant mantra:  Please, oh please, let Rick and the gang make it safe and sound through this damn walker apocalypse! Surely there is hope…isn’t there?

First, let’s talk about Rick Grimes(aka Rick-In-Charge, Rick Smash!, Rick Fucking Grimes)

Rick Grimes still

Ahhhh…Rick Grimes. When these blue cast still shots came out, and I saw this picture of Andrew Lincoln/Rick Grimes for the first time, it was so freaking hot, I gulped my coffee down too quickly, burning my tongue.  

Ouch!  Pain, and pleasure, served up simultaneously, as often happens in this life.

What does Season 5 2.0 have in store for our favorite deputy?

From the mid-season premiere teaser, it appears that Rick, once again, is going right into Rick-In-Charge mode, doing exactly what needs to be done, in the moment: securing vehicles, getting the crap outta scorched Atlanta, honoring Beth with a burial and a service, talking with Noah, and making a plan (ostensibly, to travel north to Noah’s family’s compound, outside of Richmond).

While Rick is surely devastated by the sudden, unexpected loss of Beth, he has his children, and his extended family, to think of, and he always does exactly that, thinking of the needs of those around him, and putting them first.

By this point, Rick has honed his ability to shelve his personal needs, and sorrows, grief, and doubts, and focus on the task at hand, whether it be getting his group out of an immediate life-or-death situation, or planning, delegating, and executing the steps necessary to embark on the next challenge or journey ahead for him and his people.

And that’s all well and good for the group, whether they want to recognize or not…we know Rick, the leader, has it all dialed in, but what about Rick, the man?

And such a man, at that…

The way I recall it, the last time our man, Rick Grimes, got to do anything simply for his own pleasure, he was puttering around in the prison’s garden and tending to the hogs. And we all know how that ended up, with poor Rick having to slash his beloved piglets’ legs and throw them to the walker horde that was threatening to topple the prison’s fences.

And, the last time our man, Rick Grimes, got any play, he was having some marital missionary with Lori, who was too consumed with guilt for hooking up with Shane for it to be any fun at all for either of t