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:
And she was all like:
(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.
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.
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.
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.
Turning back around, Rick adds, “They’re not going anywhere.”
Daryl does not reply. Judith give a little whimper, and Daryl looks down at her. “She’s hungry,” he says.
“We gotta find water, food,” Daryl says.
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.”
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.
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 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.
Daryl does not reply. Carol walks over and hands him a knife, sheathed in a blond leather casing.
“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.”
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…
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.
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.
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.
Daryl hangs back, tells Abraham to tell the others he went looking for water. Abraham says nothing, takes another pull from his bottle.
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…
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:
In that moment, the group begins to feel drops of water falling on them…it’s raining!
At a loud clap of thunder, Rick stands and looks to the horizon, sees…
Later, the gang tries to get some much-needed rest in the barn, with the sound of the rain pouring outside.
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.
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 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:
The next shot, it’s morning…
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.
They look over towards Sasha’s sleeping form, and Daryl says, of Tyreese, “He was tough.”
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).
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)