Review by Gene
The episode title alone might lead one to believe our group will be encountering some other mysterious and unknown group. “Them”. Sounds intriguing and dangerous and cryptic, right? Nope, not so much. (spoilers ahead)
If there ever were an episode to NOT introduce someone to this show, this one was it. There was probably enough to hang onto for the committed fans, but if you’re looking for a tent-pole episode full of action and revelation, keep watching. In reality, this episode was probably the closest to what everyday life might be like in an actual zombie apocalypse. Just walking around, scrounging for drops of water and scraps of food, worn down in about every way possible. Our group is headed to Washington D.C., hoping for abandoned cars to have just enough fuel to take them a short way. The physical exertion felt by the whole group is clear, but the episode focuses in on the emotional exhaustion and loss specifically of Sasha, Daryl and Maggie.
Maggie opens the episode, crying alone as a walker approaches from behind. She drudgingly brings herself to her feet and kills the walker as it gets hung up in vines. Sasha meanwhile expresses herself with anger. Anger at walkers on their trail, anger at Michonne for not going to kill them with her, anger at Abraham for drinking. In one scene where a plan is in place to kill the trailing walkers with the greatest ease possible to conserve energy, Sasha goes rogue and causes the group to have to scramble, putting them in greater danger. And Daryl deals with it the way Daryl does; in seclusion. He goes off to “look for food” a handful of times, finally breaking down and allowing himself to cry.
We don’t really reach any interesting moments until they flee to a barn to seek shelter from a storm. There we have a terrific speech from Rick. When you think of a leader, I think one of the things you immediately ascribe to them is the ability to rally the troops. Rick has done that in the past but not in a way that you might describe as motivational. It’s usually more the case that he’s laying down the law. In this barn, with everyone at their wits end, we see a different side of Rick. He draws on something from his personal past, and tells a story of how his grandfather dealt with fighting in WWII. He had to just pretend he was dead.
“We do what we need to do, and then we get to live… we tell ourselves that WE are the walking dead.”
Daryl doesn’t like this reasoning. “We ain’t them”, he says. Therein lies our episode title. “Them”, is just the walkers they’ve been running from all along. This isn’t really a new take on the show, that our group has actually become the walking dead, but it’s cool to hear our main character put a voice to it all the same.
While the storm rages, a herd of walkers approaches the barn and tries to break down the doors. Caught first by Daryl, then by Maggie and Sasha, it’s no coincidence that the three struggling most emotionally are the first to react proactively to protect everyone. Eventually they all join in. Carl even puts down Judith, at which point I cringed just waiting for a walker to sneak in and grab her. Thankfully that didn’t happen. What did happen was a centralizing moment for everyone. Holding the barn doors shut together. Relying on each other, once again. Unified.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” John 17: 22, 23
Perfect unity is that which Jesus shared with His Father. They are one. That’s a unity we can strive for, but much like our efforts of doing enough good things, we’ll always fall short. Jesus prayed for unity among believers as a sign that the “world may know that You sent Me”. I think it’s quite interesting that, after unifying as they did in the barn, they awoke the next morning to find that the storm had taken care of the walker threat for them. Divine providence? Don’t rule it out.
My Rating: C
Until the last two minutes there was almost nothing that happened in this episode. The way they all dragged themselves along the highway is how I felt I was being taken through this episode. Maggie is becoming less and less of an interesting character to me. I no longer buy her and Glenn’s relationship as they seem unable to bring each other much if any comfort at all. Sasha’s anger could’ve been a great focal point but it fell short of being anything worth hanging the episode on. Even Daryl’s crying scene was cut abruptly short. The only redeeming qualities of this episode was the appearance of clean-cut stranger Aaron at the end, and the intrigue of an encounter with another group. Aaron tried to encourage Maggie and Sasha, telling them he had good news. But he also already knew Rick’s name. Curious. As much as it would suck to see the same type of encounters with yet another group out for blood, I’d rather watch that than the cast dragging their feet, and the show, down the road for 40 minutes.
My running tally after the first half of season 5 was +2 in this department. Here’s to keeping that on the plus side!
- Aaron’s group will be the same as who stormed Noah’s old town. Similar script retold again just with some different twist on why this group is hostile to everyone.
- I’m not convinced Sasha’s rage is calmed. I’ll go on a limb and say she does something out of anger in dealing with Aaron or this new group that puts everyone in danger.
I’d love to hear some of your predictions, and what you thought of this show overall.