So. Right. I had to do a couple of… umm… let’s say slightly suspect Google searches in order to find all of the images that I wanted for this episode. And somewhere along the line, somehow, I came across this image among many others, and let me tell you, folks, I am restraining myself in choosing only this one to repost. I have no idea if this is mostly Photoshopped or if this is from some other acting job that Norman Reedus has had at some point during his career, but once I found it it was impossible not to post.
Recap to do. Right.
PREVIOUSLY ON THE WALKING DEAD: Everybody was really hungry, because it turns out that occasionally it’s hard to find food, gas and water several months to a year after the world ends. We found the only four dogs left in the world, and Sasha shot them. And a tornado that probably wasn’t a dream sequence, but probably could have been.
Anyway. Remember this guy?
The episode starts with him getting brought into the barn at gunpoint by Sasha and Maggie, and I know I keep threatening that these recaps are gonna be shorter than usual, but this time I really can recap a whole chunk of episode in just a couple of sentences: Aaron is from a settlement. He wants the group to “audition” for it. And Rick is having none of it– Gee, why might Rick be suspicious of other people at this point?– and Aaron spends most of the episode tied up and trying to sound reasonable and is it homophobic if I make jokes about how they took the only gay guy in the history of the show so far and made him spend half the episode on his knees? Because they totally did that.
One thing he never says? “I’m clean, guys.” Because if I’m Glenn or Abraham or Eugene (please don’t let me be Eugene) at this point, I take one look at this dude, who has clearly had a shower at some point in the last few days, and I am done. Your clothes are clean, you are shaved, and you probably smell good. Where do you live, and are there more of you? That’s really all it takes. Rick, meanwhile, has seriously never looked scruffier. His beard is made entirely of the beards of lesser men at this point.
“Anybody wanna smell me? We all smell like this where I’m from.”
“Are there cannibals where you’re from?”
“Only a couple.”
“How much time will I have to be clean before the cannibals come after me?”
“We guarantee everybody at least a week.”
But then the episode would have been a lot shorter.
So here’s the thing about Aaron: one of the things I really like about this episode is that Aaron talks too much, but he talks too much in a very specific way. Aaron’s been safe long enough that he’s got his sense of humor back. He makes jokes about dance troupes and apologizes for the quality of the photographs that he has of the massive settlement that his people have built outside of Alexandria. I complain a lot about the characters on this show talking too much, and this is definitely a talky episode, but for once it’s because it’s a character trait and not because the writers can’t come up with anything else for the humans to be doing.
Anyway, at some point Rick punches him in the face, and then we get a great, rare joke from Michonne, who looks at Rick and says “So we’re clear? That look wasn’t a let’s attack that man look. It was a he looks like an okay guy to me look.” They ransack his stuff, find a flare gun, and then there’s lots more talking while they try to pry information out of Aaron and he points out that there’s really no way to decide if they can trust him other than to trust him. And you can kind of tell he’s done this before, too, which is also fun.
(Can you tell I like Aaron? I like Aaron.)
Eventually they send Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, Abraham and Rosita out to, if not find Aaron’s partner, at least find the cars he claims he’s been driving around in. Everybody else splits up and takes a surveillance post somewhere around the barn.
They find the car– the RV, actually, and there are rustlings in the underbrush behind it. Everyone gets real jumpy. And then an amazing thing happens: a walker comes out of the woods, and everyone visibly relaxes. Which is kind of amazing if you think about it. They see a zombie and the reaction is “Whew!”
We also, by the way, get a good shot at one point of the wound on Abraham’s arm from last episode, so they’re definitely going somewhere with that. In fact, they’re careful to get more blood all over his other arm, which feels ominous. And because everybody has to have a moment to be adorable in this episode, Abraham is practically reduced to tears by a can of “S’ghetti Rings.” He sorta apologizes to Rosita in a doesn’t-say-sorry-but-sorta-acknowledges-he-was-an-ass way.
Meanwhile, Rick mashes up acorns with a loaded gun to feed to his infant daughter, and there’s a half-cute/half-poignant scene where Aaron reveals that he has applesauce in his pack, which represents slightly more appropriate baby food than gun-mashed squirrel chow. Rick tries to insist that Aaron eat the applesauce first to prove that it’s not poisoned and Aaron, who is tied up by the way, tries to resist, claiming that he hates applesauce. He tells a story about his mom. It’s hilarious. Why did you bring applesauce, then? Rick does everything short of telling him that the spoon is an airplane to get him to eat the stuff, which turns out to be actual applesauce. Unpoisoned.
Later on, everyone’s back and there’s more talking. Michonne is the leader of the “We’re going” camp, and really doesn’t actually have to work too hard to bring everyone else along. At no point does anyone point out how clean Aaron is. Aaron tells them where to go, and Rick insists on changing his route. Aaron is horrified by this idea. Rick won’t bend. They leave at sundown.
Cute picture break!
That evening, they’re driving on the road. In the dark. Rick, Glenn, Michonne and Aaron are in the front car, everybody else is in the RV in the back. Michonne finds a pile of license plates in the glove box. Do license plates fit in glove boxes? Aaron explains that he collects them, and crap, that’s even more trust me than being clean was. I want to live somewhere where they have time to collect license plates!
Michonne, instead, asks him The Questions.
And then two things happen simultaneously: they find a rifle mic in the car, and the fact that they could be listening instead of just watching really freaks Rick out, and Glenn drives the car smack into an enormous herd of zombies. So enormous that there’s an overhead shot and there’s so much blood on the headlights that they’re red. The car dies, and won’t restart because there’s too much guts and gore in the engine.
Gee, Rick, maybe you shoulda listened to the don’t go that way dude?
Meanwhile, they determine that the RV people haven’t followed them. And then there’s a flare in the distance. And Aaron freaks out, his hands still tied behind him, and gets out of the car and flees. Michonne points out that the others would have seen the flare too, and the best bet to get everyone back together is to head after it.
The next few minutes are all chaos and insanity, running around in the dark, separated, surrounded by death, and slowly running out of bullets, and it is as tense of an action scene as this show has ever had, to the point that I turned to my wife, genuinely concerned, and said “They wouldn’t kill characters three episodes in a row, would they?”
Not quite clear what’s going on? Rick has run out of bullets and so he’s shot a zombie in the eye with the flare gun. Which may not be the wisest use of the flare gun, but it’s about the third time that awesome fire-zombies have happened this season.
They get away. Somehow. And then, there’s really no way to describe it other than a scene must have gotten cut, because there’s sort of a weird continuity hiccup and they’re all finding each other in what sure looks like an urban area without anything happening in between. Aaron is screaming for “Eric” while everyone else is reuniting. “In here!” somebody yells.
And something amazing happens, and two characters have a perfectly normal conversation as if they’re not in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Eric’s injured his ankle hiding under a car, but he’s otherwise fine. Rick walks in just long enough to grunt his name, being otherwise unwilling to interrupt them, which means even the characters recognize how rare and powerful a moment these folks are having here. Aaron comes back out to the rest of the group, and there’s a moment where Rick tries to pretend that he’s going to keep him and Eric separated during the night, at which point Aaron makes it perfectly clear that there is absolutely no chance of that happening. It’s the only moment in the episode where you see some steel in the guy, steel he would have to have in him in order to have survived this long.
I really like this character.
And it’s the next morning, and it’s quiet, and sunny, and they’re on their way to Alexandria, and Eugene is playing cards with Tara and a couple other people, and manages to declare fourteen wild cards for the game.
Naturally the RV breaks down seconds after Abraham is dumb enough to say the words we can make it, because that’s what RVs do, and we somehow get another adorable moment, as Dale gets a lovely understated shout-out when Glenn goes and finds the backup battery and fixes the RV. If anything it’s made even better by the fact that Dale’s name is never mentioned; newer viewers would never have realized what was going on, but for the rest of us it’s perfect.
Meanwhile, Rick wanders off for a bit to hide a gun. Inside a blender, which is not a place where I would ever have thought to hide a gun. Maybe toss another couple of magazines in there, too? Because that gun can’t hold that many bullets.
And they find Alexandria.
And Rick hears children laughing inside.
And there is an amazing close-up on his eyes while he makes the decision to go inside.
Is it next Sunday yet?