As we approach the midway point for Season 5, The Walking Dead has delivered several episodes that focused on one particular plot point: Beth in the hospital, Abraham’s team traveling to Washington, or Carol and Daryl in pursuit of Beth. It was inevitable that we’d return to multiple storylines in a single episode, and that’s not a bad thing at all, but the pacing differences are noticeable.
Not to say that “Crossed” was bad. Not at all. It had the challenge of balancing multiple storylines while also advancing the storyline before the mid-season finale. While this episode was good, some storylines worked better than others.
The episode begins back with Rick and company at Gabriel’s church. They’re cutting down pews to board up the windows and doors. Sasha in particular is going to town on some pews, not like they did anything to her. The group splits in two: Rick, Daryl, Tyreese, Sasha and Noah will head for the hospital, while Carl, Michonne, Gabriel and Judith remain at the church.
Then Judith immediately starts crying. Babies, am I right? Carl and Michonne get to work boarding up the front door while Gabriel tries his damndest to scrub the blood off the floorboards.
En route to the hospital, courtesy of the truck Daryl swiped, Sasha remains silent. Tyreese tries to get her to open up about Bob’s death, but Sasha wants none of that.
We then briefly return to the hospital as Beth watches Carol rest.
Abraham and company have now exhausted all of the water from the fire truck. Tara did find something to do with her spare time: come up with a group name- GREATM. Great, I guess. Rosita tries to snap Abraham out of his funk, but the sergeant is still shell-shocked over Eugene’s big reveal. Eugene himself is still on the ground behind the truck. Try as she might, Rosita cannot get Abraham to react. It’s only when she yells at him to look at her that Abraham rushes to his feet and stares down Rosita as if he’d like to strangle her.
Maggie makes the situation better by pointing her gun at Abraham, promising to put him down if he doesn’t get back down. So should he be up or down? I’m getting mixed signals here.
After Noah gives what intel he has, Rick details a plan to attack the hospital with as little noise as possible since Dawn is not expecting them. Tyreese suggests that they just find some officers and take them hostage. That way, Dawn will be forced to trade them for Beth and Carol. Rick is skeptical. Tyreese’s plan might work, but Rick is convinced that his plan will work. But then Daryl also backs Tyreese’s idea.
Gabriel’s still not getting the blood out. Carl has plans for him, anyway. He lays a batch of weapons before Gabriel and tells him to pick one so he can learn how to defend himself. Gabriel finds it funny that a group of murderers would even offer to teach him how to fend off other murderers. Carl justifies what the group has done by saying that they had to protect themselves. You cannot just stay in one place forever. Not in this world. Soon enough, someone finds your hiding spot and you’ll have to fight your way out. So Gabriel picks the machete, which he doesn’t know how to properly hold.
Back at Grady, Dawn still wants Noah found and brought to her. One of the officers tells her that they planned on him screwing up, but that has not been the case yet. More than that, there’s the matter of the woman in exam room two: she was half dead when brought in. There’s no need to waste resources on her, so why not just pull the plug?
Beth, who picked a convenient spot to mop the floor, lashes out at the officer for the resources wasted on his DVD player. This new patient, Beth says, has only been in the hospital for one day! Why get rid of her now? Regardless, Dawn wants the machines turned off. This new woman is not worth the effort. Beth is upset, but Dawn’s hands are tied. She thought Beth was weak- maybe she thought different after hitting her in the head enough times- but now feels that she is in a position to save this woman’s life. With that, Dawn gives Beth a key to the drug locker. At the same time, someone transmits to Dawn via radio that they heard shots.
With no water left, the fire truck brigade is in need of more. Glenn, Rosita and Tara go on their own adventure while Maggie remains with Abraham and Eugene.
And we immediately go south when Tara makes a joke that doesn’t go well with Glenn and Rosita. But hey, Tara doesn’t even want to go to D.C. anymore, anyway. She turns her ire on Eugene. He wasn’t strong or fast. He was pretty useless. Tara really fails to see the irony, doesn’t she?
Maggie gets in her daily workout by pulling the ladder from atop the fire truck and setting it up while also shading Eugene. She goes over to Abraham and tells him to get over himself. He’s not the only one who lost something. Plus, it’s not going to get any better than this. Great job keeping hope alive, Maggie.
Beth asks Steven what he would give the woman in exam room two if he could save her life. Due to her internal injuries, he responds, it would just be one big guessing game. Steven tells her to keep her eyes open- Dawn didn’t give her that key out of the goodness of her heart. He does advise Beth to give the woman some medicine that will ease her blood pressure, but that’s all she can do for now.
Glenn, Rosita and Tara finally do find some water. It’s not the cleanest looking water, but luckily, Rosita knows how to filter out the filth- a nifty skill she picked up from Eugene. Well, at least there’s that useful skill. We then learn how Rosita came joined up with Abraham and Eugene: she was with a group of people when the shit hit the fan. In Dallas, Abraham rushed in with his truck to help her group. Eugene had been with him and informed her of his mission. Seeing her skills, Abraham asked Rosita for her help- the first time anyone had ever asked her that since all of this started. My best guess is that if men asked Rosita for anything up until that point, it wasn’t help.
So a pair of officers follows the shots and come across Noah. They manage to subdue him before finding themselves surrounded by Rick and the others. So long as they follow Rick’s orders, they don’t have to die. More than that, there’s food and water for them, if they need it. One of the officers, noticing how Rick carries himself, asks if he was ever a cop.
But then another car speeds up and the officer inside, Licari, played by Christopher Matthew Cook open fire. The captured officers manage to escape. The car speeds away, but Sasha does manage to get a shot in one of its tires.
They continue in pursuit, but Daryl lingers behind to check a FEMA van for the other cops. He’s ambushed and fights with an officer. They fight dangerously close to some walkers. Not ready to die yet, Daryl, in another of his awesome moments, rips the head off of a walker and bashes it in the officer’s skull. A few gunshots later, Rick returns. He’s ready to kill the officer, but Daryl warns him against it, telling him that three hostages are better than two. Thank you for the math lesson, Daryl.
Rick and the others have their three hostages. These cops are different, Noah says. They’re good cops. In fact, they acknowledge that most people at Grady want Dawn gone. One of the officers, Shepherd, played by Teri Wyble, suggests that she and her partner- who I’ll identify in a second- be returned so they can talk with Dawn. Shepherd’s partner shoots this down. The hostage situation can work, but he feels only he can get through to Dawn, given their eight year friendship.
Back with the fishy adventures of Glenn, Rosita and Tara, the three kill the walkers they passed on the way to the creek and then take their clothes. Luckily, one of them wore mesh. And Tara swiped a knapsack.
Michonne checks up on Gabriel. All of this is still new to him. She tells him that the things they do are worth it to survive. They just want to help him any way that they can. When Michonne leaves, Gabriel goes back to prying open floorboards in his study.
Then we get the best performance of the episode. Beth hands one of the hospital patients some strawberries. He enters a coughing fit, which attracts several officers and gives Beth enough time to grab some medicine from the drug cabinet. She heads to the exam room, administers the dosage and tells Carol that she was at least there.
Tyreese tries again to get Sasha to talk. She said her goodbyes. At the very least, she should hold onto that, even if she wasn’t able to deliver the killing blow to Bob.
After prying open enough floorboards, Gabriel slips underneath, crawls through a passageway and escapes the church. Then he falls because there’s a nail in his foot. You know, I’ll get to this later. He limps away from the church.
The other officer explains to Rick’s group that Dawn will not compromise, but secretly, she wants to. Rick asks the man if there’s anything else he needs. He’s fine, but he finally identifies himself: Sergeant Bob Lamson, played by Maximiliano Hernández. Well, isn’t that a fine coincidence. Even though Rick tells Bob that he’s still a cop, Bob is convinced that all of the real ones are gone.
Gabriel makes his way away from the church, but he hears noises all around him. A walker ambushes him. Gabriel throws the walker to the ground, causing its guts to spill out. That’s a damn effective body slam if I ever saw one. He almost crushes it with a rock, but hesitates and stops when he sees that the walker has a cross around her neck. Well, that’s awfully convenient.
Bob tells Sasha about Dawn picked him because she wanted someone trustworthy. He became friends with another of Dawn’s selections: Tyler. It took two days to evacuate and neither of them slept or ate, but it was worth it. One day, Bob was supposed to drive the last batch of survivors to the zone, but Dawn pulled him off of it. She wanted someone she could trust and put Tyler on it instead. Things went south and Tyler ended up out there, mounted to the asphalt. In fact, he’s still there. It would have been Bob, but Tyler saved his life. Sasha offers to finish him off with a mercy shot. They won’t go outside, though.
Maggie tries again to snap Abraham out of his funk. She asks if he wanted her to shoot him. At first, he thought he did, but then he didn’t. Smart thinking. Oh, and Eugene’s making noise again. He’ll be fine.
Bob shows Sasha the spot where Tyler is: 20 yards right of the Sedan. Sasha looks through the scope of her rifle. She can’t spot it. She also couldn’t spot Bob head-butting her and knocking her out while he makes his escape, which is just what he does.
“Crossed” had the task of delivering storylines on multiple fronts and give viewers something to hold onto as we approach the finale for the first half of the season. While I find The Walking Dead a lot stronger when episodes are contained, we’ve seen in the past that it can balance different storylines and still give us effective episodes. This wasn’t entirely the case this week, as some storylines were not as effective as other ones.
I didn’t pick up much on themes and messages in this episode, but one thing I did grasp was the importance of standing up for yourself in the face of impending danger. This isn’t new to The Walking Dead, but we saw it play out with both Beth and Gabriel. Well, sort of with Gabriel, but I’ll get to that later. Living a sheltered life and continuing to try and live like that makes you ill-equipped for the world these people live in. That’s where Gabriel is right now and where Beth is slowly distancing herself from. Never wanting to fight or kill is what made someone like Mika an easy target for death. That, and Lizzie was probably insane. Sure, there’s something to be said for pacifism in a world where the dead walk, but Carl had a real point: you can’t just expect to stand on the sidelines the entire time and think you’ll be all right. Again, going back to “The Grove,” this reminds me a lot of Carol’s conversation with Mika- if you’re not willing to toughen up in this new world, you’re pretty much just walker bait.
The problem with balancing every storyline is that some get more attention than others. This doesn’t mean the quality of longer segments is better, though. That said, I did find the segments involving Rick’s group in Atlanta a lot more interesting than Beth’s.
Okay, onto the characters. Gabriel is a bit too timid right now and I wish he’d break out of this habit. Granted, in the comic books, Gabriel was the same way and I don’t recall him ever taking part in the killings that the rest of the group did. The difference is that, in the comics, Gabriel was a bit more calm and collected. The television version seems to break into a sweat at almost anything. Man up, Father! The man needs to grow a spine.
And don’t get me started on all the religious symbolism. Gabriel tries to leave the church, but falls because there’s a nail in one of his feet. I hope that, by season’s end, he doesn’t somehow put his hands on a building and accidentally force nails through them as well.
Gabriel doesn’t seem like a man who wants to put a reanimated person out of their misery. We saw this first at the food bank and we saw it again when he couldn’t bring himself to kill the walker. I doubt he would have hesitated if the walker didn’t have the cross around her neck. Sure, the person may have known Christ in her former life, but she wasn’t the only person. Why not end their suffering instead of having to look upon the face of a creature that’s not a human being anymore? Leaving them to suffer with their guts spilling out, I find, is a much worse fate. If Gabriel’s to make it in this world, he will need to get his hands dirty.
This doesn’t mean he needs to become an outright murderer. In fact, a lot of situations on this show, we’ve found, can be resolved without violence. Take the group in Atlanta. Rick wants the situation with the people at Grady handled as quickly as possible, even if that means violence. But he’s not just planning to rush in, guns a-blazing. This, I feel, is one aspect that makes Rick qualified as a leader. Not the de-facto leader, but as someone who could lead the charge. Even if he knows that people will die during this assault, he’s taking steps to minimize as much violence as possible, but also maximizing the chance that they can rescue Beth and Carol with as few casualties on their side as possible.
I imagine much of this has to do with his past as a police officer, which gave him a connection to Lamson, Shepherd, and Licari. In fact, I think this is probably the most cordial Rick has been to a group of strangers in a long time. Rick, when he has the time, will try to cover as many bases as possible before executing a plan. He can’t account for every possible angle, but more often than not, his plans, no matter how violent, have garnered him the results he wanted, even when he had to compromise.
Tyreese and Daryl, however, don’t see it that way and know that there can be a resolution without violence. The people of The Walking Dead know that optimism and welcoming someone with open arms can lead to betrayal. Sometimes you need to introduce yourself with your gun to show that you mean business. That’s not ideal, but that’s me looking at it through the perspective of our more ‘civilized’ world. So Tyreese and Daryl believe that a hostage situation is a lot better because it lowers the possibility of anyone being hurt. At the same time, they hope, it forces Dawn in a situation where she’ll want to keep her people alive. That’s a lot to assume and there are many variables to consider- such as Bob head-butting Sasha and leaving- but I’m interested in seeing whether this trade will even still happen.
Side-note on Daryl: the man had one of the best uses of a walker I have seen on this show in quite some time. Ripping that walker’s head off and using it as a weapon felt like a bit of dark humor, but it did help him get the better of that officer. Plus, no way in hell a character like Daryl would go out like that. And on his desire for a peaceful solution, I can see that building off his talk with Carol when he told her that they didn’t need to kill the walkers that posed no immediate threat to them.
And, to be fair, we did get some advancement with how Sasha is processing Bob’s death. She shouldn’t just hold onto her anger forever. She had a chance to say good-bye. Even though she wasn’t the one to finish him off, she should remember him for who he was, not what he would have become. What are the odds that one of the officers from Grady would turn out to have the same name?
As long as we’re talking about the folks downtown, I want to go to the hospital. My issue was with the officers. Beth wants to help Carol. I get that. She hasn’t been at the hospital that long and probably hasn’t formed any close relationships with anyone there. Therefore, I found it strange that Dawn or anyone else there didn’t raise an eyebrow at the fact that Beth suddenly has all of the questions and wants to save the life of this one patient that, in their minds, she barely knows. Wouldn’t they find that the least bit suspicious and question her motives? At the very least, someone should have asked if Beth had ever seen the woman before. As far as everything else in the hospital went, it was alright. Beth is now in Noah’s position, so she can eavesdrop on conversations and get word on what’s happening outside. That and it doesn’t look like she’s getting suckers shoved in her mouth anymore.
Then we have Team GREATM. First off, I don’t see that name sticking, but I give Tara a point for trying. That’s about all I’ll give her, though. I’ll say this: I like seeing Glenn take over as a leader with Abraham in his funk. He’s got the right traits for it. He’s level-headed, but not afraid to use violence when necessary.
We did get to learn a bit more about Rosita, though. This is something I wish we’d gotten during “Self-Help,” and I’m glad we learned about her circumstances before she met Abraham and Eugene. It wasn’t much, but it was something.
Maggie and Abraham also didn’t get a lot to do. Though Abraham didn’t say much, I loved the look on Michael Cudlitz’s face when he stared down Rosita. Here’s a man who just learned that the mission he’d fought for was one, big lie. The people who died in the process, the time and resources wasted and the hope raised- all dashed at once. That’s a lot to take in, especially given how Abraham almost chose to take his own life after finding nothing worth living for, before Eugene ran into him. Angry is not enough of a word to describe his disposition. Yes, Rosita wants to help him, but given how Abraham exploded at Eugene, I think she should have shown more caution. This is not a man to bother right now. So when he glared at her, almost like she was Eugene, I could tell exactly what he felt at that moment.
I think Maggie could have handled the situation a bit better than pointing a gun at him. Given Abraham and Rosita’s relationship, I doubt he would have hurt her. Other than that, Maggie tells him to get over himself in one scene, then tries to approach him with ease in the next scene. Yes, Abraham isn’t the only one to lose something, but he did devote a significant amount of time to a mission that was based on a lie. Let the man take time to soak that in. I honestly doubt Maggie would have pointed a gun had it been Rick who learned this news and fell into disarray.
“Crossed” wasn’t as good as the previous “Slabtown,” “Self-Help,” or “Consumed” by virtue of it having to juggle several storylines instead of focusing a lot of time to develop one. This doesn’t mean the episode was bad. Not at all. I am enjoying the build-up to Rick’s confrontation with Dawn’s team at Grady. With everyone separated, it was inevitable that we’d get an episode that tried to give us a look at every single group. While Team GREATM or even Carl and Michonne at the church didn’t really go anywhere, the strength came mostly from the folks in the heart of Atlanta preparing for a showdown as we head into the mid-season finale.
Seriously, GREATM is not going to catch on.