It’s an episode about walking among the dead! How do we know when it’s over?
The episode begins with Maggie taking some time to herself for a quick cry. That’s interrupted by a walker that gets caught in some branches when trying to make its way to her, those pesky things. Maggie calmly stabs it before resuming her weeping.
Not too far, Daryl digs up a delicious looking worm and then eats the damn thing. Whatever you gotta do to survive, I guess. Sasha doesn’t have much luck either. All she finds is a trail of frogs.
When the three regroup, neither of them were successful in finding any food. As they head toward the others, they figure that they didn’t have much luck either. How much longer do they have to travel to reach their destination? 60 miles. Well, luckily they’ve got a vehicle that can get them there.
No, never mind. The van runs out of gas and everyone is forced to continue on foot with the heat bearing down on them. They don’t even bother killing some of the roamers behind them because they aren’t at full strength. What they need is water, though Rick thinks that it could rain. Daryl heads out and search on his own. Carol opts to join and Daryl really isn’t in a position to stop her.
Let’s see what happens when people try to talk with a very short Maggie. Carl gives her a broken music box- great gift-giving, Carl- thinking that she would want it. Okay, fine. Gabriel tries to inject some humor about his collar, but it doesn’t work with Maggie. She’s already familiar with religion since her father was religious and she once was. Gabriel offers to listen if Maggie wants to talk about Beth, but Maggie puts a stop to that. She reminds Gabriel that he had a job to do, but he didn’t save his flock.
Sasha thinks to take down some of the walkers, but Michonne tells her that there’s no use in wasting ammo. She then reminds her that Tyreese used to be angry too, and that made him stupid. Sasha says that they’re not the same, though Michonne disagrees. They keep walking.
Elsewhere in the woods, neither Carol nor Daryl have found anything, so the two talk. Carol gives him Beth’s knife and tells him that Beth saved both of their lives. They aren’t dead yet. She then tells Daryl that he needs to let himself feel.
The others confront a swarm of walkers, but instead of fighting them, they just throw or let them fall down the hill and into the water below. This plan works well enough until Sasha starts stabbing the walkers out of anger, almost striking Michonne and Abraham in the process. Well, that plan worked. When all the walkers have been disposed of, Sasha just glares daggers at Michonne and sulks off. Moments later, Daryl returns.
They move on and find a bunch of cars. Maggie checks one car and finds a bound and gagged walker. She closes the trunk, reconsiders this for a second, and then goes back to open the trunk, but she can’t get it open. Just as she prepares to shoot the trunk open, Glenn comes over, pops the trunk open, and kills the walker himself. See how easy that was, Maggie?
Later on, all Abraham has managed to find is some alcohol, which Sasha thinks will make it worse, but hey, any little bit helps. Eugene doesn’t think that things could get any worse.
Suddenly, dogs! Sasha shoots them all. The end. Now where did they come from?!
They make a fire and feast on dogs, except for Noah, who doesn’t think that he’ll make it. Sasha says that he won’t make it with that attitude. He shouldn’t think- just eat. Gabriel tears off his collar, throws it into the fire, and joins in the dog-fest.
Later, Maggie turns down Glenn’s offer for water. She admits that she never did think that Beth was alive, but after hearing from Daryl, she hoped that she would be out there somewhere. Hell, maybe she was never there in the first place. She doesn’t even know if she wants to fight on, but Glenn says that she does because that’s who she is. They fought to be here, so they keep on fighting. Maggie relents and takes a drink.
Sasha, however, doesn’t accept Abraham’s offer for a drink even though he says that she’s among friends. She rejects that, saying that they’re not friends. Huh. You know, I’ll get to that in a second.
Daryl, again, goes off on his own, but this time to find water. He ends up finding a cabin. He plops down a good distance from it and lights up a cigarette. After a smoke, he puts the cigarette out on his own hand- ouch- but feels nothing from it. After a moment, he begins to weep.
When Daryl returns, he sees that the group has come across a couple of bottles and jugs of water. The note simply reads ‘From a friend.’ Everyone is suspicious. After all, who would just leave water out in the open? It could be laced with something. Eugene offers to be the guinea pig, but Abraham slaps away the bottle. They just can’t.
Luckily, through the power of television convenience, it starts raining. Everyone is overjoyed, except for Daryl, Sasha, and Maggie. The others soaks in the rain for a bit before heading to the barn that Daryl spotted. After all, it would help to get out of the oncoming thunder.
They check it out and make camp inside. Maggie finds and kills another walker that Carol notes had a gun. The person could have just shot themselves, but some people just can’t give up.
At night, as Rick watches Carl sleep, he tells the others that he used to feel sorry for kids who grew up in this world, but he was wrong. Growing up is getting used to the world. It’s easier. Michonne says that this isn’t the world, but Glenn says that it might be. This is reality until otherwise.
When Rick was younger, he asked his grandfather if he ever killed any Germans during the war. I wonder how he brought that up in a conversation. Anyway, Grandpa never gave Rick an answer since that was grown up stuff. When he asked if the Germans ever tried to kill him, Grandpa got real quiet. He was a dead man walking into enemy territory. Each time he woke up, he told himself rest in peace, now get up and go to war. A few years he pretended to be dead, but then he made it out alive.
That’s what they’re doing right now. They do what they have to do. No matter what they find in Washington, they’ll be okay. This is how they survive. They’re the walking dead. Ding! Now all someone needs to do is start humming the theme to show and this would be perfect. But anyway, Daryl says that they ain’t dead. True, and they aren’t the walkers, either.
Sometime later that evening, wind beats at the cabin gate. As Daryl goes to close it, he finds a herd of walkers advancing upon the cabin. One by one, everyone joins in to keep the cabin doors shut.
Next morning, Maggie awakens and sits next to Daryl, who fixed her music box. He tells her that Beth and Tyreese were tough, but Beth in particular just didn’t know it.
Maggie gets Sasha and the two head outside to see that Mother Nature laid waste to the walkers. Why did Maggie bring Sasha? To see the sunrise. Sasha speaks about Noah and how he feels he wouldn’t be able to make it. Strange as it sounds, Sasha feels the same. They both do, but Maggie says that they’ll survive.
This moment between the two is interrupted by the arrival of newcomer Aaron, played by Ross Marquand. He has good news and wishes to speak to the group’s leader, who he knows by name…
Oh, and the music box starts playing.
A pretty simplistic episode, this was, but “Them” had a very comic book feel to it. Keep in mind that The Walking Dead often does consist of the people just walking around and trying to make the most out of a terrible situation. In essence, this episode deals with our characters at a low point. Not much is actually accomplished and a lot of the dialogue centers less around the future and more on how to get out of their current predicament. A lot of the issues of The Walking Dead comic have had a similar feel to this episode.
While I like that, the downside to this is that, again, not much actually happens here. You can get away with this in a comic book because the issues themselves are very short. The show, by comparison, when you take out commercials, is somewhere around 40 minutes. The majority of this episode consisted of everyone walking and talking. Hell, they aren’t even strong enough to deal with some walkers. I can understand why people don’t take to this episode as they have with previous ones. A lot of what was discussed has been done a lot better before, even in the very last episode.
However, to me, this episode felt very grounded because it deals with the reality that these people have to face every day: just surviving. Back in Season One, the camp site in Atlanta was near a river if they needed fish or frogs. If they needed other supplies, someone could make a run into town. Sure, this didn’t mean all their problems were solved or ensure they would make it to the next day, but it kept them alive for another day.
But the more that the group moves and the more people that are added, resources become scarce. Vehicles slow to a crawl and eventually stop. Soon enough, you’re going to get hungry and thirst for water. Hiding in the woods to escape the heat isn’t an option when walkers can come from anywhere. No point in killing every single walker you encounter when you need to save your strength or run away. As we see at episode’s end, not everyone you encounter has bad intentions. This doesn’t mean blindly trust anyone, but it does mean keep your guard up. Of course, Aaron’s a different sort of man from someone like the Governor, but we’ll get to that as we learn more about him.
Though the group has dealt with constant threats and obstacles before, this episode really tried to drive home just how hopeless and bleak their situation can be at times. That’s not a problem, but you don’t want the show to just fall back on messages that it’s already touched.
For example, Maggie, Daryl, and Sasha all still deal with the recent deaths that have hit them hard. Though I still find Maggie’s reaction to Beth’s death a bit manufactured since she rarely mentioned her. Sure, she did say that she never believed she was still alive, but that just seems like a way for the writers to justify Maggie never bringing her up. She’s even more disillusioned about the world than she already was because she contemplates giving up the ongoing fight.
When she didn’t kill the bound and gagged walker in the car trunk, I got the feeling that she did it out of pity. The walker wasn’t any harm to anyone and the person was already dead, so why even bother? I could be looking too much into this and trying to make this sound like a mercy killing, but Maggie, at first, didn’t look like she wanted to put the walker out of its misery.
She does still have the support of others around her, namely Glenn, who tells her that she’s a fighter. This is a big turnaround from the more pessimistic Glenn that we just saw in the previous episode where he didn’t share Michonne’s optimism on going to Washington. It’s a tad inconsistent for him to now show such optimism, though I suppose he’s seeing Maggie at a lower state than she’s ever been in a long time- maybe since Hershel lost his head- so he wants to be supportive. I just wish Glenn would make up his mind, though.
Same goes with Sasha, really. Okay, she’s bitter at the world for taking Tyreese away from her, but her actions are reckless. She killed the dogs, for one! Oh, by the way, where the hell did those dogs even come from? Anyway, she lashes out at the walkers when everyone else preferred to just let them fall over. She almost attacked Michonne and Abraham. She also basically told Noah to suck it up and eat dog because if he doesn’t think he’ll survive, he won’t.
Sasha has every reason to be angry, but she already lost Bob and was talked out of her anger there. She’s allowed to grieve, but given how realistic she’s being about the fact that you need to believe you can survive, I just think she could have been more careful. She does accept the fact that she also feels she’s not set to keep living- Noah was just willing to admit it.
And why would she suddenly say to Abraham that they aren’t friends? Sure, she may not know him as well as she knows Rick and the others, but the two did meet up when Glenn and Maggie reunited and they stuck it out together at Terminus. I would think that qualifies as at least casual acquaintances or, at the very least, killing buddies. This just felt like a way for Sasha to find someone else to lash out at.
Daryl gets his moment to grieve and I do appreciate that Carol was the one to talk him through this, as she seems to get him more than any of the other characters do. The man isn’t big on emotions, proving this when he puts out the cigarette on his hand and doesn’t feel a thing. And he insists on exploring on his own just for a bit of solitude. But then, once Daryl finally shows some emotion this week, the moment is over and completely forgotten about because we cut to commercials so soon.
Well, he got a forehead kiss from Carol. That’s still something.
Also, I guess Gabriel burning his collar is a sign of him having a crisis of faith, but I would think that happened several times prior to this, including when he saw Bob’s decomposed foot. Oh, and is the rain supposed to be his rebirth of some sort?
While this episode wasn’t action-heavy, it did have some good set pieces. I enjoyed the scene of the group leading the walkers into the river not just because it was a good idea, but it also showed that they were trying their damndest to conserve as many resources as possible. That, or they were lazy.
And the scene of them trying to hold the cabin doors shut was well done. I can’t say I ever feared for their lives because there’s no way they’d all be overrun by a herd of walkers so close to the end of the episode.
Rick’s speech spoke true to the reality that they’re living in. He was young and naïve when asking his grandfather about the war, but he also wanted to learn more about the world he lived in. The children of today, however, may only grow to know a world where the dead walk. He’s not being pessimistic, just realistic. Washington may be safe, but that doesn’t change the fact that kids now must contend with the fact that they are never fully safe.
Then we have the introduction of Aaron at the end. Comic readers, we know this guy. TV viewers only, though, you will see. As with any new character the group runs into, I’m sure Aaron is already viewed as untrustworthy, dangerous, and maybe even a bit manipulative. The group has learned what happens when they trust people over and over again, so they’re going to take any and every precaution, no matter how much of an inconvenience they may be to this stranger.