We now return to The Adventures of Aaron and Gabriel.
The episode begins with Aaron and Gabriel taking care of some walkers. They explore the hollowed out remains of a building when they happen upon three charred corpses. Aaron wonders what happened, but Gabriel doesn’t. They’ll never know, either way.
After taking care of another lone walker, Gabriel sets and throws a timer. When it goes off, more walkers arise. Time to wake up.
The two explore some abandoned cars in hope of finding some food, but all Gabriel comes up with is beans. Yum, right? From there, they head to a mini mart that’s still filled with walkers. They take care of the ones that pop through open slots. When the two kill one walker and try to pull it out, they only manage to tear off some skin.
Gabriel heads to the roof and finds the remains of people who appear to have been living on the roof- including a coupled that perished in each other’s arms. Near them is the message “Save Us” written on the ground.
He cuts through the walkers indoors and rejoins Aaron. There’s just one more location to check, but Aaron reminds Gabriel that they’ve been at this for two weeks now. They could check the hunting grounds, but Gabriel knows that’s a dead end. But Aaron points out that the same could apply to every other place on Maggie’s goddamn map.
Frustrated, Aaron admits that he wants to see his family. Okay, that’s fair, but still just one more stop.
Deciding that he wants to get real dirty, Gabriel joins a walker in the deep mud that, after being put down by Aaron, gives Gabriel a big ole’ hug. Lovely. Aaron helps Gabriel out of the mud, ruining his clothes in the process. But now Gabriel’s map is ruined. Between Daryl last time and now Gabriel, maybe people should just stop using maps.
Gabriel suggests they head north to a water tower an hour away near their next location, but Aaron isn’t continuing without a map. Fine. They could follow their tracks back, but it starts to rain, so nuts to that.
They happen upon an empty building not located on Maggie’s map. The two split up and start exploring. Gabriel finds a stack of Bibles, while Aaron screams for his life when he’s ambushed by a boar. He’s forced to put it down since it came at him. Gabriel, meanwhile, finds it hilarious that Aaron let out such a wild scream…at a boar. This gives him a good laugh, probably the hardest anyone in this series has ever laughed.
Still, it’ll be their dinner for tonight to go along with the whiskey that Gabriel has. However, Gabriel only pours a little bit for himself and Aaron because it’s from a rare, $2000 bottle. Aaron finds it insane that people would pay that much for alcohol. I agree. But Gabriel wants Aaron to just bring the cup to his nose and sniff. Aaron is reminded of smells reminiscent of breakfast as a kid. Now he’s just making me hungry.
Gabriel instructs Aaron to sip and pay attention to how the flavor evolves. Good thing this wasn’t a bottle of wine, or we’d be here forever. Either way, now the meat will taste even better. Even with this in mind, it’s been a long day, so Aaron wants more whiskey.
After a drunken game of cards, the two start opening up. Gabriel confirms to Aaron that God is probably fine with him drinking and gambling. Also, there is a whiskey course in the seminary. Go figure. Gabriel speaks of his mentor and friend, Reverend George. During the first class with him at a boy’s funeral- Tommy Franklin, died of cancer- Reverend George performed the service and said the right things without even trying.
Or, at least, it didn’t look like he tried. After the funeral, Gabriel and the others got into George’s car, and the reverend sped off to make sure they got to the wake before the others. Why? So he could head straight for the liquor cabinet.
Even when Tommy’s father walked in, Reverend George just talked to him and everyone else, putting them at ease. All Gabriel had to do was be with George in the moment, speak from his heart, and not worry about what he thought others wanted to hear. But Gabriel wasn’t as good as George.
Later, George told Gabriel that real ministering isn’t preaching from a pulpit- it’s talking to people, one-on-one, and relating to them on their own terms.
Aaron concludes that Gabriel needs to start preaching again. He talks about the time he spent finding people to bring them to Alexandria. That felt right to him, helping people, and they haven’t done that in a long time. They have to get back to that. Gabriel, however, doesn’t want to preach anymore. It’s not like the world will go back to the way it was. The world isn’t built for the way people used to be.
Aaron is more optimistic, thinking that Gabriel is still fixated on what the Whisperers were. That, he says, is not most people. Evil people, Gabriel says, aren’t the exception to the rule. They are the rule. Now sober, Aaron decides that he’s gonna have one last drink before he throws himself from the roof. Gabriel, saintly man that he is, offers to perform Aaron’s last rites, but Aaron turns him down. At least Gabriel offered.
When Aaron heads off during the night, he doesn’t return the next day. Gabriel searches for him, but instead finds a mysterious stranger who asked what he and Aaron cooked last night. When Gabriel fesses up that he and Aaron had boar, the man would like some. He scarfs down some boar and refuses to answer Gabriel’s questions. Instead, he tells Gabriel that the two broke into his place.
In Gabriel’s defense, the place looked abandoned. Though, of course, a boar can’t lock itself in a room. As far as we know. The man pulls Aaron’s prosthetic arm out of his bag. Gabriel isn’t afraid. He tells the man that they’re part of a larger group that will come looking for them if they don’t return. The man, however, isn’t buying it. Apparently, Gabriel and Aaron don’t bluff as well as they do when playing cards.
The man pulls out a gun and asks Gabriel to guess if it’s loaded. Why he asked this, I don’t know, because he opens fire anyway, shattering a nearby glass window. He asks Gabriel if Aaron made it, since he’s apparently in the nearby room. Luckily, after the man checks it, he confirms that Aaron is still breathing. Gabriel wants to see him, but the man instead asks why Gabriel still wears his collar.
Gabriel figures that he wears it for the same reason that the man keeps all of those Bibles. The word of God still matters to Gabriel and serves as a reminder of the goodness still in people. As it turns out, the man uses the Bible pages for toilet paper.
Considering how nuts people in the real world went for toilet paper, hopefully none of them took cues from this guy. The man’s still read the Bible, but that’s why he wipes his ass with it.
The man supposes that Gabriel doesn’t believe in the Word, but Gabriel does. As for his comment about evil people not being the exception, Gabriel’s blames that on his drunkenness. Then again, a drunk tongue is an honest one. To the man, the world is left with nothing but thieves and murderers, but Gabriel still sees goodness in the world. Gabriel is so close, according to the man.
Close to what? Who cares? Time to see Aaron. The man wheels out Aaron, bound and gagged, and sets him before Gabriel for a one-round game of Russian Roulette. After loading his gun with one bullet, he sets it on the table and offers Gabriel a choice: each time, he can either point the gun at himself, or Aaron. Plus, there’s no way of knowing of the man won’t just kill both of them anyway.
This isn’t about a damn boar. It’s about enlightenment. First round, Gabriel points the gun at his temple and pulls the trigger. Empty chamber. Same when Aaron goes. The man then inquires about both Aaron’s left arm and why Gabriel is blind in one eye. In both instances, accidents. Not because of evil intent, but just accidents. Though I’m still fuzzy on how exactly Gabriel went blind in one eye.
Second round, the chamber is empty on Gabriel once again. But when Aaron cocks the gun, it makes a distinct sound. A sound that indicates that the chamber is, in fact, loaded. So Aaron can either shoot Gabriel or himself. He could also shoot this stranger, too. Aaron won’t do it. He and Gabriel are part of a family that protects its own. The man scoffs at the notion of family.
When he was with his brother and family on the road, he saved their lives multiple times. One day, his brother took the last of his food and then came at him with a knife. He, of course, handled it, but he didn’t blame his brother. He gave him something valuable that day, but Gabriel figures the man is trying to make sense of what happened to him.
So he walls himself off from the world, believing that everyone left or that evil people are out for themselves.
Why? Because it’s easier that, than the truth: that he meant less to his brother than some food. Gabriel continues: he knows about looking for the meaning in things, but sometimes there aren’t any answers. The man’s brother didn’t give him any enlightenment. Killing Aaron and Gabriel won’t solve anything, and Gabriel knows that he’s different than people the man has encountered.
Alright, enough of this gooey shit.
The man implores Aaron to pull the trigger and even goads him by bringing up Gracie. If Aaron wants to see her again, then he knows what he has to do. Just when Aaron is about to pull the trigger on himself, the man orders him to stop. He yells that he represents who people are, but again, Gabriel disagrees. He was wrong before. People are capable of love and sacrifice. The man’s brother just betrayed him.
If the man punishes others for his brother’s sins, then he’s no better. Good people have been broken by this world, but there’s another way. Where Gabriel and Aaron come from, it’s full of people who were once lost. This place can do the same for this man. After some hesitation, the man releases Aaron from his bonds and introduces himself as Mays, played by Robert Patrick.
That’s the last we’ll learn about him, as Gabriel swiftly kills him with Aaron’s prosthetic. His defense is that they couldn’t take him with them after what he did. Yeah, and you abandoned your congregation, Gabriel! Aaron, in shock, just wants to leave.
As the two pack up, one thing still bothers Aaron. This man heard everything they said, but they searched every nook and cranny of the building. So where was he hiding?
Upstairs, it turns out. The two explore another level of the building, where they find a man chained to a pipe. They surmise that this is Mays’ brother, who has seen better days. Gabriel frees the delirious man, who then takes Gabriel’s revolver and points it at the two. pulls a gun on the two. They offer to help him, but after the man eyes the bodies, he opts to blow his own brains out instead.
When the two head outside, they spot the water tower in the distance. Gabriel asks if they should check it out, and Aaron agrees. Just one more. The two make their way towards the water tower as the episode comes to a close.
At one point, you could say that Aaron and Gabriel had the exact same traits. In that both still had an optimistic outlook on the world. When Aaron first encountered Rick and company, despite being assaulted and bound, he still saw the good in them. Gabriel, despite having been challenged many times in his life and committing horrible acts, still remained more optimistic than most.
Not to Morgan-levels of ‘All life is precious,’ and not that both always had a sunny disposition. But they had a better outlook on the world than the others. Pairing the two here makes sense because it allows us to see how their viewpoints have changed over time. Both are frustrated, but Gabriel focuses on going forward to make whatever progress they can.
With how much the Whisperers set everything back, though, why even bother? To be at this for two weeks with little to nothing to show for it would probably tick off anyone. So of course Aaron would rather go home because right now, there’s next to no point. At least not right now. It’s a far cry from the Aaron who put himself on the line to bring strangers into his community.
He had more life to him back then. Also, two functioning hands. He’d want to get back to that because he felt at home doing that. I wouldn’t blame that on the alcohol, either. Like Jesus, Aaron felt more in his element being on the move and finding others. Not to mention, despite the challenges he faced in trying to bring people to Alexandria, he saw the goodness in strangers.
In this world, it’s hard to stay optimistic. These conversations are nothing new to The Walking Dead. There’s still good in the world. The world is cruel and filled with nothing but evil all around. All familiar territory. But it’s at least interesting to have two optimistic characters at now opposite points of the spectrum in this regard. I refer to Aaron’s bitter reaction when Gabriel says “We’re good” after he killed Mays.
Mays represent both the world before, and how drunken Gabriel sees it now: with evil people as the rule instead of the exception. Just like the Wolves, the Saviors, or the Whisperers, Mays shows the ugliness that the world has brought out in people. Mays having Aaron and Gabriel play Russian Roulette is no more sadistic than Negan choosing one, or two, people to beat to death while the others watch.
Perhaps Mays, like Negan in the comics, could suddenly see the error in his way and be persuaded to change. Of course, Gabriel doesn’t give him that chance, based on learning that Mays killed his family. It’s interesting that Gabriel is the one to put Mays down, given his occasional crisis of faith. But I loved seeing Aaron’s absolute disgust at what Gabriel did.
Like Daryl killing Morales without a thought, you get that “Yeah, this guy posed a threat, but there was no immediate need to kill him.” But you could chalk this up to Gabriel taking a page from Reverend George and knowing the right things to say without trying. Perhaps he saw some good in Mays, or maybe he just wanted him to lower his guard before he struck a killing blow.
Then again, there was no way to know if Aaron or Gabriel would’ve ended up killing themselves or that Mays would ultimately free Aaron. He had no reason to, even after he seemed to receptive when Gabriel said people can heal after being broken by this world. At the same time, I’m sure Gabriel still does believe in the goodness of people. He may be cynical, but not as cynical as Aaron.
But there’s plenty of reason to still be cynical. Not making any progress is one thing, but also finding the bodies of people huddled together when they died can’t make you optimistic about future. Not to mention when Gabriel and Aaron found Mays’ brother chained to a pipe next to his family. Despite their best efforts, Mays’ brother chose death. Who’d want to live after enduring such horrors?
As much as Aaron and Gabriel stressed that there’s still good in the world, some just can’t or outright won’t believe that there’s still hope when the world has gone to hell.
Sticking with Gabrel in particular, I really enjoyed Seth Gilliam’s performance this episode. He had this extra spark to him in this episode. Whether that’s his laughing fit at Aaron getting spooked by a boar or how open he became when talking about Reverend George, this was a good episode for Gabriel. Not knocking Ross Marquand at all, but I got a lot more from Gabriel in this episode than Aaron.
“One More” doesn’t enter new territory for The Walking Dead, despite the danger Aaron and Gabriel faced from Mays. However, it did deliver some nice character moments for both with some nice levity that didn’t feel forced or out of place. Like the two episodes prior, it feels like the sort of adventure that we’d just hear happened off-screen. But for this extra episode in particular, I enjoyed what time we spent with Aaron and Gabriel.
Hey, at least they got some whiskey out of it in the end.