Cowards

Season 5 Episode 14 “Spend”

The Episode

black rose

Fear can make people do some crappy things. Everyone in this episode is afraid of something. Mostly death from zombies but there’s some other stuff too just to keep it balanced. What do we do when we are afraid? That’s the question we’re asking this week.

There’s a lot of people vying for Coward of the Week. Father Gabriel stabs all of our friends in the back by telling Deanna she shouldn’t have let them in and they’ll destroy everything she’s built. Nicholas abandons Glenn and Noah which gets Noah killed. Tobin abandons Francine on the job site when walkers attack. But I’m proud to say for once Eugene is not even close to being Coward #1. I am so proud of him for stepping up. When Tara is knocked unconscious by an exploding grenade, he’s the one to get her back to the van to safety. Of course he’s a reluctant hero but that’s the best part of watching him. He looks so out of his element and so terrified that it really makes it sink in he’s trying to do the right thing. Only Tara could bring this out of him in this moment. She’s been his confidante for a while now and her words definitely bear weight with him. I don’t think if it was anyone else he would have stepped up. Also really proud of Eugene not just saving Tara but also using the van to distract walkers away from the revolving doors that Glenn, Noah and Nicholas are trapped in and making it easier for them to get out. He really has impressed me this episode.

On the other hand, Father Gabriel is a major letdown. How dare he secretly go to Deanna and say terrible things about our group. They saved his life numerous times. He owes them a little loyalty and this is a complete betrayal. I wonder how he thinks this is going to go. Deanna is very diplomatic in her response as she takes the info in, but what if she hadn’t been. She could have either believed every word of it and then what? She confronts them all and kicks them out? That doesn’t seem like it will go well. Or, she doesn’t believe Gabriel at all and then what happens? Would she make him leave or would he leave on his own? He’s too much of a wimp to leave on his own. Would he try to do something else or just slink off and hide in his church? I hate it when people don’t think things through.

I don’t even want to get going on Nicholas but I guess I must. First, he tries to abandon his last remaining friend Aiden who has been run through and stuck to a wall after the grenade went off. Second he freaks out in the revolving doors and sends Noah to his death when he abandons them. And third, he runs away to find the van and threatens to leave Eugene behind. We also learn that it was Nicholas and Aiden who got their last crew killed by abandoning them. And I hate to say it but Nicholas is just getting warmed up. We are about to watch Glenn and Nicholas entangle themselves together in some sort of hero tries to save coward drama which culminates in one of the most devastating of moments on the show. I cannot stand Nicholas and his stupid facial hair and pointy nose. I just want to kick him in the face.

In other acts of cowardice, we have Pete day drinking and being menacing towards Rick and Carol. Outside of college, showing up drunk with a beer for someone isn’t exactly how you make friends. I think Rick saw it for what it was. Pete was trying to intimidate him. He said he wanted to be friends but really he wanted to show Rick he’s not afraid of him. Then he blows off Carol and says she can’t see Jessie because it’s “a bad time”. I think Carol is all too familiar with what that means.

notepad with the word ideas written down

Unfortunately though, all these cowards live to see another day, but Noah doesn’t. Noah wasn’t the strongest person physically. Or the biggest. But he was smart and he was a team player. He had heart. At the beginning of the episode, Noah asks Reg to mentor him and teach him about architecture. Noah was thinking positive and thinking of a future. That moment when we see the notebook in the van and Noah hadn’t even got a chance to write anything in it yet really pains me. Rest in peace Noah.

Deanna’s really going to be thinking about Father Gabriel’s words next episode since she’s about to find out her son is dead. It’s scary to think that maybe F.G. is right. Right now Carol and Rick are talking about murdering Pete. And Rick’s already expressed interest in taking over if the Alexandrians don’t live up to their expectations. The fear is alive in all of them. We’ll continue to see where it takes them.

Best of the Episode

Revolving doors from hell. This is a really original moment for the show. Another demonstration of how everyday things can become nightmares. We’ve got Glenn and Noah trapped in one section and stupid Nicholas trapped in another. They are forced into a balancing act to keep the doors steady from letting walkers in. Sometimes the doors would move a little and you’d see walkers trying to grab them and it’s super intense. It gets even worse when Nicholas totally freaks out and pushes the doors enough for him to get out which now makes it possible for walkers on the inside to grab Noah. Glenn is forced to watch the walkers as they rip young Noah’s face off. How horrible is that!

Cooking with Carol. Carol is now entangled with Sam who won’t leave her alone about freaking cookies. Carol’s motherly instincts are gone at this point. She tells Sam to steal chocolate to make them and if he gets caught and snitches she’ll do something terrible to him. I love this new mean to children Carol we’ve got going on. She doesn’t even want to talk to him when they make the cookies.  But it turns out to be very revealing as Sam reveals some details about his home life to her. Enough so that Carol basically sees that he’s living with an abusive father. Now this is when it gets real good. Because Carol doesn’t just tell Rick about it. She tells Rick what to do about it. She tells Rick that the only option is going to be to kill Pete. Wait what?!?!?! Carol my dear, I think we have a few other options before we jump to premeditated murder.

looking down at feet with boots on

Abraham at work. Our big red-headed friend gets to show off his skills out on the construction site. When everyone else wimps out, he saves Francine and stands alone against a herd of walkers surrounding him. His heroism spreads to others though and pretty soon everyone steps up to help. The current construction site leader, Tobin, is so impressed that he relinquishes his job to Abraham. That’s our Abe!

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Settling In

Season 5 Episode 13 “Forget”

The Episode

It’s a pretty quiet episode as far as action. While last week was about remembering how to be a person again, this week it seems many are dealing with how to forget about the outside.

We finally get to see how Sasha is doing and rather expectedly she’s not doing well. She can’t sleep and is spending her days shooting pictures of happy people and waiting for walkers to attack her. She’s on the edge of a cliff ready to jump. My favorite moment of Sasha this episode is during the party Deanna throws for the newbies. A woman politely offers to cook Sasha her favorite meal and says she would be “worried she makes something she hates.” Sasha freaks out and yells at her, “that’s what you’re worried about!” This may sound weird but I often watch the show as though I am one of “them”, our friends. I rarely take the perspective of anyone else they meet. Which is why I’m all about Sasha yelling at this lady. I mean it’s not nice but I get it. Sasha and everyone else is basically freshly going through some major or minor PTSD. This small talk this lady is trying to do ain’t helping. Sasha’s worried about monsters coming to get them, coping with the recent loss of several loved ones and just generally ready for something to go wrong at any minute. Sasha was literally starving to death just days ago and now some lady wants to give her options?

Pale face covered by black hair

I’d like to give a shout out to Aaron for giving Daryl’s self-esteem a boost. It’s the start of a beautiful friendship. When Aaron runs into Daryl in the woods, they end up chasing after a horse that Aaron has been trying to catch named Buttons. I think Buttons represents Daryl just a little bit but the symbolism doesn’t exactly end well. The horse runs every time Aaron tries to get close. Daryl seems to have some insight on that by stating, “the longer they’re out here the more they become what they really are.” That sounds a lot like how Daryl feels about himself. And he also tends to run when people try to get close. In the end, Buttons ends up being overpowered by walkers and torn apart. But Daryl gets a better ending, at least for this episode. Aaron offers Daryl a job over dinner and has a motorcycle waiting for him in the garage. I love that Aaron is just full of compliments for Daryl. He’s one of the few people who seems to really see the potential in Daryl and can tell that he’s a fantastic person. You can see in Daryl’s face in the garage that he feels special for a moment. Daryl tends to glare a lot, but he stops glaring when Aaron gives him this job. He stops being defensive and really looks like he feels appreciated. This job offer Aaron gives him even changes his point of view when he meets with Rick and Carol the next day. He refuses to take a stolen gun and declares he’s going to try. Aaron has restored some of Daryl’s confidence and I am so thankful for that.

Speaking of Rick and Carol. I’m declaring these two officially devious. They are planning for something to go wrong but not even aware that they might be the one’s creating that something to go wrong. Rick is getting a little cocky in his new home. It’s interesting to hear him sound resentful that the Alexandrians have been “lucky” so far. He thinks because they’ve been through hell and back that him and his group are better than the rest. Sure, if we’re basing people’s value on their survival skills now I guess he’d be right. But sorry Rick, that ain’t how it works. Rick even lets himself get carried away at the party and kisses Jessie. That escalated quickly! She didn’t look like she hated it either. One of my favorite moments of this episode is that split second after he says hi to Jessie and Pete walking down the street when he reaches behind him to touch the stolen gun he has. Oh snap, Rick’s gonna kill someone. It’s just a second but him reaching for that gun expresses so much of where Rick’s head is at.

And then there’s Carol with her own shocking moment this episode. Carol gets caught in the armory stealing guns by Jessie’s youngest son Sam. He’s just a boy and really innocent but she absolutely terrifies him with a story about being tied to a tree and screaming and being eaten by walkers if he tells his mom about what he saw. Jesus Christ Carol! If there was any doubt that Carol has changed, you can wipe that thought from your mind right quick. Never in a million years did I expect to see Carol terrifying a child in this way. I do love though that she is getting involved with another child. It doesn’t ever go well and she knows that by now. But poor Sam doesn’t.

Our friends are slowly adjusting to Alexandria. Or are they? Some seem to be trying while others seem to not be able to let go of their past and accept their new home. What I love about Alexandria is how it really is up to them to make this work this time. For now, they aren’t being attacked or in danger. They have a real chance to help build this community into something even better. It’s really all on them to make this work. Watching them try to do that is just as good as any bad guy drama.

Best of the Episode

Daryl’s table manners. I don’t think Daryl has sat down for many family dinners in his life. Even using a fork seems to be a stretch for him. Aaron and Eric stare at him with clenched smiles as he shovels forkfuls of spaghetti into his mouth. I love how he first uses his sleeve to wipe his face but then decides to use the napkin and aggressively wipes his mouth. He doesn’t even try to chat and seems ready to get up and leave without even having a conversation. Gotta love our Daryl.

Michonne hangs up her sword. If anyone has really been trying to make Alexandria work it’s Michonne. When everyone else is suspicious, she is optimistic. I think that’s why she decides to hang up her sword. She’s ready to move on and help Alexandria for real. She doesn’t need her sword to do that. However, I think it also says that she’s not ready to forget. The sword is a reminder of the days she spent getting to this point. Paying respect to the journey and reminding herself of what it took to get here.

tiny flowers with yellow sunburst

The Bee Gees. Not a huge Bee Gees fan but their song “Spicks and Specks” is really memorable in this episode. It starts playing after Rick momentarily considers using his gun on Pete to steal his wife. A dark thought which is completely the opposite of what this song sounds like. It’s an upbeat tune and it really enhances the contradiction between the beautiful setting of Alexandria and Rick’s evil thoughts.

First Impressions

Season 5 Episode 12 “Remember”

The Episode

There’s a million little moments in this episode that are pure gold. Today’s the first day of the rest of their lives. Our group has a new home. It could be a real home if they learn to live like people again. That’s what this episode is all about. Our group tries to remember what it’s like living as people and not just survivors.

I think I’ll start with Daryl and his anti-social behavior. Daryl could not be more uninterested in living in what we now know as Alexandria. He’s here only for the others and doesn’t seem shy about letting people know that. One of his finest moments is at the beginning of the episode where he kills a possum and announces to the gatekeeper, “We brought dinner”. I love that. Not because it’s funny which is great, but it also clearly defines the difference between our friends and Alexandria. It says, “we’re used to killing for our supper while you sit in your houses and eat cooked meals around a table.” And I love it even more that Daryl carries the possum around during his interview with Deanna and also guts it on his new front porch. He’s really going all out as far as creating the worst possible impression of himself. I will point out though that his muscles look extremely beautiful at this point in the show. Like… impeccable.

Carol is another one who is going all out with her first impression as well. However, she is trying to go in the completely opposite direction. Carol puts on her previous role as helpless housewife. I love it when she struggles to take the gun strap off over her head and acts like its too heavy for her. Her interview with Deanna as well is what really gives away the act. She’s all smiles when she talks about how everyone takes care of her and she’s the den mother. And if that’s not enough, the icing on the cake is when she says she misses Ed. Yeah right! Carol is doing the total opposite of what Daryl is doing. While Daryl doesn’t want to get close to any of the Alexandrians, Carol wants to completely become immersed in them. She’s essentially a spy. She wants to know what they know and use that to her advantage.

One first impression we can’t overlook is what we all think and what our friends think about their new leader, Deanna. She’s a politician and definitely sounds like it with a sugar-coated explanation of everything. She’s very smiley much like Aaron was when we first met him and that’s really unsettling. We know that there isn’t much to be smiling about. But that may be exactly why they are smiling. They are more naïve and less experienced about what’s happening in the world. Ignorance is bliss and perhaps they are conveying that to us by smiling. Deanna has always come off to me as really into taking our groups side on matters. Even barely knowing them here, she twists what Rick says in his interview to mean something more positive. Rick says straight up to her that she shouldn’t be letting people in because they just want to take from you. And Deanna’s response is that he’s being protective of Alexandria already. What? No lady, I think he just warned you not to trust him! She takes Rick’s side again later on when Glenn punches her son Aidan in the face. She thanks Glenn and says he needed it. She is definitely too gracious after seeing her son get knocked out.

ivy on a brick wall

Alexandria also gives off its own first impression. It’s a clean and lovely community. We’ve never seen houses this nice on the show before. Electricity and running water. Beautiful furnished houses. It’s like paradise. We meet some new folks, some seem nice and some are questionable. Enid is a young girl about Carl’s age. She’s an outsider like them only arriving a few months before. She’s quiet and likes to sneak out over the fence alone. She seems to give Carl a bit of a hard time at first. But those two coming together is staring us all in the face. Jessie, the woman who cuts Rick’s hair, is also tiggling our spidey senses. It feels a bit like something going on between these two and they don’t even know it yet. Further signs to a future problem also come up when Rick meets the husband, Pete. Pete’s not so affectionately given the name Porch Dick for his first impression. Smoking a cigarette, in the dark, short on conversation. All signs point to an issue. So, we are left wondering if Alexandria is really going to live up to the hype. Are they really safe here? Can our friends trust such a nice looking place? Terminus had a beautiful first impression too. Woodbury as well. We think that there’s gotta be a catch. That’s what is different about Alexandria though. The catch is that there isn’t a catch.  There isn’t going to be a problem with Alexandria unless you think a community full of nice people surviving together is a problem. The only problem Alexandria is going to have is unfortunately a Rick Grimes problem.

With Daryl acting like a barbarian and Carol acting like homemaker of the year, Rick falls in the middle. He doesn’t put on a false show for Deanna, not at first anyways. He’s honest with her about who he is. He seems to be absorbing everything about Alexandria. He’s patient and observant. When a stranger, Jessie, asks if he wants a haircut he lets her even though you can tell he’s not used to someone touching him so gently. At the end of the episode, it feels a lot like Rick is back where he started. Deanna has given him the job of a sheriff again. He puts on a uniform. This time it’s different though. He’s not gonna be Officer Friendly. Rick reveals to Carol and Daryl that he’s going to pretend as much as they are. He’s going to play cop as long as everything stays cool, but if Alexandria won’t play his game then he’s just gonna take over. Deanna really should have listened to Rick’s warning in the beginning. He was absolutely telling her that people are going to use them and take what they need, including him.

This is a real turning point in the show. It feels as though we’ve just watched Rick become the bad guy. We’re left wondering a lot. Like is Rick really going to turn bad? Will everyone else still follow him? We don’t know how this is going to play out but I think one of the most exciting things in a show is watching a good guy become a bad guy.

faded roses

Best of the Episode

Glenn vs. Aidan. After Aidan takes Glenn, Tara and Noah out for a “training” session that ends badly, Glenn stands up to Aidan while a crowd starts to form. First it’s just verbal but then Aidan tries to pull one of those douchebag moves where he’s looking away and then throws a fist to surprise the other guy which is Glenn. But Glenn don’t play like that. He ducks the punch and then bops Aidan right in the beak! I saw the douchebag move coming but not Glenn’s awesome reaction. As much as we know Glenn is a superhero, he still very much seems like a high-school nerd about to get shoved in a locker. So it’s absolutely perfect when he ducks that punch and knocks Aidan out.

Carol and Daryl bicker. As if these two couldn’t get more precious. Carol nags Daryl like a wife to take a shower or she’s going to “hose him down in his sleep.” To which Daryl retorts she, “looks ridiculous” in her little cardigan and pants outfit.

Rick shaves. None of us have seen a clean-shaven Rick in a long ass time. Even Michonne remarks she’s never seen his face this way. But I really love it when Deanna shows up and also remarks on his shave. He looks absolutely so uncomfortable and annoyed by everyone talking about his shave.

Everyone under one roof. I told you there are a million moments in this show that are awesome. And I really appreciate this one taken from the comics. Instead of separating into the two houses they are given, they all pile into the living room of one house. They aren’t even using the bedroom they’ve got, they are all in that one room. It speaks volumes about how close they are. Deanna is right to be amazed by it and so should we.

Give a Little Bit

Season 5 Episode 11 “The Distance”

The Episode

At the heart of this episode is the struggle to know when to trust others. Meeting Aaron gives our group a really big test in that area. As well as they must know when to trust each other and when to push back.

Aaron’s introduction is a rocky one. While Rick may make us laugh at his craziness when he knocks out Aaron mid-sentence, it’s really not okay for Aaron to have to take that kind of treatment. It’s understandable that our friends find trusting strangers difficult at this point. They have just gone through loss after loss inflicted upon them by strangers. But caution and outright violence are two different things. I don’t think I would have taken that kind of treatment if I was him. I would have walked away at that point. Aaron is so positive through all of this introduction, even after getting punched, that it actually is a little unsettling. He is definitely too upbeat for our group. It’s interesting how the setting of an apocalypse can flip our standards of trust. In our world, dirty clothes and unwashed people are the ones who are seen as dangerous or untrustworthy. Whereas Aaron with his nice L.L. Bean outfit and baby fresh face are respectable and honest. In the apocalypse, Aaron stands out like a sore thumb. He looks like life has just handed him one gift after another and we all think, “How can that be? Something must be up with him.”

closeup of an apple on tree

There’re a few moments that Aaron doesn’t do his cause any justice. Like fussing over eating the applesauce. Aaron doesn’t mind chattering on about his community and such but his issues with applesauce are really flimsy. It really bugs me how he won’t just immediately taste test the applesauce so Rick can trust it and Judith will stop crying. Mommy issues don’t really cut it in the zombie apocalypse, tough it out and eat the damn applesauce! Aaron also puts up a stink about the location of his community. This also annoys me because he is right on the verge of convincing them all to go there, his main goal, and he won’t give up the coordinates. I guess it’s a sign that he also fully doesn’t trust our friends, but if that’s the case then why would he bring them to his community at all.

But on a more positive note, Aaron does also point out some great qualities in our friends. Aaron didn’t make his decision to approach them lightly. He’d been watching and even listening for a while. He talks to them about the things they do for each other. How they never turned on each other on the road even though they were hungry. That they are the kind of people to take care of babies and priests. I think they needed reminding of that. Our friends are a very small group and have been alone together for quite some time. It’s easy to forget the good things you can do and the good people you actually are inside when you face nothing but danger all the time. It’s like living inside your own head for too long. You gotta get out once in awhile to take a look around and get some fresh insight.

Convincing Rick to trust Aaron is the hardest task of all. As some people like to point out, Rick doesn’t always come out the winner when everyone follows him. Personally, I think that’s more so about how life goes then actually anything that’s Rick’s fault. But what I like about this episode is that it demonstrates how the group is now capable of telling Rick when he’s wrong or being too much of a hard-ass. Rick is ready to kill Aaron from the moment he meets him, and he tells Aaron so. But through gentle prodding by Michonne and Glenn, Rick gives in. He gives in because he trusts that Michonne and Glenn can see something that maybe he can’t. That’s real trust. It’s a beautiful thing that they share.

metal wall with cutout to see brick wall

There’s a conversation that Rick has with Michonne during the episode that is very purposeful when it comes to the end of the episode. Rick asks Michonne what she heard when she approached the various communities, she’s come to for the first time. She responds to all that she heard nothing. This is important to Rick because he knows when they get to this new place, that he’s going to have to decide to bring his family in or not. And when he says ‘family’, I don’t think he’s just talking about Carl and Judith, I think he’s talking about all of them. How do you decide to join some place when all you can see is a big wall or a fence? It’s all about that trust again. It’s a surprise to Rick though that this time when they approach that big gate that he can hear children playing. That’s different. And I think it means things are going to be different this time.  I might add that it is also fortunate that they didn’t show up in the middle of the night like Rick had planned. If they had, this magical moment would have been missed and just maybe would have changed things.

A little trust can go a long way. Without any trust, we’d probably stay in this barn for who knows how long. And as Daryl points out, it stinks like horses. Michonne does a really effective job this episode and making Rick realize he needs to still have some. She sees much farther ahead than Rick can. Rick sees going to a new community as a threat to Judith but Michonne can see that not taking a chance is even more dangerous to her survival and everyone’s. But it’s going to take a lot more than trust in Alexandria.

Best of the Episode

Spooky forest. Things go bad on the road when they run full force into a herd of walkers. I really appreciate the disgusting moments when both Glenn and Michonne use their bare hands to wipe guts off the windshield and pull body parts out of the hood of the car. Then Glenn gives a super spooky moment when he gets separated from the others. He’s shooting and running backwards, not a good multi-task. As he shoots and the gun lights up the area around him, we can see one walker slowly approaching from behind. Fingernails curled at our mouths, we watch as it surprises Glenn. But no worries, he’s fine.

Flare walker. Elsewhere in the spooky forest, Rick runs out of bullets and all he has left is the flare gun. He flares a walker in the face, which is awesome on its own as it sparks and burns in the walker’s eye. But the show takes it that extra step by making this an even bigger opportunity that this walker downed by a flare is now a night light making it so they can see the other walkers coming for them. I love these moments of pure genius.

RV stuff. There’s gonna be a lot of memories in this here RV. Some good, some bad. But we start off with a subtle nod to Dale. When the RV breaks down because of a dead battery, Glenn knows exactly where the spare is. Abraham asks him how he knew it was there and Glenn just smiles. We know Glenn, you don’t have to say his name. Also, Abe and Rosita share a moment in the front of the RV as they drive around a hill and see Washington D.C. They made it! Not the circumstances they were expecting but nonetheless, they made it!

With a Little Help From My Friends

Season 5 Episode 10 “Them”

The Episode

stormy and muddy roadI would like to say that after losing Beth and Tyreese the last two episodes that things get a little bit lighter this week. But we know that’s not true. I’d have to say our group has really hit rock bottom now. They are starving, defeated and hopeless. People are giving up emotionally and physically. They’re eating worms and dogs. It’s a real bummer. But something is keeping them moving forward. They aren’t dead yet.

Maggie, Sasha and Daryl are having the toughest time coping with their situation. The three of them deal in very different ways. Maggie is crying most of the time. Sasha is ready to fight everyone. Daryl keeps wandering off to avoid being close to anyone. But the saving grace for them is that they have people around who are watching out for them. Carl gives Maggie a music box with a ballerina inside it to try to cheer her up. When Maggie finds a walker in a trunk that looks a little like Beth, Glenn takes care of it for her. And when she admits she may not be able to keep going emotionally, he comforts her. Likewise, Carol does this for Daryl. Daryl has shut down and blocked everyone out. Carol gives him the okay to feel his emotions. And even though Maggie is having as bad a time right now as Sasha, she finds the ability to let Sasha know she’s not alone and she can keep going. No matter what, our friends are here for each other.

There’s a serious moment when Rick is trying to help everyone figure out how to keep going. I love it when Rick tells stories. He’s got a great voice and he tells them with no rush to get to the point. The story is about how his grandfather was able to survive a war by telling himself he was dead until one day he got to go home and be alive. And that’s how Rick is looking at what they are experiencing now. And then he says the name of the show real cool like and I’m pretty sure at the time of the first airing I exclaimed something like “he said it!”. Nobody was around to hear me but that’s beside the point. They are the walking dead he says. Not everyone seemed to warm to that concept but I get it. I think I would follow that mantra if the apocalypse ever came. It’s kind of like, “fake it til you make it”.

And then there’s the more suspicious element to the episode. The group finds a pile of bottled water in the road with a sign that says, “from a friend.” But everyone is so un-trusting that they actually argue about whether or not to drink it. Think about that for a second. You’re dehydrated with no other possibility of obtaining water in sight, but yet you pause to think about whether or not to drink a miraculous gift that’s been left for you. I mean, it’s definitely suspicious but I would drink the damn water. If you don’t drink it you’re gonna die. And if it is poisoned, you’re gonna die. So it seems foolish to me to argue over it. And especially with Eugene offering to be the water tester, I definitely would have let him take that bullet. He owes them.

We get to see who this “friend” is at the very end of the episode. As Maggie and Sasha sitrainbow over a field after storm and watch the sun come up, they are approached by a very clean and suspiciously harmless looking man named Aaron. Everything about his nice appearance screams danger, but it shouldn’t. Everyone was fooled by the nice presentation offered by Terminus that they aren’t going to fall for that again. Including us the viewers. And just to add to the suspiciousness, Aaron name drops Rick and says he’d like to meet him. How do you know Rick’s name?!?!?! Aaron looks like he just came out of the pages of an REI catalog. While our friends our covered in dirt and sweat and a million other foul things, he looks showered, shaved and ready for a nature hike. How is this possible?

On top of everything else going on this episode, mother nature also packs a punch. Although she relieves our friends from fighting over bottled water, the rain turns into a nasty storm with a hurricane to boot. They shelter in a barn which leads to one of the most confusing scenes I’ve ever encountered. I’ve had a terrible time trying to determine if it was a dream or if it really happened. I think I’ve decided it really happened, although I’m still not sure. The scene I’m referring to is the one that starts out with Daryl pacing in front of the barn doors. The door is banging around and he peaks out through an opening to see a herd of walkers heading for the barn. He tries to hold it shut on his barn in field during a stormown but slowly everyone starts realizing it’s an emergency and they all come rushing to help one by one. It seems like an uphill battle trying to keep the walkers from getting in and it’s getting worse and worse until one second it’s just over and everyone is asleep on the barn floor. I found this really confusing. But again it comes back to the concept that they are all here for each other. When one needs help, they all help. No one has to go it alone. Some are better helpers than others (Sasha’s got some work to do) but these people are bonded together through thick and thin.

 

 

Best of the Episode

Walkers over the bridge. A group of walkers has been following our friends who are too worn out to take them out. As our friends walk down the road followed by the dead, they all very much blend together symbolizing how they are all very much the walking dead. But the fact our group is too tired to fight, leads them to have to take more strategic solutions to get rid of the walkers. They wait for them at a bridge and as the walkers approach them, they push them down the sides of the bridge. So smart and a real energy saver.

Sasha’s rage. Her madness over losing her brother and Bob before that leads to some great angry moments from Sasha this episode. She fouls up the bridge plan when she has to start killing the walkers. She is so blind with rage that she ends up accidentally cutting Abraham and then almost stabbing Michonne. And then when Michonne gets mad at her, she gets even more wide-eyed crazy and looks like she might fight her. Then she’s mean to Noah for no reason. He comes to her for some kind of advice or comfort and she just ends up telling him he’s gonna die. Real nice Sasha. And then my favorite of moments comes when the wild dogs come snarling at them. For a moment it looks like it’s going to be mayhem. How do you fight a pack of wild dogs? But Sasha ends the disaster before it begins when she puts a bullet in each of the dogs. It also gives them a dinner which they all look so pleased about!

Daryl cries. Daryl takes Carol’s advice to heart. He wanders off one last time and finds a tree to sit under. He sits there, smokes a bit of a cigarette and then puts it out on his hand. And then he cries. It’s heartbreaking to see Daryl cry. And he really lets it out too. I wish I could hug him in this moment.

Choose to Live

Season 5 Episode 9 “What Happened and What’s Going On”

The Episode

If there’s one word of advice I could give about The Walking Dead it would be don’t binge watch season 5 without taking a break between 5.8 and 5.9. It will destroy you. I made this mistake once re-watching with my mother and after this episode was over we both were in tears and wondering what to do with our lives. Even a week in between seems to not be enough for me as I try to write this.

black roseWhat I find peculiar about my reaction to this episode is that Tyreese is not one of my favorite characters. He’s an excellent character but I just have never felt any real connection to him. But I find his final episode here, one of the most beautiful farewell tributes to ever be given a character. The entire episode is just dedicated to what has happened through Tyreese’s journey on this show. No one else has gotten that and no one else will until season 9. Tyreese’s goodbye draws you in slowly and then surprisingly and heartbreakingly ends that it is just overwhelming to the soul. So even those of us who haven’t connected with Tyreese are so overcome with emotion that we shed a sea of tears over losing him.

Let’s talk about some of the beauty of this episode. The opening is a string of moments in no particular order. It starts with a burial that we all assume is Beth’s. Photo of a house. Maggie crying. People running. Pictures of twins. The prison. Bones in the forest. And then Lizzie and Mika. That’s the weirdest part of all. What are they doing here? But all of these scenes begin to unravel through the episode and it starts making sense. And it all winds back up at the burial which we now realize is Tyreese’s. It’s a strange way of preparing us but still allowing us to be surprised later on in the episode.

Tyreese’s final moments in the bedroom after he gets bit is also quite riveting. We find ourselves in Richmond, Virginia inside Noah’s family home. The group has trekked 500 miles to get Noah here, which on its own is a beautiful tribute to Beth. But we find the community destroyed and Noah’s family is dead. While Tyreese is distracted by pictures on the wall of Noah’s twin brothers, he is surprised by one of those twins who bites him on the arm. Noah runs off to get the others and while he is gone Tyreese experiences some hallucinations. The first hallucination is Martin. Martin is his usual pessimistic self. Then Bob shows up to counteract him and call bullshit to what he is saying. Then The Governor and Lizzie and Mika.

What these people all have in common is that Tyreese feels guilt over their deaths. He’s been carrying them all through his journey. That gentle giant has never wanted to kill people without it being completely necessary. Martin says if Tyreese had killed him then Gareth would never have been able to find them and kill Bob. Or put Rick’s group in the position of having to kill all of Gareth’s group. Tyreese blames himself for The Governor because he joined up with them at first and maybe if he hadn’t or done more against The Governor then just say he wasn’t going to fight that Woodbury wouldn’t have come crashing down. And there’s not much explaining to do when it comes to Lizzie and Mika. From the outside looking in, there’s no way Tyreese could have known all the maybes and what ifs. But that doesn’t make it any easier for the individual. He carries the guilt of what happened to these people like any thoughtful and caring human being would.

Through most of this hallucinating, it feels like maybe there’s still a chance that Tyreese may live. If the others come cut off his arm soon then he could make it out of this. There’s that optimistic side of me coming through again. I think it is when Beth shows up in his hallucinations that I start to realize this isn’t going to turn out well. Nothing in particular about her says “this is the end for Tyreese”. It just feels more like a goodbye then the others.  Maybe it’s the music she plays on the guitar. Tyreese does seem to start fighting to live more after Beth which is another way this becomes absolutely devastating. He is fighting to live but its just been too long now. He stands up to yell at The Governor but he just gets knocked back down.

The final rescue attempt cements the utter sadness of this episode. Tyreese is hallucinating that Lizzie and Mika are holding his arm, but it turns into Rick holding it while Glenn and Michonne cut his arm off. It turns into a race against time to get him back to the vehicle and then back to the others to cauterize his arm before he bleeds to death. Just like Tyreese was trying so hard to fight to live, so are Rick and the group in trying to get him back. You could tell on their faces that they all wanted to save Tyreese desperately. But with walkers attacking them, fences in their way and Tyreese’s size alone they struggle and fail to save him. We know it’s over when we see Tyreese riding in the car with Beth driving, Bob in the front passenger seat and Lizzie and Mika beside him. They are shepherding him to what’s next. And he simply says to turn off the radio. He’s done listening now, he has no need anymore.

Sasha wasn’t in this episode until we see her at the funeral. Sasha just lost Bob and now her big brother is gone. She has no one left. I think that’s when it gets harder for most on field with tree on sunny daythis show. When you’ve got no family left, no blood relatives, these characters really go through some stuff. Carol lost Ed and then Sophia and now she’s not even close to resembling her former self. Daryl lost Merle twice and its very clear that Daryl is a much better person without his brother around. Now we will see what happens to Sasha. I worried for her a lot after this loss of Tyreese but I think we really get some of the best of her going forward.

This episode brought some foreshadowing with it. At Noah’s community, one of the brick walls has “Wolves Not Far” written on it. This would make absolutely no sense to anyone at the time. The Wolves don’t come up for a while on the show and weren’t in the comics. But we get to see their handy work. It looks like they are the ones who destroyed Noah’s community and Michonne finds a field of human legs. Bodies just from the waist down. We see the top halves at the end of the episode where the truck is parked. Who on earth would cut bodies in half and just take the tops? Super weird. Another bit of foreshadowing is Glenn holds a bat. Glenn’s already had one close call with a bat back at Terminus, now he holds one in his hands. Strike three is next.

Our poor friends are in a real low point right now. They’ve lost Washington, they’ve lost Beth and Tyreese and they are losing hope on finding a place to live. This journey to Richmond was in hopes of finding a place to start over again. Michonne’s reaction to this latest setback is the most telling of where our groups is mentally. Michonne is visibly upset they find Noah’s community destroyed. She’s even more upset when she hears Glenn talking about killing Dawn if he had been there. That’s not like Glenn at all and Michonne doesn’t like it. She wants them to stay here and fix it up even though it doesn’t make sense. She warns Rick and Glenn you can be “out here” too long. We’ve seen that happen before and it certainly does feel like with all of the fails lately that if they don’t get a win soon then this may all be over. But they decide to go to Washington. Even though a cure may not be there, it may still be the best possibility of a life they once knew.

Best of the Episode

tiny flowers with yellow sunburstTyreese’s words of wisdom. There wasn’t really a bad part of this episode but Tyreese gives one last gift to Noah with some kind words to help him pick himself up off the ground after finding out his family was gone. He tells Noah to choose to live. Choose to live because you might be there to do some good that will make up for the pain now. Even as he nears death, Tyreese tried to choose life. Tyreese has always been kind-hearted but we don’t get a lot of the wisdom it seems he holds inside. He did this a little bit with Sasha after she lost Bob and now he’s trying to help Noah. This kindness was really unique to Tyreese and it will leave a gap in our group for sure.

Tyreese twice bit. The first bite was a surprise. But then Tyreese is forced to fight another walker while he waits for rescue. It’s not going well and the walker has him up against a wall. Tyreese is weaponless and is forced to use his bitten arm to hold off the walker so he can grab something to kill it with. It’s one of those cringe-worthy moments. Imagine the pain of having to use an open wound as your defense. It gives me shivers.

An Angel Gets Her Wings

Season 5 Episode 8 “Coda”

“I’ll be gone someday. You’ll be the last man standing. You’re gonna miss me so bad when I’m gone Daryl Dixon.” ~ Beth Greene, The Walking Dead (season 4 episode 12)

The Episode

The title of the episode says it all…coda. It is the summation of this story arc.  It is the end. Beth was the remaining person lost to our group after the prison fell. They’ve found her and take great measures to get her back. But it’s a devastating and tragic end that we don’t see coming. Personally, this episode tears my heart open every time I watch it. No episode makes me cry more than this one. But I love it. I love the entire thing of it from beginning to end.

black roseLet’s just get the whole Beth dying thing out of the way shall we. There isn’t a dry eye amongst our friends when Beth goes down, including my own. The hallway scene with the hostage trade-off was intense. A bunch of armed people in such a narrow hallway with bad lighting and no cover. One bad move and everyone is taking a bullet. But Beth can’t let Dawn have Noah back that easy. Dawn signed her death warrant when she just had to make a sly remark about Noah returning to the hospital. It really ticked Beth off. So much so that Beth took no time at all to stab Dawn over it. What a horrible series of events though that this sets off. Beth stabs Dawn, Dawn shoots Beth by accident in the head, Daryl shoots Dawn and everyone pulls their weapons. I truly thought everyone was about to die. Fortunately though, one cop makes them all stop and ends the violence.

How did we get to this point between Dawn and Beth? It seemed like the two were really building some sort of understanding of each other. Beth was helping Dawn make better choices even if it was just between the two of them. And Dawn was somewhat mentoring Beth on life. Even if Beth didn’t agree with the teaching she was getting, it still got Beth to really figure out what she herself believed in. It was an odd co-dependent relationship the two had. And it seemed a little like it was working for them. They even killed another cop together if that counts for anything. I had hoped that maybe this weird relationship may lead to a happy ending. My optimism surprises even me sometimes. I should definitely know better by now. Dawn unfortunately makes such an unreasonable request when it comes to Noah that Beth has to do something.

Before she kills Dawn, she remarks that she “gets it now.”. There’s a lot that this could refer to. The two have had many conversations. One of the first remarks that stands out from Dawn a few episodes back is when she tells Beth that some people aren’t meant for this world and that’s okay but they cannot get in the way of the people who are. Ouch. There’s plenty more of cruel insights from Dawn to go along with this beauty but I think what Beth means is a cumulative understanding of everything Dawn has been saying to her while she’s been at the hospital. It’s ironic though that while Dawn thought she was leading Beth to be like her, it really resulted in Beth standing up to Dawn and stabbing her. Way to go Dawn.

There are a number of other events this episode that are also very important. The start of the episode being one of the greatest openings the show has ever produced. Bob the cop is escaping but Rick catches up to him. It’s flurried shots of legs running until Rick gets in a cop car and tries to tell Bob to stop. When Bob doesn’t listen, Rick rams in from behind. He rams a human being with a car! I repeat. He RAMS a HUMAN BEING with a CAR! This gives me that surprised and amused giggle that I get when Rick does some crazy ass shit. Bob points out something here though. I believe he’s the first to point this out. He tells Rick he’s been out here too long. Out in the world. This is almost true but there’s a sliver of hope in Rick still before this episode ends. After Beth dies and everyone is still in the hallway in shock, Rick makes an offer to the hospital survivors that he’s made to others before. He offers to take them with him wherever that may be. It’s a small sign that Rick still has his heart in the right place. It’s definitely going to get more iffy but we’ve got a few more incidents to go before Rick and the others really have been out here too long.

In another ironic twist, Father Gabriel locks the dead inside his church. After his escape results in a small herd of walkers chasing him back to his church, Michonne and Carl areclose up of wood forced to save him again. This time they have to leave the church and then double back to lock the walkers inside. A little amusing that first he locked his parishioners out and now that they are dead, he’s locking them in. Just a little though.

GREATM returns to the church with a fantastic entrance of driving the fire truck right into the front stairs of the church. They bring back the news that Eugene lied and Michonne gives Maggie the news that her sister is alive. Maggie finding out that her sister is alive only to show up to see Daryl carrying her lifeless body out of the hospital is the most heartbreaking of moments this entire episode. If Daryl crying and shooting Dawn didn’t get you, Maggie collapsing on the ground is sure to. What a cruel cruel thing to happen to Maggie. A glimmer of hope that her baby sister was still alive. She was just moments away from seeing her and it all just evaporated. It’s devastating.

Our friends are heading into a real low point as we turn into the second half of Season 5. Beth’s death will stay with them for a good long while. It’s gonna get ugly. And I shall remain optimistic…. sort of.

Best of the Episode

Unhinged Rick. I’ve already mentioned how Rick rammed Bob with the cop car. But just to add a sprinkle of true crazy he shoots Bob while he’s talking and then tells the dead Bob to shut up. Holy moly. Rick is truly on the edge.

Dawn vs. O’Donnell. One of her more asshole cops decides to step up to Dawn by the elevator shaft. He wants her to do something about Beth who he finds to be a troublemaker. Dawn stands up for Beth and ends up in a tussle with the guy. O’Donnell ends up positioned in front of the open elevator shaft and Dawn yells to Beth who pushes him down it. They listen as walkers come to eat him. Good job ladies.

Beth and Maggie’s reunion not to be. The fire truck pulls up to the hospital and everyone is out of it and walking towards the building. Rick is the first to exit. He gives this slight head shake that says it all. I love that head shake. He doesn’t have to do anything else and they all stop. Maggie’s smile fades and she collapses. Then Daryl comes out with Beth in his arms. We get a shot of the entire group from above with the city in the background. I’d love to have this scene captured and hung on my wall. It’s beautiful and tragic all at once.