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Talking Out The Dead: "Them"

Talking Out The Dead: "Them"

Kelen: This episode should have been called “The Struggle”. I know we constantly joke about how readily available everything is to the group, from vehicles to gas to ammo (though you have a weird fascination with whether they have toilet paper or not), but no episode has gone to such lengths to show when the group are on their last legs. No food, no water, no hope; the next step would logically be death.

The spotlight moved from the characters who went to Shirewilt Estates to Maggie, Daryl, and Sasha, and we pretty much called how they would be reacting following Beth and Tyreese’s deaths. Maggie seems the most defeated, with Father Gabriel (who she dissed the hell out of) and Glenn having to pull her out of the doldrums. Sasha is defiant and angry; determined to destroy anything she runs across with her bare hands and not wanting to follow instructions. I so hoped her and Michonne would just go at it, even for a few seconds. When you live in the world of TWD, tempers should definitely flare, and two strong women should be no exception. And our hero Daryl Dixon just moped mostly, leaving the group multiple times. He even burned himself with a cigarette and had a good cry.

Glenn and Michonne seem to have gotten back to their “normal” selves but with those 3 basket cases in tow, they probably had to for the rest of the group. Abraham is still looking out for Eugene, as he wouldn’t let him drink the gifted water supply. Father Gabriel seemed to lose his faith and regain it in 10 minutes time. Maggie found a walker in a trunk that she turned her back on (it was bound and gagged like it had been kidnapped), then decided to reopen the trunk but couldn’t until Glenn helped her. Was Maggie thinking of letting the walker bite her? Carl carried Judith. Abraham chose alcohol as his libation of choice. Carol teased everyone by kissing Daryl’s forehead. Not sure if that was a friend zone kiss or a “we could possibly get more romantic if you want to” kiss. Noah did nothing except whine that he didn’t think he could make it. GOOD NOAH, DIE ALREADY. And Tara and Rosita laid in the road when the rain started and got soaking wet.

They found a barn (I’m recapping, I can’t help it), Rick made a speech, walkers tried to get in the barn, the group made it through the night (the walkers didn’t thanks to the storm), Maggie and Sasha went to watch the sunrise, new guy Aaron showed up, and the girls pulled their guns on him.

So I’m guessing this will be the last we see of Maggie and Sasha’s issues for a bit. Maggie woke her up to watch the sunset because they’re both struggling (THE STRUGGLE!) with loss and they understand each other best right now. With Aaron’s appearance, everything will shift to him, as the group tries to figure out what his game is and if he’s a threat.

I really don’t think he’s a threat though. They haven’t introduced any helpful characters this season (I’m looking at you Gabriel & Noah), we knew not to trust the Terminites right from the jump, considering we still don’t know how Beth got kidnapped, we never trusted the hospital, etc. Oh, and they just killed off two main characters. My money is on the fact that Aaron is actually a decent human being. It would just be poor writing if the group keeps running into trouble everywhere they go.

Last random thought: Could Daryl leave the group for a while? While people would riot, his behavior didn’t exactly seem like he wanted to be around people. Could Daryl decide that he wanted time to himself to deal with his losses, knowing he could track back to the group when he was ready? I actually like the idea, that way we don’t have to deal with him mutilating himself and crying. That Daryl Dixon only makes me sad.

Thomas: That was a strong recap.  First, I just want to point out something.  Toilet paper is extremely important man.  Ever run to a public restroom stall for an emergency?  Afterwards, you look up to find that you picked the wrong stall and the toilet paper is dry?  Let me tell you, toilet paper is extremely important in that situation.  Imagine a world where no one is making it anymore?  That is one thing that is truly terrifying about TWD universe.  It is so terrifying, they don’t even bring it up when they talk about supply runs. Think about it.

Joking aside, I agree the group is on its last leg.  I think we all expected Sasha and Maggie to be basket cases.  I was expecting Daryl to get emotional too during this episode after the death of Beth.  I will admit I didn’t expect him to go “emo”, wandering off by himself all the time and burning himself with a cigarette.  I think that was a weird scene. He even drifted away from Carol.  That was interesting because usually she is the one he has leaned on in bad times.  Will he strike out on his own?  It would be an interesting way to get a character out of the show and introduce new characters.  While people would probably hate it, it would be a way to preserve the life of the character while bringing some new people in.  We have seen that large groups of people are harder to follow with this show.

I also agree, I think that Sasha and Michonne should have gone at each other.  I don’t think an all out brawl would have been good, but I think them stepping forward and Rick or Abraham stepping in between would have been fine.  The group is on the ragged edge and tempers should be flaring.  Sasha has become the loose cannon you mentioned.  It is obvious that her being reckless was getting to Michonne.  I’m wondering if this is something that might escalate.  It would be natural for two strong characters to butt heads when things are getting tense.  A side note, I think this episode could have Abraham and Rick butting heads, if Abraham hadn’t been knocking back the bottle of hooch.  Big Red was just sort of mellow with the spirits.  Perhaps in upcoming episodes we see them at odds again.

Tara and Rosita laying in the rain.  I must admit, they didn’t have a big part.  However, that half minute or so made up for an entire episode of being wall flowers.  In all seriousness, it was ironic that the storm that brought them hope also brought them trouble.  When it rains it pours so to speak.  Judging by how the forest looked the morning after, the group was pretty lucky that Daryl found the barn.  Sometimes its better to be lucky than good.

The whole Aaron thing is a bit creepy.  I know the group has only met headcases and enemies.  However, did you notice the guy at the end?  He looked well fed and clean shaven.  It looked like he had a hair cut and clean clothes as well.  Where has this guy been?  The “gift” of water bottles left for them out in the open is also a weird occurrence.  I am holding out hope that he won’t be like the others the group has met.  I’m not holding my breath though.  The group can be lucky, but I don’t think they are going to get that lucky.  The only thing they find in the entire episode are some abandoned cars and an old barn.  All of a sudden water appears, as well as this guy who appears to be a friendly?  Nah, it wouldn’t be TWD world if the group had that much luck.

Kelen: I really don’t want to accept the idea that anyone who the group meets that looks clean is an immediate threat. Maybe it’s because I come from the old comic book storytelling school, where Spider-Man has to spend x amount of issues fighting Green Goblin and then he would get a “break” by having to deal with the Fabulous Frog-Man immediately after. The group can’t just run into threat after threat with them taking 1 to 0 casualties. It’s unrealistic (which is funny since we’re discussing a zombie show) and eventually, you run out of characters.

So unlike my usual stance, I’m going to trust Aaron (which may say something about me that I’m willing to trust a white guy after the Governor but I’ve hated Noah from the jump) and believe that he’s a friend. Only because you just know the next big bad guy is on the horizon and our group needs a “break”.

Lucky than good huh? That’s been a major theme throughout the series. Everyone who’s still with us are lucky to be alive because no one has been good enough to stay alive. Except Carol recently. Remember how she took down Terminus singlehandedly? That was all skill. The storm being as bad as it was an easy way out though:

“Alright, we have the whole group trapped in a barn with a herd of walkers right outside the door. How do they survive?”

“How about a storm takes all the walkers out for them and then they sort through the remains in the morning?”

“Brilliant!”

Definitely lazy and convenient.

Abraham and Rick really don’t have anything to butt heads over other than the fact that they’re two of the remaining alpha males in the group. Abraham doesn’t have a mission anymore and he seems to be all aboard the Rick train, with his comments to Sasha about everyone being her friend. Maybe this was just a hint at future issues with her Michonne and could lead to Sasha really going off the deep end. Or could we possibly see our first in-group kill? We know Shane killed Otis but there hasn’t been that moment where a main character has killed a main character. Well, besides Rick and Shane.

The more I think about it, I really think it’s crucial at this time for someone to leave the group (since the idea of them killing each is far fetched). The last people to really leave the group was Morales and his family way, way back in season 1, when they decided to head to Birmingham rather than go to the CDC (a wise choice in hindsight). While having Daryl (or anyone not named Noah, Tara, or Rosita) deciding to strike out on their own would be wildly unpopular, it could work. It would allow for more of the broken narrative the show has gotten so good at, showing Rick and the group for an episode and then transitioning to whoever strikes out on their own the next. It would allow for more world building as well. And it would be a nice change of pace to possibly introduce new characters without overcrowding the group again.

As for the toilet paper thing, I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as you think. Season 1, sure; they were all on the road thinking they just had to lay low until this ordeal was over. But let’s not forget that Dale’s RV had a toilet in it. I’m pretty sure. And depending on how many times Glenn went on supply runs, I bet they were stocked up. Season 2, they still had the RV, then they got to Herschel’s farm, so I don’t see any TP issues there. Between season 2 and 3, it probably got sketchy, but it seemed like they were moving from house to house. More than likely there was something they could use in place of toilet paper and if they really had to, Daryl probably taught them real quick how to do their business, get clean, and keep moving outside. The prison had to have a TP supply that would last for years, so again, no problem. And so on and so forth. So yes, toilet paper is an amenity that they don’t always have, but since there’s a thin line between life and death here, I think the group makes due.

Kill Watch (in order of most likely)
Aaron (he could be a one and done character)
Noah
Gabriel
Tara
Rosita
Eugene
Abraham
Sasha
Maggie
Glenn

Thomas: I like how you take my ongoing concern about TP rather seriously.  I’m just going to say, it’s the little things in life we take for granted.  I think in TWD universe, they could get at least one good joke about toilet paper being an issue.

You really trust Aaron?  Alright, are you sure you still aren’t just reeling from your hatred of Noah?  I mean it has been an intense few weeks (show timeline), so I understand.  I’m trying to look at this from the way things have gone.  Who has the group met, with a smile, that has turned out alright?  Think back, it’s not that hard.  The Governor was a likeable guy, met the group of soldiers with a smile and wave… and then had his group ambush them.  He even took in Andrea and Michonne, but how did that turn out?

How about Terminus?  They welcomed people with open arms.  It was all bright smiles and hugs.  Have a seat and a meal.  Oh by the way, you need to put on some weight, you’re a little too skinny for our taste.  Again, a group offering shelter and friendship had malevolent intentions.  Surprise, it’s how things work.  I feel like I’m starting to see a bit of pattern with how people are introduced in the show.

When Beth woke up at Grady, it was obviously awkward.  However, other than the officer creep, everyone seemed to go out of their way to be nice at first.  They had, “saved,” her life.  They were offering her food and safety.  She had a doctor who could treat her wounds.  All she had to do was work for the good of the group.  It was a nice trade right?  The hospital may not be the best example but you get my meaning.

In contrast, how did Rick get introduced to the group originally?  Glenn insulted him, Andrea pointed a gun at him, and he got into fights with Merle and Daryl.  Do you remember how warm and welcoming Herschel was?  He said the group could stay until the boy was okay, then they had to get off his land.  He even knew Lori was pregnant, and told her he didn’t owe them any more than he had done.

My point?  The good guys in this show traditionally don’t show up with smiles and presents.  It is the people with things to hide and who want to do harm that are all friendly like.  It could be why I’m giving Gabriel a chance.  Technically he was terrified of the group, felt threatened by them, and even tried to bolt it seemed after they saved him.  He wasn’t that interested in helping them, which leads me to think he might have a strong role moving forward.  I could be wrong; it’s just a thought.  Aaron smiling and waving, presumably the one who left the gift of water… it’s going to be bad news.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the episode.  It appeared that the writers were trying to show the group with no hope, just trying to trudge along and survive.  However, it just seemed to fall flat to me.  They showed Maggie and Sasha being basket cases, Daryl retreating from the group, Gabriel losing his faith, and Abraham still protecting Eugene.  It just didn’t feel like it pushed the story any further.  Truthfully, this was a filler episode and at its best, this was a set up to some more dramatic and action packed episodes to come.  I wouldn’t be shocked that a lot of people felt that the episode was muddled, dragged out, and really not needed.  I guess we will just have to wait and see what the next few episodes hold to be certain.

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