Monday, February 16, 2015

The Walking Dead Recap, Episode 5.10: Them

Episode 10: Them

This was a great episode! Somewhat transitional, and though the episode itself was pretty sad and dark, I really liked it and it made me very happy and excited for what's to come. More on that later. WARNING: Spoilers about below. Don't read until you've watched!

We learn that it's now been three weeks since Beth was shot in Atlanta. They're sixty miles from their target of Washington D.C., and they're having a very hard time finding food and water. 

We start with Maggie crying by herself in the woods. Obviously she's still in a state of heavy mourning. She kills a walker that comes at her, but she does it robotically. She can't summon any passion at all. Then we see Daryl digging in the dirt. He finds a worm buried deep. I was really hoping he was gonna go fishing. Nope. He ate it. Sasha is also looking for water, digging in the dirt of a now-dry river or stream bed, but there's no moisture at all. Then she starts seeing dead frogs. Presumably it's so hot and dry that even the wild life is dying. The three of them meet up and head back to the rest of the group, who Maggie says hasn't found any water or food either. Sasha asks how much longer they have. Maggie replies, "Sixty miles." Sasha says, "that's not what I was talking about." It starts with these three characters, and you know that this episode is going to focus on them and their grief.

As they all walk, slowly and lethargically, not even up to killing walkers, Rick talks to Daryl, saying that he knows Daryl lost something in Atlanta. Like Maggie, Daryl is obviously floundering. He's just not acting like himself, or like he did before Beth was shot. He's reverted into himself, not caring to answer Rick or make conversation beyond saying that the baby is hungry, and they need to find water. Daryl heads off into the woods, ostensibly to hunt, though probably he just doesn't want to talk to anyone. Carol goes with him. He obviously isn't too keen for company, even hers, but he doesn't stop her from coming. 

Father Gabriel tries to talk to Maggie about Beth and Maggie's other losses. She shuts him down pretty brutally. She basically says she doesn't want to talk, especially with someone with his sins (the deaths of his parishioners) on his shoulders.

Sasha actually does want to kill walkers (she's obviously in the anger stage of her grief) and Michonne talks to her about it. She says none of them have much energy left, so they shouldn't be choosing to take on walkers. She also tells Sasha that Tyrese was angry as well, after Karen died. Sasha says she and Tyrese aren't the same, to which Michonne answers, "Yeah, but it's still the same. It just is." Michonne is very wise these days. I'm sure she's grieving too, but she's one of the few people in the group that seems to have her head screwed on straight for the most part. Besides, Sasha's deluding herself in my opinion. She is just like her brother in a lot of ways, (different in other ways too, perhaps, but still) which is why losing him was so hard.

In the woods, Daryl and Carol can't find anything, even any tracks. He says it's just too dry. Carol starts talking to him about Beth, saying she thinks Beth saved her life. She says that she can't allow herself to feel the pain, but she knows him, and he needs to let himself feel it. He doesn't respond. She musses his hair and kisses him on the forehead. Yes, Carol kissed Daryl and everyone was freaking out about it, but to me, this seemed very motherly. It's the kind of thing you do to your kid, not your significant other. I think in his grief, Daryl has reverted back to how he was at the beginning of the series: surly, anti-social, and like a "kid" Carol is trying to take care of. Carol says he's not dead (an echo of the "We ain't ashes" he said to her back in Consumed). This is what's so great about their relationship. The give and take. He pulled her through when she needed it, and now she's doing the same for him.

On the road, Team Family hatches a plan to get rid of the walkers without too much effort on their part. They allow the walkers to get close and then pitch them down the steep ravine at the side of the road. It almost looks like Rick might get bitten or perhaps lose his arm, but Daryl gets there in time and more or less scalps the walker with his bare hands. (Cool! Or gross. Not sure which.) Sasha, in her anger, goes postal on a couple of them and actually gets Abraham with her knife (dah!) at which time Michonne pushes her down and we get an awesome, black girl stare down. 

The group comes to a bunch of cars they can check for supplies. Maggie looks in a particular car, but finds nothing. When she opens the trunk, she finds a blond, female walker who is tied up. This is a disturbing image because obviously this woman was kidnapped or something, left in the trunk, and died there. Creepy. And odd, amidst a zombie apocalypse. More than that, though, Beth was kidnapped, taken away in a car (we don't know if she was in the trunk or just in the back seat) and had blond hair, so obviously Maggie is thinking about Beth and she immediately begins to melt down. Rather than kill the walker, she simply shuts the trunk and walks away. The walker begins pounding on the inside of the trunk, and she knows she needs to go back and kill it. When she tries to re-open the trunk, the key gets stuck, and she immediately gets more frustrated, even taking out her gun as though she'll shoot through the trunk or something. Glen comes to her rescue. She tells him about the walker and he manages to get the trunk open and kills the walker. This, as Lauren Cohen said on TTD, is kind of a metaphor for how Maggie feels about the whole Beth situation. Beth was out there somewhere, kidnapped, and Maggie's guilt is making her feel like she didn't do the right thing when she should have, or didn't act fast enough. And then when she finally tried to get to Beth, she'd lost the opportunity (the trunk not opening).

Then we see Daryl in the woods. He finds a dead deer carcass (not edible) and nearby is the corpse of a human. It's unclear how the corpse died, but there's a lot of blood around his head and on the tree his body is leaning against. Either he was shot in the face (which probably reminds Daryl of Beth) or the guy committed suicide. It's unclear what's going through Daryl's mind in this scene. We just see him look at the corpse and the deer, look really sad, and then get up and leave. My theory is that Daryl is bordering on suicidal here. I don't think he'd ever actually try to kill himself, but he's SO depressed, that he's actually wondering if it's worth it anymore. I also think Carol keeps wanting to go with him into the woods (he tells her no several times) because she's afraid he may not come back one of the times. Or maybe he's just thinking about Beth, idk. 

He gets back to the group, who are sitting on the road. He and Rick silently communicate to one another that they haven't found any viable supplies (alcohol, which Abraham is drinking, doesn't count). Suddenly a pack of dogs come out of the woods and start growling at the group. Before anyone can decide how to react, Sasha takes all the dogs out. And they have a meal! They cook and eat the dogs.

While eating, Noah tells Sasha that he doesn't know if he's going to make it. Sasha is harsh with him, saying, "Then you won't." Meanwhile, Father Gabriel burns his priest's collar in the fire.

Meanwhile, others in the group are noticing how badly Daryl, Maggie, and Sasha are doing. Maggie finally talks to Glen about Beth, explaining that she truly didn't believe Beth was alive after the prison went down. Even when Daryl showed up at Terminus and told her she was, Maggie still didn't really believe it, which explains her lack of grief or hope or anything concerning Beth. She didn't look for her because she couldn't make herself believe she would see her sister again. Then she got confirmation that she was in Atlanta, and when that got taken away, it made things a million times worse. She also says she doesn't know if she wants to keep fighting. Cue Glen to freak out. As in, "Yes you do. You have to! Dah!" But he manages to get her to drink so water, so he's keeping her present for now.

Abraham tells Sasha she's with friends, but she snaps at him. And Glen tries to talk to Daryl and give him water, but Daryl's mean to him as well. Refusing to drink water is kind of a symbol of hopelessness in this episode. (Actually, I take that back. We also saw it from Abraham back in Self Help as well.) 

Then Daryl heads off by himself into the woods. Daryl comes upon a barn, but doesn't go in. Instead he sits under a tree and pulls out a cigarette. After smoking it for a minute, he uses it to burn himself. This SO made my chest hurt! Poor guy. This is like cutting. It's a sign of a deeper psychological distress than we've ever seen from Daryl, and that's saying something. He didn't hurt himself when anyone else died. Not even Merle or when he thought Carol was dead for a time back in season 3. He's really not doing well. He needs a hug, but the only person he wants one from is Beth. Anyone else who tries is liable to get shot. Then he starts crying. Game over for anyone with feelings! But I'm sure this is what Carol was talking about. This is him letting himself feel it. Hopefully he won't feel the need to burn himself anymore.

When Daryl makes it back to the group, he finds that someone has left them jugs and bottles of water. And there's a note that reads, "From a Friend." Of course the group is suspicious--the water could be poisoned, and it's delivery means someone is sneaking around where they are. Creepy! But Eugene tries to drink some anyway. Abraham slaps it out of his hand and Rick forbids him to drink it. Luckily, just then it starts to rain. 

Father Gabriel apologizes to God. Most likely this is an apology for burning his priest collar. That represented his loss of hope, and the miracle of the rain makes him sorry he gave up so quickly.

At first they all enjoy the rain, but it becomes obvious that this storm is going to be bad. Especially with the baby to consider, they can't stay out in it. Daryl tells Rick about the barn he saw and they head to it. Inside, Maggie finds another female walker who was holed up in the barn and obviously died there when she ran out of supplies. Carol sees her, observes that the woman had a gun and could have killed herself but didn't. She says, "Some people can't give up. Like us." That's her contribution to trying to pull Maggie through her grief. 

Maggie lies down away from the group. A few of the others--Sasha, Abraham--isolate themselves as well. The core group sits around a fire, though, and talks. They discuss whether how they're living now is all there is, just current reality, or just something to be gotten through. 

Then Rick starts talking about his grandfather fighting in World War II. This part was fabulous! We never learn much about Rick's past, family, etc., and he just starts telling a story. He says that to survive the war, his grandfather had to be okay with dying every single day. He would tell himself, "rest in peace, you're a dead man today, now get up and go to war." And that was how he survived the war. Rick says their situation is similar. 

And her comes the theme for the whole episode, the title for the episode, and the title for the series! (Whoa!). He says no matter what's in D.C., they'll be okay. They'll do what they have to do and then they get to live. (This theme applies to the episode in another, symbolic way, but I'll get to that in a minute.) Then he says they have to tell themselves that they are The Walking Dead. (Cue epic music. Kind of took my breath away.) 

Daryl doesn't like it, though. He gets this haunted look on his face and says, "We ain't them." (Episode title.) Rick agrees with him saying, "We're not them," but Daryl just repeats himself and then gets up and leaves, obviously thoroughly disturbed. This felt like an unfinished conversation to me. I think we'll revisit this when they figure it all out and this conversation will be reiterated in a way that they've all come to terms with. Yeah, epic stuff. I knew I was gonna like the waiting-out-the-storm-in-the-barn bit. 

Daryl heads to the back of the barn where the doors are swinging in the wind. When he looks out, a huge herd of walkers is headed for the barn. He tries to hold the doors shut, but no way he can hold out thirty or forty walkers. Maggie gets up to help him. Then Sasha. (Notice these are the three with the most grief to shoulder.) Eventually all the others go to help and the entire team is fighting to hold the doors closed. Even Noah and Father Gabriel help (the last two to get there, I think.) And then Carl even put down Judith to lend his weight to the fight.

I freaking loved this! So epic. This is them all fighting tooth and nail to survive, to the point where even the baby is screaming, and there's nothing they can do about it. It's more important to keep her alive than to comfort her right now. I think this was the epitome of this episode. It was their worst moments of grief, danger, despair, and they had to choose to fight their way through it, even thought it royally sucked. This is true not just on a physical level because of the walkers, but on an emotional level. Team Family is seriously cracking under the burden of their grief and that's threatening to destroy them even more than the walkers are. I just loved the visual of them putting everything they had into this fight, amidst the storm. So great! 

Another thing I just want to throw out there about this scene. Why were all the walkers heading for the barn. With the storm and the wind, you'd think the walkers would just get thrown around. They certainly wouldn't be able to hear or smell anything. I suppose the argument might be made that they saw the flickering of the fire, but even that would be a stretch. Maybe a walker or two would make it over, but an entire group like that? And then, the next morning, a new threat (read: creepy person) shows up. It reminded me of Alone, back in season 4, where Beth was first kidnapped. It was never explained how, after the dog barked, there was suddenly a hoard of walkers on the porch, inside Daryl's jerry-rigged alert system. And right after that a new threat (the guys from Grady) showed up and kidnapped Beth. As far as we know there's no way to control a hoard of walkers or send then them to any specific place, so I don't know what the answer to this is, but it's the second time we've seen it. And whatever happened back in Alone was never explained. Just sayin'.

At some point they must prevail over the walkers because in the morning, everyone has laid down to sleep. Maggie wakes up and goes to talk to Daryl, who has been awake all night, probably on watch. (I was thinking the whole episode that these two really need to talk or hold hands or something. They're the ones who are mourning Beth the hardest, so they should talk about her. Here, they finally did.) They look over at where Sasha is sleeping and say that Tyrese was tough. Then Daryl says Beth was too, she just didn't know it. (Everyone together, now: Awwwww.) But the key thing is that he smiled when he said it. The instant they can smile rather than cry, they're starting to move past it. Maggie smiles too, and Daryl hands her the music box. He says it had some grit in it and he cleaned it for her.

Maggie takes it and goes to wake up Sasha. The two of them venture outside together, where the storm has felled some massive trees, which was part of what helped to stop the walkers. Sasha is shocked at the magnitude of the storm and says, "It should have ripped us apart." To which Maggie replies, "It didn't." There's that theme again. Darkest part of their lives, they fought like hell, and they came through. They venture out from the barn and look toward the horizon and the sunrise. 

Sasha tells Maggie what Noah said about not being sure if he could make it. She says that's exactly how she feels, and Maggie starts to cry. This is Sasha moving forward as well. Daryl Maggie talked about Beth and smiled. By admitting how she's really feeling, Sasha is moving away from the anger faze and just moving forward in general. Maggie says they'll both be okay. She then takes out the music box, saying that Daryl fixed it. She opens it and winds it up, but it still doesn't play. Despite Daryl fixing it, it still doesn't work. The important thing here is that Maggie doesn't cry. She laughs. That's code for, she's going to be okay, even if things are broken. Even if Beth is dead. 

(I'm going to geek out about the music box and what it means for Beth in a minute, but let's get through the cliffhanger part of the episode first.)

Just then, a very clean, well-fed man shows up and says, "Good morning." Of course Sasha and Maggie pull their guns, but he tries to persuade them he's harmless. He says he's "a friend." (Probably the same one who left the water and the note.) He says he'd like to talk to the man in charge. Then he comes up with Rick's name. (Dah! How does he know that?) He says he has good news. When they ask what it is, the music box starts to play again. (I reiterate: Dah!) 

Okay, so the question is whether this guy is good or evil, but given the walker herd that attacked the night before I talked about above, I tend to not want to trust him. But how does he know Rick's name? It occurs to me that maybe while sneaking with the water he just heard them talking, but it's not like everyone on Team Family goes around calling him Rick Grimes in their conversations with him. The prevailing theory is that he comes from a community (possibly Alexandria Safe Zone) where there is someone who knows Rick (perhaps Morgan or Beth) and told this stranger his name. Can't wait to find out!

Okay, Geek time for me! The music box is an obvious symbol for Beth, because she was the songbird. When Karl gives it to Maggie, he says, "It used to play music. It's broken." (Beth used to sing, but now she's dead.) Now, whether Beth is alive or not, this symbol makes sense for this episode because Maggie clutches it to herself for most of the episode. It's symbolic of the fact that she doesn't want to let go of Beth. She's trying to work through her grief and guilt, but not making much headway. Then, near the end, the characters finally start to move away from their grief.

When Maggie and Sasha head out of the barn, there's lots of hope imagery: again, Maggie and Daryl talk about Beth, Sasha says how she feels, they're looking at the dawning of a new day, the calm after the storm, etc. When Maggie opens the "fixed" music box, it doesn't work, but she smiles. (Even if Beth is dead, she's still going to choose to move forward and be okay.) If they had simply left it at that--I think Maggie might even have left the music box behind as a symbol of moving on--I would have been thoroughly convinced that Beth is not coming back...

But that's not all that happened, is it?

As soon as this Aaron dude showed up and knew Rick's name, and said he had good news, the music box started playing again!

Now, there's a lot of biblical imagery/symbolism in this show. I feel like the theme here was kind of like "after the trial of faith cometh the miracle." Rick said they had to do whatever they had to do first, then they get to survive. I think all the characters, especially Maggie, Daryl, and Sasha, had to choose to move forward first, had to get through their grief, through the storm, through the dark, rock-bottom times, and only then would the hope start to show up. Only now will the songbird reappear.

This is really powerful imagery and I'm more convinced than ever that she's coming back. Especially considering it started going right after Aaron showed up. It's as though the song bird IS the good news. 

And then there's the fact that we never saw any kind of burial or funeral for her. Even if they decided to just not show it to us (which would be weird anyway because they've always shown us the burials of anyone who they could bury) it's still weird that no one talks about it. They say, "after what happened in Atlanta" or "since losing Beth" but they don't say "after we buried Beth" or "after Beth's funeral." If they didn't actually bury her, what did they do with her body? A simple burial might not be significant, but anything else would be important enough that we should see it! What the freak?

Okay, done being a geek now. I'm more excited about what the rest of the season than I've ever been! Why do we have a whole week until the next episode?

How did everyone else feel about this episode?


  1. I am honestly not a fan of bringing a character back who was so obviously dead. I know it's sad and I didn't want Beth to die either, but I don't like the idea of bringing her back. Although, I agree that it's weird we didn't get to see them bury her. Reading your reviews makes me want to watch the show more closely. I caught more of the symbolism in the last episode. This one was just really sad and hard to watch.

    As always, great review! ;)

    1. Thanks Helen! It was really sad for sure but I think it's one of my faves of this season. I loved that they went through their darkest, hardest places and finally started to do better by the end. Such beautiful character journeys. Can't wait for next week! :D