And…we’re back. Save for episode 4, I think season 5 of The Walking Dead has been pretty consistent. My ability to suspend disbelief is beginning to wane, but I’ve never been more addicted.
Need a refresher from last night’s episode before we jump into discussion mode? Then Click Here for a spoiler-filled recap. All set? Here we go!
“I know it sucks and it’s scary, but you’ve got to be brave.” ~Tara
Just a quick aside, when Eugene said, “I ain’t no Samson” which later prompted Maggie to tell him that he is, I had to laugh. What a coincidence, given I had discussed Caravaggio’s unrelated Judith painting in my blog about episode 4, which is commonly mistaken for imagery of Samson and Delilah. Not that it has to do with anything…or does it? Moving right along…
I can honestly say that I enjoy true flashback episodes to time-jump episodes. We’ve been dancing all over the space-time continuum lately on this show. The story telling has become non-linear, much like a Tarantino film. However, real flashbacks are where it’s at. I love seeing who or what someone was prior to or at the start of the ZA. It makes for a deep contrast to who/what they have become as a result. And, kudos to the writers for adapting Abraham’s story in such a way that the viewing audience wasn’t forced to witness the atrocities that led to the loss of his family.
For those who didn’t read the comics (spoilers), Abraham gathered up his ex-wife, his 8 year-old son and 6 year-old daughter to protect them. They were holed up in a store with a “community” of people. One day, Abraham returned from scouting supplies to find members of this “community” brutally raping his wife and daughter, while forcing his son to watch. Well, as you can imagine, Abe snapped. He tore them apart with his bare hands. His family, still traumatized by what they had endured, were horrified at what Abe had done. They left him behind. Abe tracked them down, found his wife and son dead and his daughter undead. He had to put her down. This episode adapted the story slightly different, albeit tastefully. Many viewers were disturbed at what almost happened to Carl near the end of season 4. They probably couldn’t have stomached seeing it actually happen to a young girl. Kudos for handling the situation delicately while not losing any impact.
Through the course of this episode, and learning of Abraham’s immediate past, we discover why he has such a pressing need to keep moving. Taking care of his family was all that he had. And, the one time that he remained still and got comfortable, he lost them. Protecting Eugene became his new personal “mission” driving him to keep pushing forward at all costs.
Eugene’s story is not unique to the series. For instance, Dr. Edwards, from Beth’s “Slabtown” hospital. The good doctor manipulated Beth into inadvertently killing another doctor. Why? Because Edwards was afraid that if he was no longer useful-needed-a priority, what need would anyone else have to protect him? As Andrew Lincoln muttered in Love Actually, “It’s a self-preservation thing, you see.” Even Shane fell victim to some of those emotions. Until Rick reemerged, Shane was the default leader of the group. He kept them safe. Things were going well. Rick shows up and somehow (maybe because he tamed a Dixon?) winds up as the new, um, sheriff in town. In one fell swoop, Shane lost his “family”, his responsibilities, his credibility, and then his mind. Eugene, fearing for his own survival, used his special set of skills (hey, we’re not all soldiers and mechanics, etc.) to ensure his safety. I can’t hold that against him. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Who’s to say what any of us would have done in similar circumstances.
“That’s classified.” ~Eugene
However, his lies came at a great cost. As Rosita reminded him, many people lost their lives traveling with and protecting Eugene. An optimist could say that, even though that may be true, it is also true that if not for his lies and this journey, Abraham and Rosita would not have found one another, and who knows what would have become of Glenn and Maggie. For the same reason I can forgive Gabriel his indiscretions (which Eugene kept bringing up out of some comparable guilt), I believe that neither of these men intended for harm to come to anyone around them. Things happen for a reason.
I loved all of the symbolism in this episode, beyond the H.G. Wells novel (The Shape of Things to Come, which is not only a statement on future history, but also a nod to TWD music guru, Bear McCreary, and the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack he composed). The most obvious being the blood on Abraham’s hand and his wound. The first time he split his hand open like that was when he viciously protected his family. The further along that they get on this trip, the more times his hand has been injured. Each time his hand winds up bloodied, it is a visual reminder of what happened in his past. Rosita tries covering it, but the blood seeps through anyway. He needs time to heal.
Glenn also discusses this with Abraham, encouraging him to put his knife down for a while and relax. And, though Abraham does relax on the naughty farm (brown chicken, brown cow) with Rosita, he eventually winds up standing nude in front of the bookstore window clutching his knife again. He can’t allow himself to rest long enough to heal. He never wants to be caught off guard again. And, you know what? I can respect that. However, for someone who doesn’t want to be caught with his pants down…Um…Hello? Am I the only one who thinks the way they have sex on this show is chock full of arrogance? The Governor and Andrea are exempt from this argument simply for the fact that they were in a safe room in a safe building in a walled city. And, I can probably give it up to Shane and Andrea in the car; at least that can be locked. But, Shane and Lori in the woods, Rick and Lori in the tent, Glenn and Maggie in the pharmacy (prison was okay), and now Abraham and Rosita in the bookstore; I just can’t get behind that.
Don’t get me wrong! I’m all about releasing some wild urges or finding comfort in the arms of a hot…I mean…good friend. But, when you live in a world that changes from one moment to the next, being completely naked isn’t the safest way to go. Totally exposed in a totally exposed environment is just asking for something dumb to happen. No. Do yourselves a favor and get it on like Eminem and Brittany Murphy did in that factory during the movie “8 Mile”. Also, could Rosita BE any louder? Let’s hush one another, speak and move quietly within the store so the walkers out front won’t know we’re in here. Then, let’s throw all of that security away with some high-pitched moaning. Kudos to Abe, though, it sounded like he had some staying power. And, props to Tara for taking a peek herself after chasing away Eugene. [Can I just say, I adore that Tara wears jeans!]
This episode definitely amped up my walker-tension. Between the one that slammed into the bookstore window, to the flood of them that came out of the fire department, to the ranch of over 1,000 head of walkers, this was a good episode for squirming. Seriously, the ranch was a nice touch. Having driven cross-country numerous times, I can say this was truthfully depicted. The wind changes and the smell hits you miles before you ever see your first steer or pig. The stench will burn your nose. I can’t even imagine what that many walkers, and presumably all that remains of the livestock (which can run in the hundreds) must have smelled like. That had to be a walker’s dream. A veritable buffet. Luckily, they were downwind of Old McDonald’s farm. Good stuff.
Speaking of walkers…We’ve already gotten our answer as to why Michonne can slice through them so easily, while it took the Governor whacking at Hershel’s head to cut through. The answer is that walkers’ muscles and tissue are thinner and mushier. It’s safe to assume that the more a corpse rots, the softer the tissue will get. I’m not a huge fan of the slimy, mushy walker effects. I much prefer the ones that dry out and become skeletal in appearance. The ones that melt as though they looked at the Ark of the Covenant in spite of Indiana’s warning really gross me out and make no physical sense to me insofar as decomposition. This episode’s coolest, yet silliest, walker scene had to be the fire truck hosing. Yes, the blast will knock you off of your feet. Yes, given their decomposition, it may have been able to disable a few limbs. But, the exploding heads? Yuck! If they are all that gooey, then it should be easier to destroy them, right? And, save for the recently turned, older walkers should be much less frightening due to their squishy nature.
So, explain this: If a walker has reached water malleability, why do they fear being bitten? The 4 muscles that control the human jaw can tear and erode like any other muscle. If those muscles aren’t functioning, the mandible itself cannot move the way it is necessary to bite. No matter how strong the bite, the leverage, nor the pounds of pressure can assist in tearing through someone’s flesh and/or bone. Hence, the older the walkers are and the more decomposed that they are, the less likely they are to be a real biting threat. Unless of course, they get a hold of your fingers or toes, or are able to get on top of you and just chew for a while. It’s the recently turned that you need to watch out for!
I tried to make out what Abraham was mumbling there at the end, when he was faced with the herd and unpleasant options. “…not going down…will not abase…I will not give up the ship…” I searched quotes, lyrics, and so forth. It seems, he was just randomly spouting out some warrior motivation. Hey, whatever works, man.
All in all, this episode was well worth the watch. It made us laugh out loud, it made us cheer and yell at the television, and it broke our hearts. Special kudos to Michael Cudlitz and Josh McDermitt for outstanding performances.
Now…who else is over the moon about a “Caryl” episode next Sunday?!