After the loss of two major characters in back to back episodes, “Them” slows down the pace to focus on the aftermath. The survivors, without fuel, food or water, continue their way to D.C. while an unseen stranger is mysteriously helping them.
Continue reading for a spoiler filled reaction and recap of The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 10.
We Ain’t Them
The long, slow procession of The Walking Dead. That’s what it looked like on the highway with Rick’s group sluggishly plodding along not too far ahead of a bunch of walkers. Image wise, this more or less encapsulated Rick’s speech near the end of the episode about “This is how we survive” and Daryl declaring “We Ain’t Them”. This isn’t exactly a new revelation for the show but the episode made its point clear. Not dissimilar to the walkers, the survivors are looking for food in order to keep on surviving. It’s an ‘Eat or be Eaten World’, literally in the case of those pack of wild dogs that got turned into dinner.
Rick’s gang are surviving so that one day they can start living. If there’s any truth to that statement then there needs to be an element of hope. Not just hope on a personal level but for the world. Season Four dealt with the notion of whether a character could come back eg. morally, mentally etc. To take the notion one step further, the bonfire discussion with Rick, Michonne and Glenn alludes to whether some semblance of a civilization or the world they used to know can ever come back. In a roundabout way, it’s the belief in hope that separates the dead from the living.
The spiritual beliefs and internal conflicts of faith within characters is an on-going element of the show. After all the deception and betrayal the survivors have experienced it’s perfectly understandable that they wouldn’t put their faith in an unseen helping hand that’s given them the very thing they’ve been looking for ie. bottles filled with water.
Similar to the hallucinogenic scenes from the previous episode, the scenes in the barn had a different feeling from what the show has previously done. Even if it wasn’t for the not very subtle shot of the bible as the first thing shown in the barn, these scenes can clearly be interpreted as allegorical. From the rain storm of biblical proportions raging outside to the toppled over trees crushing the walkers but miraculously sparing the barn, it can be viewed like an act of god.
They say that if you seek, you shall find as is the case for Gabriel who as quickly as he was to renounce his faith he believes the rain to be a godsend. Other characters like Maggie and Sasha who have lost their faith likely see these events as mere coincidences like when the broken musical box begins to play just when Aaron introduces himself as a friend.
One of the focuses in “Them” is how three characters deal with their grief in different ways. Sasha is filled with anger, externalizing her rage on those walkers when the plan was to conserve energy by pushing them off the road. Maggie’s grief is making her withdrawn, a very dangerous thing since loosing your will to survive in the post-apocalypse is like inviting death. Daryl is numb to the pain of losing Beth, going off on some side-trips to be alone, until finally letting himself feel it. It’s noticeable that these three characters didn’t express any joy when the rain came down unlike the other survivors who smiled.
Focusing on these characters’ grief made sense after what happened in the previous two episodes but it didn’t make for the most entertaining hour of television. At times, “Them” had a meandering pace which in some scenes like with Carol & Daryl worked well because I’m invested in those characters but other times with Maggie & Glenn finding a walker in the trunk of car it didn’t resonate on any level. While we know that the group is making their way to Washington D.C., what introducing Aaron, friend or foe, does at this point is give this half of the season a more concrete direction story wise.
What do you like or dislike about this episode? Do you think the group should give Aaron the benefit of the doubt?