Shane Ryan and Josh Jackson review The Walking Dead each week in a series of letters.
NOT THIS WEEK, THOUGH!
Josh is unfortunately gone on a vacation, my heart is broken, and I’m forced to review The Walking Dead alone. I’m not even going to insert that little foot-and-bone graphic we normally use…it just doesn’t feel right. I thought of writing fake emails from Josh, but that seems journalistically questionable, somehow, so instead, here are 15 observations from last night’s episode.
1. Abraham drinks alcohol the same way I ate an avocado for the first time, at age 23—with curiosity, a little suspicion, and ultimately deep satisfaction. And yes, it’s true that I never had avocados, or guacamole, or any other avocado derivative for the first two decades and change of my life. My parents were evil.
2. Maggie was super harsh to Father Gabriel. “Don’t forget the biggest fuck-up of your life,” she says, essentially. Not cool, Maggie—he already had his moment of divine reconciliation. Also, this was a huge missed opportunity for Father Gabriel to drop a Jackson Browne reference: “Please don’t confront me with my failures…I had not forgotten them.” Bonus points if he used a creepy Nico voice.
3. Maggie in general isn’t doing great, but Sasha is even worse. These are the “emotional” moments in the show that I don’t like—hey, let me just act out my rage by putting literally everyone else in mortal danger. And just when Rick’s classic side-stepping plan was working to comedic perfection.
4. I laughed in spite of myself when Rick actually used the words “The Walking Dead” in his monologue. I liked the lesson from his grandpa, about killing yourself inside to survive a trying period, but there’s something so meta about saying the show’s title in the context of a normal conversation that it comes off hilarious. I want to hear this in other shows. “Say what you will about Sterling Cooper Draper Price, but one thing’s for sure: Get us together, and we’re a bunch of MAD MEN.”
5. That being said, the scene where everyone rushed to the barn door to stall the zombies was insanely powerful. Really atoned for a semi-bland episode. Felt like I was watching The Perfect Storm, but without George Clooney distracting me with his disgustingly handsome face. Did I say that out loud?
6. Which is another point I want to make—nothing really happened until the barn scene, beyond starvation. It is interesting, though, how rarely the show deals with the issue of food. I also would like to know more about who is sleeping with whom when the cameras aren’t rolling, but that’s a battle for another day.
7. Norman Reedus rarely gets to play emotional scenes, but I thought his crying jag worked pretty well—very realistic, not schmaltzy! 9/10 on the Sob Scale! (More shoulder heaves would’ve put him over the top.)
8. Is Carl hitting on Maggie with music box game? He’s got to be getting to the point where he’s like, ‘damn, there are literally no girls around my age.’ I hope he and Glenn fight it out for her affections, and then she chooses Eugene.
9. Hey, Eugene can talk! And Abraham cares about him, otherwise he wouldn’t have knocked the potentially poisonous water bottle from his hands. Touching. I’ve decided to honor Eugene by using his image at the top of this article.
10. WHO IS THIS AARON GUY?! WHAT IS HIS GOOD NEWS?! WHY DOES HE LOOK LIKE SOME CREEPER WHO JUST STEPPED OUT OF AN INFOMERCIAL FOR A RELIGIOUS CULT BASED AT AN L.L. BEAN OUTLET STORE?! HOW DOES HE KNOW RICK’S NAME?
11. Aaron definitely left the poison water, right?
12. Based on the group’s past experience with new people, shouldn’t they just shoot him on sight? I get that it wouldn’t be great for the storytelling aspect of the show, but I think I would’ve laughed if Aaron was like, “I get it, stranger dang—” and got lit up by Sasha and Maggie to end the episode.
13. I’m going to hazard a crazy guess here, everyone: Aaron is part of some group that does something weird and terrifying. I just think we haven’t really seen that angle from this show yet, and it’s high time we get a new group of people with a veneer of friendliness and respectability, but that turns out to eat people and/or keep heads in glass jars.
14. Moving on from Aaron. After last week’s incredible episode, I thought the writers got a little talk-y this time around. How many speeches about never giving up do we have to hear before they trust us to get the point? Just from memory, we got really similar reactions between Carol and Daryl, Gabriel and Maggie, Michonne and Sasha, Daryl and Rick, Rick and the group, and Daryl and Maggie. I mean, I get that we’re in a transition episode, but The Walking Dead is at its best when you’re not getting hammered on the nose with some grand philosophy, and last night they hammered away.
15. Most important question of all: Does Aaron have superpowers that let him fix a broken music box with his mind? Will we get to see more of that next time?
Tune in next week, when the action hopefully picks up in zombie apocalypse land, and Josh returns to continue our epistolary odyssey.