After two episodes of reducing viewers to a blubbering mess, The Walking Dead actually let people live this week and didn’t even kill off many of its walkers. While some viewers may be bored by the lack of action, all I can say is “Thank you!” Of course, it’s still The Walking Dead so there’s plenty of emotional tension to fill the hour and make sure we don’t get too comfortable.
As Rick and the gang head to Washington, we finally get a glimpse of what the past few weeks have done to them, both physically and emotionally. Without Tyreese and Beth to reflect the brighter side of life, everyone is struggling with the crushed hope that Noah’s home could have been a safe haven for them. They spend a majority of the episode walking, but it’s clear that they feel directionless and that many of them have begun to see surviving as a futile act.
For Sasha, Maggie, and Daryl, the loss of Beth and Tyreese is harder to deal with than their physical hardships. Daryl has taken to roaming the woods by himself in an effort to keep from feeling anything. Sasha is clearly angry and more than happy to take that anger out on any walkers she can get her hands on. Maggie, on the other hand, fluctuates between angry and hopeless, as Glenn and Carol both try to convince her that surviving is still worth it.
Since they are on the road, the group is quickly running out of supplies and, physically, it’s taking a toll. They are continually searching for water, and they know that if they don’t find some soon then they won’t survive for long. When Eugene states, “I truly do not know if things can get worse,” he quickly finds out that there are dangers the group has not faced yet in the form of wild dogs.
Finally, the rain comes and the group heads to a barn that Daryl discovered earlier. While waiting out the storm, they are finally able to talk about what has been going on in their minds. It seems to be a turning point for the group as they each decide whether or not the world is still worth living in.
The storm intensifies and a fresh wave of walkers arrives, but, when the group works together, they are able to survive. In the end, we are left with another cliffhanger in the form of a stranger claiming to be a friend. The fact that he seems to know a lot about their group makes his claim, “I have good news,” less reassuring than it should be.
One of the great things about this show is how much faith comes into play in various places. Beginning in season two with Herschel’s open reliance on his faith to get him through, The Walking Dead has had a history of portraying those with faith as a peaceful counterpoint to the craziness of the world around them. Herschel’s death and the ensuing chaos seemed to bring an end to that peace, as well as any faith in God that the characters may have had.
This week’s episode, however, had faith in the spotlight once more, as Maggie confronts Gabriel over his actions when he locked his congregants out of the church, resulting in their deaths. Later, as they are eating, Gabriel tosses his clerical collar into the fire which seems to indicate that he is giving up his calling, but it’s unclear whether this decision is a loss of faith or a belief that he has lost God’s favor. Personally, I think Gabriel believes God has turned His back on Him because of his actions back at the church.
Towards the end, Daryl is trying to hold the doors closed against a herd of walkers that are trying to get into the barn. As the group joins him one by one, it’s still clear that they can’t last and that the herd will eventually break through. The dramatic difference between the struggle in the storm and the surreal peace of the morning after is an almost perfect illustration of the contrast between relying on our own strength and relying on God’s power. The urge to do things on our own without God is something that Christians and non-believers share. We throw so much effort into holding the doors closed, knowing that we can’t win and that, eventually, it will all come crashing down. Isn’t it amazing that God doesn’t need our permission or faith to show us His power?
Language – While there is no cursing in this episode, there is a very brief discussion about suicide when Maggie finds a female walker alone in a room with a gun. Maggie comments that she could have killed herself and seems regretful that she didn’t. Carol makes a comment about surviving and that giving up is not an option.
Sexual Content/Nudity – There is no complete nudity, but some of the walkers are partially clothed. While I did not notice any “private” areas being shown, it is possible that I may have missed something and that should be taken into consideration.
Violence – Considering past shows, this episode is very light on violence since the main characters are too weak to fight. There is a scene where Maggie finds a walker in the trunk of a car that has been bound and gagged, which is creepy. In the one instance where the group does fight a group of walkers, their main objective is to push them into a ravine. The usual blows to the head and head shots are shown, but it is largely toned down from the show’s usual fare. There is also a scene where the group is confronted by wild dogs, which they kill and eat.
*All photos from AMCtv.com
The Bottom Line
The Walking Dead is at its best this week, as everyone tries to find the will to keep going. The emotional connection of the characters is what makes this show phenomenal, and this week's episode showcases that.