If there’s one thing that arouses suspicion on The Walking Dead, it’s a guy who shows up looking like he’s been taking regular baths. So naturally, this week’s episode was spent suspiciously eyeing the show’s most recent newcomer: Aaron, the suspiciously smiley guy who accosted Maggie and Sasha at sunrise, looking like he walked straight out of a combination L.L. Bean outlet and day spa.
Aaron says that he’s a friend who wants to lead the group to the home they’ve been longing for. But considering what happened the last time Rick bought that “sanctuary for all” line, they’re understandably skeptical. It also doesn’t help that Judith starts crying the second that Aaron appears in the barn, although that might just be because she’s suddenly realized that she should have reasonably been dead a dozen times over by now, and the dissonance of remaining on earth is too much for her tiny brain to handle.
The introduction is tense, and Aaron unhelpfully tries to overcompensate by being Mr. Friendly, making lame dance jokes about wanting the group to “audition” for a spot in his camp. To help convince them, he points to an envelope full of photos in his pack. This leads to the analog version of a Powerpoint presentation about the awesome safe haven he wants to lead them to.
Rick, who hates Powerpoint presentations, punches Aaron right in the face before he can even explain photo #2.
This is the beginning of a split in the group’s leadership, as Michonne points out that she was interested in the presentation, and was not actually blinking “PUNCH FACE NOW” at Rick in Morse code. When Aaron regains consciousness, he’s more cheerful than ever, and the rest of the group seems open to listening—which Rick reacts to by getting increasingly angry and paranoid. For instance: Aaron reveals that he was the one who left the magic mystery water in the road; Rick just gets angry about the part where he’s been following and watching the group for days.
But Aaron is not deterred. Aaron knows that Rick and his friends are the kind of good people who could be a part of… wherever it is he wants to take them, a post-apocalypse utopia with a robust apple orchard and zero zombies. Aaron, like his biblical namesake, is a hardcore spokesman. Seriously: If this guy turned up on late night television selling a slap-chop, I would buy 10 of them.
Rick, on the other hand, would not only not buy the slap-chop, but promises to put a knife in Aaron’s skull if it turns out that he’s lying.
Meanwhile, a group led by Michonne goes out in search of Aaron’s vehicles, and find two: A car and a camper. They’re startled by a few walkers—it’s worth noting that the zombies in this part of the country are a lot juicier than usual—but the only thing they find in the camper is a big, beautiful stash of food, including can after can of generic Spaghetti-Os.
The evidence keeps piling up that Aaron was telling the truth. But the food, like pretty much everything else having to do with Aaron’s appearance at the camp, just makes Rick angry. He goes fully aggro over the Spaghetti-Os—“This is ours,” he snarls at Aaron—at which point Michonne has finally had enough and makes an executive decision.
“We’re going, all of us,” she says. Of course, because she’s not The Ricktator, she also invites anyone who disagrees to speak up, but nobody does. (Except Daryl, who says, “This barn smells like horse shit.” It’s unclear what, if anything, this is meant to contribute to the discussion.)
After some argument about the right route to take—because Rick is going, but is also still unwilling to trust anything Aaron says—the group splits between the car and the camper, and heads for the promise of safety. There’s even a moment of levity when Rick discovers a bunch of license plates in the glovebox, and Aaron sheepishly admits that he’s been trying to collect all 50 states. But then, as Michonne flips through the photos of the place they’re supposedly going, she realizes: There are no people in them. That’s weird, isn’t it? And then she realizes: They never asked their new friend The Questions! And then, as she asks Aaron The Questions, Rick rummages somewhere in the car and discovers a listening cone, which means that someone could have been eavesdropping on them all this time, and everyone’s yelling and angry and then SPLAT goes a zombie that was standing right in the middle of the road.
As it turns out, Aaron had his reasons for wanting to take another route: This road is occupied by a giant herd of those super-juicy walkers. They mow down at least a dozen of them—and then a dozen more, since windshield washer fluid is powerless against an inch-thick layer of zombie innards—before the car comes to a stop, at which point they realize that the camper has disappeared.
For the first time since he came on the scene, Aaron stops being Mister Jolly Optimist. First he’s nervous, then he’s scared. And then, from somewhere out in the dark, a flare lights up the sky—and Aaron bails out of the car, his hands still bound, and runs screaming into the woods.
NEXT: Intermission! Zombie slaughter!