Ever since the Rick Grimes Gang found themselves en route to Alexandria, certain fans of the show have been noticing—some might even say complaining—about things being a bit too quiet in the world of The Walking Dead. Nothing is happening, they said. There’s too little action, they said. No beloved characters have been eaten alive lately by zombies, they said.
Let’s just start this recap off by saying: If you were one such fan, this episode was for you.
I hope you’re happy, you monsters.
For the past two weeks, we’ve watched our heroes struggling to acclimate to their new home inside Alexandria’s walls, with mixed results. Sasha is in the midst of a full-on nervous breakdown brought on by PTSD. Rick has reluctantly taken up the role of constable, and not-so-reluctantly taken up a little flirtation with the girl next door. Daryl enjoyed a delicious spaghetti dinner and a well-deserved promotion, becoming an official Alexandria Ambassador to the Outside World. And of course, Carol offered a 10-year-old child the choice to either enjoy a plate of delicious cookies, or die screaming in the forest while zombies slurped out his insides like tagliatelle bolognese.
But the one person we haven’t seen lately is Father Gabriel, who just sort of faded into the background after the group walked through the gate, and who you’d think would be settling in better than most, having never exactly gone pro at the whole “surviving in zombieland” thing.
Instead, he turns up in this week’s cold open, comfortably installed in a pretty new pulpit and a nice new priest’s collar, tearing pages out of his Bible like he’s gone stark, raving mad. Whatever Gabriel has been up to during his absence from the spotlight, he clearly hasn’t been working on making peace with his demons. But hey, I’m sure he’ll be fine. It’s not like the welcome basket of strawberries sitting on a table nearby is laden with ominous Biblical meaning or anything.
We also check in with a few more favorites: Daryl looks right at home as he departs on a motorcycle for recruitment purposes. Noah is being mentored by Deanna’s husband to become an architect and documentarian. Abraham is staring at his mustache like he’s thinking about following Rick’s lead and shaving it (side note, NOOOOOO!). Tara is totally ready to dive into Alexandria’s lesbian dating pool, if she can just find it. And Eugene! I’d almost forgotten about him: He’s complaining bitterly that he doesn’t want to go on a supply run, because as he himself will point out repeatedly during this episode, he’s the wimpiest, wussiest scaredy-cat ever to survive the zombie apocalypse.
There’s so much capable, comfy camaraderie happening in this scene, it almost seems funny—and not at all like obvious, terrible foreshadowing—when Aidan (still a douchebag, but substantially humbled by his interaction with Glenn last week) puts on some pumping techno music to accompany their supply run, which opens with a robot voice saying, “Now you are going to die.”
NEXT: The drunk next door wants to play doctor.[pagebreak]
But we’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s just run down a few of the other plot points that evolve during this episode, in a quick bulleted list:
- Point #1: Pete, a.k.a. the husband of Jessie-next-door, makes an afternoon visit to Rick’s house to a) establish that his character has a serious day-drinking problem, and b) suggest that Rick bring Judith and Carl in for a checkup, because c) lest we forget, this booze-soaked dickhead is also Alexandria’s one and only medical professional. He also makes Rick an official offer of non-optional manly friendship. Hey, perfect! They can bond over how much they have in common, i.e. their shared desire to have sexual intercourse with Pete’s wife.
- Point #2: Sam, a.k.a. Cookie Kid, a.k.a. son of Jessie and Pete, turns up inside the gang’s house looking for last week’s promised baked goods. Carol gruffly tries to get rid of him, but he’s persistent, and so instead she offers him yet another choice: He’ll have to steal chocolate if he wants more cookies. (This is Corrupting the Innocent 101: First you make them afraid of you, then you make them just like you.)
- Point #3: Carol, despite being 100 percent not interested in being your friend, kid, can’t help but intuit that all is not well at the house next door. For one, Sam is the vandal responsible for destroying his mother’s owl sculpture. For two, to nobody’s surprise, Pete is not just a jerk and a drunk, but an abuser, too.
- Point #4 (unrelated to points #1, #2, and #3): Abraham (with mustache still intact, thank everything) has been assigned to construction duty on a team expanding the community’s walls. And his mustache isn’t the only thing that’s in great condition: Abe’s instincts are still second-to-none, which is how he knows that a herd of zombies is about to erupt from the woods and attack the crew. And not only does he have a grand time playing whack-a-mole with their heads, and not only does he save an Alexandrite who the others were going to leave behind, but he then insists that everyone get back to work and finish their jobs. And just like that, Abraham is Boss Abraham.
I like Boss Abraham. Actually, everyone likes Boss Abraham—including the guy who was supposed to be boss before Abraham out-bossed him. He wants to relinquish his leadership role to Abe, which Deanna reluctantly agrees to. Reluctantly, because she’s not exactly keen on the way that people from Rick’s group are so freakin’ good at everything and just keep sort of accidentally ending up in positions of power. But Maggie (who looks very comfortable in her role as Deanna’s right-hand man) diplomatically points out the obvious: that this is why Deanna wanted them there. Seriously, Deanna, get with it: You don’t bring on a bunch of star players just to leave them riding the bench! Or so one might say in a world where probably 90 percent of the NFL hadn’t been chewed to death by zombies.
Um, speaking of which.
It’s time now to talk about the team on the supply run: Glenn, Tara, Eugene, Noah, Aidan, and Nicholas. Their destination is a warehouse full of some necessary component for the Alexandria power grid, and said warehouse may or may not be infested with walkers. Fortunately, Glenn has been put in charge of this endeavor, and the rest of the team is more or less following his lead. While he and the other three most capable guys determine the location of zombies vis-a-vis the building’s exits, Tara and Eugene stay behind, which gives Tara a chance to chide Eugene for not pulling his weight, and Eugene a chance to remind Tara once again that he’s a giant coward. (It also gives us the chance to wish for a future on The Walking Dead in which television exists again and these two are the co-hosts of their own reality show, because man, they’re really fun together.)
Meanwhile, Glenn and co have determined that the warehouse is full of walkers—you can hear ‘em gargling in there—but they all seem to be trapped en masse behind a gate. For the sake of safety and speed, it’s best if they get down to the business of finding what they came for. (For the detail-oriented: They came for a “micro inverter,” whatever that is.) But once inside, it turns out that there are loose zombies roaming around, including one wearing bullet-resistant riot gear. Unable to get off a clean head shot, Aidan starts peppering its torso with bullets, and this might not be the best idea because there’s something clipped to his vest that looks a lot like a grena—
(And we cut to the most terribly timed commercial break ever.)
The aftermath of the explosion goes like this: Aidan is pinned to the wall by shrapnel, dead. Tara is on the ground, unconscious, with a terrible head wound. Eugene is freaking out and not killing any zombies, because he is useless. And oh no, wait, Aidan isn’t dead. He’s just hanging on the warehouse wall like a hot human kebab, and it’s only a matter of time before his groans alert the zombies to the presence of fresh meat.
NEXT: You gotta give it to Aidan: The guy really did have guts.[pagebreak]
Glenn, Nicholas, and Noah try to save him. They really do. But they can’t lift Aidan from whatever he’s impaled upon—and in his final moments, Aidan confesses an awful truth: He and Nicholas were the ones who panicked, who failed, and who got their previous team killed. And with that nasty secret off his chest, Aidan then dies in the most graphic and unnecessarily over-long “eaten by zombies” scene ever to take place on The Walking Dead (except possibly for the even more horrible one that happens right after it.)
Meanwhile, as the rest of the team fails to rescue Aidan, Eugene has a heart to heart with the unconscious, bleeding Tara. He tells her he warned her. He tells her he takes no responsibility. He reminds her once again that he’s a liar and a coward.
Sorry, Eugene, I don’t believe you. YOU’RE A HERO AND YOU KNOW IT.
And he is! Slinging Tara over his shoulder, he shoots his way through the zombie gauntlet and makes his way to the van. And when Glenn, Noah, and Nicholas find themselves trapped in two quarters of a revolving door with rabid frothing zombies on both sides, he lures away the outdoor herd so that his friends can escape to safety!
Let’s just be clear on this: Despite what happens next, Eugene is still a hero.
It’s just his (and everyone else’s) bad luck that Nicholas is exactly the opposite.
Because if Nicholas had just been a decent human being for one lousy second, Glenn could have figured out a way for all three of them to get out alive. But no: Nicholas decides to squeeze out the revolving door and make a break for it, which means that a crack opens just wide enough on the other side, the zombie side, for the slavering undead to reach through. They get ahold of Noah’s leg. They drag him screaming back into the building, onto the wrong side of the glass door.
Rather than writing in graphic detail about how Noah dies (we all saw it; it was ghastly), I’d like to take this moment to give proper recognition to the face he makes in his final moments, which is an incredible piece of acting on the part of Tyler James Williams. It’s horrified, and frightened, but also astonished—i.e. it’s probably also how Williams looked when he read the script and found out what was going to happen in this scene.
“I die how?!”
RIP, Noah. You (and your intact face) will be missed.
Just to conclude this portion of the recap on a slightly more positive note, Glenn gets out of the revolving door alive and beats the crap out of Nicholas.
But that’s the only bright spot in a very, very dark episode. And this carnage looks to be only the beginning of the group’s troubles in paradise. Because there is a snake in this garden of Eden… and his name is Gabriel.
“You made a mistake letting in the others,” he tells Deanna. “Rick, his group, they’re not good people. They’ve done things, they’ve done unspeakable things.”
Of course, Deanna knows this: “They survived,” she replies. “That’s what makes them assets.”
But Gabriel isn’t swayed. He insists that Rick and his friends, the same people who saved Gabriel’s miserable life just a few short episodes ago, are dangerous and untrustworthy.
“The day will come when they put their own lives before yours and everyone else’s,” he says. “And they will destroy everything you have here.”
That’s quite the annunciation coming from Gabriel—who, as we all know, is no angel. But what is he playing at? Is this a strategic move against the group, because he fears they’ll reveal the truth about what happened to his previous flock? Is it pure old-fashioned lunacy, the byproduct of too much time spent alone with only God to talk to and the dead knocking at his door? Or does he truly know something about Rick Grimes’ killer nature, and where it’s likely to lead?
We’ll have to wait until next week to find out. But it can’t be coincidence that while Gabriel is betraying his saviors to Deanna Monroe, denouncing them for their savagery, Carol is cooly informing Rick that there’s something going on next door. Something bad. Something illegal. And Rick, being the law in this town, is the only man who can make sure that Pete sees some justice… Old Testament-style.
“There’s only one way it can go,” she says. “You’re gonna have to kill him.”