The Walking Dead continues after last week’s episode-ending “moment of grace” between Sasha and Maggie was interrupted by “A Friend” bearing “good news.” No, it wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness. It was Aaron, an LL Bean-wearing member of a community who wants Rick and company to “audition” for inclusion. Aaron proclaims this community is a safe place and comes bearing pictures to prove it.
He’s swiftly met with a traditional Rick Grimes “hello!” and is laid out on the floor. Not sure I really blame him. This “safe place” sounds a lot like Woodbury/the Prison/Terminus to me.
Naturally, Rick has trust issues despite Aaron’s persistent pleas for logic and reason, begging for the chance to prove everything he says is true. Turns out Aaron has a hidden friend in the woods and two cars at his disposal to take them in. Michonne urges Rick to check out the cars in an attempt to prove how true the story is, and Rick finally obliges after sending half their squad to accompany her. Yet another instance where the group is split. Despite struggling to survive, the survivors love making it easier and easier to pick them off.
While Rick waits for the group’s return, we finally get an answer to one of the questions that has plagued me for months: what the hell is Rick feeding Judith? Turns out, he’s making some kind of acorn paste for her. Repulsed, Aaron tells Rick he’s brought apple sauce, but non-trusting Rick wants Aaron to sample it first. Funny thing, Aaron hates applesauce (who hates applesauce???) but tastes it anyway. High drama, this episode.
Michonne and the rest of the exploring crew find an RV and car blocked by a downed tree. The RV is stocked with all kinds of canned food, including some comic knock-off of Spaghetti-Os. Apparently, the presence of cars with food is enough to entice Rick to take a chance on Aaron’s camp. Of course, he doesn’t want to go Aaron’s route and he doesn’t want to go during the day. It is a Ricktatorship, after all.
En route to the safe place, Rick discovers a quirky/quirkily endearing fact about Aaron – he’s trying to collect license plates from every state. Because he doesn’t have pictures of anyone in the camp, Michonne asks him “the questions,” basically “How many walkers have you killed?” (He doesn’t know… a lot…) or “How many people?” (Two because they tried to kill him.). This discourse is quickly interrupted by the gruesome segment of the episode as a distracted Glenn plows into hoard of walkers ambling down the highway. Not just one or two, mind you. He runs into at least 20 or 25. When, shockingly, the car won’t start again, Michonne gets out and begins pulling body parts from the grill.
I’ve seen those cars with waving arms poking out of the trunk before, but arms sticking out of the front hood is a completely different story altogether.
Panicked and trying to figure out their next course of action, the group is surprised by a flare that quickly rises over them, frightening Aaron so badly that he kicks his way out of the car and runs into the woods. The woods, of course, are filled with more zombies that nearly take Glenn and Aaron’s lives. Hopelessly outnumbered and out of ammo, Rick finds a new way to kill a zombie – the wasteful yet brutally efficient flare gun technique. See picture below.
Rescued from the zombies by Aaron, Rick and team manage to escape and hook back up with the larger group in a secure garage. Here, we meet Aaron’s “other” – his significant other – Eric who is laid up with a broken ankle. They have a cutesy conversation, and Eric gives Aaron another license plate for his collection. Too bad Aaron lost his collection in a vague reference to “Gift of the Magi.” Rick’s trust still not earned, Aaron begs them to spend the night in safety before moving forward toward his camp.
Despite the RV breaking down after a comic moment where Abraham declares they’re going to make it without incident, the episode ends with Aaron, Eric, and the survivors finding their way to camp which is located just outside of Washington, DC. The shot of DC is the first time we’ve seen a major city outside of Atlanta, and it’s a nice touch to remind us that there are things to see other than woods and derelict barns.
We close with Rick driving up to the gates of the camp, hearing children play inside – a sign of true safety since Woodbury and Terminus only offered deadly silence inside their walls. Even though everyone feels safe and secure, why do I feel like the sound of children was playing from a loudspeaker on loop somewhere?
It is The Walking Dead after all…