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Our survivors shuffle down a long desolate road. They are weak and dehydrated, looking like zombies themselves, as the walking dead follow in the background. It’s only a matter of time before these monsters catch up to our heroes. This is one of those things that make a zombie so frightening. They don’t run out of gas. They don’t get tired. No matter what. Run all you like, eventually you’ll need to catch your breath. Zombies don’t stop. They just keep coming.
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The group has a great idea to dispatch their foes. They know they don’t have the energy to fight so they decide to stop at a bridge. They plan to simply side-step the enemy, causing them to fall down below. I thought that was a good strategy. Of course, it doesn’t go quite as planned. Our heroes struggle to deal with grief and loss. Some of them need to vent these emotions. Some decide that killing zombies is an effective cathartic release – however temporary this respite may be.
Maggie deals with the loss of her sister (Beth) by talking about how her hope faded, was replenished, and then dashed. She talks about how she feels. Whereas Tyreese’s sister remains quiet. Her method of dealing with loss is to take it out on the zombies. She decides to attack, risking the group’s safety to enact vengeance. It’s interesting to see how different members of the group react. Some of them begin to wonder if they are the only humans left alive. What a terrifying concept. Imagine knowing you are the last remnants of humanity.
As they journey, some of the group split off and search for water. I found it rather touching when Daryl went out solo so he could have privacy to break down emotionally. The cigarette only helped relieve so much. Daryl needed this moment to cope with Beth’s tragic death and perhaps his own guilt (either from responsibility or surviving). Or perhaps (as some viewers think) he needed a moment to grieve for someone he was beginning to love.
Eventually, the group stumbles across a stash of water bottles left for them in the middle of the road. Our heroes are so hesitant to trust now-a-days that they don’t even drink the water. It’s a sad realization that they can’t even trust a sincere gift (if it even was). Luckily for them, it begins to rain. They fill their own canteens and bottles before heading for shelter in a shack Daryl discovered during his solo trek. I wonder if a new group trying to earn favour left behind this water for them OR if it was the Walkee Talkee Dad from Season One? He seems to be only a few steps behind our group. Last I remember, he discovered the church our heroes abandoned.
Last episode had a religious theme brewing under the surface, much like the rest of this season. We saw Tyreese waver in and out of Limbo(?) – where he was promised peace if he joined them. This episode, when our heroes enter the shack they discover stacks of books. On top: the Bible. This is after our priest has burnt his collar in the fire. After even he abandoned all hope.
By the by, and as an aside… I know I’m nerdy when I saw those books in the shack and thought about how important this discovery would be. Why didn’t they take some books or gobble them up? Couldn’t they use an escape into fantasy? Wouldn’t you take any book you found in the Zombie Apocalypse? Earlier on the group stumbled upon a library – and didn’t take any books then either. Is this some sort of statement? Or just a nerdy observation we aren’t supposed to consider?
It isn’t long into the storm that our group’s shack is swarmed by zombies. They bang against the door as the storm builds in intensity. Eventually, the sounds of zombies fade into the stormy night. When our heroes awake they discover that a tornado has carved its path into the land, killing or pinning down zombies with uprooted trees. Was this another symbol of God’s hand? Did He direct the tornado to save our heroes and narrowly avoid the shack? How will this season continue to explore the themes of religion and God? And to what end purpose? Are all of our heroes doomed to die? Will these subtextual elements frame the series in a new context upon completion?
Another startling moment was when wild dogs with a pack mentality ambush our heroes. Is this The Wolves that the spraypainted message warned us about last episode? Were the chopped off body parts left on the outskirts of town to feed these dogs (The Wolves)? That moment reminded me of those Discovery Channel documentaries about life after humanity disappears. I remember that special discussing how dogs would return to their wild (natural) state and form packs to survive. Is this a parallel of what has happened to our survivors in THE WALKING DEAD?
By the end of the episode we meet The Stranger. Perhaps he is part of a group called The Wolves? Perhaps they are responsible for the W branding in the foreheads of those disembodied torsos found in a truck last week? The most startling idea was that this Stranger knew their names. How is that possible? Has he been spying on our heroes? If so, for how long – since the prison? Or the Governor’s town? Has The Stranger been ordered to recon the group?
I’m thinking this Stranger is scouting our heroes. I think he’s spying on them to see if they are trust-worthy or ethical. If our heroes came across other survivors perhaps they would react in a similar manner. Numbers make the group stronger, but you have to be able to trust any new recruits to the community. Perhaps the Stranger’s group spies on others to find weak people that they could easily manipulate and control? Maybe they want their community full of people who take orders without question?
How will our group react to meeting The Stranger? I wonder if Glenn’s change of heart will weigh on their decision. Will they restrain this Stranger and interrogate him for answers? Will they simply ask the pre-determined questions, as per survivor encounter protocol?
I’m suspecting a mutiny in the crew. I think some of our secondary characters will want to attack the new group. Who will be the voice of reason? Is all hope lost? Can our heroes ever trust anyone again? Will Walkee Talkee Dad come in and save the day should our gang encounter danger? I love that their are so many intriguing directions our story can unfold. I’m thinking next episode will set-up a dramatic new arc building towards the finale.
What do you think?
How do you interpret the religious symbology previlant throughout this season?
Are members of our group going to snap? Have some of them dealt with too much loss?
Will Maggie be the new voice of hope? Will she turn to religion (like her father)?
What do you think of The Stranger?
Who are The Wolves? If this is the Stranger’s group, what are they like?
What books would you want for the Zombie Apocalypse? THE WIZARD OF OZ… BLOOD MERIDIAN (Cormac McCarthy)… TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD… THE GIVING TREE?
Will our group continue on to Washinton or spend some time with The Stranger’s group?
Or is The Stranger dead meat?
With Rick’s statement (re-iterated) of “We Are The Walking Dead” is it just a matter of time before our entire group is dead and gone? Is the last of humanity doomed? Will zombies make us the next dinosaur?