His name is Aaron. And he promises peace. He preaches safety. This episode focused on THE STRANGER named Aaron – a seemingly meek man who somehow survived the zombie apocalypse. He’s been scouting our heroes for a while. He knows their names. He knows their actions. His mission is to bring them Home. How much humanity has our group lost? Is it possible for them to truly trust a stranger named Aaron? Let’s dig in…
I’ll just say Rick was “surprised” when our guys returned to the barn with a guest. Although, I do love the imagery during the introduction: Aaron’s first glimpse, face-to-face with Rick, is our leader holding his baby in his arms. A nurturing father figure… Who puts down the baby and reaches for a gun.
Rick, like others in the group, aren’t so sure about Aaron and his motives. There are numerous ways in which this encounter could turn sour for our survivors. What I really found compelling was how rationally this debate / interogation was explored. Every time Rick points to a nefarious outcome, Aaron is sure to counterpoint with assuring innocence.
It’s a difficult decision. The impact of their answer weighs so much. Do they trust Aaron or not? I like how our leadership shifts around. We get Rick’s input. Then Glenn’s surprising turn of heart. Recently, it seemed like he’d given up hope and would never trust a stranger again. But now, the promise of security and resources – a future – intices Glenn.
Michonne was the surprise leader here. I feel like if anything were to happen to Rick, she would be the best Captain to steer this apocalyptic ship. She knows what it’s like to lose yourself. To become a monster in order to survive this strange new world. But she also knows what it’s like to regain her humanity. I feel like her experiences (and lethal skills) make her a valuable member to the group and the ideal candidate to lead our survivors.
So what do they do? What’s the right answer? Who do they listen to?
The answers aren’t as important as the journey… But by the end of the day, our heroes are on the road on a mission to find Aaron’s home. His community is supposedly safe, offering all their precious desires on a silver platter. It’s so tempting. A return to civilization. Some of the group can’t help but believe Aaron’s story. Because they “want” to believe. They “need” to.
On the Road… And this ain’t no JACK KEROUAC type experience. This isn’t the BEAT GENERATION. This is the zombie apocalypse. They are THE WALKING DEAD… Rick’s paranoia urges them to take a different route to Aaron’s community – a dangerous route littered with Roamers. It isn’t long before they’ve smashed into so many walkers that their windshield obscures with blood. Their headlights shine beams of red death. Until, their car breaks down.
This sequence was intense. Our two groups have separated. The car is busted. Rick, Glenn, Aaron, and Michonne take to the woods on foot. And then THEY get split up. In true WALKING DEAD fashion the mounting tension was visceral. I could FEEL it like a second skin. Anyone can die at any time. This is why these moments are so terrifying. I really felt like Glenn might die. Or Aaron. It was so exciting to watch.
Avoiding spoilers here… Our group reunites. And Aaron reunites with his back-up – his lover, a man with a broken ankle. It isn’t long before they’re back on the road, soon arriving at the main gates of Aaron’s community. There are sounds of children laughing within. Such a precious sound that promises much more than any food source or secure walls ever could.
The close-up (camera shot) on Rick was poignant. What is he thinking? Is he considering he could be wrong? Is that all he’s been questing for all along? A place where his kids can be kids. A place where they can laugh and play.
The gates open, but we don’t get a look inside the compound’s walls. We are left with a cliffhanger ending to the episode. We have to wait until next week to see what happens. Like Rick said, we won’t know if we can trust them until we “SEE” that we can.
Oh and wow… the last words from Carol haunted me. Chilling… She turns to Rick and says, “Even though you were wrong, you were right.”
Next week we’ll see just how right or how wrong Rick was… I know Carol means that Rick was right to be so doubtful and suspicious, but there’s the other side of the equation too… I can’t wait for the next chapter of THE WALKING DEAD.
What did you think?
Have our heroes found a new home with this walled community?
Will Rick need that gun he hid near Aaron’s village?
Is Rick the best choice to lead our group at this point? Would Michonne make a better leader?
If they are safe, the group will have more time to reflect on the past. More time to mourn. How will this time affect Maggie and Glenn? Or Carol and Daryl?
If our group is in danger, who’s life is in peril? Could our next victim be a wounded Carl or Glenn?
Even if all is well within those walls, will Rick’s paranoia evaporate? Or will he assume some sort of STEPFORD WIFE-type sh*t is going on? Or like a religious cult or something? Do zombies eat washed-brains?
Are the people inside this gated community THE WOLVES foreshadowed earlier? Or was that mention simply a story-telling mechanism for that specific episode and that subdivision of houses? Or perhaps another moment setting up the future SPIN-OFF series and events which occur on that new show?