Well, it’s finally all starting to make sense now in the safe haven known as Alexandria. These people have survived by the grace of a wall, some dumb luck and a well organized system of chocolate and gun rationing. They have not benefited from their survival approach of leaving people in trouble behind to be devoured, which may be distilled down to a classic movie line: “Run, Forrest, Run!” These people are soft, and some of them are out and out cowards. And that does not sit well with anyone in the Grimes Gang, a group of people so dedicated to their mantra of “No Man Left Behind” that they’ve saved Father Gabriel’s worthless behind more than once. More on that later.
Things look downright placid at the start of the hour, which should have been a huge red flag that it would all go downhill quickly. Daryl is off on a scouting mission on his new bike, Noah is enjoying a breakfast of steel cut oats in a gazebo with Reg while discussing the future of the town and Abraham is getting ready for the day in his beautiful bathroom while Rosita sleeps. At least he didn’t trim his mustache. I think that’s where all his power resides.
Elsewhere, a group is going out on a mission and it consists of self-professed douchebag (and son of Deanna) Aiden, his pal Nicholas and our guys Glenn, Noah, Tara and Eugene. Yes, Eugene is being forced to go by Tara since they’re searching for some sort of microprocessors needed for the power grid and Eugene could be useful in this regard. For his part, he reminds her of how not courageous he is and tries to wiggle out of it. To her credit, Tara won’t let him off the hook. The choice to blast house music from their van as they head out from behind the walls is probably their first mistake of the day, but it won’t be their last.
Closer to home, Carol gets another visit from little Sam, who is not nearly as terrified as I would be to ask the woman who threatened to feed me to the walkers for more cookies. Again, Melissa McBride is acting her ass off here; conveying the way Carol wants to be hard on this kid, get him to dislike or fear her, but can barely resist the pull of having a child to love and care for again. It’s all very subtle, but it’s there. In the meantime, Rick is responding to Jessie’s call about someone breaking an owl sculpture she was working on and she can’t imagine who would do it. Me neither, but after a few more minutes with Sam, it becomes obvious that he did it, either out of frustration or to get some attention.
And why would he need to do it? Perhaps it’s because, as Carol surmised from the signs she saw when she dropped by the house, that Pete hits Jessie and maybe the kids. He’s also got a real daydrinking problem, especially since he seems to be the only medical practitioner on the premises. Plus, he’s really pushy with Rick, trying to make friends in the most aggressive and drunken way possible. What I’m not sure of is how quickly Carol jumps to the conclusion that he needs to be murdered for his assumed violence just on her hunch. But then, this team is about taking everything into their own hands and running the show, especially in a world where there’s no judge and jury to try you for your actions.
Speaking of running things, it gets really real very quickly for the construction crew Abraham is working on when a whole slew of walkers appear at the site that’s being prepped for a wall expansion. As the people around him panic and run, not even attempting to help out the woman who was knocked off some piece of equipment and left for dead, Abraham springs into action. His military mind kicks in and he dispatches with the whole lot of them like he’s playing the messiest game of Whack a Mole ever, scooping up the injuring Francine in the process. The other guys look on, astonished by his bravery and skill. After Francine gets to smack one of them around for bailing on her, the crew chief, Tobin, just hands over leadership to Abraham right then and there, and even goes to Deanna later to make it official without a trace of agenda. These folks know they’re a bit outclassed and don’t seem very devious. In fact, they’re naivete is kind of scary given all we’ve seen as viewers.
And that brings it all back to the centerpiece of the episode, the events that take place at the warehouse, which can only be described as next level gruesome. (At this point, the effects department is clearly having a ball outdoing itself at every turn.) Once they’ve done a perimeter check, the group goes into the darkened warehouse to retrieve the microprocessors. They encounter some walkers inside, but they seem somewhat contained in a cage, at least for a while. When one–in riot gear–approaches Aiden, he can’t get a clean head shot off (we learned the challenge those helmets present way back when the group took the prison) and instead of regrouping and picking his shot more carefully, he just keeps firing away at the dude, despite Glenn’s pleas for him to stop. He pays for his error when the grenade that’s strapped to the walker’s fatigues goes off, explodes and impales Aiden with a whole bunch of shrapnel. Tara is knocked out in the blast, bleeding from the head but alive. Everyone thinks Aiden is dead as they tend to Tara, but then he moves and Glenn and Noah lead the rescue attempt.
Once they get to him, though, it quickly becomes obvious that he cannot be freed from what’s impaled him, despite their valiant attempts to do so. In his pain and knowing he’s about to die one way or another, Aiden admits that the last team didn’t die because of mistakes they made but because he and Nicholas ran and left them for dead. Naturally, Nicholas does what he’s good at and bolts at this point. Glenn and Noah don’t have any time to enjoy a moral victory either, as they have to run before they become part of a zombie buffet along with Aiden, who gets devoured in a very long, very disgusting scene that is the visual companion to Carol’s speech to Sam last week. In short, it’s awful, but it doesn’t even come close to what’s next.
First, however, we have the ongoing redemption of Eugene, who looks like he’s about to run as fast as he can and leave an unconcious Tara to bleed out in a shipping office. But, happily, he mans up and carries her body out to the van, shooting zombies (in all the wrong body parts) as he goes. This is momentous on a couple levels. First, it shows that he’s finally grown a pair in saving the life (we hope) of one of the only people who he clicks with in the world. Secondly, in driving the van around the building, with that horrible music blaring, he gives the three remaining guys a shot to escape their perilous situation.
And what’s that? Well, it’s pretty much the worst thing ever, as dumb Nicholas tries to flee without the rest of his team and manages instead to get them all stuck in a revolving glass door, with zombies surrounding them. It’s what we call a no-win situation. But, then, there’s Eugene’s Dance Van, which attracts most of the hoard away from the door. Things are looking up…except that instead of giving Glenn FIVE SECONDS to regroup and figure out a way for all three men to escape the door and run for the van, that big wuss Nicholas selfishly wedges himself out into the street, allowing a walker to grab a helpless Noah by the leg as the door shifts. There is absolutely nothing Glenn can do to help and, on top of that, he has to watch his friend and protege be completely ripped to shreds inches away from him, his face pressed up against the door in horror, at least until the walkers rip that apart, too. His last words to Glenn are “Don’t let go” which we can only imagine must reference the promise of Alexandria and what it might become rather than something literal, since he knows he can’t be saved. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and both guys do an amazing job. Steven Yuen hyperventilating as he sat on the ground trying to gather himself and figure out how he’d get to the van was hard to watch, but I absolutely cheered when he came out and beat the crap out of Nicholas before instructing Eugene to get him in the van. You see? NO MAN LEFT BEHIND, DAMMIT!
Glenn has had quite an emotional journey this season. We’ve seen him struggle with the loss of his own humanity, wondering what lines can be crossed in this new world and what should stay sacred. We’ve seen him tell Deanna that they were “almost out there too long” and we’ve now seen him lose someone on his watch, something that really hasn’t happened before. Not to mention, Noah was almost like a younger version of Glenn, a kid who didn’t quite know what he was capable of, but who was beginning to emerge as a tough, smart and resourceful leader and survivor in the group. It’s to the credit of his portrayer, Tyler James Williams, that he’d endeared himself to the audience as quickly as he did, and that we were so upset by his death. The group will no doubt feel the loss as well, and that, along with the loss of Aiden and all the realizations about how these two groups of survivors differ, will come to pass in this season’s final two episodes. So, brace yourself, kids. It’s going to get crazy. Well, crazier.
For one last bit of proof that crazy is the watchword of the day, let’s not forget Father Gabriel, that little weasel. He starts the hour off by slowly melting down in Alexandria’s makeshift church, bristling at a gift of fresh strawberries from someone named Rosemary and ripping the pages out of a bible. Then, near the end of the hour, he marches up to Deanna’s house and implores her not to trust Rick or any of his people. He says they’ve done unspeakable things, which she acknowledges she knows they must have done to survive. Gabriel continues to insist they are basically Satan’s minions and, bottom line, he sounds more like he should be living in a padded room than leading a congregation at this point. It’s hard to read Deanna’s reaction; she keeps her voice even and calm and the brief glimpses we get of her face are inscrutable. But we know that Maggie is coming up a set of stairs and hears the whole thing, so she’ll inform Rick and everyone as soon as she can. I knew they should have left that guy back at the church.