Every time I feel that ‘The Walking Dead’ is losing some of its steam, the show manages to deliver a really good episode that reminds me of how this series can be when it gives the actors something worth doing. Such is the case this week, as the group has to decide how to deal with newcomer Aaron. Can they take him at his word, or is he just another in a long line of people who can’t be trusted?
Our heroes are still in the barn after the big storm when Maggie and Sasha arrive to introduce Aaron (Ross Marquand). Aaron wants to “audition” the group for membership in his community, which he says is protected by 15-foot high steel walls. He has some photos in his backpack. Rick is so impressed with Aaron’s presentation that he walks over and knocks him out with a right cross swing.
Rick thinks that others in Aaron’s group must be coming for them, but when Aaron recovers from Rick’s punishment, he tells Rick that he was the one who left the water for them on the road and that he’s been watching the group for a while. He says he’s with one other person in the area watching them, and that they have vehicles to transport everyone to their community in Alexandria. Michonne talks Rick into letting her take a small party out to see if Aaron is lying or no. Glenn, Maggie, Abraham and Rosita join her to check out Aaron’s story. Meanwhile, Rick promises Aaron that if the group doesn’t come back in an hour, he’s going to stick a knife through Aaron’s skull.
Michonne and the others come across a car and an RV, the latter of which Abraham and Rosita search and find canned food inside. They all return to the barn with the food, which Rick now claims for their group. He demands that Aaron tell him the way to the Alexandria community. When Aaron does, Rick insists on taking a different route, even though Aaron insists that it will be less safe for them.
With the others all travelling in the RV, Glenn drives the car with Aaron, Rick and Michonne inside. When Rick discovers a hand-held listening dish in the car, he flips out, thinking Aaron knows more about the group than he’s been letting on. At the same time, Glenn runs the car into a swarm of Walkers, hitting so many of them that the car gets drenched in Walker blood by the time he’s able to come to a stop. Now that the car is stopped, however, Glenn can’t get it started again, and more Walkers are approaching. Then a flare goes off in the distance. Aaron jumps out of the car and takes off into the woods. Rick, Michonne and Glenn run after him.
The group gets separated, and Glenn almost lets a Walker sneak up on him, but manages to bash its head in before it can bite him. Glenn then comes upon Aaron, who still has his hands tied behind his back and is trying to fend off another Walker. Glenn thinks about it for a second, then decides to save Aaron. The two go and help out Rick and Michonne, who are fighting off a big group of Walkers themselves. The four head in the direction of the flare and soon meet up with the others, as well as Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson), who has a broken ankle that Maggie has managed to set for him. As it turns out, Eric is Aaron’s partner in more ways than one… the two are lovers.
The next morning, it’s back to the road. While driving along, Rosita and Abraham spot Washington, D.C. in the distance. We can see both the Washington Monument and the Capitol, and both seem intact and undamaged. Our heroes make a brief stop to change the battery in the RV, and Rick wanders off on his own for a few minutes to dispose of his gun – sticking it inside a blender and leaving it by an abandoned house. Is this a symbolic choice for Rick, meaning that he’s ready to trust Aaron? Or is it a backup plan in case this new community isn’t quite what Aaron says they are? I’m betting on the latter… though you’d think Rick would chose to hide a lot more weaponry than just one pistol (as he did back before the group entered Terminus).
The final moments of this week’s episode show Rick and the group pulling up to the gates of Alexandria. On the other side, Rick can hear what sounds like children playing. He gets baby Judith from the back seat and carries her toward the entrance as the episode comes to an end.
You really can’t blame Rick for being so untrusting, but his actions are a little over the top in this episode. And let’s be honest, even if Alexandria is a true haven with honest people, we all know that it’s not going to last more than a few episodes. In fact, it might very well turn out that Rick’s people are the ones who ruin the perfect community. One wonders what Aaron and his people saw in them to believe that they’d be ideal for their seemingly stable and protected home.