Last week’s episode of The Walking Dead was a bit quieter, almost stepping into a sort of navel-gazing territory. Clearly, this week the action was bound to pick up again. If nothing else, we would get some answers from the mysterious Aaron, and what exactly he was offering the group. Having been run completely ragged, and having just narrowly dodged death at the hands of nature, our group would be more inclined towards wanting to check it out, right?
Yeah, if you think that they were going to go headlong with whatever Aaron was offering, you haven’t been paying attention. While it’s true that a few (specifically Michonne, who knows that they need to recoup inside some secure walls for a while, and Maggie, who knows that Aaron could have easily ambushed them given the information he already had) were willing to believe, this is still Rick’s group to lead, and he wasn’t having anything to do with it. It takes a lot before Rick starts to even see that Aaron is truly offering a chance, and, before he even crosses that threshold, there’s a whole lot of stupidity that has to get plowed through. It’s time for our survivors to go “The Distance”.
One of the milder moments of stupidity in this episode belongs to Abraham, and his mistake is really more of hubris than just outright being dumb. While driving the RV, and having a pleasant conversation with Rosita (who clearly has some anger towards him), Abraham notices that the battery is running low. Does the Sideburned Soldier tell anyone? Nope, he just keeps plugging along, almost hoping that he can make it the whole distance. When the battery inevitably runs dry, he proceeds to blame everyone but himself for the problem. Thankfully, Aaron and Eric had made sure to stash some extra batteries in the RV storage compartment, otherwise we’d be treated to another episode of the group plodding along the highway, barely able to pick up their feet.
So you’ve brought a message of hope to a group of survivors, and their leader proceeded to thank you with a punch to the face and a post to get tied to. After everyone has left you alone with the potentially unstable, clearly angry father, you hear his baby crying, which could draw walkers. Wisely, you quickly point out that you’ve got some applesauce in your bag, which will help soothe Lil’ Ass Kicker, if she’s truly crying because of hunger. And then, you drop the smart ball. Rick still isn’t trusting Aaron or his intentions, even with all of the evidence pointing to Aaron being legit. So, to help assuage his fears that the applesauce is an elaborately planned “poison the baby” trap, he made it clear Judith wouldn’t taste any until he’d proven it was safe. Aaron proceeded to hem and haw, making himself look even less like a trustworthy individual, and mentioned that he “hated” applesauce. Great. But you’ve still got a crying baby, the looming threat of the dead banging through the barn, so maybe refusing to be the taste tester isn’t the best plan. Heck, in that situation, I’d even be willing to eat avocado, and I can’t stand avocado.
Glenn’s stupidity may very well have been caused by the company around him at the time. Rick’s paranoia had clearly set in, and it was starting to infect Michonne. While Glenn was driving, Michonne asked Aaron the magic three questions. Over the course of those moments, Glenn took his eyes off the road (a road they had been warned wasn’t cleared of walkers), and proceeded to find himself driving straight through a herd of the dead (side note: Herd of the Dead would make a great band name). Now, admittedly, the group had been warned to stay clear of this particular highway, but you’d think with a nighttime drive, you wouldn’t want to take your eyes anywhere off of the road. Unfamiliar territory, not a lot of clear space around the road, and a serious concern that maybe this car won’t get you as far as you’d hoped. Just focus on what’s in front of you, and trust that Rick and Michonne can probably handle the single unarmed and bound passenger in the car.
There are SO MANY things that Rick did in this episode that just smacked of dumb. Yes, he’s exhausted, and clearly isn’t in quite the right mind. Yes, he firmly believes that he’s doing everything he can to save the group, because he believes that he is the only one who can do so. And yes, every time he’s thought he had a chance to settle down and rest for a bit, things pretty quickly went to hell in a hand basket (sometimes by Rick’s own doing, since Woodbury seemed like it was doing just fine by its survivors before Rick showed up). That said, Rick’s sins in this episode are pretty glaring. Whether it’s ignoring the barometer of the group to knock Aaron out, trying to keep others from learning if the promise of safety is real, or insisting on taking the road not recommended at night, Rick set himself up to be the main hindrance to his group’s safety. Clearly, he grew tired of the concept of the Ricktocracy, and moved back towards the Ricktatorship. Oh, and shooting the walker in the face with the flare gun? While admittedly a pretty awesome looking scene, there are smarter things to do with flare guns. Like, oh, maybe trying to use it to signal the rest of your group that you got split off from.
1. Anyone Upset by “The Kiss”
Aaron gets his portion of the group to the safe house for the night, and finds that Eric (his partner) is already there with the rest, but has an unfortunate broken ankle. Through all of this, the clear relief on the face of both men, realizing that they are reunited and safe, was palpable. To really hammer home the point, and taking cues from the comics, Aaron and Eric share a kiss. At which point people on the internet start complaining about how the show’s ruined and they don’t know if they can let their family watch it any longer. Seriously, people, get over yourselves. First off, gay couples are literally everywhere, and they SHOULD BE. Showing a couple of men kiss on television should be no different from showing a couple of women kiss, or a man and a woman kiss. It’s just a kiss. Secondly, nobody seemed to get terribly up in arms with regards to Tara, the lesbian character, so the double-standard is old, tired, and disgusting. And finally, a couple of gay men kissing is going to take this show from being “family friendly” and “wholesome” and turn it into something depraved? This show, which heaps violence and gore upon more violence and gore seemingly every few minutes? A show that featured cannibals eating a man’s leg in front of him earlier this season? A show that hasn’t been shy about language or nudity before? And a kiss between two men makes you freak out? It’s time to get some better priorities, and let television shows take their incremental steps towards representing what America ACTUALLY looks like.