Season 5/ Episode 10/ AMC

This week’s episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, entitled “Them,” was a lot like a regular check-up with the doctor. Not all that desirable, but ultimately necessary.

We catch up with our survivors as they’re dealing with the deaths of both Beth and Tyrese. They’re running low on food, water and the will to go on. For the first time in a while, they’re presented to us as a group of vulnerable, relatable people and not the deadly, hardened soldiers we’ve come to know them to be. Out of the entire group, the three that are the most outwardly shaken by the recent tragedies are Maggie, Daryl and Sasha.

The episode starts with Maggie mourning the loss of her younger sister, the last living person she knew before everything went to hell. But in a world where everything is trying to kill you, you don’t get much time to yourself. Daryl battles the temptation to revert back to the man he was when we met him five long seasons ago. The man that silently walks off into the woods doing who-knows-what to survive (apparently that includes eating worms). Sasha displays a blinding rage after the loss of her lover, then her brother, that parallels the same anger we saw in Tyrese after he suffered a similar loss.

The group seems to get more exhausted as the day goes on, with a herd of walkers following so closely that they could probably hit them with a rock. Along the way, Maggie struggles to fight a feeling of helplessness and Glenn supports her through what may be the hardest moment of her life. Daryl also keeps dipping off into the woods in attempts to get some time to himself, but is either followed by a concerned friend or comes across a walker.

While the group rests along the side of a road, they’re surprised by the arrival of four dogs, barking (probably attracting walkers) and coated in blood. Without as much as a second thought, Sasha drops them all with a silenced assault rifle and solves the group hunger problem. I’d call PETA, but I’m pretty sure even they didn’t survive the zombie apocalypse.

The group’s second prayer is answered when they come across an assortment of water bottles in the middle of the road with a message that reads “From A Friend.” Given everything that they’ve seen, no one trusts it (except for weak-ass Eugene who almost takes one for the team out of desperation). Just then, it starts to rain and they share their first collective smile of relief in what’s probably been weeks. Realizing that the storm could get pretty bad, Daryl leads them to a barn he saw when he finally got off on his own to let out some thug tears.

While the group finds shelter in the barn, Rick attempts to deliver that good ole Grimes’ wisdom and provide the group with some perspective. He tells them the story of how his WWII veteran grandfather confessed that he felt as if he were already dead the moment he crossed enemy lines. Rick looks at the parallels between this and the world they’re living in and comes to the conclusion that “…we’re the walking dead.” Daryl replies with a frustrated “We’re not them,” and walks off to clear his head.

Daryl peeks outside and notices a herd of walkers preparing to storm the barn doors. He tries to push the doors closed as long as he can on his own. Interesting note here: the first three people to jump up and fight to keep the barn doors closed were the same three that felt the most hopeless. I guess you don’t know how bad you really want to live until your life is on the line.

The next morning, Sasha and Maggie wake up, go for a walk, and realize that they may have gone through some kind of divine intervention (or massive luck, depending on your outlook on the world). All 50 or so of the walkers that spent the night trying to get to them were swept away by the storm, as well as every tree within a block of the barn. But, somehow, the barn remained well and intact. As the two watch the sun come up they’re approached by a “stranger danger” named Aaron, who knows more about the group than he should.

Given how jam-packed past episodes of this season have been with hordes of walkers, it’s about time that we get some serious emotional development out of the way. “Them” gives us plenty of this. I mean, we even got to see Daryl cry again.

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