Spend is a Walking Dead episode that asks some tough questions. What kinds of loss are the hardest? What’s worse: to suffer your first real loss, or add fresh losses to a long history of suffering? And what are the degrees of pain involved in losing someone you love? Your idea of yourself? Your mind?
It might be the most brutal hour of The Walking Dead we’ve seen this season — worse than Terminus, in some ways. There are so many losses in this episode that some of the horror has to take place offstage. When’s the last time that happened on this show?
The event that starts this week’s Avalanche of Awful is a power outage. God knows the good people of Alexandria need juice for their refrigerators, KitchenAid mixers, and video games — so a coalition of Alexandrians and survivors is tasked with finding converters or routers or widgets or whatever people use to bring those things back up. Glen, Noah, Tara, and Eugene pile into a van with Nicholas and the mayor’s son Aidan; off they go, stereo blasting. For a while, the only bad news here is that dubstep seems to have survived the apocalypse.
The good news doesn’t last: the warehouse where the power thingies are located has a zombie overstock problem. They’re all stacked up behind a gate, like so many undelivered Christmas fruitcakes. When a zombie in Robocop body armor (WHO SAID THIS COULD BE A THING?) charges the group, Aidan panics, and shoots it. Naturally, Riot Zombie is wearing some kind of grenade, and it goes off.
Back in Alexandria, Abraham gets to work building a wall, and there’s been a break-in of some kind at Jessie’s house. Rick wanders in as she’s trying to clean it up. She’s oddly terse about the whole thing, and we can soon see why: her Jekyll-and-Hyde husband Pete is having one of his Mr. Hyde days. He grabs his fifth (or twelfth) beer of the lunch hour, walks over to Rick’s house, and makes some quiet threats.
I’m sure it looks like we haven’t lost much, but we have. We’ve lost things. Other things we’re just fighting like hell to hold on to. – Pete
While Pete is nastily offering Rick his hand in friendship (he actually says, “Let’s be friends”), Carol is again hanging out with her little lurking buddy from the pantry last week. In fairness to Sam, Carol did offer him cookies for his silence. Who can blame the kid for trying to collect?
At first, Carol handles her little friend with all the matronly warmth of suburban moms I knew in the 1970’s:
None of these are problems, Sam. Get out of my house. – Carol
When the kid pesters her about needing a gun, things change. “Who is it for, Sam?” she asks — but as a domestic violence survivor, she already knows. Sure enough, when she shows up at Jessie’s door, asking for Sam and Jessie,
Mr. Hyde Pete won’t let her in. “Not a good time,” he grunts.
Pete is not long for this ruined world, my friends.
He’s better off than our friends over at Zombie Storage & Shipping, though. Aidan is mortally wounded, Tara may be in equally bad shape, and the zombies are suddenly everywhere. They can’t save Aidan, but Eugene battles his fear and carries Tara to an exit. Glen and Noah run with Nicholas to another.
In a horrifying scene, the three men are trapped in two sides of a revolving door as walkers push into the other two. Eugene drives up in the van and tries to distract the walkers, but Noah gets trapped between the door and the zombies. And just like that, one of my favorites is gone.
Glen takes the loss of Noah very, very hard — especially after Nicholas tries to commandeer the van and leave without him and Eugene. He doesn’t leave Nicholas behind, but any sense of community between the survivors and the Alexandrians is gone.
As Glen’s driving what’s left of his team back to Alexandria, Carol is leveling with Rick about Jessie’s husband:
I know how this is gonna go with Pete. There’s only one way it can go. You’re gonna have to kill him. – Carol
And Father Gabe — who began the hour by ripping up a Bible, in an evident fit of madness (or textual disagreement) — is unburdening himself to Deanna. “Satan. Disguises himself. As the angel of light,” he intones, confiding that the same people who repeatedly saved his cowardly hide “can’t be trusted.”
Whatever, Father Judas.
Final episode thoughts:
- WHY NOAH?
- Aidan’s death was particularly brutal. I was surprised that none of the survivors gave him the gift of a mercy kill — but the manner of Noah’s death made me get over that, fast.
- Aidan’s overreaction to Robocop Zombie reminds me of something I’ve said often over the past year: it’s not a good idea to put a privileged white kid from the suburbs on your front line.
- That said, I wasn’t ready for a zombie in law-enforcement body armor, either. (I too am from the suburbs.) Weaponized zombies? Really?
- Abraham seemed happier killing a stagger of walkers than he’s ever been while doing anything, for as long as we’ve known him.
- Alexandria’s placid porches and living rooms seemed odd, especially in contrast to the bloody confrontations elsewhere. This is a very strange way to live at the end of the world.
- I do not like Pete at all. If Carol and Rick really are about to serve that dude with a permanent and irrevocable restraining order, I am all in.
- Rick’s ‘broken windows theory’ is quite telling. “You keep the windows intact, you keep society intact.”
- Deanna’s husband Reg had just begun mentoring Noah in architecture when he got horribly killed by zombies. He’d left his new notebook behind in the van: “This is the beginning,” he’d written.
- Seriously: Why Noah?!