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Warning: Spoilers, speculation and attempts at humor concerning the latest episode of The Walking Dead are contained in this article. Please proceed with caution if this is an issue for you.
First things first, last night's episode of The Walking Dead, titled 'Claimed', was my favorite of what has been an excellent fourth season. It was a perfectly balanced episode of character development and action which saw Michonne show her softer side, Rick battle against some uncouth home intruders and Abraham take walker killing to a whole new level of awesome.
But we're not here to talk about that: we're here to scratch beneath the surface of the episode - to cast a critical eye over the events of "Claimed" and see if there's more going on than first thought.
Let's begin shall we?
A welcome feature of Season 4 has been the chance to explore Michonne's backstory. For too long she was nothing but a kitana-wielding zombie slayer with an impenetrable personality, but we're now starting to see a softer - and comedic - side emerge.
Her sweet-natured exchange with Carl about the merits of soy milk (I'm very much in team soy, if anybody cares) and later doing her best impression of an Easy Cheese zombie might not win the Bill Hicks Award for Services to Comedy but was some light relief in a show that can be relentlessly grim at times. But it was her revelation about her son, Andre, that was the most revealing.
Michonne revealed that she once had a 3-year-old son but lost him during the outbreak. She doesn't reveal the circumstances of his death, nor does she offer any more details about her life before the undead s--t hit the fan, but we're slowly starting to chip away at her granite exterior.
Interestingly - especially considering showrunner Scott Gimple's affection for the comic book - Michonne's history in the show is quite different from that in the source material. In the comic she is divorced and has two children and whereas in the show she lost her only son during the early stages of the outbreak, on the page she left her kids in the care of a nanny while out of town on business and lost contact with them when the zombie apocalypse began.
Eugene is smarter than he seems
This may sound like a strange statement considering that Eugene claims to be a scientist with a knowledge of how the zombie outbreak began, but many fans took to social media during the episode to cast doubts on his intellect. A lot of this is down to the fact he sports a mullet the likes of which the world hasn't seen since Achy Breaky-Heart was dominating the charts. That he also then managed to accidentally shoot up the truck - thus preventing the group continuing on their mission to Washington DC - seems particularly knuckle-brained.
Or is it?
Did Eugene really put the truck out of commission by accident? It's clear that there's more to the guy than meets the eye and I wouldn't take anything he says at face value. He was quick to follow Glenn on his quest to find Maggie and even seemed to have a smirk on his face when they headed off down the road.
Without using the comic book storyline as a guide, it seems that Eugene needs Abraham to protect him, so will therefore say and do anything to keep him on his side. If he's lying about Washington, then it would make sense for him to destroy their transportation and slow them down.
Speaking of Abraham, that man loves dispatching walkers and one-liners. He had the two best lines of the episode - "We need to stick together like wet on water" and "Son of a dick! - and is surely now the most badass redhead on TV - even if his 'save the scientist, save the world' mantra does have echoes of Heroes about it.
It was good to finally see Rick man up and show us what he's made of. He was forced to confront an unsavory group of home invaders which forced to him come out of his physical and emotional funk. Rick had to do his best Solid Snake impersonation and sneak around the house undetected while the new residents laid claim to the furniture, with the bed being the most keenly contested battleground.
While Rick hid underneath and sweated like a squash player in Finnish sauna, one of the newcomers put a sleeper hold on his associate and claimed the bed for himself - but not before the unfortunate victim had laid eyes on Rick.
Rick getting spotted is really significant and I'll tell you why: I think these guys were part of the Hunters.
Those who have read the comics will know the name well, but for the uninitiated all I'll say is these undesirables like to hunt and like their meat on the fresh - and human - side. The fact one of them has spotted Rick means the hunt is now on.
On a side note: kudos to Rick for dispatching one of the group and leaving the door open to allow the reanimated corpse to do some damage. It's nice to get some of the badass Rick back.
What did you think about the episode? Anything I missed? Let's get a conversation going in the comments below or over on Twitter.