CAUTION: Major spoiler abound from here! So, get yourselves fully caught up before reading on.
Last Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead, titled "Them," was perhaps the slowest one this season has offered us, in terms of overall pace. But, that does not mean that it was not interesting, because it was.
By now, it has become abundantly clear that showrunner Scott Gimple wants to balance action with character development, and so far this season, he has succeeded. In "Them," we see the group almost completely devastated, due to the two most recent losses - Beth and Tyreese. What we almost witnessed, in fact, was the devolution of the group. Specifically, it almost happened through three characters: Sasha, Maggie and Daryl.
Sasha, Maggie and Daryl's emotional breakdowns
Sasha has lost the two most important people in her life in practically no time at all, her brother Tyreese, and her boyfriend Bob Stookey. To say that she is in a fragile state would be an understatement, and at the moment, it seems like she has no idea how she will fight through it. The same can be said for Maggie, who also has lost two very important people in her life, her father Hershel and her sister Beth. Maggie, however, was about to hit the ultimate point of no return during "Them."
In one particular scene, Maggie found a tied-up walker inside the trunk of an abandoned car. She mysteriously stared at the walker, as if deciding whether to kill it or not. But, her thoughts might have actually been much different than that. Previously, Maggie had confessed to Glenn that she did not want to fight anymore. So, it is possible that she might have been contemplating suicide. Thankfully, though, Glenn showed up in time to kill the walker and lead Maggie back to the group. Ultimately, the only way Maggie is really going to start recuperating is if she finds the inner fortitude to do so. She did just that after her father's death at the hands of the Governor, and she is going to have to now.
Moreover, Sasha, Maggie and Daryl each tried to cope with their respective losses in their own ways, and what they did reflected heavily on their respective personalities. For instance, Sasha tried to take her frustrations out on a small horde of walkers that were following the group. In the process, she shattered Rick's initial plan to deal with the horde, which was to lure them towards the side of the road, in which they would then simply push the walkers off the road. Instead, she went straight towards one and killed it, which disbanded the formation the group had developed. As the rest of the undead horde was closing in on them, she began to hack and slash in an aggressive, but random, fashion, and it resulted in her accidentally cutting Abraham in the shoulder. Now, it was just a scratch, but had Michonne not stopped Sasha, she would have continued to just swing her knife violently from side to side with what seemed like no regard for those around her. Her actions reflect how bold and tough she is, but also how unaware she can be at times.
On the other hand, Maggie is more reserved and calm, and she opted not to express her feelings to anyone until she was ready. For a while, I thought that Maggie would not speak for the entire episode, until Glenn managed to get her to talk a bit. She was at a point in which she preferred to be alone, until the group found an abandoned barn to hold up in as a rainstorm was wreaking havoc outside.
Rick gave the group a nice pep-talk, in which he spoke about how his grandfather survived World War II by telling himself before each battle that he was already dead, and how that story mirrors their current situation. He insisted that they are going to survive in similar fashion, "Whatever we find in D.C., it’s okay, because this is how we survive. We tell ourselves that we are the walking dead." After the pep-talk, the group seemed like a family again, especially when they had to halt the invasion of a larger group of walkers trying to get inside the barn. Luckily, the rainstorm saved the group.
The following morning, Maggie takes Sasha to see the sunrise, a symbolic gesture to prove to Sasha, and to herself, that they will continue to see the light of day, despite their losses. It is in this final scene of the episode in which the new guy appears, but more on him later.
Daryl's situation is a bit different. He spends the entire episode looking for excuses to leave the group, preferring to cope alone. Carol tries to advise Daryl at one point, basically telling him that it is perfectly okay to allow himself to feel emotional, even if he wants to do so away from everyone else. In neither of his mini-excursions does he find anything of significant value to the group, meaning food and water. We would expect an expert hunter like Daryl to limit his hunts when he knows that food (in particular) is scarce in their area. Also, he is hunting alone, which makes him much more vulnerable to being caught off-guard. But, he just kept on separating himself from the group, which may indicate that he still has trouble being around other people, especially when something deeply uncomfortable has occurred, and in spite of the fact that he has been with the same core group of people for a long time now. At the abandoned barn, he helps keep the walkers from entering, but immediately before that, he wanted to go out by himself yet again, and he was not about to let the raving rainstorm stop him.
By the episode's conclusion, there is no way of knowing if he has come upon some semblance of hope. He was the first to detect the danger of the incoming walkers, and the first to react to that. However, I am not convinced he is feeling even slightly better. For Sasha and Maggie, though, their semblance of hope was perhaps the sunrise, and the fact that the group is still together, albeit without Beth and Tyreese. In Daryl's case, any semblance of hope would have to come in the form of a serious mission, or something drastic that will keep his mind off of Beth's death as much as possible. This is where that previously mentioned new guy comes in.
So, who is that guy?
Well, his name, according to the Internet, is Aaron (portrayed by new cast member Ross Marquand), and he hails from the comic books. During their chat, Sasha and Maggie are startled by his mysterious, but perhaps calculated, appearance during the latter moments of "Them." And not only are they startled by his appearance (particularly, how suspiciously clean he is), but by his knowledge of them.
He says to them, "I'm a friend. I’d like to talk to the person in charge. Rick, right? I have good news!" Hmm.... how the heck does he know Rick?
Now, to be perfectly honest with you all, I have yet to read the comics, so I do not know Aaron at all. As a result, I can only make educated inferences on what his intentions could be. The episode, though, is riddled with subtle clues.
First of all, remember the walker Maggie found inside the trunk of the car had its hands tied behind its back? Could Aaron have had something to do with all that? Second, the group found a random collection of water bottles on the road, something that they were in serious need of. The group contemplated whether or not those water bottles were placed there as bait, and Eugene even tried to drink out of one of the bottles, until Abraham immediately knocked the bottle away. And third, a pack of wild dogs suddenly appeared before the group, ready to seemingly attack them, until Sasha put the dogs down for good. They then served as dinner for the group, another thing they were in serious need of.
All of this could indicate that Aaron has been spying on the group for some time now. There is no way of knowing for certain how long he has been doing that, but he may have been trying to find out specific information about them, including the name of the group's leader, Rick. And, that last line he uttered, "I have good news," implies that he has a particular objective in mind. Could he be trying to recruit the group for something, or lure them to hell, much like what happened with Terminus? Also, why did he choose to show up now?
Personally, I hope that he does not turn out to be another Eugene - a man who ostensibly has all the answers, but in reality, does not. The fact the he appears suspiciously clean and knowledgeable about the group hints at the possibility that he is a very intelligent and calculating individual, and that could make him a serious threat. One possible reason why he might have chosen to show himself now is because he knows that the group, while intact physically, are not in their best state of minds, if you will. They are therefore a bit more susceptible to believing in a good mission if it will serve them to their delight. For example, a mission that offers food and water, and a formidable shelter to live in, so as not to have to travel so much anymore. And finally, if Aaron has indeed been following them for a while, he will surely know that Father Gabriel is a newcomer to the group, and that Rick and co. were initially mistrusting of him. So, he might have come up with a strategy to earn their trust, which might involve making a few compelling confessions (like Gabriel admitting how he sinned by not helping people in need of help).
Whatever the case, next Sunday's episode of [The Walking Dead](series:201193), titled "The Distance," should enlighten us as to who this Aaron really is, and what he really wants with Rick and the rest of the group. Don't miss it!!!
Are Aaron's intentions pure or evil?
Sound off in the comments section below! Tell me what you thought of the episode, and what you think Aaron is all about.
[All images from: Walking Dead Wiki, Tumblr]