Warning: Spoiler Alert
It’s still the dim light of sunrise that lights the barn the group slept in last week. Everyone is preparing for the day in silence. Maggie enters, followed by Aaron, with Sasha bringing up the rear. Everyone immediately jumps to alert. Maggie runs the situation down for Rick (came upon them outside, he’s been searched and stripped of his weapons and gear, etc.) Daryl moves to secure the barn door, and Judith begins to cry.
Aaron is as unmoved by Judith’s tears as he is from being searched and marched at gunpoint to the group’s camp. He greets Rick with even but cheerful tones. Cheerful enough for everyone to mistrust him immediately. Rick wants to see the weapon Aaron was carrying, and Maggie hands over the snub-nosed revolver. Rick looks over the weapon, checks its barrel, and tucks it into the back of his pants with a Rick Grimes Thousand Yard Stare.
Sasha begins to explain what he’s told them: There’s a camp nearby, and they want them to join, but they have to audition first. Aaron interrupts with a hokey joke about audition being a silly word, because the dance troupe is only on Friday nights, and the joke goes over about as well as you’d expect in a group of starving apocalypse survivors who haven’t known what day of the week it is for months.
Aaron, also unmoved by his comedic flop, clarifies: It’s not a camp, where he lives. It’s a community. And he thinks Rick and his crew would be just the right additions to that community. He directs Sasha to open the front pocket of his pack in order to help his cause. In the pocket, there are grainy black and white pictures of very impressive-looking walls. Aaron begins to babble about the poor quality like an amateur photographer trying to justify bad shots, but Daryl interrupts.
No one gives a shit.
Aaron doesn’t blink as he readily agrees. He begins to explain the photographs. The walls, he says, are very secure in a lot of very technical terms like “rolled steel” and “metal tubing.” The next picture is of inside the gates—
And that’s as far as he can get before Rick cop-marches across the barn and clocks him.
The group seems a bit taken aback, but Rick moves to assess the situation. Aaron has been following them. How many others are there? There’s no reason to trust him. He wants Aaron restrained and the perimeter secured before anything else happens.
Aaron comes to and compliments Rick’s right cross. Glenn hands over a flare gun he found in Aaron’s pack. Rick turns on Aaron—the flare gun means he has someone to signal, and he’d better tell how many there are if he wants to live. How much can you really trust someone who smiles after getting punched in the face?
Rick continues to interrogate Aaron, and Aaron continues answering as calmly and reasonably as he can. He’s very forthright in knowing that nothing he says or does will convince Rick that he’s trustworthy.
But, he believes that Rick is trustworthy, and that the group would be a good addition to his community, and so he hopes that Rick will do the right thing.
There’s one other person with him, he says. They were traveling in a pair to find worthwhile people into the community. There are vehicles parked nearby with enough room to take them plus the fifteen in Rick’s group back to the community.
Rick considers Aaron’s words, but he seems utterly unconvinced. Michonne, however, wants to give it a shot. She wants to go check out the cars to see if they’re where Aaron said they would be. Rick is unhappy about Michonne’s insistence, but Glenn and Maggie want to go as well, so Rick taps Abraham and Rosita to accompany them. He’ll give it an hour, he says. If they’re not back in an hour, he’s coming after them.
The remainder of the group moves to secure the perimeter, while Rick stays with Judith and a tied-up Aaron in the barn. As the group disperses, Aaron continues to run his nearly unstoppably cheerful mouth. He used to work for an NGO, he says. He took supplies through the Niger River Delta. In doing so, bad people would point guns at him all the time. But he knows that Rick isn’t a bad person, so he’s not too bothered by all the guns being drawn on him. Rick isn’t charmed. He’ll wait for an hour, and then he’ll put a knife through Aaron’s skull if it turns out anything has happened to his people.
Glenn, Maggie, Michonne, Rosita, and Abraham follow Aaron’s directions to the car. Glenn reinforces battle orders—guns up, shoot anyone who advances.
Shoot anyone, though? Michonne doesn’t like that, and Maggie doesn’t, either. Glenn reiterates the need for caution since they’re potentially walking into a dangerous situation. And, for his part, he can’t imagine why anyone who had followed them for the last few days would want people like them in their group.
It’s hard for me when Glenn starts becoming cynical, because he’s such a guileless, earnest guy. Michonne doesn’t like to see it, either. They’re the group of people who rescued a priest, she reminds him. Rescued a girl who attacked the prison with the governor. Heck, Rick even took in a crazy lady with a sword. Aaron saw good in their group, she asserts. Glenn, however, doesn’t know what it is Aaron saw.
And in a field, crouched behind the oversized wheel of an ancient tractor, someone continues to see them.
They find the vehicles just about where Aaron said they’d be. It’s an old RV and an even older sedan. Something rustles in the woods, and the group draws on them, but it’s just a few clumsy, stupid walkers. Rosita and Abraham advance to take care of them. Abraham missteps, and Rosita covers him. With the walkers dispatched, Abraham and Rosita move into the RV to clear it. It comes up fine, but in the cupboard Abraham finds something that stops him dead.
Store-brand spaghettios with meatballs. Feast of college students, toddlers, and zombie apocalypse kings. Rosita tries to be happy for him, but she remains aloof. Abraham is troubled by her distance. He needs to know if she was afraid of him after he laid out Eugene—if she was afraid he’d hurt her. She
wasn’t afraid, she answers. It’s not him. That’s all she’ll say, but that’s good enough for Abraham, for now.
In the barn, Judith is crying and Rick is trying to mash up some acorns for her. Aaron offers the jar of applesauce in his pack. Of course Rick thinks its poisoned, but Judith is still crying and she could draw walkers toward them at any time. Rick considers the applesauce, but offers a spoon to Aaron first. Aaron points out how useless it would be to kill Rick’s daughter while he was tied to a post in a barn, but Rick isn’t willing to entertain any possible scenario that doesn’t seem safe to him.
Aaron weakly tries to refuse the applesauce, babbling about how his mother always made him eat it the way that only someone who is accustomed to having a full belly of only food they want to eat can. Eventually, though, he swallows the spoonful Rick has offered him. Rick takes a bite, as well, and then feeds Judith.
The group returns, having driven the vehicles back to the barn. They were stocked with canned goods, which Rick has decided belong to his group no matter if they decide to join their community or not.
But why wouldn’t they join the community, Michonne wants to know. Everything that Aaron has said has checked out so far. He’s had ample opportunity to hurt them and he hasn’t. It’s time to at least give him a little credit for being honest so far and see where this leads. The group is in dire need of a place to settle down. It’s the best shot they’ve had in a long time, and she wants to take it. And she’ll hear it now if anyone disagrees with her.
The group is silent, until Daryl reckons that the barn smells like horseshit and maybe that’s reason enough to give it a shot.
They then enter the same “I don’t trust you” “I understand you don’t trust me but I think you should” bit when deciding when to leave and what route to take to get to Aaron’s community. They discuss and make a plan, by which I mean Rick informs them that they’ll be leaving at night taking the road he wants to take and that will be the end of it.
Rick goes outside to do his own sweep for traps in the vehicles. Michonne follows him. She wants to make sure that they’re going to give joining this community a shot for real. Rick wants to, he admits, but he isn’t sure that he can. Every place that has meant to be a safe haven so far has turned into its own horror show. Outside Woodbury, there was no noise. Outside Terminus, there was no noise. Rick knows he’s going to have to drive up to the gates of this community and make a decision, but before he’ll let his family be put in danger by that decision, he wants to see it first.
Rick, Michonne, Glenn, and Aaron lead in the sedan as the rest of the group follows in an RV. Rick continues to rifle through the car, finding a stack of license plates in the glovebox. Aaron explains that he’s trying to collect all fifty states. Yesterday Rick’s group almost died of dehydration, and this fool is collecting license plates. He’s got a wall of them in his house, he explains. Michonne is amazed, and he encourages her to look through the pictures he has. The same low-quality shots reveal large, suburban houses, solar panels, old, intact buildings, and wide, empty streets.
Wait a minute, though. Why aren’t there any pictures of his people? He tried to take a group shot, he starts, but the exposure was wrong and it didn’t turn out. Michonne is maybe not buying his story so much. Has Rick even asked him the three questions? Rick has not. Michonne faces Aaron in the backseat, trying to study him in the poor light.
“How many walkers have you killed?” she asks. Aaron doesn’t know. A lot? “How many people have you killed?” Aaron pauses, and solemnly answers that he’s killed two people. “Why?” Michonne demands. Again, Aaron hesitates before he answers, “Because they were trying to kill me.”
It’s unsettling, of course, but it’s certainly plausible that he’s telling the truth. But, the road Rick has insisted on using hasn’t been cleared like the one Aaron wanted to use, and they’re set upon by walkers before any further questions can be asked or answered.
Glenn charges through the flock that is lurching along the road. The walkers, it seems, have been getting much juicier (because they’re more rotten?) and the car is soon covered in blood and globs of walker flesh. Once they’re clear of the field of walkers, they stop the car and realize the RV is no longer behind them. They try to clean the windshield off before they’ll circle back to try to find the others. But now the car won’t start because the intake is full of walker chunks.
More walkers are coming from the woods, and Aaron is becoming panicked. Then a flare goes off a little down the road. Aaron absolutely loses it and takes off running toward the flare with his hands tied behind his back. Rick, Michonne, and Glenn begin to engage in the weekly round of walker melee, trying to fight their way back to where they think the RV and the others might be.
Glenn gets separated from the group, and stumbles through a few close calls before hitting a clearing in the woods. He finds Aaron with his back to a tree, kicking at a walker that’s going for his brains. Glenn barely hesitates before he goes to eliminate the walker and cut Aaron’s hands free. Glenn turns to find Rick and Michonne, but Aaron tries to stop him. They can make it to the community together, he says. He reminds Glenn of his own words a few days before (when he was spying on them, but that’s no surprise now)—they can only make it anywhere together. Glenn pauses and turns to face Aaron.
Deep into the woods, Rick and Michonne are trying to fend off their flock of walkers while shouting for Glenn. Rick runs out of bullets and predictably, uses Aaron’s flare gun to turn an advancing walker into corpse-version of a Roman candle. He’s beginning to get ready to take on the walkers with a blade when gunfire comes from behind, mowing down the walkers. It’s Glenn and Aaron. Hey, Aaron can shoot! But is that a good or bad thing?
They rush back to the road, trying to get back to the location of the flare. It went off beside a water tower, which was next to some buildings. The group has indeed, taken refuge there. Everyone is reunited, but Aaron is still looking for the person who set off the flare.
“Eric?” he shouts.
“In here!” Eric calls, from inside the building from which everyone just emerged.
We follow Aaron in to see a thin man in his thirties laying on the floor with a bandaged ankle. Aaron looks stricken, but Eric assures him that it’s no worse than a volleyball injury. Maggie told him it’s just a broken ankle.
Aaron leans down to embrace Eric. The two share a kiss that is equal parts love and relief. Once they catch their breath, Eric explains that this whole mess is Aaron’s fault. Aaron is indignant, but only as indignant as one can be when realizing that their significant other is safe and relatively unhurt following a dangerous situation. Eric, it seems, got into a little trouble with some walkers (he calls them “roamers”), and wound up getting a tire rolled onto his ankle. So earlier he wasn’t spying so much as he was stuck, then.
Rick interrupts their reunion. Eric offers a calm, friendly greeting, which is met with the Rick Grimes Grunt of Acknowledgement. Aaron follows Rick away from the room where Eric is staying.
The group convenes in a larger room adjacent to Eric’s. Aaron thanks them profusely for saving Eric’s life. He promises he’ll settle the debt when they get to where they’re going. And he drops the town’s name. They’re headed to Alexandria.
To interrupt here, I am not exactly up on the graphic novel series, but I do know that the Alexandria Safe-Zone is a thing, and so it appears that the show will be following that vein for a little while. It’s a huge move forward in the plot!
More importantly, Aaron has just given Rick the name of their destination, which might be enough to get Rick to maybe consider trusting him a little bit more perhaps. Rick agrees that they’ll head there in the morning, but he wants Aaron to stay outside.
Aaron has had enough of Rick Grimes. The only way he’s not spending the night with Eric, he declares, is if someone shoots him, and he moves towards Rick and the room where Eric is. Rick tenses, but Glenn intercedes. There’s only two. They’re unarmed. One has a broken ankle. Plus it seems fairly certain that they’re actually trying to help, after all.
The next morning, the group is headed into DC. They catch a glimpse of the Washington Monument, and Abraham totally does not choke up, nope, not at all. They’re so close! But the voltage in the RV is so low! They can make it, Abraham assures them.
They can’t make it. Broke down on the road, Glenn begins to assess the situation. Abraham is frustrated, but Glenn tells him they just need another battery. Abraham demands to know where they’re going to get another battery. Glenn, smiling and remembering Dale, shows him the other batteries in the RV that are used to run the accessories.
While Glenn attends to the RV, Rick and Michonne keep watch of the perimeter. Michonne can’t help but feel hopeful for their destination. The fight, she admits, is what’s been keeping them alive all this time, but it’s come time to let that fight go. The fight will turn on them if they don’t, and bring them down. Rick agrees, but then has to go see a man about a horse. Or something. He doesn’t really say why he suddenly splits off.
Just off the road, a small house lays in wreckage. Picking through, Rick finds the top of a blender. He deposits a handgun with the letter J written on it, and rejoins the group.
They’re just outside the city now. The gates are imposing, offering no clue as to what’s beyond them. Michonne lays a hand on Rick’s, trying to comfort him. He closes his eyes, and he hears it.
Laughter. From inside the gates. Not eerie silence or shouting or walkers hissing but actual, honest-to-goodness laughter.
He picks up Judith and walks up to the gates.
And we’ll find out what’s inside those gates next week!