Season Five Episode Eleven

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Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” celebrated the show’s one hundredth episode, by pitting two cunning con-men against each other, resulting in entertaining hour, featuring some bravura acting performances. In yet another example of the show’s brilliant casting, the series brought in stage and screen legend Nathan Lane, to portray the latest Blacklist member. Although the main plot was more simplistic than some of the series’ best chapters, the treat of watching James Spader, face off against Lane, more than compensated for the tale’s lack of complexity in this viewer’s opinion.

The lighter tone of the main story, provided a good contrast for the ever-darkening story arc of Elizabeth Keen, as she slips deeper and deeper into her obsession. This viewer’s reached the conclusion that the woman that longtime fans followed for four-plus seasons, died in the beating that took the life of her husband Tom. The woman that now inhabits her body’s, laser-focused on just one thing, finding the man that murdered her husband. She’s not going to allow emotions, relationships, or the law to stop her from completing her mission.

The cold-open starts with a shot of the DC skyline, as Dembe and Raymond have a discussion while Zuma drives them to an appointment. Raymond’s clutching the valuable 1943D bronze Lincoln penny he confiscated from Greyson Blaise, earlier this season. Reddington’s holding the three million dollar coin, as he’s on his way to talk to a Georgetown antique’s dealer. The dealer’s piqued Raymond’s interest, as he retains information about the coin, and three duplicates. Legend has it that the four coins form a set, that form a treasure map, leading to vast riches.

Raymond tells Dembe, that he hasn’t felt so excited since he and his childhood pal, Herbie Honeycutt, pooled their box-tops together to get a combination decoder-ring/periscope. Zuma, knowing him so well, responds that Reddington loves the mystery, causing Red to recall Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allen Poe, and the story The Gold Bug.

As he’s highlighting the tale, their car gets T-Boned by a panel-van from a cleaning company, flipping their car on its roof. We see the rare penny on the highway, and a man wearing a suit and a trench-coat, picks up the coin as four goons emerge from the van armed to the teeth. The man who picked up the coin tells the hoods they can leave, as he’s gotten what he came for. Raymond sees the man as he’s about to black-out.

We join Elizabeth seconds after we lost saw her, standing over the corpse of Robert Navarro. She suddenly feels pain in her side and discovers there’s a shard of glass protruding from her abdomen. She pulls the glass from her body, wraps Navarro’s body in a canvas bag, and then proceeds to clean the crime scene, in a manner that Mr. Kaplan would’ve approved of.

She’s finishing cleaning, when there’s a knock on the door. Two uniforms and the superintendent, force their way into the apartment. Keen takes the bloody rag from her abdomen and sticks it in the kitchen garbage disposal, then hides in the closet. The officers responded to a domestic violence call, likely from one of Navarro’s neighbors, but they report back to dispatch that the place’s clean.  When the officers and the super leave, Keen somehow lugs the far bigger Navarro into her car’s trunk.

Raymond goes hat in hand to Harold, asking for assistance in recovering the coin he purloined. Cooper’s ready to laugh Reddington out of his office, when Red explains that the new Blacklist Member’s killed before and he’ll likely kill again, in pursuit of all four coins. We get a glimpse of the thief in his day job, he’s a loan-officer for the Republic Commerce Bank in Manhattan. He’s informing a client that he was able to restructure his payments so he won’t default on his loan. He then smiles when he says that the client should be able to pay for his panel van that was recently in an accident.

Reddington explains to the Task-Force, that in the thirties the United States Government printed a series of Federal Reserve Notes, at the Denver Mint, that were payable to the holder for the note’s denominations. Shortly after the notes were printed, they turned up missing, so Denver denied they were ever printed. However in recent years some of the notes have surfaced in some foreign countries, and the Mint claims the notes were counterfeit.

Raymond states that the notes were actually printed, and the four coin set of the 1943D Lincoln bronze pennies, allegedly form a map giving the location of the Federal Reserve Notes. Aram verifies that the Blacklist member killed three times in his quest for the coins, three security-officers in Dubai, an art collector in Italy, and the Georgetown art dealer that Raymond was set to meet with. That’s how the thief determined Reddington possessed the coin, and how he ambushed Red and Dembe. Although Harold only wants to capture the thief, Aram’s totally captivated by the idea of participating in a treasure hunt.

Keen’s nemesis, MPD Detective Singleton, arrives back at Navarro’s apartment with the uniforms. After he quickly eyeballs the apartment, he pronounces it too clean and calls for a forensic-team to join him at Navarro’s. He tells the person on the other end that a warrant’s in the works as they speak. Keen did a masterful job of getting rid of any evidence of a crime, save for the bloody rag that she left in the garbage disposal, which Singleton sends to the lab for a blood-match.

The Blacklist member’s talking to an unfortunate client of the bank, that they’re calling in his loan. The man’s desperate and offers to do anything to restructure his payments. The loan officer smiles and says he sees the man used to be an insurance investigator. He says he’s got a personal problem involving a rare coin, and perhaps they can help each other. Soon the client Frank Dobbs, and the loan officer are on their way to a museum that’s showcasing the coin in an exhibition.

Dobbs and the loan officer identify themselves as investigators from the insurance company, that insures the collection on loan from the University of Pennsylvania. The loan officer, introduces himself to the museum’s representative Patrick Church, using a posh English accent, and identifies himself as the company’s rare coin expert.

Simultaneously, Aram’s tracked the location of the fourth coin to the Gabor Museum, the same place the duo’s attempting to swindle the museum out of the coin. Cooper sends Navabi and Ressler, to talk with museum officials, and make certain the coin’s still safe.

Shortly after Samar and Donald head to the museum, Keen shows up at the Post-Office, to the delight of Aram. After he hugs her, he asks if she’s just visiting, or she’s ready to rejoin the Task-Force? She says she’s just visiting and needs to take a look at the files. We follow Elizabeth to the file cabinets, and watch as she pulls out the file of Stanley R. Kornish, the man longtime fans know as “The Stewmaker.” She pulls out here cellphone and starts photographing the documents, until she’s interrupted by Aram.

He does his best to attempt to recruit her back to work on their current case, telling her that Navabi and Ressler just headed to the Gabor Museum, to ascertain the whereabouts of a copy of the 1943D Lincoln bronze penny. He tells her about the treasure hunt, and says it might provide a good distraction for her. She quickly changes the subject to his relationship with Samar, and Aram gushes. Keen then tells him she’s got to leave, but she answers her phone to find Singleton’s on the other end.

We next see her being interviewed by Singleton in his office, as he asks her bout any contact she’s had with Robert Navarro. She reminds the officer that he told her not to contact Navarro, and he scoffs at her. He says he believes that Navarro’s dead. She looks Singleton in the eye and states she’s the last person in the world to want Navarro dead, as she wanted information about the man he worked for. She asks if there’s anything else, and he responds not until the lab gets the results of the bloody towel they found in the garbage disposal.

The loan officer and Dobbs, meet with Church and his assistant in Church’s office, and the thief tells Church they believe that the penny they possess maybe a forgery. They believe the coin might be the handiwork of a forger who tried to pass off an Italian Litra, at an auction house in Germany. He asks to see the coin and Church summons his assistant to get it. He says if the coin’s a forgery, it might be the most celebrated case since the Ready Electrotypes at the British Museum.

Keen gets a motel room with an oversized bathtub, and brings Navarro’s corpse and the mix of chemicals that “The Stewmaker,” utilized to destroy bodies without a trace. First she washes herself with some green chemical, and then covers the bathroom with plastic sheeting. She puts Navarro’s body into the tub, and then puts on the same type of gas mask that “The Stewmaker,” wore. She then pours in chemicals and fills the tub with water, after stirring the contents of the tub, she exits the bathroom as the chemicals do their work.

The loan officer tells the museum representative that he believes the coin’s a forgery, and Church nearly goes apoplectic. However the mood in the office radically changes as another museum employee enters and whispers something to the assistant, who then whispers it to Church. The three says they’ll return shortly, taking the coin with them. Dobbs looks out the window and sees police cruisers outside and starts to panic, but the thief tells him to remain calm. They then escape as the thief sets off the fire alarm, as Navabi and Ressler make their way to Church’s office.

Harold calls Reddington with bad and worse news. The Blacklist member escaped, and the remaining 1943D Lincoln bronze penny’s sitting in the MPD’S evidence vault. Harold tells Raymond that the Task-Force’s not breaking into the evidence vault for him. So Raymond calls Keen to see if she can help him in the matter. She tells Reddington that she could use the distraction, and says she’ll gladly help him. Although she’s surrendered her badge, the evidence vault’s the same place they store evidence of open homicides. She says she can give Singleton something that might help them gain access to the vault.

She gives Singleton Tom’s old cellphone, saying she finally got up the courage to start going through his things. She says she doesn’t know the password, but perhaps some of the department’s tech-staff can break into it. She tells Raymond that the device’s being used as a passive packet sniffer, a trick Tom taught her. Within minutes, Dembe’s got the evidence vault code, now they just need a way to get to the vault. Which provides a great excuse to bring into the episode a fan favorite.

Keen recruits Glen Carter, to take a pill that will induce heart-attack like symptoms in him, which will provide the diversion she’ll need to get into the vault. After Jellybean, reiterates that she owes him big time for his actions, he admits he’s looking forward to some time away from his mother, and getting a little rest and relaxation. He no sooner gets the sentence out of his mouth, when the symptoms knock him to his knees, and Keen calls for help.

During the ensuing chaos, Keen accesses the keypad and opens the vault. We see her grab the evidence envelope with the coin inside it. She returns just as paramedics are wheeling Jellybean out of the station, on a stretcher. She quickly exits the other way.

Aram’s discovered the Blacklist member’s name’s Abraham Stern, and that he’s a loan officer at the Manhattan bank. Cooper soon realizes that Reddington also has ascertained Stern’s identity, when he receives a call from MPD informing him the coin disappeared from their evidence vault. Harold calls Raymond and he says he realizes that he’s cut a deal with Stern, Red replies he’ll let him know how things work out.

The two men negotiate a truce, as Reddington states that sentiment guarantees that Red will accept a 50/50 split with Stern, since the Federal Reserve Notes are his inheritance. We then find out Stern’s father was a master engraver with the Denver Mint, when the notes went missing. His father became the prime suspect, but nobody could prove he stole the notes, so he got demoted to the mint’s maintenance staff and worked out of the boiler room.

His last act at the mint was engraving the four bronze coins as a map for his son. Later that year, the mint switched to a new boiler room, and dismissed Stern’s father. He never worked again and died a pauper, however he left Abraham the coins in his will. Stern just a teenager at the time, and angry with his father spent the coins on four gum balls at the local candy store. He realized his mistake soon after, when he received a letter from his father’ lawyer, informing him about the coin. He’s dedicated his entire life to retrieving those coins.

Stern brought another man with him to the summit meeting, a man he identified as the Professor, who was able to crack the code of the four coins. Stern’s father used his craftsmanship to put together a topographical map when the four coins were shown in an over-lay. The map showed that the notes were still in the Denver Mint, the final clue revealed in the over-lay told them the notes were still in the old boiler room.

Raymond tells the other two men that the best way for them to get into the vault, which is their only access to the old boiler room, would be to disguise themselves as drivers and deliver a truck filled with laundered money. Reddington calls Heddy Hawkins to ascertain how much available cash they’ve got on hand.

Hawkins naturally distrusts Stern and tries to warn Raymond off. Reddington voices Heddy’s feelings and asks what assurance Stern can give him, and the thief swears on his dead father’s grave. Raymond turns to Hawkins and says he can’t ask for anything better than that, and agrees to work together.

Keen returns to the hotel, and plunges the remainder of the contents of the tub down the drain. She’s surprised to find just one thing remaining. Turns out that Navarro had a glass eye, that contained tech inside it. She grabs the eyeball and cleans up the room before she vacates it.

Reddington’s able to access the mint’s computer system, to give them authorization to make the delivery. Once they get inside the gates, Stern acknowledges that Heddy’s instincts had been spot-on, and he locked Red inside the truck as his crew proceeded to steal the Federal Reserve Notes. Raymond fully prepared for the double-cross, quickly made his escape from the van and joined Hawkins and his crew on the roof of the building.

When Stern and his team reach the old boiler room, they open the boiler and find it’ stuffed with the notes. Stern tells his associates to start packing their bags. Suddenly a deafening sound fills the room, and soon the notes are going up the air shaft, getting sucked up two giant exhaust vacuums that Raymond’s crew have hooked up to a V-8 motor. They get nearly all the notes before the mint’s system seals the vault, with Stern and his crew inside. Raymond calls Cooper and tells him that he broke off his partnership with Stern when he found out that the Blacklist member wanted to rob the Denver Mint. He tells the Task-Force Director, that Stern and his crew are robbing the mint as they speak.

Later Raymond shows back up at the Post Office and heads to Cooper’s office and sits down in the chair in front of Harold’s desk. Cooper grins at him and says he knows that Reddington got the Federal Reserve Notes, he doesn’t know how Red pulled it off, but he knows he got them. Reddington asks about the four pennies, and Cooper says they’ve been recovered and returned to their rightful owners, except for the one Raymond “liberated.” He says he’ll give it to Red for the truth.

Reddington starts to explain Stern’s story to Cooper, but Harold says that’s not the truth he wants. He then asks Raymond if he stole a bloody cloth from the evidence vault, that the MPD had in relation to the death of Robert Navarro. Red looks rather shocked and says of course not. Harold gives Reddington back the coin. The Bureau has Stern in custody, and the Denver Mint reported that nothing was stolen during the break-in. Reddington literally pulled off the “Perfect Crime.”

The evening ends with Raymond voicing his displeasure to Keen. She admits she got in over her head, and never intended to kill Navarro. However he got the jump on her and he died in the ensuing scandal. Reddington says he wants to make certain that the body can’t be found, and she assures him she already took care of that. She then shows him the glass eye with the Next-Gen tech, and asks for his help. He says of course, and then pulls the bronze penny from behind her ear.

She asks if his treasure hunt was successful, and he replies he’s got his sights set on a castle in Trieste, and suggests she accompany him to take a look at it. Just then a man named Bernard walks into the room carrying a box and tells Reddington he looks incomplete. Raymond chortles as he looks at the box, and then gives Bernard the coin, while Liz stammers. She’s puzzled that Raymond would give the man the coin for the contents of the box, until Bernard tells her the box contains Winston Churchill’s hat.

Raymond carefully lifts the hat out of the box and explains it’s Churchill’s Homburg that he wore during the blitz. Under its brim Churchill defeated Hitler, and now Raymond’s the hat’s unworthy new owner. Bernard tells Keen that the hat’s been locked al these years gathering dust in a trunk in Surrey, until recently discovered. Raymond puts it on and asks how it looks, she responds kind of amazing, and he beams.

The Story Continues Next Wednesday Night at 8:00pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Photo Courtesy Of AMC

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!