Season Five Episode Ten

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Photo Courtesy Of NBC.


Welcome back for the second half our recap of “The Blacklist,” episode “The Informant.” Due to the complex story lines of this episode, our choice was either to write a short novella, or to give Elizabeth Keen’s story arc a separate recap. Rather than subject you to tedious writing and confusion, we chose the latter option.

As I wrote in the first recap, this episode proved to be a great showcase to contrast how Donald Ressler and Lizzie, deal with their internal demons. We detailed how important it was for Ressler to battle his dark-side, and to seek the light. His duplicitous ways proved to be a burden he could no longer carry, and he was willing and ready to pay the price for his crimes.

Vengeance’s proven to be an intoxicating elixir for Elizabeth Keen. Her time spent in Alaska, strengthened her body as she lead a Spartan existence. However it took her executing the four criminals that threatened her, for her to feel alive again. She’s hyper-focused on her mission, making the men that killed her husband pay dearly. She’s become Ahab, and the mysterious Ian Garvey’s not only her prey but her obsession. She may feel healthy and alive, but she’s ostracized herself from her old life.

In many ways the Elizabeth Keen we’re seeing, could be best compared to a feral animal. That was well displayed early in the episode, during an exchange with Samar Navabi, as the two bumped into each other at Raymond’s apartment. The pair exchanged pleasantries, with Samar describing her relationship with Aram as boring, domestic and blissful. When she asked how Agnes’ getting along, Lizzie showed her shame as she turned away and made a hasty exit. Navabi said to Reddington “She’s not coming back, is she?” She took Raymond’s silence as an affirmative.

Lizzie’s conducting her own investigation into Tom’s murder from their old apartment, and once again living a Spartan existence. She’s spent the past two days, after returning from Alaska, gathering as much information as she can on the men that invaded the apartment, nearly killing her and taking Tom’s life. She keeps flashing back to the crime as she investigates the evidence she’s gathered, including the swatch of carpet still stained with blood.

We see photographs and names of the men involved, and with each image we watch how they died. Worgul, Madigan, Fishbauch, and Shelly, plus the picture of the red-headed beefy guy that left with Garvey, Bobby Navarro. The police believe that Navarro orchestrated the hit, however they lacked the evidence to hold him. Elizabeth’s memory’s sketchy, but she remembers another man in charge, a man with glasses.

Raymond’s ascertained that the five men worked for the Nash drug syndicate, but he believes somebody may have hired them to do the hit. Unfortunately, he’s been unable to make any headway into the identity of whom that party could be. He’s basically taken on the role of sounding board for Keen at this juncture, and not for advice just information.

Reddington doesn’t approve, and he’s quite fearful about the path Lizzie’s barreling down. However he realizes she’d never accept him as her moral compass, so he approaches the man that already plays that role in her life, Harold Cooper. Raymond explains to Cooper that he’s the devil on Lizzie’s shoulder, but Harold’s the angel on her other shoulder. He says that Elizabeth’s going through troubled waters, and he’s counting on Harold to help her navigate them.

As for the man she’s ultimately seeking, we get our first glimpse of Ian Garvey since the series’ return, when he’s woken by a phone call in the middle of the night. We see he’s sleeping with a woman and he’s wearing boxers and a wife-beater. He takes a swig from a beer bottle on his night stand when he answers the phone, the man on the other end informs him that Keen’s returned to town. The other man asks Garvey if he wants him to act on it? Garvey responds to leave her be, and that he believes time will be their ally. He says he’ll get things together on his end and hangs up.

I’ve stated previously that I don’t believe Ian Garvey stems from the underworld, rather he comes from a career in one of our government intelligence services, either the Agency or the Bureau. I’m uncertain of his status, whether he’s still an active agent or retired, but he’s still retains access to CODIS. Garvey’s likely busted his hump as  bureaucrat for years, and he believes the contents of the knapsack are the pot of gold at the end of his rainbow. I’ve got severe doubts that he’ll ever see even a coin.

There’s a knock on Lizzie’s apartment door, and she recognizes Police Detective Singleton, the officer that tried to interview her about the incident after she got discharged from the hospital. She tries blowing him off, saying it’s an inconvenient time, but his persistence pays off and she invites him in for a cup of coffee.

Singleton tells her that the bullets that killed her assailants came from a gun that wasn’t found at the scene. Realizing that the bullets came from Raymond and Dembe’s weapons she pleads ignorance, as well as saying she had no idea who drove them to the hospital. Singleton realizes she’s stonewalling, and says she could be charged as an accessory, if she’s withholding information. The only bit of useful info she receives is that the Nash syndicate operate out of Kaufman’s Food and Liquor, which proves to be her next destination.

Three young low-level hoods are sitting on the corner in front of Kaufman’s when Keen drives up, and one of them approaches the car. She asks the guy where’s Navarro, and he replies she’s got the wrong place. She informs him that she’s aware that he’s a member of the Nash syndicate, and once again asks where’s Navarro.

The punk, thinking he can intimidate Keen reaches into the driver’s window and clutches her throat, big mistake. She promptly puts a handcuff on his hand, and he attaches the connecting one to her car and starts to drive off. She tells the kid he looks athletic, but she’s got a full tank of gas. He quickly says that he’ll contact the bagman Chrisanto, who could lead her to Navarro.

Chrisanto arrives to find the punk sitting in the driver’s seat of his car, so he climbs into the passenger seat. He doesn’t notice that the kid’s bound and gagged until it’s too late. Lizzie’s in the backseat, and starts choking him with some razor wire. She tells him not to panic, because then he’ll pass out, and then she’ll have to kill them. She then asks about Navarro’s location, and he gives up Navarro’s money launderer, Pee-Wee.

Keen walks into the kitchen of a greasy-spoon, where she finds Pee-wee at his day job tending the grill. She asks about Navarro, and he tries to play dumb. When she asks him again he goes for his pistol, but Lizzie shoots him in the thigh before he can grab it. she then asks the young waitress where he keeps the money, and she motions to a refrigerator, stuffed with cash. Lizzie grabs a stack and says Pee-Wee will either give her Navarro’s location now, or after she burns up all of his money, and sets the stack aflame from one of the stove burners.

Navarro’s counting money, when there’s a knock on his door. He looks through the peephole and sees Pee-Wee’s face, and he grumbles as he asks why he’s there. Pee-Wee responds, just let me in and Navarro opens the door, to find Keen standing there with the money launderer’s image on her cell phone, and she’s brandishing a pistol. She asks Navarro if he remembers her, then pushes her way and instructs him to put a pair of plastic handcuffs on himself. She then empties the cartridge from his pistol and puts the gun back on his desk.

She asks Navarro about the man with the Damascus knife that was at her apartment the night of the incident, and the thug responds he can’t remember. She gives him a back hand to his jaw and then shows him pictures of Nik, Pete McGee, and Lena, and asks if he remembers them? She says that Tom was trying to help Nik with something, that got them both killed.

He smirks and says she still doesn’t get it. Tom wasn’t trying to help Nik, rather it was the other way around. She asks what Nik was trying to help Tom with, and Navarro looked down sheepishly and lowered the volume of his voice and said he couldn’t tell her or they’d kill him. Lizzie fell for the decoy, as she let her defenses down and leaned into hear him better. That’s when Navarro made his move, and in the ensuing tussle knocked the pistol out of her hands.

Unfortunately due to allowing the hood to handcuff himself, his hands remained in front of him. He lifted Lizzie up like a rag doll and slammed her head against the wall. She looked like she was blacking out, but fought back until he got his arm around her neck, choking off her air supply.

Lizzie’s losing consciousness, but she starts fixating on Tom’s final moments in the apartment. Beaten to a pulp, he summoned the strength to hold off their attackers until Dembe and Raymond arrived. Inspired by the vision, she loosens the large man’s grip with a blow to his chin. He grabs her again, but she’s able to push him down backwards, so that they both fall on a glass coffee table that shatters under his weight.

Shaken from the incident, Liz gets up an looks at Navarro. His lifeless eyes stare back at her, with a shard of glass protruding from his jugular vein, and blood spurting like a geyser from his neck. She says out loud, okay it’s okay, but she realizes it’s anything but. Lizzie’s crossed the line, she’s turning into a full-fledged vigilante. Although Raymond can likely clean up this mess for her, Keen’s troubled waters maybe leading to a tidal wave.

The Blacklist Broadcasts Episode #100, Next Wednesday, January 17, at 8:00 pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC


Remember when we thought this was going to be the “light and breezy season?” The NBC series “The Blacklist,” excels in the game of bait and switch, getting the viewer to think zig, while the story-line veers off into the land of zag. The device’s one of the most intriguing aspects of the show, beginning with the revelation that Elizabeth Keen’s life was just an illusion. Since then we’ve witnessed the show-runners and story-writers lead us down the path in one direction, only to realize that they’ve surprised viewers once again.

Viewers went into the show’s fifth season, prepared for a new dynamic centering on a down-and-out Raymond Reddington. The former concierge of crime, wiped out financially thanks to the efforts of Mr. Kaplan, and living in a seedy motor-lodge and wearing hand me downs. Adding two new members to Raymond’s “Island Of Misfit Toys,” it appeared we were on the verge of witnessing Red’s bumpy road back to respectability. There was an ominous feeling in the final scene of the season premiere, seeing a beaten and bloodied Tom Keen, lying on the floor, as Reddington and Dembe burst in brandishing pistols.

Any thoughts of an airy season dissipated long ago, culminating with Tom’s death in the fall finale. The series returned on January 3, showcasing a vigilante Lizzie, a woman obsessed with taking justice into her own hands. She went off to find herself in a cabin in the woods, returning after channeling Rambo, in a killing spree. Her execution of the four felons that threatened her life, made her feel whole again for the first time since she woke from her coma.

Elizabeth’s not the only member of the Task-Force battling inner demons, as the Boy-Scout, Agent Donald Ressler’s been dealing with the ramifications of his actions since the season four finale. Ressler’s been under the thumb of “Fixer” Henry Prescott, after Prescott made certain that evidence connecting him the accidental death of Laurel Hitchin, would never get discovered. Panic caused Donald to contact Prescott too many times, alerting the “Fixer,” to the concept that Frank Sturgeon had other secrets. Upon realizing that Ressler belonged to the Bureau, Prescott kept him on a short leash, and used his new pet to do his bidding.

The Informant, (118)” proved to be an interesting contrast in how Lizzie and Donald are dealing with their dark-sides. While Keen chooses to embrace the anger bubbling within her, Ressler’s mortified by the situation he finds himself in. He’s going against his moral grain, feelings and values that he’s had since childhood. He remembers all too well that his police-officer father, died at the hands of a dirty cop, and he’s disgusted with himself for bending and breaking the rules.

The episode, sprawling and unwieldy, and jam-packed with information, can’t be done justice in one recap. Instead we’ll divide the episode into two recaps, with the first one focusing on the main story line, and the second recap dealing with the trials and tribulations of Elizabeth Keen.

The Blacklist Member Of The Week.

The show returned to its standard cold open format, dealing with characters stricken by nerve-gas in a Toronto Disco, causing all who ingest the gas to start gagging and vomiting, followed shortly by death. A terrorist cell claimed responsibility for the 57-victims, were in custody and the Fed planned to freeze their bank accounts on Monday.

Raymond informs Samar Navabi, that a person known as the Informant accessed the account information and plans to take possession of the assets, and then sell them back to the owners. The information was accessed by somebody using Senator Cooligan’s credentials, however the Senator was at a party when the hack occurred. Aram quickly determines that Cooligan’s got 11 staff members, and all have legitimate alibis except for a man named Howard Bishop. Harold sends Ressler and Navabi to question the aide.

Samar and Donald watch Bishop walking down the street using a burner phone. When he enters a restaurant, Navabi enters shortly after, only to find that Bishop gave her the slip. He actually went to the nearest police station and reported to the desk sergeant, that he witnessed a crime.

The aide claims that he witnessed a hit and run accident, at the time of the hack but he didn’t report it because he was with his lover, a married woman. The woman’s Judge Sonia Fisher, and she admits to the agents that she and Bishop are embroiled in an affair, and when she reported witnessing the accident she left out the fact that she was with Bishop. She says her husband’s hired a private detective to spy on her, and that Howard thought Navabi worked for Fisher’s husband, and that’s why he left the restaurant. The agents don’t think all is on the up and up.

Harold pays Raymond a visit, and Reddington’s back to his opulent living style, complete with a private elevator in the apartment, and his new valet Paris, who he hired away from La Berdanin. Harold tells Raymond they’ve got the Informant, but they lack the evidence to put him away. Harold gives Raymond a list of the bank accounts and asks if Raymond can obtain information on them.

Raymond and Dembe take the private jet to the Cayman Islands, and pay a visit to a bank managed by a prissy and uptight guy named Herman. He treats Reddington with disdain, until he finds out that Red’s net-worth’s now in nine figures. At that point Herman can’t be gracious enough, but Red informs him that if wants any of his business, he must perform a service for him first. He then presents him with the information on the bank accounts, and says he’s certain Herman has a way of getting the relevant information.

Raymond’s introduced to a young woman named Ms. Isaacson, a hacker who tried breaking into the bank’s server. She got granted early release from prison, in exchange for her pointing out vulnerabilities in the bank’s computer network. She however outright refuses to assist Raymond, telling him that money doesn’t interest her, but Red quickly comes up with an offer that entices her. Turns out that he’s owed a favor by an elusive tattoo artist Sosi-San, whom the heavily tattooed woman idolizes, and Raymond gets her to help him in exchange for getting tattooed by the legendary artist.

After receiving the list of the account holders from Reddington, Aram quickly determines that they’re looking for Rozmin Hamzah, who arrived earlier that day at Dulles from Brunei, under a false identity, and agents tracked him to the hotel he’s staying at. Navabi will trail Hamzah, while Ressler follows Bishop. Donald has Bishop in his sights when his phone rings and Prescott’s on the other end. He tells Ressler that he’s a client and unless the agent backs off he’ll release the information that will end his career and send him to prison.

Thinking of self-preservation, Ressler calls Navabi off and directs her and the other agents elsewhere. He then stands outside a door, watching Bishop and Hamzah switch briefcases. His instincts as an agent override his fears and he arrests Bishop and directs Samar to where Hamzah’s heading. Bishop glares at Ressler and through gritted teeth, tells him he’s made a costly mistake.

Prescott and Ressler meet and the “Fixer” shows the agent images of him standing over Laurel Hitchin’s corpse. He then laughs as he proudly informs Donald that the judge wasn’t having an affair with Bishop, she’s just another play thing. He laughs even harder when he tells the agent that the hit-and-run accident, was actually a murder carried out by yet another person under his thumb. He then slaps Ressler across the face, Donald grabs him by the collar and puts his pistol to Prescott’s face.

Prescott flashes a rather maniacal grin and asks Ressler if he’s going to arrest him, when the agent doesn’t even know the “Fixer’s” real name. Frustrated, Donald cocks the gun at his antagonist’s head and says he can’t arrest him, but he’ll kill him if Prescott contacts him again, a truly empty threat. Prescott assures him he’ll contact him soon.

Ressler heads back to the Post Office, and Samar asks him if he remembers Henry Prescott, then she tells him that Bishop and Fisher are clients of his. Bishop admitted that the affair was a ruse and that the hit and run was actually a murder. Harold enters the room and congratulates Donald on the fine work he did, capturing the two men and stopping the money from falling back into the hands of the terrorists. They find out that the murder victim was an Internal Affairs officer named Perez, and they surmise that perhaps a dirty cop killed her. Cooper sends the pair to speak with her superior officer.

The pair interview Detective Farwell, who not only allows the duo to search the fallen officer’s apartment, he supplies them with her computer password which she entrusted to him. The password “Frank Sturgeon,” makes Ressler naturally quite nervous, and he zones out on Navabi as they head to the apartment. Donald tells Navabi to search the bedroom, but she stops first and asks him what’s up? He replies that he’s engrossed in trying to catch a cop killer, but she senses it’s much more than that.

While Samar searches the bedroom, Donald quickly finds the woman’s tablet, and types in her password. He finds a file with his name on it and finds an audio file within it. The audio file’s a doctored recording of the officer answering her phone, followed by Donald threatening Prescott, so that it sounds like he threatened the woman. At that moment his cellphone rings, Raymond’s on the other end and says it might be a good time for them to have a talk.

Turns out that Raymond orchestrated this whole affair, realizing that Donald was indebted to Prescott, and knowing the informant was one of his clients. He tells Ressler he wanted to know how far he had fallen down the rabbit hole. and Ressler passed the test. He then suggests that they visit Sonia Fisher together, and try to obtain some information from her.

Navabi heads back to the Post Office, and voices her concerns about Ressler to Cooper, and he replies that Ressler’s seemed unfocused. She says she’s worried about him, that he left he apartment they were searching without telling her. Harold assures her that he’ll talk to Donald, but he assigns her and Aram to go and speak with Judge Fisher again.

Ressler and Reddington speak to Fisher, who at first denies all their allegations, but quickly crumbles when she finds out the FBI are about to arrest her for being an accessory in a crime. We find out during this exchange that our old pal Brimley’s enjoying his golden years working at an ostrich farm.

Fisher asks Raymond if he had ever been honest, and he replies that he considers himself to be quite honest. She responds that she once was honest and moral and had convictions, but that part of her life ended when her teenage son got busted for assault. The young woman he’d assaulted had gotten a rape kit, and her son’s promising future appeared to be over before it began. Then she got a call from one of her son’s classmate’s father, an attorney who told her he could make the situation go away. The rape kit turned up missing the next morning, she didn’t ask for it to be taken, but she didn’t protest.

A few months later, the lawyer came looking for favors that she felt obligated to fulfill. She allowed guilty parties to walk free, and looked the other way countless times. Raymond says he can supply her new identity in a new country overnight, if she gives them Prescott’s real name. She reveals Prescott’s real name Mitchell Hatley, then excuses herself to get her coat in the bedroom.

Reddington starts relating a parable to Ressler about self-forgiveness, but his story’s quickly interrupted by a woman’s scream. Donald rushes to the bedroom to find that the judge took her own life by leaping out her bedroom window to the pavement below. Samara and Aram arrive just after she hits the pavement, and miss seeing Ressler in the window by a millisecond.

While Dembe drives, Ressler and red have a discussion in the back seat of the car. Donald says that he never thanked Reddington for avenging Audrey’s death and preventing the agent from taking the law into his own hands. Raymond told Ressler at that moment to go home, instead of going searching in the darkness, as he might find things down that path, he can never return from. Although Donald didn’t go home, he did heed Raymond’s advice, keeping himself from committing an unforgivable act.

He tells Reddington that the reason he wanted Hatley’s identity was to arrest him, not to kill him. Raymond responds that if Hatley goes to prison, than Ressler will as well. Donald says it’s his only way for him to escape the darkness and find the light again.

Ressler tracks down Hatley playing in a neighborhood football game, with parents and kids all participating. Hatley’s face goes gray when he sees Ressler, and asks “Sturgeon,” what he’s doing there. Mitchell’s wife asks him if he knows Donald and he introduces himself and tells her that her husband’s been doing an awful lot of lying to her. As the neighbors start to chime in, Hatley runs off with Ressler in pursuit. Dembe and Raymond, just happened to be in the neighborhood, and Raymond stops Hatley from running with a strategically placed car door.

Hatley flashes that maniacal grin once again, this time his teeth stained in blood, and goads Ressler to kill him, saying it’s the only way to save them both from going to prison. Ressler cocks his pistol and glares at Hatley, until Raymond calls out his name, then he holsters his pistol and arrests Hatley.

Donald heads back to the Post Office and makes a beeline for Cooper’s office. Both men want to talk at the same time, but Harold takes command and tells him that Mitchell Hatley died in an accident on his way to getting booked. The scene switches and we see Hatley trapped inside an empty vehicle that’s tipped upside down and is leaking gasoline all over the interior of the vehicle. Raymond sticks his head into the vehicle and tells Hatley that Donald Ressler sends his regards and then sets the vehicle ablaze.

Donald tells Cooper that Reddington killed Hatley and got rid of the evidence incriminating him, but Harold refuses to discuss the matter. Then Ressler gives him a sealed envelope containing a signed confession. Harold tells his agent that he’s realized the pain and anguish he’s been suffering for months. He then says that none of them are the same people that first signed onto the Task-Force. He says he’ll hold onto the confession until the Task-Force’s completed it’s mission, then he’ll give it to the proper authorities. As long as Ressler gives those same authorities Harold’s signed confession at the same time, and hands the agent another sealed envelope.

Ressler angrily heads over to Raymond’s apartment and demands to know why he killed Hatley despite the agent’s wishes. Reddington tells him not to flatter himself, that Hatley knew all about Red’s relationship with the Bureau, and that he needed to be silenced. Ressler says that he didn’t extract himself from being under Hatley’s thumb to in turn being obligated to Reddington.

Raymond replies that sins should be buried like dead, not that they be forgotten, but for us to remember them but find our way forward nonetheless. He says he hopes this serves that purpose for Donald, and besides blackmail’s too nasty a business to be brought up between friends. Ressler leaves the apartment grabbing a pricey looking liquor decanter on his way out the door.

Coming Up: PART TWO: She’s Not Coming Back Is She?

Photo: Courtesy Of Walking Dead

Photo: Courtesy Of Walking Dead

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Maggie is crying slow, defeated tears with her back to a snarl of tree and brush. It’s the kind of crying you do when you’re so exhausted you can’t muster the energy to weep and you can’t muster the energy to suppress it, either. A walker approaches and Maggie, barely managing to suppress a sob, turns to kill it with the least effort possible. She slumps back to the ground before the walker quits twitching.

Hands, quickly revealed to be Daryl’s, claw through dark, crumbling dirt in search of earthworms. He finds one, barely grimacing as he knocks the excess dirt off of it and pops it into his mouth.

Sasha is looking for any sort of damp earth in a creek bed. But, as she looks ahead and realizes that the water has been gone so long that the frogs have dried to death, she realizes she won’t find it. Maggie and Daryl approach and the three silently accept that their search has yielded nothing.

They head back to the van they’ve been traveling in, where the rest of them have regrouped , waiting for the three to return. Their equally unsuccessful searches are apparent from a quarter-mile away. As they trudge towards the van, Maggie wonders aloud, with the kind of eloquence that only a southern farmer’s daughter can, “How much longer [they] got.” Sasha answers they have sixty miles to their destination. But Maggie wasn’t talking about distance.

Shortly after, the van runs out of gas, and Rick gives the order to continue on foot. Rick might have meant “forward march,” but everyone is too tired, hungry, and thirsty to manage more than a desperate shuffle. A few walkers trail a few dozen yards behind them as they continue walking along the road. Daryl brings them to Rick’s attention, but Rick isn’t immediately concerned. The corpses aren’t shuffling too quickly themselves, and the group is dangerously low on energy and resources. Rick wants to wait for the right opportunity to expend the energy it will take to eliminate them. Not letting on to whether or not Daryl thinks this is a particularly good idea, Daryl agrees.

Rick shifts the conversation to Beth. Completely unsurprisingly, Daryl hasn’t said anything about losing her, and the silence is becoming eerie, even for Daryl. He’s not interested in the conversation, though. After an unsuccessful attempt at directing their talk about Judith, he tells Rick he’s going to make another run into the woods to see if he can find any food or water. Hearing this, Carol says that she’ll join him. Daryl tries to decline, but Carol won’t let Daryl grunt and shuffle away from her. “Are you going to try to stop me?” she asks, confident that he won’t protest.

The group continues their slog along the highway, and Carl gives Maggie a music box he found. It’s a little girl’s music box, the kind with the ballerina that pops up and twirls on a spring if you wind it up. This one is broken, but Carl is so desperate to get Maggie to be even a little less despondent that he’s willing to try anything. It works, maybe a bit.

Any of Maggie’s goodwill is shattered, though, when super-clueless Gabriel approaches her, trying first to make conversation about uncomfortable priest collars and hairshirts and, when Maggie blows him off with extreme prejudice, offers to listen to her troubles and loss. Maggie has zero time for Gabriel’s constantly anxious, weeping, Cowardly Lion ways. She reminds him that he left his entire congregation to die and walks away from him.

More walkers have gathered behind the group, like vultures who are also nearly starved to death. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re also starving, or if it’s because their flesh is rotting off their bones therefore making it harder to walk.

Sasha tries to convince Michonne to help her address the situation, but Michonne agrees with Rick that they should bide their time on the attack. Sasha volunteers to do it herself. Michonne, apparently unable to deal with Sasha’s oozing anger and destructive tendencies, tries to tell Sasha that Tyreese wouldn’t want her acting so aggressively. Sasha rebuffs Michonne’s concerns—the two weren’t the same then, and they’re not the same now. Michonne tries to tell Sasha that anger is anger, no matter if its Tyreese’s kind or Sasha’s, but Sasha won’t hear it.

Carol and Daryl are still searching for some sort of anything in the woods. They reach a clearing, but it’s too dry for either food or water to be nearby. Carol suggests they start back, and Daryl tries to send her on ahead. She won’t, though. Instead, she tells Daryl that Beth saved her life in the hospital, and gives him Beth’s knife that she’s been hanging onto. Daryl takes the knife, turning it over in his hands. Carol continues, concerned and fierce, that she knows that Daryl needs to let himself feel Beth’s loss. For herself, she admits that she can’t allow herself the space for grief and pain, but she knows that she and Daryl aren’t the same in that regard. She encourages him to confront Beth’s death, brushes his grimy hair from his face, kisses his equally grimy forehead, and turns to rejoin the group.

The group has come upon a short bridge over a deep, narrow ravine. They line up in a triangle-ish formation to finally address the growing number of walkers tailing them. As they begin to stagger and lunge at the still-living, the crew dodges and shifts their momentum, hurling the oncoming dead into the ravine. It all goes well enough until Sasha begins stabbing them instead of chucking them aside, which riles them up for some reason. The walkers begin to advance more aggressively and, as Abraham notes, the plan of conserving energy and chucking them into the ravine “goes to shit.” Sasha proves herself to be a dangerously loose cannon in the melee, nearly killing Michonne and giving Abraham a good-sized gash on his bicep.

They continue their trek after the walkers have been dealt with, and soon enough they come along a wreckage of a few cars. They decide to take another break to scavenge through the vehicles, and Daryl splits off into the woods again.

Maggie approaches the nearest car, finding nothing in the cabin, but in the trunk is a walker, bound and gagged, who looks like Beth might have if she’d starved to death and then turned. She shuts the trunk and begins to walk away, but the walker has begun to beat against the sides of the trunk. Overwhelmed, Maggie turns to open the trunk and kill it, but the keys are stuck. She quickly becomes frustrated, grunting and clawing at the keys to try to open the trunk. Glenn approaches and talks to her in the quiet, even tones that you use when faced with someone whose emotions are so raw that the slightest shock from a trusted source might send them into a complete meltdown. He manages to jiggle the trunk open,

and, seeing the resemblance the walker bears to Maggie’s dead sister, quickly puts it down and walks away, hoping that Maggie will find comfort and reassurance in his calm, nonplussed demeanor.

The search of the cars has given the group nothing but a bottle of cheap whiskey that Abraham is steadily applying himself to. Rosita, most of all, is not happy with Abraham’s decision to drink, since the alcohol will only make his physical condition deteriorate more rapidly, plus being drunk doesn’t mix well with fighting off walkers, but she handles it in a matter that is both matter of fact and completely disgusted.

As they group rests, a pack of dogs, formerly pets but who have long returned to a more basic way of life, rushes upon the group. They bark and snarl and begin to surround the humans. Everyone hunches into battle positions, but Sasha takes them out with her silenced rifle before anyone can make a move. With a look that is grim even for this show, Rick begins to gather firewood. The scene cuts to roasting dog meat over tiny fires. Some (Daryl) are having less trouble than others (Tara) getting it down. Noah, looking up at Sasha much the way he looked at Tyreese when they came upon his overrun home, confides that he can’t manage to eat the dogs and that he doesn’t know if he’s going to make it. Sasha, offering none of the comfort or wisdom that Tyreese had to give, firmly and flatly tells him that if he thinks that, he won’t. She encourages him to eat and not think. Crowded around fires in unbearably sweltering East Coast summer heat, Gabriel has unbuttoned his shirt and loosened his collar. Chewing as unhappily as a starving man can chew, he removes the white collar entirely and throws it into the fire. The scene fades as the group eats in silence.

They continue to walk. Glenn coaxes Maggie into taking a tiny sip of water, and tries to do the same with Daryl. Daryl, though, jets off into the woods again. Abraham continues to drink the bottle of cheap whiskey he found. He offers the bottle to Sasha, who refuses and chides that alcohol is only going to make their situation worse. Abraham, presumably pretty buzzed from nothing but whiskey on a days-empty stomach, tells Sasha that, if she keeps acting out, that she’ll be the one making things way worse than he could with a bottle of alcohol. She’s among friends, he says, and she shouldn’t be so destructive. Sasha, as unhappy with Abraham’s unsolicited conversation as Maggie was with Gabriel’s, asserts that they’re not friends and walks away. Abraham considers, and nods as he takes another drink.

Daryl has gone off to look for water in the woods. A clearing and the corner of a barn comes into sight, but instead of investigating, he slumps at the base of a tree and takes a few broken cigarettes and a lighter from his pocket. He lights one and takes a few guilty-looking drags. Smoking isn’t great for dehydration and malnutrition, either, but it quickly becomes clear that he’s not struggling with his decision to smoke. He holds the cigarette with both hands, staring at it, half-gone and still lit, and stubs it out on the back of his left hand between thumb and pointer fingers. From the raised tissue beneath the filth and ashes on his hand, it looks like he’s been indulging in this habit for a while. As he brushes the ash off the blistering burn, he begins to choke up silent, heavy sobs.

When Daryl returns to the group, he finds that they’ve come across several clean-looking containers of water on the road, with a note that simply reads “from a friend.” Okay, sure, seems legit, right?

Rick refuses to consider drinking it, but Eugene wants to believe that it’s not a trap. Besides, if they’re being tempted with something as blatant as this, whoever has laid the trap certainly has worse in mind for them anyway. He raises a bottle, offering to be the guinea pig, but Abraham slaps it away like Eugene still has the cure to save the world locked up in his brain somehow. They glare at each other as Rick continues to reject any idea of accepting the water.

But then the skies opened, and it began to rain.

Most of the group is at least kind of encouraged by the sudden storm, tilting their heads back to drink. Daryl, Maggie, and Sasha, though, simply stand and stare ahead as if they don’t even notice they’re getting wet.

The rain soon turns into a threatening storm, and the group hurries to a barn that Daryl found. In clearing the space, Maggie comes across another walker—another emaciated woman, in a delicate blouse and skirt. The walker has a gun nearby, and, after she stabs it in the head, she wonders why the woman didn’t use it before she died and turned. Carol, approaching her from behind, remarks that the woman must have been like them—unable to give up, no matter how hard it gets.

As the group waits out the storm and settles in for the night, they begin discussing the world. Michonne insists that this isn’t the world, but Glenn wonders if it just might be. Michonne won’t accept that there is nothing more than wandering about, starving and barely not getting killed. Rick, while he wants to believe that they’ll find a place to settle in DC, also knows that the group will be okay if they don’t.

And here Rick gives his “grandfather in the war against the Germans” speech, which is really well done and well delivered and I’m not going to butcher it by trying to sum it up here. It is, though, where the series gets its title—Rick’s grandfather was convinced he was a dead man every day of the war, and would pretend that he was so in order to force himself to continue fighting. This wretched place they’re plodding through is just what they have to get through in order to live. Becoming The Walking Dead, he explains, is how they’re managing to survive.

Daryl, though, won’t agree that they’re like the walking dead. Rick, maybe realizing that his suggestion that they all pretend they’re dead might be unbearable for someone who has just lost someone they loved dearly, tries to clarify his meaning. They’re not like the walkers, of course, but they’re dead in another way. Daryl still doesn’t buy it.

The group begins to settle in for the night, but soon some walkers begin to claw at the door. Daryl first tries to hold them off, then Maggie, then Sasha, then the whole group is pressing against the door and grinding their feet into the mud floor of the barn trying to keep it closed. The scene flashes with their anguished faces, the wind howling and thunder roaring, and fades to black.

Maggie wakes up blinking as the rest of the group is asleep early the next morning. She sees Daryl awake, and the two briefly talk about Sasha and her grief over the loss of her sibling. Tyreese was tough, Daryl states. He pauses for just a fraction, barely glancing at Maggie as he adds, “She was, too.” The she, of course, is Maggie’s own lost sibling. And I think that’s the most Daryl Dixon might ever be able to say

about how much he loved and how much he misses Beth Greene. He hands Maggie the music box Carl gave her (the one with the slight blonde figurine inside with her own affinity for music), saying he might have fixed it.

Maggie takes the box and walks over to Sasha, waking her so they can take a walk outside and check their perimeter.

Outside, they’re astounded by what they see. It looks like a small tornado has cut through the woods right outside the barn, uprooting the pine trees and turning all available branches and roots into walker kebabs. The women, faithless and heartbroken as they are, are moved.

They sit on a fallen tree and watch the beginning of the cloudy, steamy sunrise that begins after a night of summer rainstorms. Sasha confesses that she feels the same way that Noah does—she doesn’t know if she’s going to make it. Maggie assures her that the two of them are going to make it, and then admits that making it is just as hard as not making it. She opens the jewelry box, for a distraction, mentioning that Daryl had fixed it.

It doesn’t work. The two would have shared a long laugh about it, but out of nowhere a very clean, LL Bean-clad stranger approaches, giving a message of friendship and asking to talk to Rick. By name. Maggie and Sasha draw on the man, who introduces himself as Aaron and insists that he can be trusted. As the women express their disbelief, the music box begins to play from its spot on the fallen tree.

Is Aaron the “friend” who left the water? Is he really a friend? Will Rick trust him?

We’ll see you next week, kiddos!

The Story Continues Next Sunday Night at 10:00 pm on AMC.