This review contains spoilers.
The episode begins and I immediately have flashbacks to “Look at the flowers”, as we get multiple shots of various flowers and weeds, before a single blood drip hits a dandelion. Aaron and Gabriel start taking out some Walkers, and here it was the sound that did the storytelling! Instead of seeing, we heard, and saw the resulting blood splatters on all the flowers we had previously seen. It was a very artistic opening! It also got me hyped, because if you regularly read our Walking Dead reviews, you know I love Aaron!
The pair stumble upon the broken down remains of a small camp, with the charred bodies, of what appears to be a family, two adults and one child. While both men show a hard outer shell, Aaron’s facial expression slightly betrays him. This hints that this episode is going to deal with some inner conflict and I am all about that! The music in this scene was perfect – subtle, yet moving. They move on to find a Walker sat down by a tree who, once animated, essentially rips his back off, as he has been there so long that he has forged himself with the tree. Cool, but gross! Gabriel throws a cooking timer into the field, and once it begins to ding, a whole group of Walkers rise up from the tall grass, awakened from their slumber. It’s a very smart idea that! The music again is doing so much of the heavy lifting and really helping to elevate the scene. There is a clear note of sadness but also a begrudged acceptance? Like, this is life, this is all be do now. It’s lethargic in a way.
Boy, all of that storytelling, with hardly a word spoken and all before the opening credits! Does this have the makings of a season defining episode?
Aaron uses his super hand to try and break into a store, while searching for supplies. I’ll give them props here, they got me! We are treated to a jump scare, as a bunch of Walker arms coming through the cracks in the door. It was nicely done! Gabriel fights back by cutting off their arms, and then comes the second ‘gross out’ moment of the episode, as the duo try to pull a Walker out of the door, but instead of pulling its arms off, the skin just comes off and the two hit the deck. Again, gross! As their search continues they find the skeletal remains of a couple on a mattress, they died head on head, showing a loving embrace. Again those slow, sorrowful musical notes of the guitar evoke so many emotions. The music is definitely the MVP of the episode so far!
Aaron and Gabriel are very much at two different places right now. Gabriel continues to grow colder, but more driven while Aaron is growing tired and starting to question things. These two conflicting characters work so well together. We learn that they have been on this same food-finding routine for two weeks now and Aaron is reaching his limit. They have been using Maggie’s map to visit all the different locations trying to gather much needed supplies.
Back out in the woods, Gabriel falls into a giant mud puddle and a Walker attempts to grab him. Aaron kills the Walker and the two share a semi-comedic moment. This was a nice little insert scene just to break up the tension and weight of the emotional beats of the episode. Although they are now mapless!
They stumble upon a large warehouse unit and enter. Aaron uses his arm to try and cause a reaction from anything or anyone lurking inside. Nothing! The pair start searching the rooms and something unseen charges at Aaron. Gabriel is alerted to the screams and comes to help, although the danger has passed. It was a boar and Aaron managed to kill it, although Gabriel does comment on Aaron’s, erm, scream… another much needed comedic beat! It works, because Aaron finally breaks a smile and some of that weight is lifted. The two pair share a meal and drink together and Gabriel starts to chip away at Aaron’s baggage. He knows what he’s doing, but it also feels like Gabriel is also offloading his own issues and both of these characters just need to vent and get it all out of their systems. Gabriel’s speech in this scene was particularly moving and powerful. Aaron talks about how he was much happier when he was out helping people but Gabriel says that life will never go back to the way it was because “Evil people aren’t the exception to the rule, they are the rule” – Such an incredible line and delivery!
The morning after, and waking up with what I can only imagine to be the mother of all hangovers, Gabriel realises that Aaron is not with him. He sets off to try and find him but all of a sudden a figure appears down the corridor and it’s not Aaron! A hooded man asks what they were cooking, Gabriel replies and the man says that he’d like a bite… pulling down his hood to reveal ROBERT PATRICK!!! I had no idea he was cast in the show! He looked so menacing and sinister. I knew I recognised the voice I just couldn’t place it! It turns out this is his place and that was his boar and his whisky. And if things couldn’t get even tenser, he pulls out Aaron’s metal hand… sans Aaron of course! After a great exchange between the two, mainly about bible toilet paper, he brings Aaron out, who is strapped to a chair. And now it’s time for a game of Russian Roulette! What followed was an incredibly intense and powerful scene between three actors giving it their all and it was just outstanding! Just as we learn Patrick’s character name, Mays, Gabriel kills him with Aaron’s metal hand, and with Aaron still in shock, he reaffirms that they are the good guys! The entire juxtaposition of this scene was just chefs kiss.
A question is raised, if Mays had heard all of their conversation, where was he hiding? Into the roof with go! Once there, we find out what did happen to his brother and his family, we also see the bother, also played by Robert Patrick, very much alive and chained up. Gabriel releases him but he shoots himself. Imagine being tied up in front of your family and having to see their bodies decay day after day. No wonder he offed himself! Brutal punishment.
The pair head on out to the water tower and the episode title, ‘one more’ is dropped before the credits hit.
I loved, loved this episode! This was easily one of my favourite episodes of all time! And it’s not just because it is an Aaron-centric episode – you could have put anyone in Aaron’s position and it would still have been just as good. The storytelling combined with music and the performances made this a great example of what this show gets right. The drama was blended perfectly with the comedy aspects on top of the action. I thought Robert Patrick was a great addition as a one-shot character and brought so much gravitas to his character. I think having a known face, like Patrick, in this role made the episode better than say if ti was just a random actor. It gave so much more weight to the episode.
We are now half way through these final six episodes and this one is going to be a tough act to follow!
What did make of the latest episode The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below.