The Walking Dead: Them Review

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)



Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“We tell ourselves that we are the walking dead.”

To say the group is in dire straits would be an understatement. Three weeks since the death of Beth in Atlanta, the group is exhausted, desperate for water and looking for something to motivate them. It’s gotten so matter of fact for them that the trailing group of walkers doesn’t even concern them, as they’re content to just simply keeping on walking and not even worrying about the growing horde. It’s a testament to something the show hasn’t really touched on this deeply to this point—a sense of utter defeat on the part of the main protagonists. And “Them” was a great episode for getting the viewer up to speed with where everyone in the group is emotionally.

Sasha is the embodiment of that approach, as she’s taking the recent deaths of Bob and Tyreese especially hard. It only makes sense for her, considering one was a love and the other was her brother, but her reckless abandon is starting to wear thin on others in the group. Her emotions though are a microcosm of the emotions of the group as a whole to an extent. Her brashness in dealing with the walkers following was a coping mechanism, but her blunt affirmation to Abraham that none of them are friends was much more telling. Sasha’s found solace in the group to better her survival chances, but she’s also keenly aware that the group’s protection of her only goes as far as she’s useful to them.

Maggie’s coping is also on display on the episode, as she’s now lost just about all of her family over the course of the past few seasons. When Maggie was first introduced, she wasn’t really a character that seemed like she would get very far in this world. She’s managed to demonstrate persistent grit though that’s carried her through the good times and the bad, even bringing her life into a partnership with Glenn’s. For her to feel defeated, it’s being made very clear that the group is down on their luck and that things just seem to keep getting worse. And there’s even more of resonance for her when she finds a copy of the Bible in the barn, reminding her of everything she came from.

Two of the more interesting aspects of the episode have to do with external forces that were something of irregularities. The first was the pack of wild dogs that stumbled upon the group as they rested alongside the road. They could have just been scavengers or they could be tied to the message found in the neighborhood warning that the “wolves are coming.” The second interesting aspect was the water supply drop left for the group with a note that indicated it was from a friend. The identity of the donor wasn’t really broached at all during the episode, save for the end. It was at the end when a mysterious stranger arrived to make an offer of assistance to the group, planting a seed for where the season will go from here.

The most powerful aspect of the episode (and possibly the series) found the survivors in the abandoned barn where they weathered a fierce thunderstorm. At the moment when they thought they were able to catch a break, a slew of zombies arrived and started knocking at the door. What followed was a very strong scene where one by one, members of the group jumped up to help the others blocking the door. The deeper part of it was not a single one of them called for help. Instead, everyone knew what needed to be done and did it without hesitation, rushing to the aid of the others immediately.

The Walking Dead thrives on turmoil, as complacency makes the show feel boring; yet it’s those moments where the group gets time with their thoughts that things get very philosophical. “Them” is an episode that really excelled at giving the players a chance to actually feel down on themselves, an opportunity not really afforded to them that often in a world where one false move could mean death. Despite its exceptionally methodical and slow pacing, the episode managed to cram in a lot of character exploration and emotional heft. The group is content to continue onwards to Washington, DC, if they can manage to muster up enough for what they hope is one last major push to survive. That push could mean either their survival or their death, but one thing is certain in that the group will be tested in ways that even them haven’t been tested before.

Rating: 5 out of 5


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