'The Walking Dead' Review: "Claimed"

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The Walking Dead’ season 4 brings to life its 11th episode, “Claimed,” as Rick, Michonne and Carl deal with an unexpected threat to their newfound home, while Glenn awakens to the surprising truth of fellow survivors Abraham, Eugene and Rosita's mission to Washington D.C.

Last week’s ‘The Walking Dead’ installment, “Inmates,” saw Daryl and Beth searching for survivors, while Tyreese struggled to keep the children safe, Maggie and Glenn followed each other's trails, and several faces made unexpected arrivals, so what does the latest episode of season 4 bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘The Walking Dead’ season 4, episode 11, “Claimed!”

Abraham and the group stop their truck to clear the road, as Abraham impresses Tara with his physical prowess taking down walkers. Elsewhere, Michonne and Carl laugh over breakfast, before an accidental mention of Judith sends Carl off sulking. Michonne asks Rick about their plan, to which Rick suggests they remain at the house for the time being, reluctantly agreeing to rest when Michonne offers to take Carl out for supplies.

A while later, Michonne does her best to lighten Carl’s mood, but admits that she was better at getting toddlers to laugh than older boys. Carl questions what she means, to which Michonne admits that she had a 3 year-old son. Michonne agrees to answer one of Carl’s questions per room of the next house they clear, revealing that her son Andre Anthony died after the zombie outbreak, and that she hadn’t told anyone else about him. Back at the house, Rick awakens to hear strangers ransacking the house, forcing him to hide under the bed without his gun, as one of the men comes upstairs and goes to take a nap.

Michonne follows distressing signs through the house to find an entire family dead within a young girl’s room, all gently put down to prevent reanimation. Michonne attempts to hide the gruesome scene from Carl, though he figures it out and conjures the happy thought that his sister and Michonne’s son might be together somewhere. Meanwhile, back at the house, Rick does his best to keep silent as another man enters the room and demands a turn in the bed, beginning a violent struggle. The second man tackles the first to the ground, where he sees Rick under the bed, but dies of strangulation before he can say anything.

Glenn awakens on the truck to learn from Tara that they’ve since passed the prison bus by three hours, at which point Glenn demands Abraham stop the vehicle. As Glenn gathers his gear to begin the journey back, Sgt. Abraham Ford introduces himself and his companions Rosita and Eugene, insisting to Glenn their best bet is to stick together. Abraham explains that their mission will take them to Washington D.C., where scientist Eugene claims to be able to end the zombie apocalypse once and for all, though the details have been classified.

Glenn insists on returning to look for Maggie, but when Abraham suggests he has no hope of finding her, Glenn attacks and the two begin to brawl. Back at the truck, Eugene sees several walkers emerging from the corn field, at which he fires wildly while the others are distracted. Hearing the danger, all quickly pitch in to take down the horde of walkers, after which Abraham sees that Eugene hit the truck’s fuel line.

Rick sneaks out from under the bed while the man remains sleeping on it, desperately looking for a way out of the house while trying to avoid detection. In doing so, Rick accidentally enters a bathroom occupied by one of the men, and Rick is forced to kill him. Taking the man’s gun, Rick manages to make it outside the house, but quickly finds himself trapped when another man goes to the porch to eat. Meanwhile back at the truck, Abraham sees no hope of fixing the vehicle, while Glenn and Tara say their goodbyes. Rosita follows, seeing no alternative, as Eugene agrees that they’d do best to delay their mission until they can find another vehicle.

Rick sees Michonne and Carl returning to the house, and prepares to kill the man on the porch, before sounds of walker commotion from inside the house draw the man away. Rick flees and intercepts Carl and Michonne, allowing their stealthy getaway. Meanwhile, on the road, Abraham questions Tara about why she would choose to follow Glenn when their mission carries greater importance, to which Tara questions why Abraham would follow Eugene without any assurance of his supposed mission.

Out on the railroad tracks, Rick, Carl and Michonne find a sign directing them toward a supposed sanctuary, and decide to follow it.

OUR REVIEW:

If raging debate over the past week has served as any kind of guide, the post-prison run of ‘The Walking Dead’’s fourth season has proved exceptionally polarizing. Some of us prefer the quieter, more emotional hours, while others preferred last week’s Rashomon-style answer-dump. And while “Claimed” doesn’t really fit into either of those camps, instead more formally introducing us to Abraham, Rosita and Eugene, while Michonne and Carl bond, and Rick faces threats of the living variety, it remains difficult to say where audience reactions will land.

On the one hand, the bombshell revelation of Abraham and Eugene’s mission should represent a major turning point for the series, even if the idea of explaining, or potentially stopping the apocalypse, had more or less been addressed way back in the first season with Dr. Jenner. Yet here, “Claimed” doesn’t really allow enough time for the idea to resonate, nor does Eugene himself get any chance to expound upon his claims, casting a very different light on the trio than in the books. Instead, the idea of "saving the world" is quickly dismissed to follow Glenn, for mere lack of a better alternative, spreading both characterizations of the new group and their supposed actions somewhat thin. Abraham is hot-headed, but devout, Eugene seems somewhat shifty, and exposition tells us that Rosita is in love with Abraham. Cool story, bro.

The other side of the coin treats fans to a bit more of Michonne’s backstory and her bond with Carl, owing back to their time spent together in last season’s “Clear.” Granted, their explorations and crazy cheese hijinks don’t reveal anything particularly new about either character, but the dynamic between the pair at least keeps the story moving forward at a strong enough pace. They also make for a few palpable moments of dread as Rick finds himself helpless from a human threat, leaving Michonne and Carl unaware what they’d be walking into. And yet, the conflict never boils over into a single shot fired, nerve-wracking though it may have been, instead placing the group on the railroad tracks to the supposed sanctuary.

And that’s it, really. A few pieces moved here or there, brief introductions, and some heavier concepts to flirt with, but nothing strong enough to commit to. Presumably, one, if not all of the groups will begin to reunite at whatever sanctuary lies at the end of those tracks, but until we’re given some idea of what to expect from it, the main narrative for the back half of season 4 has quickly run out of steam.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of thrilling zombie killing?  What did you think about the revelations behind Abraham's mission? Check out all our other ‘Walking Dead’ season 4 premiere coverage, and join us next week for another all-new episode recap of episode 12, “Still,” on AMC!

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