‘The Walking Dead’ Review: “Them”
The Walking Dead season 5 brings its 10th episode to life with Sunday's “Them,” as Rick's group trudges on in the aftermath of Tyreese and Beth, while a violent storm precedes the arrival of a mysterious stranger..
Last week’s The Walking Dead midseason premiere, “What Happened and What's Going On,” saw the group picking up in the aftermath of Beth’s loss, and searching for a new hope, only to be hit with another devastating death. So, what does the latest episode of season 5 bring?
Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about The Walking Dead season 5, episode 10, “Them”!
I was struck by the image of a broken clock in the road last week, if only to remember that The Walking Dead itself could stand by that very imagery; an ever-winding circle, hopelessly out of place. When you come down to it, The Walking Dead isn’t about ending the zombie apocalypse, or even its ever-shuffling core cast, but rather an endless, broken cycle. Whether in the comics or TV, the group will march toward some kind of shelter, some more permanent than the next, lose a few folk, and ultimately start over. A broken march of time, endlessly on the road.
From a creative standpoint, that’s a difficult concept to plot a series around, as unlike its comic predecessor, The Walking Dead will surely grow too expensive to last more than a few seasons down the road, and we don’t yet know what the spinoff will do to break that cycle of endless, roaming despair. Midway through five seasons, The Walking Dead's fire will show signs of flickering, and tonight’s “Them” felt like the flame’s lowest point yet. For as much springs to life by the arrival of a stranger with good news, a good 30-40 minutes of tonight’s installment saw the cast walking around and looking at stuff in search of hope, ultimately embracing despair.
To be fair, there’s a larger point within the misery, as Rick articulates during the barn scenes that they’ve somewhat become the walking dead themselves, aimlessly shuffling in search of something to raise their spirits. Using Maggie, Daryl and Sasha to work through that shambling grief helped make the emotions feel marginally more specific, but “Them” didn’t have a fresh perspective on the matter than the usual “allow yourself to feel sadness, but don’t give up.” That repetitive sentiment has carried us through multiple seasons now, but an hour comprised of so little actual plot makes it especially difficult to swallow.
A few things worked to “Them”s advantage at least, as the bridge fight created another inventive means of disposing of walkers with as little effort as possible, and the storm scene proved a visually exciting, if difficult to follow struggle. Not only that, but Sasha and Rick’s quick reaction to the wild dogs nicely articulated the state the group had fallen to, similar to the season 3 premiere’s unspoken reaction to dog food. A bit more literal in this case, while the bloody dog collar also neatly dovetailed with Father Gabriel removing his own, a symbol of individual identity having little meaning on the winding road.
The arrival of Aaron certainly picks things up, and “Them” quickly identifies the character as such, clean-cut look and all to set apart from the other survivors. Assuming the character fills the same function as in the comics (which we won’t necessarily spoil here), individual identity, or rather what’s left of it will prove far more integral in the coming episodes. "Them" certainly suffered for asking us to endure such slow, shuffling movement from its characters and plot, but a larger point on reaching one’s lowest should nicely set up what’s to come.
AND ANOTHER THING…
- This week in Daryl bad-assery: eating worms, and crying big, salty man tears. I might be the only one still holding a candle for Caryl-shipping, as well.
- Abraham made alcohol both the cause of, and solution to all of life’s problems.
- The aftermath of the storm was a fun visual, especially that one walker impaled high on a tree in the background. Still, one wonders at what point the group collectively decided that the weather/walker threat had subsided enough that they could sleep again.
- So, where was Aaron hunkered down during the storm, to still look so clean cut the next morning?
Stay tuned for more coverage of The Walking Dead season 5's latest, and join us next week for our review of The Walking Dead's next episode, "The Distance" on AMC!