In this week’s instalment of Fractured Apocalyptic Tales, with everyone’s favourite prison group still scattered to the walker-infested four winds, Michonne got more than a touch of the Pharrell Williams, Carl fancied himself a quizmaster, Rick dived under beds and off awnings, and Glenn got stubborn as a mule determined to find his missus.
That was pretty much “Claimed” in a nutshell, an episode which aimed for a great deal and didn’t always get there.
One thing was for certain – Michonne (Danai Gurira) was happy.
Well as happy as you can get when you’re finally admitting that you had a partner and a three year old son who died and are being quizzed like Alex Trebek on Undead Jeopardy! by a hyper-interested teenager – that would be you Carl (Chandler Riggs), who has temporarily forgotten his manners in his eagerness to find out the truth about Michonne.
For her part, freed from the oppressive emotional baggage of the past seemed determined to reclaim her life, such as it now is, Michonne is laughing and kidding around over breakfast with Carl, for whom she has adopted the role of hip, fun aunty, until, uh-oh, someone goes and mentions little ass-kicker, Judith.
That would be you again Carl.
Now we all know she’s safe for now with Tyreese (Chad L Coleman) way over on yonder railroad tracks – which Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Carl and Michonne stumble onto at episode’s end on their way to the “sanctuary” of Terminus, heeding the sign “Sanctuary for all. Community for all. Those that arrive, survive.” – but Carl and Michonne don’t know that.
So breakfast ended on rather a sour note (all the more interesting since there is no milk).
But they head out regardless to forage for food, water and batteries in some nearby houses, tensions initially thick between them, with Carl permitted to ask one question about Michonne’s past once they have checked and cleared a room for useful goodies.
Naturally being a typical teenager, despite the atypical context, he tries to push the rules of this “game” almost from the get-go, and Michonne who clearly has a soft spot for her unofficial nephew, enquiring at one point if he found “candy bars or comic books?”, indulges him and bit by bit we find out that his name was Andre Anthony, he was her only child and he had a cheeky, extrovert personality.
What’s touching about these scenes is that everyone’s favourite katana sword-wielding walker slayer seems free, lighter somehow, happy to talk about her son, as if someone has switched on the light again.
Feeling a sufficient bond has been re-established between again, Michonne broaches the topic of Judith, and Carl, quite tenderly, says he hopes Judith, who he admits he named, has found Andre Anthony and they’re happy together.
It’s a simple, un-corny moment, just two people in the midst of undead hell who by rights have a lot to feel deeply sad about, finding some solace in shared experiences and knowledge.
The easygoing, fun-loving dynamic between the two characters, which was on display back at the prison, is back in force and it was nice to see the two re-connect.
Just don’t mention Judith OK? Great, got it? Good.
Meanwhile back at the White Picket Fence Resort, otherwise known as the house that might be HOME or might not be – Rick isn’t sure when Michonne quizzes him about whether this is their new residence or a way station to that unspecified place – Rick’s plans for a chillaxing day of reading, sleeping and a little drinking are blown to smithereens pretty much straight off the bat by a bunch of good ol’ boys.
Invading the house with so much as “By your leave, sir”, they crash their way in, barely giving Rick, who’s upstairs time to dive under the bed on which he is lying with his book … oops forgot the water bottle! … oops forgot something else! … before stomping in and fighting over the bed.
It’s unclear whether the loser in this struggle is dead or not but Rick isn’t keen to find out so as soon as the victor is cutting some ZZZZs with a vengeance up top, he is squeezing out from under the bed, killing a surprised man in the toilet – quite why he goes to the toilet with his pants up is anyone’s guess but I am guessing it’s for propriety’s sake; let’s face it there are some things you can’t even show on cable – and gun in hand, leaping out of the house via the roof, all decked out in a fancy new white T-shirt and a jacket.
Then it’s a waiting game, hiding just around from the verandah for his moment to get the house back – given of course that Michonne and Carl can be seen in the distance heading back home (or to the way station … or thanks to the red necks buffoons none of the above now) and can’t walk into a trap – when all hell breaks loose inside with either the loser in the Battle o’ the Beds or Toilet Guy re-animating as a walker and getting a case of the munchies.
In theory this should be tremendously tense and action-filled but something about it just didn’t gel.
It seemed to be a whole lot of Rick waiting around under a bed looking worried … and then hiding in rooms looking worried … and then leaping off the awning looking worried.
It makes sense that he’s worried but honestly it didn’t feel that tension-filled.
Not a bad sequence but not the nail biter you might have expected it to be and a bit of a lost moment in the episode, especially not a single sighting of a walker was made (Greg Nicotero must have had that scene off).
And in the episode’s final On the Road Again strand, newly introduced character Sgt Abrahams (Michael Cudlitz, who is awesome from the word go), a man of sound principles and single-minded purpose – his determination to get mullet-haired Asperger-ish scientist Elliott (Josh McDermitt), who claims to know what caused the plague but won’t tell because it’s classified (in an apocalypse? Seriously dude?) is admirable but a tad inflexible – butts heads with Glenn (Steven Yuen).
All evidence to the contrary, including the burned out, surrounded by slain walkers school bus that Tara (Alanna Masterson) tells Glenn they passed “three hours ago” while he lay passed out in the back of the truck, Glenn is not just convinced that Maggie is alive but that he can find her.
It’s a heart on his sleeves approach that Sgt Abrahams does his best to talk Glenn out of, to naturally no effect, and when a pointless bout of fisticuffs between the two distracts everyone from seeing the growing band of walkers emerging from the dried corn field – they’re behind you! No almost all around you! Will someone pay attention! – and Elliott, not a dab hand at weaponry, tries to fight them and shoots the truck to bits instead, they have no choice but to hit the road together.
It’s not a choice Abrahams makes of his own volition but one which is made for him by his girlfriend, The Tank Girl-esque Rosita (Christian Serratos) who pragmatically decides they can’t go to Washington DC just yet without a car or truck and might as well go with Glenn and Tara on their Mission o’ Love.
It’s actually not a bad part of the episode, establishing that Love True Love still has a place in the apocalypse, despite Abrahams arguing it doesn’t (would he be so benignly ruthless if it was Rosita out lost in the woods?) and that the sergeant and his group are Good People.
It provided the only real moment of walker action for the episode too which was important given that’s one of the reasons we watch the show.
Overall though “Claimed” was a bit of a nothing much of anything episode.
Not bad by any stretch – just not desperately action-filled or that thrilling – its worth as an instalment in Fractured Apocalyptic Tales largely due to the character revelations provided by Michonne and Carl, and Abrahams and Glenn and co.
Fingers crossed that “Still”, the next cab off the rank, amps up the pace just a little – yes I appreciate the irony in hoping that given the title – without sacrificing the tasty character reveals it has been doing so well of late.
* Here’s the promo trailer for next week’s episode “Still”, followed by a sneak peek of Darryl out getting supplies while Beth gets the home fires burnin’ (no, not those kind) …