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Well, if nothing really happened last week, almost nothing happened again this week. But, seeing as we are given a bit more information on Michonne’s past, along with the bare bones regarding our three new characters, “Claimed” does what it sets out to do.
One of the central conceits framing The Walking Dead is the idea that humans are often the worst monsters in the world (which is a fairly common idea for the zombie genre). The Rick-Michonne-Carl storyline serves to highlight this theme in fairly broad, but equally effective strokes. For Rick, the message is expressed through his cat and mouse game with the four unknown, but scarily violent, assailants who arrive at the Grimes residence while Michonne and Carl are out. We never get to find out who they are, but they come armed to the teeth and think nothing of beating each other. Some of the most suspenseful moments of Dead in recent memory come from Rick’s attempts to escape without drawing their attention.
But here’s the problem with the Rick storyline: I don’t believe that Rick will get caught. Someday, Rick will get killed on The Walking Dead. But only because, unless a “cure” is found, everyone will eventually die on the show. Yet, despite knowing that each character has an expiration date, I don’t believe the show has the guts to kill Rick. So some of the heightened tension would dissipate each time I reminded myself that Rick won’t get seriously injured in this situation (plus, he was just seriously injured, and the show wouldn’t knock him out of commission once again).
The Michonne-Carl storyline is much more successful, as it finally gives us a better idea as to what Michonne was doing before she ran into Andrea in the woods. As we all likely gathered a few episodes back, Michonne did indeed have a son, Andre Anthony. We still don’t know how he died, or any other new details, but seeing her willing to open up to Carl is definitely a positive step. As an audience, we can only care about characters when we are given reasons to. When Michonne was a scowling badass with a sword, we could admire her. Now that she is slowly becoming a more three dimensional character, we can truly start to care about her.
Speaking of characters becoming more three dimensional, it looks as if the show is finally giving us a reason to like (or at least enjoy rather than simply tolerate) Tara. Showing loyalty toward Glenn (even though Glenn has officially taken the top spot on the Worst and Most Annoying Walking Dead Characters list) and not being afraid to call out Abraham certainly goes a long way toward elevating Tara from an inept lackey of the Governor to a potentially useful person to have by your side in an apocalypse. As for someone you might not want by your side? The newly introduced Eugene, who promptly destroys the Army convoy truck Abraham and the gang are using. He may be a scientific genius, but he should be kept far away from firearms.
We do get to know a bit about the three new characters. Abraham is a former Army Sergeant, with a penchant for leading. Considering some of the individuals we’ve met along the way on the series, he appears to be pretty level headed. Eugene may be book smart, but he is certainly not a people person. He has a massive superiority complex which I’m sure will become an issue down the road. As for Rosita, all we know is that she is sassy and is in love with Abraham. As the gang is now headed back toward Maggie, Sasha, and Bob’s last known location, I’m sure we’ll get to find out more about these new characters soon.
All-in-all, this was a marginally successful episode. While the plot of the season lurched slowly ahead, there was important character development on display. The series is still hit and miss in terms of crafting strong plots to coincide with continued character development, but so long as the action moves forward without sacrificing the deepening of characters and their relationships, I’ll consider it a success.
— Michonne would have made an excellent mother. While she might not be great at making teenage boys laugh, her protective instincts toward Carl are excellent. And it is great to see her smile so much.
— I’m assuming that Rick, Michonne, and Carl opted to walk past the train track camp that Tyreese and Carol headed into last week. While I think they made the right choice, I’m still trying to piece together how the gang will get put back together if they don’t start running into each other soon. There aren’t many episodes left in the season.
— Glenn and Maggie really deserve each other, considering they both have almost zero survival instinct left. I understand wanting to find each other, but the incredibly stupid risks they are both willing to take to do so blow my mind. I miss the old Glenn and Maggie. Back before they were so deeply in love, both were really cool. Now, I almost wish they would both die.
— Rick didn’t seem to try all that hard to open those bedroom windows. Just saying.
— Eugene may not be the best conversationalist, but he certainly has the most interesting hair style choice. Lovely mullet, Eugene.