[NOTE: This review is for The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 11 and contains SPOILERS!]
Television is a strange medium since individual episodes use a narrative structure: exposition, complication, conflict, climax, and resolution, while still acting as part of the larger story. With that in mind, ‘After’ and ‘Inmates’ functioned as exposition getting us caught up with the characters while setting up the plot for this next chapter. This week’s episode ‘Claimed’ would be the complication cog to the main story.
The episode opens with Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) having breakfast at the house. Soy milk is the topic of conversation, and Carl goes into things we would rather drink eventually mentioning Judith’s formula, where he quickly shuts down and leaves the room. Afterwards Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne have a discussion in the kitchen about whether or not the house has become their home or a stop along the way, a sentiment which comes off a little heavy-handed by the end of the episode. But the group splits up, with Rick staying to get some rest and recuperation while Michonne and Carl go on a supply run.
The rest of the time Michonne’s spends with Carl is an attempt to cheer him up and help cope with the memory of Judith. Michonne also opens up about her son Andre, which has Carl immediately drawn out of his headspace and asking her questions. Although we don’t learn anything more than what we already know about her past, her openness with Carl does add a further dimension to her character. A sweep of the house reveals a girl’s room has turned into a “suicide room” for the owners of the house, Michonne’s reaction to the room implies she might have had to put her son down in a similar fashion, but that’s just speculation. Carl finds Michonne shaken, but calms her nerves by suggesting that wherever Andre is Judith is probably there with him. Carl and Michonne;s bond over the loss of a toddler furthers the impact of the inevitable moment when Carl finds out that Judith is still alive.
Michonne and Carl’s story carries a dramatic weight, whereas Rick’s story is more survival adventure. During a nap, Rick wakes up to find people in the house, he hides under the bed waiting for a chance to sneak out. Once he gets the opportunity, he continues to hide in the upper rooms and eventually kills one of the armed guards in the bathroom. A timer element is added to the story as Rick scrambles to get out of the house before Carl and Michonne make it back. He gets out of the house and conveniently catches up to them as they approach the house, and the trio decides to travel the open road. They make their way to the train tracks and find a train car with the same sign from last week’s episode promising sanctuary. Ultimately, they decide to go.
The more interesting story belongs to Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) & Co., but the concepts they introduce are glossed over so quickly they lose their meaning in the shuffle of the two other stories. Glenn (Steven Yeun) wakes up in the back of the truck, and Tara (Alanna Masterson) informs him that they are three hours away from the prison. Glenn demands Abraham stop the truck. Once they stop Dr. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) reveals he knows what caused the walker outbreak, but only says that it’s classified. Abraham reveals they’re on a mission to get Eugene to D.C. in order to save the world and discourages Glenn’s mission to find Maggie (Lauren Cohan). During a scuffle between Glenn and Abraham, Eugene tries to handle the walker threat but manages to “kill” the truck in the process. Glenn takes off with Tara in search of Maggie while Abraham, Rosita (Christian Serratos), and Eugene are left with no other option but to join in the search – at least until they find an alternative means of transportation. Eugene’s motives remain to be seen (but if it’s as creepy as his mullet then we’re in a lot of trouble) whereas Abraham is convinced this mission will save the world. His willingness though hints at something larger like he’s trying to atone for something.
The episode just furthers the separation by literally putting distance between the characters. Obviously Glenn is hours away from Maggie, and Rick’s call to head for sanctuary “leaves” the other characters behind even though we know Tyreese, Carol, Judith, Mika, and everyone’s favorite sociopath Lizzie are headed for the same place. The title seems to refer to the gang that raided the house, which indicates they will run into our band of survivors since Tony (Davi Jay) saw Rick’s face and their leader Harley is played by Jeff Kober. While it’s an important episode in order to setup the upcoming conflict, it’s tedious and at the end of the day just an okay episode overall.
The Walking Dead has five episodes left to go in the current season and returns next week with the episode ‘Still’.