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“Claimed” was, by far, the most hit or miss episode since The Walking Dead made its midseason return. On the one hand it introduced three new characters who actually can push the story forward, which hasn’t happened since Andrea met the Governor (or really since Rick and company found Hershel’s farm). On the other hand, Rick hid under a bed for all but two minutes of his too ample screen time. Michonne actually opens up and reveals some of her pre-apocalypse life to Carl but then Rick is trapped underneath a bed.
First let’s talk Rick. Michonne tells Rick to rest up and not go on a supply run with her and Carl. So Rick reads, falls asleep, is awakened by some loud strangers downstairs, and immediately hides under the bed before one of the random people come to lay down. Perhaps Rick trapped under the bed will become the corollary to R. Kelly’s epic Trapped in the Closet. That’s pretty much it. Sure, there was a fight in which Rick was discovered by one of the combatants before he was knocked out, but was anything ever going to happen to Rick? He then makes a sneaky escape, fraught with ridiculously serendipitous peril, and runs off with Michonne and Carl just before they reach the house and just after the guy on the porch runs off the porch when he hears gunshots.
The subplot is standard fare for The Walking Dead, but the combination of how much time was devoted to it, the fact that rarely does anything ever happen to a main character, and Rick fatigue all made it seem to drag. I have stated that Rick has far exceeded his usefulness. In the episode Michonne tells him that they still need him because he’s their leader but that’s not even true anymore. Earlier in the season Rick took a leadership backseat, only leading when the others forced him. And let’s not forget Rick went crazy for a good amount of time immediately after Lori’s death. Why does Michonne still feel like she needs Rick to lead her? Shouldn’t her and the other prisoners faith in him be nearly depleted? And now that the prison has been destroyed what exactly is Rick’s purpose?
Sure, Carl still may need him, but the episode made a pretty convincing case that Michonne could easily not only just look out for Carl, but that they also make a good team. Yes, Rick does have some zombie killing skills, but then again who doesn’t out of the prison group? For me Rick has outstayed his welcome on the show; he offers very little and the more close scrapes he escapes from the less tension these scrapes have. While it may be a little too drastic to just up and kill Rick off, although it would come as a heck of a surprise, it is at least time for Rick to fall into the background and give other characters more screen time.
There’s not much that happens with Michonne or Carl either, but “Claimed” reinforced the good chemistry the two have together, something that Carl doesn’t happen often for Carl. Michonne’s new direction of reconciling with her past is an interesting new step for the character and it shows how the prison affected her while also giving some intrigue into who she used to be.
Most importantly “Claimed” introduces Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene who are on a mission to Washington D.C. to “save the world” – they are the three camo clad survivors who came across Glenn and Tara at the end of last week’s “Inmates.” Abraham tells Glenn that Eugene is a doctor who has pertinent information as to why the zombie outbreak happened in the first place. While this can’t immediately be trusted as the audience is unfamiliar with what the information is, let alone who these people are, if it is true it gives The Walking Dead some much needed focus. There are only so many episodes one can watch of our favorite characters getting in and out of sticky situations on the road before it becomes utterly boring and unbelievable. With the introduction of the possibility of a cure, or at least a goal to achieve, the show regains some momentum and drive instead of aimlessly wandering along railroad tracks.
Foolishly, Glenn makes sure to ruin any possible momentum by refusing to go along in their truck and go back to find Maggie and the school bus. This causes he and Abraham to fight, which attracts zombies, and makes Eugene waste a whole lot of ammo while simultaneously firing holes into the Army truck’s gas tank – rendering it useless. It was immediately disappointing to see this happen, just as the possibility of something interesting is presented, but it is The Walking Dead, so it isn’t a surprise. So begins another survival walk down Georgia’s back roads.
Luckily there is an interesting dynamic between Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene as well, especially between Abraham and Eugene. Abraham is the consummate soldier; he’s a little badass and is very clearly wanting to play the role of hero. Eugene is his opposite; he’s awful with weapons but is supposedly smarter than Abraham and isn’t afraid to remind Abraham of that fact. The two seem like an interesting duo. Rosita is still a bit of a mystery but she clearly does have some sway over the other two as she is the first to follow Glenn and Tara back to the school bus.
At the end of the episode Rick, Michonne, and Carl have made their escape and follow some train tracks where they see directions to the settlement where Tyreese, Carol, Beth, and Daryl were heading for last episode. Hopefully this will turn out to be an actual functioning settlement, but that would be too easy for The Walking Dead. Hopefully everyone’s wandering will cease soon.
image courtesy of AMC