What’s scarier than a zombie apocalypse? A redneck home invasion evidently, as this episode of The Walking Dead,titled “Claimed,” has one of the tenser and most gripping sequences in recent memory as an unarmed and injured Rick Grimes is stuck alone in his new found suburban dwelling with a crew of violent intruders. Not many shows can scare an audience using two completely different societal nightmares, but man, did this week nail the home invasion angle.
An especially effective scene saw Rick hiding under a bed while two intruders fought over it, it was part domestic nightmare part Three Stooges sketch, but it was one of the few underwear filling scenes in the show that did not have a zombie anywhere near the proceedings. The show did such an amazing job building up tension through only showing exactly what Rick saw. The limited point of view made the intruders more frightening than any zombie hoard by controlling what the viewer can see. Usually, the violence of the show is overt, not showing the mayhem surrounding Rick as Carl and Michonne were away made the sequences some of the more heart wrenching in recent memory. It also served as a reminder that there is no rest, no chance of domestic tranquility in this world as Rick and company already lost their comfy home.
Meanwhile Carl and Michonne were doing some more bonding. It’s amazing how Carl has tamed Michonne, turning her from lethal loner to fierce protector. Through Carl, the audience is learning more and more about Michonne’s past, gradually transforming her from weapon to woman. She is now a multifaceted deep character who is just as comfortable being a friend as she is being a killer. And she likes EZ-Cheez, so there you go.
The main event though is the arrival of Abraham Ford, Rosita and her booty shorts, and Eugene and his mullet. Ford seems like a pragmatic type, he certainly is portrayed as capable and dangerous and he operates with his crew like a well oiled machine, a dynamic that Glenn and Tara fit right into. Glenn is, of course, obsessed with finding Maggie, while Abraham is obsessed with bringing Eugene to Washington because of a claim that the scientist knows how to end the Walker problem. This is first time since the C.D.C. that there is any mention of anything happening in the outside world and it effectively opens the story to a new set of possibilities. The feeling of the show has changed since the prison was destroyed from an intense and claustrophobic grouping of personal stories to a world of limitless possibilities. There is almost an agoraphobic felling to the show as literally anything can be out there in the vast openness of the world, lurking. It seems the womb like confines of the prison was more appealing in many ways.
Splintering the group has been any interesting structural choice as the writers can now focus on short vignettes and spread the world out instead of having every character reacting to the same challenges. It has a certain Game of Thrones feel with a tightly knit family unit spread around a dangerous world trying to get back to each other. Let’s just hope the survivors of The Walking Dead don’t get invited to a wedding.
Call this one a win as Michonne continues to evolve, new characters have shaken up the established dynamics, and the show continues to find ways to scare the living shit out of viewers even in scenes without zombies.
But zombies were there too and Abraham, Glenn, Tara, Rosita, and Eugene are going to make for a fun unit of undead killers to watch even if Eugene is the worst shot in television history.
Zombie kill of the week: Abraham’s crowbar beat down on a Walker’s wet melon.
Den of Geek Rating: 4.5 Out of 5 Stars