The Walking Dead season 4 episode 11 review: Claimed

The Walking Dead introduces some new faces in this week's tense episode. Here's Ron's review...

This review contains spoilers.

4.11 Claimed

There’s a pattern to the behaviour that Rick Grimes has established. Once he gets to a nice, relatively safe location, he doesn’t like to stray too far from that locale. He’ll go on supply runs and stuff, but Rick is apparently the homebody in The Walking Dead‘s universe, which explains why he’s decided to hang around at their borrowed house for another day or two, to get his strength back and make a plan on what to do next. It’s a good idea in theory, especially since Carl and Michonne can go find food while Rick curls up with a good book, but it’s a bad idea in the television world, because there’s no such thing as a safe place.

This seems to be a recurring theme in The Walking Dead. Camp one minute, charnal house the next. Hershel’s farm was a haven of peace and quiet until it was a killing field. The CDC? Blew itself up, of course, and the people within it. The prison and Woodbury were both safe places, until one found out about the other. Given Rick’s track record, this house can’t stay safe for too long, and it happens to be discovered by a team of bandits while Rick is all by himself—unarmed, no less.

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One of the things I can say for director Seith Mann is that he can really create visual tension. The A plot, featuring Rick hiding under the bed while raiders rummage through his borrowed house, was flawlessly executed suspense. If you replace the three dumb raiders with Michael Myers, and if you replace Rick with Jamie Lee Curtis, you’d have a great mini-sequel to Halloween just on the basis of Rick’s skulking and slinking through the house, narrowly avoiding the guys who probably want to kill him. The fact that every time someone starts snoring in the bed over top of Rick, someone comes to interrupt him before he can sneak away is pretty funny, and Rick’s facial expression every time someone lays down in the bed on top of where he’s hiding is stellar salesmanship. It’s a credit to Andrew Lincoln that he’s able to look so scared without it ending up comedic.

However, the official introduction of new characters Abraham (Michael Cudlitz gets a future fan favourite, if only because he’s funny), Rosita (Christian Serratos), and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) isn’t handled quite as well. I like Abraham okay, and Rosita is also there, but Eugene is just… he doesn’t seem to work quite as well. I get that there’s obviously something going on with him, considering the fact that A) he has a mullet and B) he doesn’t seem to know how to handle a gun, but the whole scene in which Eugene destroys their only mode of transportation with a machine gun by mistake just doesn’t play right to me.

I don’t think a vehicle like that could be taken out so easily by a fairly low-powered automatic weapon (and Abraham’s story further casts doubt on the whole event). An M35 or similar medium duty truck should be able to withstand small arms fire unless you hit it in exactly the right places, which maybe Eugene did by mistake. I guess I should just suspend disbelief on that one, but Eugene feels very wrong to me, which may be a credit to McDermitt’s acting skills. Eugene feels like a character hiding something, and his line about heading to Washington, D.C., rings completely false, in a deliberate way (unlike the truck, which is either deliberate sabotage or just a TV trope).

Why one little scene bothers me so much I don’t know, because other than that, it’s a really solid episode from the collective pen of Nichole Beattie and Seth Hoffman. Michonne’s slow warm-up continues (and Danai Gurira’s expression upon discovering the dead inhabitants of the house she was raiding with Carl was top notch) and the show even finds a way to make Carl a little more tolerable by giving him some emotional warm-up time, even if it does foreshadow Rick’s impending troubles too strongly when he gives his gun to Carl. Carl should already have a gun of some sort (he did just last week), and Rick shouldn’t voluntarily remove his firearm in a world where he’s already had to shoot several armed, belligerent forces.

Rick’s not the best decision maker in the show’s history, that’s for sure. Second only to perhaps Abraham for leaving assault weapons where Eugene can get his hands on them. Still, things seem to be moving forward (and in the general direction of Terminus, no less) while Glenn and his new buddies the GI Joes are also on the move. I’d rather the show leave a location too soon than stick around too long, so losing the house and hopping off the truck to DC seem like wise choices.

Next week, I look forward to checking in with Daryl, Tyreese and his new white family, and the rest of the gang.

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Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Inmates, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan enjoys The Walking Dead’s house porn so he can figure out how not to remodel his old house to defend it more easily against zombie attacks. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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