It's a walker-and-talker, folks, wherein we have a little palate cleanser after losing Beth and Tyrese in the prior two episodes.
The gang's latest vehicle runs out of gas, dead on the road, some sixty miles outside of Washington D.C., and they get out, trudging along, just trying to make forward progress. They are in rough shape, desperate for food and water. Some are in rougher shape than others, namely Maggie (who has to put down a walker when it interrupts her crying jag out in the middle of the woods), Darryl (who is so hungry that he resorts to digging up earthworms and eating them) and Sasha (who finds nothing but a dry stream bed and desiccated frogs, which she tries to bury). It's hot, everyone is cranky or worse, and they are beginning to pick up trailing walkers. That's a cool shot, actually, with the group staggering up the rural road, slow and relentless walkers in the distance; and every time the camera returns to that shot, there are a few more trailing zombies. They don't get closer but they don't stop. Maggie, to Sasha: "How much longer we got?" Sasha: "About sixty miles." Maggie: "I wasn't talkin' about that."
Walking and talking: Rick tries to get Darryl to open up about Beth. Gabriel tries to get Maggie to talk to him about Beth and she smacks him down pretty abruptly. Sasha wants to take down the following walkers and Michonne tells her that she needs to ease up, that they aren't strong enough for fighting. Darryl goes scouting and Carol tags along because he can't/won't stop her; she tries to get him to open up about Beth. Carl finds a broken music box and gives it to Maggie.
They find a narrow spot in the road with a bridge and set up as a place to deal with the small walker herd. As the zombies lurch towards them, they methodically push the creatures off the bridge, thus not having to really engage them. Except Sasha is spoiling for a fight and breaks rank, lunging into the herd, blade flashing. The rest of the fighters (Rick, Glen, Michonne, Abraham and a returning Darryl, who saves Rick from a back-biter) stagger into the fray. They are all exhausted and it is a close thing, but they finally take out all the walkers. Afterwards, Michonne chastises Sasha for starting a fight that they almost couldn't finish. Sasha doesn't give a shit.
More walking. They find a few cars stranded on the road and paw through them, looking for anything useful. Maggie opens one car's trunk and is shocked to find a formerly female zombie in there, hands and feet bound, gag in its mouth. It's pretty dark: had this woman been kidnapped and then just left in the trunk, dying and turning alone? Maggie slams the trunk closed but is upset when she can still hear the walker's movements. The trunk is jammed as she frantically tries to get it open. Glen walks up, calms her, opens the trunk and dispatches the walker with a knife to the temple.
Later, the group sits in the shade, resting, as thunder rumbles in the distance. They found some booze, which Abraham is sipping at. Tara and Rosita don't approve but there doesn't seem to be anything anyone can do. Just then, a pack of four feral dogs (a border collie, a German shepherd and two Doberman pinschers) comes out of the woods, snarling and barking. Rick and Darryl pull out their knives but no one seems to know what to do. No one except Sasha, who efficiently shoots all the dogs. Everyone eats that night, lost in their own sad thoughts.
More walking and talking. Glen tries to get Maggie to talk to him about Beth and she gives a little speech crafted by the writers to try to explain why she never seemed to care about Beth: when she didn't know what happened to her after the prison and when Darryl told her she'd been captured in Atlanta. She's sad now though, and isn't sure she wants to keep fighting. Abraham tries to reach out to Sasha but she's angry and rebuffs him. Glen tries to reach out to Darryl, "We can make it together. But we can only make it together." Darryl decides to go scouting again, alone this time. He finds an old road and a barn in a clearing surrounded by old pine trees. He sits in the shade to watch the barn, light a cigarette, smoking a little, stubbing the cigarette out on his hand. He cries a little, for Beth.
When Darryl rejoins the group on the road, they're all standing there, staring at a pile of water bottles with a sign "FROM A FRIEND" on them. Rick and Abraham won't let anyone drinks, however, not knowing if it's a trap. Just then, the sky opens up and it starts bucketing rain. Everyone laughs (not everyone: not Darryl or Maggie or Sasha) and opens their mouths, drinking in as much as they can, washing the dirt and sweat from their skin. But the storm gets stronger, thunder and lightning crashing overhead. Darryl shouts that he found a barn and they run to it.
There's only one walker inside, which they dispatch easily. That night, as the storm rages overhead, Rick, Carol, Michonne, Glenn and Darryl sit around a small fire, talking. Michonne expresses her belief that this is not all that life is but the others are all, look, it may get better and we hope it gets better, but this is what life is right now. Rick: Blah blah blah, we are the walking dead but maybe one day we will live again. Darryl: "We ain't them."
Later that night while the others sleep, Darryl keeps watch. So he is the first to the banging barn doors when a horde of walkers approaches, trying to get in. He bars the doors as best he can. Maggie wakes up and runs to help him, then Sasha, then everyone else - even Carl, who places baby Judith safely on the barn floor away from the fire. The storm rages and crashes violently, the music rises and the moans of the walkers and you can't pick out one sound from the next as the group desperately tries to keep the zombies out.
Come morning, the storm has passed as has the zombie threat apparently. Maggie wakes up and joins Darryl, who is sitting off to one side. They watch a sleeping Sasha and Darryl says, "He [Tyrese] was tough. She [Beth] was too - she just didn't notice." He hands Maggie the music box, saying he cleaned the grit out of the gear box for him. She thanks him and he turns over to get some sleep.
Maggie goes and wakes Sasha and they grab their weapons and venture out of the barn. It is utter destruction out there: the storm downed all the trees and crushed the walkers. They walk to the edge of a meadow and watch the sunrise. Apparently these three tortured souls (Darryl, Maggie and Sasha) have now attained some peace with their recent losses. Maggie: "You're gonna make it. Both of us, we will. That's the hard part." She tries the music box but nothing happens. They laugh a little and then a man appears. The two women draw their guns and he puts his hands up. "I'm Aaron ... I'm a friend. I'd like to talk to the person in charge. Rick, right?" Maggie and Sasha are all, WTF? Aaron: "I have good news." And then that damn music box starts playing.
Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead
10 hours ago