by Thom Yee
Just when you think everyone’s safe… they go and kill the guy nobody really cares too much about! A lot of things happened in “Spend” and there’s a lot to unpack, so I’ll try not to go off on too many irrelevant tangents. Like I normally do.
“Spend” opens with a measure of hope and a look towards the future with Noah speaking to Reg, Deanna’s husband, about learning architecture (okay, so it literally opens with a small character moment for Father Gabriel, but I hate that guy and will address him later). So far most of the learned skills in our group have centred much more around hunter-gatherer tasks, so it’s refreshing to see one of our heroes learning something that’s still important, but not quite as directly practical as insert knife here. Soon enough, however, Noah along with Glenn, Tara, Eugene, Aiden (Deanna’s d*ckhead son) and Nicholas (another d*ckhead, but one who’s yet to do anything significant) are on their way to find parts for the Alexandria generator that’s been acting up lately/some MacGuffin they need to get characters out of the safe zone. Also, we get to see Daryl take off with Aaron to look for more worthies to add to the community because I guess Daryl puts motorcycles together really fast.
If there’s one thing I’m now thoroughly convinced of, it’s that Deanna is bad at assigning jobs, either not so great at reading people or extremely bad at reading situations, and wouldn’t have done very well on the Poker Tour. While it’s true that in a show like The Walking Dead that nobody’s safe, certainly the people staying behind the walls should be safer than the others, so for Deanna to form any type of exploratory team, like Aiden’s supply runners, and fill it with people like Noah and Tara and Eugene and your unreliable d*ck of a son… well… that’s asking a lot in terms of survival. The group quickly finds itself surrounded by walkers in a dark, enclosed warehouse space, and not only are all of the above on the physically less capable side of our group, none of them are melee experts. They didn’t even seem to have any melee weapons with them, so when they ran out of bullets, that was it, and BAM!, Aiden’s dead, his hubris (and a misplaced grenade) proving his undoing. They really could’ve used Michonne or, especially based on his performance in this episode, Abraham because everybody was nigh-on useless in terms of group offence. Unfortunately, Aiden had just barely started to turn things around, concurring with Glenn that they should look for all possible exit points before entering the warehouse, making his death slightly less satisfying than it could’ve been.
And then there’s poor, old Noah, whose death I thought seemed unlikely given that it’s in poor taste to kill the last black guy (Father Gabriel doesn’t count, because he sucks and I hate him) but may have been a little telegraphed in that he’d been cast in a different show to debut this fall. They really went with the horror factor more in “Spend” than any other recent episodes (and possibly in series history), and Noah’s death wound up being a lot more grindhouse than I was expecting. Personally, I found the specific mechanism of his death — Noah and Glenn are trapped on the opposing side of the coward Nicholas in a revolving door — a little contrived, but when you think about it, so are revolving doors in general. Those things are stupid and never helped anyone. And I’ll never look at them the same again.
Back at the construction site (which doesn’t feel like it’s been properly established yet, either the broader concept that they’re trying to expand or that Abraham’s part of the crew), we find out even more how unprepared the Alexandrianites are when Abraham singlehandedly turns the tide of a walker shootout and saves someone who, before our group entered the picture, would’ve been left to die. In the process, Abraham becomes the crew’s new leader, though, as the walker attack showed us, certainly there’s also something stirring inside of him yearning to be free. Probably something psychologically unhealthy, even if it did lead to a healthy dose of zombie head-smashing action.
Later, Father Gabriel shows up at Deanna’s door, throwing our heroes under the bus and comparing them to Satan and like that. Frankly, it’s a d*ck move (though one that’s consistent with the comic) and more than a little hypocritical given his own role in killing his entire flock. I mean, his followers were all [presumably] innocent, and what Gabriel did was much worse than what Rick and co. have done in the name of survival. On the plus side, based on the comic, this may also be one of the last notable things Father Gabriel gets to do, so hopefully his character’s not long for a featured role in this world, because he’s really being an ungrateful a**hole and he’s really making religious people look bad.
Finally, back in Alexandria, Sam’s still being annoying around Carol, who’s continuing to be almost chillingly cold towards him. She’s probably still a little apprehensive around kids right now just because hers ran away to become a zombie, all the kids she was teaching to defend themselves back at the prison died, and one of the last two kids she had around (not counting baby Judith) was a nut who killed her own younger sister and then Carol had to kill her. It’s crazy, I know. Anyway, Carol picks up on the signs of abuse around Sam’s family and concludes that Rick should kill his dad, Pete, because killing is the only thing our group knows and then Rick can get some. If it were me, I’d at least check around town to see if there’s any other doctors or medical-science-type people first, because medical expertise is undeniably valuable. You gotta figure at least someone in our group has contracted something from all that time touching zombie guts with no Purell in sight, so checkups really are in order.
This is a pretty heavy-handed episode, one that’s convinced me that the season will end much more on a note of internal strife than external threats. They’re really, really, really trying to paint our heroes into a corner as the bad guy wolves in the hen house, even though most of us are still probably on Rick and co.’s side. On the other hand, looking back, maybe everybody would’ve been better off if they’d never met our group in the first place. Most of the people of Woodbury would probably still be alive (unless they pissed the Governor off), Terminus would still be around, Dawn’s wacky hospital would probably have more cops to protect (and terrorize) its people. Oh sure, maybe none of the Woodburians would be truly safe, maybe a few more random people would’ve been cannibalized, and maybe things would continue to be depressing around the hospital, but it seems like there would at least be more people alive if they’d never met Rick’s group.
Case in point:
The Walking Dead — “Spend” final score: 7.5
Items of Note:
- I like how Noah’s death only a few episodes later now makes Tyreese’s death even more pointless.
- Big, shirtless Abraham!
- Didn’t really look like there was anything in Eugene’s bag. More of an affectation than anything he was going to get any use out of.
- Go Francine! Love girl punches!
- “This is the beginning.” Sigh.
- Imagine if Beth died like Noah. I’d pay to see Beth get ripped apart.
- Happy now Mom? I admitted that people should get medical checkups.
- Now that’s what Rick would like to call a sticky situation: