The episode opens with Aaron naively asking the group to join him and “audition” for a safe camp. Now, there is no way that Aaron could know what the group has been through and while he makes the accurate assessment that Rick’s group would be valuable assets, he severely underestimates the level of paranoia about outsiders that is ingrained in the group. He tries a joke, which fails. Perhaps he could have left his name on the note attached to the water in the road…never mind, there is absolutely no way that Aaron was approaching the group without eliciting that exact reaction. Aaron doesn’t really doesn’t do himself any favors either; he shows up with a loaded weapon and apparently, it’s not his call if they will be able to stay at the safe community. It is only his job to creep around, spying on the group until he believes he can convince them to return with him…as food?
It’s easy to see why the group would be skeptical of Aaron. This isn’t a person offering the group safety but the chance at safety and in the end that is largely what this episode is about, retaining hope. Not every person offering help has ulterior motives.
Rick is very self assured and highly resolved. He knows that he is making all the right moves. In fact, he is absolutely making the right moves. After knocking Aaron out, the group goes into high alert and Rick begins to delegate tasks, warning of an impending attack. This impulse has kept the group alive this far and it’s hard to criticize the immediate response although it turns out to be excessive.
Michonne immediately begins to question the tactics Rick uses and it becomes quickly obvious that the group feels very differently about Aaron. His story continues to be unimpressive to Rick who believes that it is cleverly constructed and Carol backs up his sentiment. Rick is then challenged by the person who is in the position to best judge Aaron, Michonne. She had first hand interaction with the deceptions that the Governor used to lure people in Woodbury and for her this feels like a real opportunity to achieve relative safety. The dynamic of the group here is really demonstrated. Michonne, always a powerful character in her own right has never had the opportunity to directly challenge Rick’s authority and, to his credit, Rick accepts the offer of a different opinion and moves with the group. This is still a democracy.
Aaron makes the accurate assessment about Rick and his group being good people. What Aaron almost certainly does not understand is that when Rick tells him that there is only 1 hour between him and a knife in the skull he means every word. Rick has become the walking dead and the people around him have to show him what it means to be human again, to have hope and believe that their are good people out there but he will not hesitate for one second at doing what needs to be done. But Aaron also meant every word. He was traveling with one other person. The food was in the cars a short distance away, exactly where he said it would be. The group decides to follow Aaron.
During the car ride Michonne (upon realizing that there are no people in the pictures that Aaron has showed them of the camp) asks Aaron the 3 questions: How many walkers have you killed? How many people have you killed? and Why? During this line of questioning the car begins to plow through a hoard of walkers. The tension during this scene is amazing. The vehicle is bathed in blood and everything gets a terrifying red sheen. The two cars that the group had been traveling in get separated and plowing through the mass of undead has made the car inoperable. Events quickly become a matter of life and death.
In the separation Aaron is provided the opportunity to prove himself. “We can only make it together,” he says to Glen, “You said that; I was listening.” Apparently the group has developed some kind of long range whistle language as well because when the group reunites they are not mistaken for walkers or attackers because of their whistling skills. We are then introduced to another new character named Eric. The show has been hinting at the inclusion of gay characters for a while and here they are; Eric and Aaron, happy and in love.
When they finally arrive at the Alexandria safe zone Rick can hear young children playing beyond the fence. This could be the first time in a very long time that the group can have consistent safety and the semblance of a normal life. Next week we get to meet Deanna, the woman who has the final say as to whether or not the group gets to stay. We will see how they perform during their audition.