Post-apocalyptic life has never been more clearly defined as in this episode of The Walking Dead. For the living, it is heartbreak, hunger, loneliness and fear, punctuated by moments of reprieve that include family and friends. For the Tribe, the basic physiological needs must be met in order to move forward on their journey to Washington D.C., while psychological issues threaten to tear the group apart. After the recent losses to the Tribe, what will it take to keep them together, sane and safe?
Spoilers ahead, Sweetie…
The Tribe, although weak from lack of food and water, are terribly efficient as they manage to take care of the walkers following behind them on the road by tossing them off the side of a bridge to conserve strength (with the exception of Sasha, who seems to have a death wish). Still, the image of our group trailed by a mass of walking dead is intense and terrifying, because we know that this type of situation is indicative of what the life in this dystopic landscape must look like from now on. The dead will keep rising and the living will continue to have to move, kill and take the scraps that life offers. In the case of the Tribe, those scraps come in the form of a pack of wild dogs, who mean to attack, but who are killed and eaten by the Tribe instead. It is a testament to the lengths humankind will go to in order to stay alive. Survival requires desire and fortitude, and for some, hope is a hard thing to come by.
For members of the Tribe, the will to fight is waning. While food, shelter and safety are a main issue, mental health remains a problem within the group. In order to move forward, the Tribe needs to work together, remain vigilant and retain a desire to live. Revenge and depression, although emotions that cannot be avoided, need to be transmuted into healthier coping mechanisms, or else self-harm and self-destructive behavior will end up dooming the Tribe.
While the bad omens have felt inevitable in this post-apocalyptic universe, the good omens feel like miracles. When the rain starts to fall, and with a little dog meat in their bellies, the Tribe gathers supplies and moves to find shelter from the storm because, ultimately, they still want to live. The dogs, while not ideal, provide sustenance. The rain has provided the Tribe with water and they seem relieved and grateful. Father Gabriel, who flung his clerical collar into the fire after a discussion of faith and guilt with Maggie, asks God to forgive him, presumably for his doubt but perhaps also for condemning his flock to die when he locked them out of his church so long ago. Daryl leads the group to a barn he noticed while scouting for water (and crying over Beth in the woods, alone) and a violent storm and the walkers looking for shelter from it, hit them hard, but not hard enough to break. The Tribe is safe, for now, and hope begins to rekindle. While they may shuffle along like the walking dead, kill like the walking dead and have very little in terms of human comforts (like the walking dead), they are, indeed, alive. If they continue to work efficiently as a group, they may, yet survive.
As a tight-knit group, they are wary of strangers and outside assistance, as well they should be. The Governor and the folks at Terminus turned out to be equal parts insane and strategic in their destruction. When, before the rain falls, the Tribe finds bottled water in the road from a note that says “from a friend”, I am as wary as Sheriff Rick and yet, as eager as Eugene. When the stranger, Aaron, approaches Sasha and Maggie in the woods and claims to be a friend and knows Rick’s name, it is both terrifying and exhilarating. Within such a dire and depressing existence, we can only wonder what other people are doing to remain alive and what the mental state of the survivors who seem to have set our Tribe in their sights might be. While the group is right to be suspicious, they are also in no place to refuse assistance from a better-off tribe. Here’s to hoping that hope is worth the trouble.
xoxo The Collectiva Diva