WALKING DEAD: Highway to the Danger Zone
Eventually they pull up outside the walls of Aaron’s sanctuary. There, that’s everything you need to know about this episode of The Walking Dead. The rest, much like life, is meaningless crap. But read the recap anyway
Hey, kids, ready for some happy fun times with everyone’s favorite post-apocalyptic crew of dead-inside survivors doing whatever it takes? We kick off right where we left off, with Aaron, all clean and shiny and smelling like unicorn farts, promising salvation is just around the bend.
Maggie and Sasha bring their new friend into the barn where everyone seems surprisingly well rested after last night’s tornado, all evidence of which has miraculously vanished. Even so, they’re not very welcoming to newcomers and immediately point all the guns in his face.
“Hidy-ho, neighborinos!” beams Aaron. “I wanna be your new best friend and take you home with me and love you and feed you ice cream all day long! Things are ever so nice where I live, away above the chimney tops, where troubles melt like lemon drops, that’s wheeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrreeee you’ll fiiiiiiiii—”
Rick silences him with a right cross to the face. While Aaron takes a little nap, Rick searches through all his stuff, finding nothing of interest except a flare gun. Aaron regains consciousness…
“Gosh, that was a swell right cross, Rick,” he gushes. “As I was saying, our nice little village is surrounded by 80-foot thick steel walls and guarded by a dragon and everyone gets a free kitten!”
“We’re saved!” says Michonne. Everyone else seems to agree. So much for Rick’s dramatic speech last week. Not a damn one of them is willing turn off all emotions and carry on like “the walking dead” anymore, not when Aaron is promising clean linens and marshmallow snack cakes.
Spoiler alert—this week’s episode is much like the last one. You could tune in for just the last three minutes and not have missed a damn thing. Everything else is tail-chasing and navel-gazing.
But we’re along for the ride anyway, so on with the recap. Rick starts barking orders: pair up, set a watch in every direction, prepare for an ambush. The crew obeys reluctantly. They’re already daydreaming of feather pillows and Frisbee games.
Rick turns his attention to Aaron. “How many of you are out there?” he demands.
“Eight, thirty-two, four-nine…” says Aaron, giving me Lost flashbacks. But he’s just making a point. No matter what number he says, Rick won’t believe him. “The truth is there’s only one. I came in a car, and he came in an RV so we could drive you all back to our happy home.”
Rick scoffs, then prepares the team to disappear into the forest, hopefully never to see Aaron or his people again. But it’s too late for that. The gang is already hypnotized by Aaron’s happy talk. Michonne and Maggie defy Rick’s orders, saying they’re going to search for this alleged RV. Rick has no choice but to relent if he wants to keep his merry band together. Glenn volunteers to join the away mission, and Rick sends Abraham and Rosita along as well.
On the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald RV, the away team wonders aloud what they’ll do if they encounter Aaron’s people. Glenn’s all for shooting on sight, but that kind of defeats the purpose of going to look for them in the first place. While they argue, a scout from Aaron’s people watch them from behind a tractor in a field.
Back in the barn, it’s just Rick, Aaron, and baby Judith. (Everyone else is off keeping watch, apparently.) Judith is hungry, and Aaron offers up the apple sauce in his backpack. Rick demands Aaron eat a bite first. Aaron turns his head away in revulsion. OH COME ON! Who the fuck would react like that unless it’s poisoned? Kill him, Rick! Kill him now!!!
But Rick is uncharacteristically patient while Aaron spins a tale of hating apple sauce and having some weird PTSD reaction to people trying to force feed him that stems from a childhood trauma. It’s pretty dumb, but apparently true: He does eventually take a bite, and it’s not poisoned. Spiffy. So glad that scene didn’t end up on the editing room floor.
Hey, it’s the RV! The away team finds the vehicle but no sign of Aaron’s companion. They destroy a few zombies and raid the RV for canned goods, including generic Spaghetti-O’s.
They bring the loot back to the barn, and again Rick wants to skedaddle. Ain’t gonna happen, says Michonne. She’s going to Aaronville, and so is everyone else. Rick again relents… but he’s not going to let Aaron drive them.
“Fine,” says Aaron. “You can drive. It’s right up Highway 16, and we can be there by lunch.”
“Nah,” says Rick. “We leave after dark, and we take Highway 23.”
Aaron’s not happy, but he doesn’t have much choice.
It’s after dark, and Rick is driving the car with the RV right behind him. Aaron’s in the backseat, navigating as they go, because he won’t just give up the location of his people. Glenn’s in the passenger seat, and Michonne’s in the back, looking through Aaron’s photos of his town.
“Why are there no photos of the people?” she asks.
It’s a damn good question, and Aaron starts stammering. But not for long, because zombies. Tons and tons of zombies. Walking up the road right towards them. Rick’s driving with the lights off to hide from Aaron’s people, which means he doesn’t see the zombies until he’s driving right through them like Ash in Army of Darkness. They splatter like watermelons all over the windshield, but Rick doesn’t want to jam on the brakes because he’s worried the RV—also driving without its lights on—will smash right into them.
He eventually gets to the shoulder of the road and stops… only to discover the RV is nowhere in sight. Aaron starts panicking. Then—off in the distance—someone shoots off a flare, and Aaron TOTALLY LOSES HIS SHIT. He flees the car into the darkness, hands still tied behind his back.
Rick is pretty much okay with this, but Michonne is really the one in charge now. She insists they re-capture him, and Rick relents.
Oh, that’s where all the zombies went—EVERYWHERE ALL AROUND THEM. Michonne and crew are forced to start expending valuable bullets. The next few minutes are pretty much a scene from the old DOOM video game.
Glenn gets separated in the darkness, but comes across Aaron, who’s keeping a zombie at bay through the art of aggressive river dancing, what with his hands being tied behind his back and everything. Glenn rescues him, unties him, and lets him go. But Aaron’s regained his wits now. He tells Glenn they’ll escape together.
Michonne and Rick are out of bullets. Their swords still work, but in the dark, with so many zombies, it’s clear that there’s no hope of victory left. Until all the zombies’ heads start exploding like a literature professor reading 50 Shades of Gray. It’s Glenn and Aaron to the rescue, guns a-blazin’!
All the zombies are destroyed, and Aaron hands his gun over to Rick. They all get back in the car and head off to find the RV.
The RV is fine, and so are all the people in it. As best I can tell, they saw the flare and went to investigate it, discovering Aaron’s sole companion trapped under the wheel of that stupid tractor he was hiding behind earlier. He’s got a broken ankle but is otherwise fine.
Aaron is so happy to see his friend that he totally makes out with his face. I’m guessing they’re more than friends. Actually, since various websites have made a big deal out of Aaron being the first gay dude on The Walking Dead, it’s more than a guess.
Grateful that Michonne’s crew have taken such good care of his boyfriend (whose name is Eric), Aaron reveals that his happy haven of love and puppies and Christmas is in Alexandria.
Rick makes one last appeal to the group to give up on Aaron and all his too-good-to-be-true promises, but he might as well be telling Tiger Woods to stop chasing pussy. They can’t even make sense of the words coming out of his mouth at this point. So Rick relents once again.
The next day, everybody’s piled up in the RV. They’re taking Highway 16 in broad daylight. Aaron asks Noah about his limp and mentions there’s a surgeon in Alexandria that can work miracles.
Oh, no, the RV’s battery died! Oh, yay, they’ve got another! What the fuck was the point to that? What was the point to anything so far? If you start watching right here, you won’t have missed a damn thing that matters. Did we really have to spend an entire hour overcoming Rick’s reluctance to visit Aarontown? Is life just a meaningless accident and consciousness the cruel joke of a nonexistent god?
Okay, the dead battery does give Rick the chance to sneak away from the group and secretly hide a pistol in an old blender. That’s the one thing that happened this week that’ll probably be relevant again in the future.
After that, the gang drives on to Alexandria and pulls up to the main gate.
No greets them.
There’s no sounds. No signs of life.
Rick sits in silence for a minute, then gets out. He picks up baby Judith. He looks around.