The Walking Dead: "Spend" (Season 5, Episode 14)

Flabbergasted

Turnabout is fair play. The last couple weeks we've been pondering the danger of Rick and Co. having been out there too long, of whether they're damaged goods. This week we ponder the danger of the Alexandrians having been safe too long. Are they cowards?

I guess this is a red letter day for Republibot as well. Could a group of Washington functionaries left pampered and privileged turn out to be less than stellar at getting anything done? Honestly. Is there a more soft ball Republican question than that?  

The episode opens with Father Gabriel in his new house in Alexandria. The locals have set him up with a nice little makeshift chapel in his garage, complete with strawberries and a Bible. Gabriel, still being hapless and pathetic, begins to tear pages out of the Bible. Still being useless as well, he does a crappy job of it. Your average three-year-old could tear pages better.

Don't think I'm being hard on him, either. He's been useless since the day we met him, and you'll hate his guts at the end of this episode.

Three separate storylines are explored tonight. They all deal with bravery and cowardice. In one, Glen, Tara, Noah and Eugene go out with that punk Aiden and his pal Nicholas to scavenge for electrical parts. In another, Abraham Ford goes out with a construction crew to scavenge supplies for more wall building. In the last, Rick and Carol confront a domestic mystery amid the neighborly bliss of the Alexandria Safe Zone.

"Story One"

Eugene is a coward. He knows it. But hanging out with Rick and Co. will ultimately prove to have worn off on him. Even Aiden is acting like less of an ass now. Alas, Nicholas proves the Achilles Heel of the entire operation, costing one life for certain and maybe a second as well.

Aiden makes a rookie mistake in  the electronics warehouse. He's shooting at a Walker wearing body armor instead of taking its legs out or letting it get close to smash it with something. Glen notices the grenade pinned to the Walker's belt. Aiden doesn't. Even as Glen is shouting for Aiden to stop, the grenade goes off. Aiden is impaled on the remains of a cabinet. Tara is left unconscious and bleeding.

Eugene excoriates the silent Tara. He told her they shouldn't bring a coward like him on a mission like this, that he can't accept responsibility for his actions now. At the moment of truth, however, he's braver than he thinks. Eugene carries Tara out. He also shoots two Walkers while sporting a truly panicked expression.

Glen, Noah and Nicholas try to free Aiden. Glen keeps telling Nicholas they can do this, right up until Nicholas says this is who they are and flees. Unable to lift Aiden themselves, Glen and Noah have to abandon him to a grisly fate at the last moment. Yet Nicholas isn't finished screwing up. He manages to get all three of them trapped in a revolving glass door with Walkers on either side. It's a hopeless situation until Eugene pulls up in their van blasting dubstep (yes, you read that right) to lure the Walkers outside away. That's when Nicholas bolts, leaving Glen and Noah exposed. Noah is dragged to this episode's second grisly demise as Glen watches.

****ing Nicholas. He still isn't finished. He runs to the van and tells Eugene they're leaving without the others. Eugene doesn't think so. Nicholas hurls him to the ground. Fortunately, before he can flee with the van Glen catches up. A beat down follows, with Glen too much of a decent sort to leave the senseless Nicholas behind.

"Story Two"           

Abraham likes gathering supplies. He likes work, too, the sweatier the better. Then Walkers arrive at the construction site; the Alexandrians retreat pell mell, leaving one of their own, a woman named Francine, to be devoured. Not on Abraham's watch. Not even close. He rescues Francine, throws her into a tractor cab, then crawls under the tractor to play shooting gallery with the Walkers who try to follow. Out the other side, he throws Francine the gun and starts dispatching Walkers by hand. It's all so inspiring that the other Alexandrians rush to his aide.

Afterwards, the foreman of the crew thinks they should call it a day. Again, not on Abraham's watch. He positions sentries and gets the work restarted because they've got a wall to build, dammit. Ooh-rah!

At least the foreman is more of a man about it than Nicholas was. He tells the truth to Deanna, the Safe House's head honcho, says Abraham is leading the crew better than he ever could. He even volunteers to step aside for the better man.

"Story Three"

Rick? He's finding a smashed owl sculpture before having an odd conversation with Jessie's drunk husband. Carol? She's making cookies with Jessie's youngest son before having an equally odd conversation with him ("Why do you need a gun, Sam?"). A former abused wife herself, one minute with Jessie's husband is enough to clue Carol in. The local doctor is a wife-beater.

So how's the new constable supposed to handle that in a place where he's still suspect?

For the grand finale, along comes the ultimate act of cowardice, courtesy of the sickening Father Gabriel. You remember, the guy who doomed his own congregation by locking them out of the church? The guy Rick and Co. rescued from Walkers out of the good of their heart. The guy Michonne and Carl rescued again after he went wandering into the woods? The same useless guy they've carried all this way.

He goes to Deanna to tell her the Alexandria Safe House is paradise, only she's let a serpent into paradise. That would be Rick and Co who, so help me God, "aren't worthy of paradise." Talk about projection. And talk about vile. Here's one man who's never rescued anyone taking a situation that could be worked out and doing his level best to throw gasoline on it.  

At least Maggie overheard him, so the group will be warned. Maybe what happened to Noah and Aiden should happen to Gabriel. I'm sure it will at some point. After all, what do you think is the life expectancy of someone too useless to even tear pages out of a Bible well after they've alienated everyone who can keep them alive?

I'd say this was a pretty decent episode. Not one for the squeamish, though. But for all you good Republicans out there, enjoy that shot across the bow at "those bureaucrats in Washington D.C."      

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