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The Walking Dead 4.11 "Claimed" Review: Owning It

    This week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Claimed,” was written by Nichole Beattie and Seth Hoffman and was directed by Seith Mann. Mann and Beattie last collaborated on last season’s episode “Home,” in which Rick (Andrew Lincoln) started hallucinating Lori. This episode also features an amazing performance by Lincoln, and the sequence in which he is trapped under the bed is brilliantly shot in close up, making the claustrophobia and terror of the scene quite palpable.

    The title of the episode works on a number of levels, playing on the various meanings of the word “claimed.” In its most obvious meaning, it refers to claiming ownership over something, such as Rick and Carl (Chandler Riggs) having claimed the house as their own. The fragility of that claim is shown by the gang that enters the house while Michonne (Danai Gurira) are out scavenging. This entire sequence is beautifully shot and choreographed. There is an extreme close up of Rick dreaming as we first hear them in the house and I thought at first he was simply having a nightmare. Then he wakes up. And he is having his own worst, personal nightmare: he’s unable to protect his family. We continue to hear but not see them – as Rick does. It’s a brilliant technique that heightens our fear by using our imagination. Lincoln is simply brilliant in this sequence as we feel his terror without him having any dialogue during it. In fact, he doesn’t speak again in the episode until he runs from the house and tells Michonne and Carl, “Go! Go!”
    We see Rick in tight close up as sweat beads and drips off of him. He clutches his watch tightly in one hand, having told Michonne and Carl to be back by noon, and he knows that they will be returning soon – likely to their death – and it’s on him to save them. Meanwhile, his other hand shakes in terror. The terror of the scene is punctuated by the humor of Rick getting squashed under the bed by the guys lying on it. In between, the terror is ratcheted up as the two guys fight over the bed and one of them makes eye contact with Rick as the other chokes him out. He’s clearly trying to tell the guy about Rick until he’s choked unconscious.

    We also feel Rick’s terror as he continually just avoids being discovered. Once again, the episode juxtaposes humor and horror as Rick takes refuge in the washroom only to discover someone already in there – apparently doing his business with the toilet seat down and his pants up (just a small quibble with the scene). In a nice mirror of the previous scene, Rick manages to choke the guy out, but Rick finished the job. I loved that he left them a zombie surprise by cracking the door so that once the guy turned, he’d be a perfect distraction to help Rick get away.

    Michonne and Carl’s discussion of soy milk once again highlights the difference of the world they live in now – Carl relates how his best friend in 3rd grade was allergic to milk and how his friend’s soy milk almost made him throw up. In this world, there is no room to allow for allergies or be choosy about what you can find to eat, and the chance that his best friend in third grade is still alive is slim to nil. The discussion takes Carl out of his grief until he says he’d rather drink Judith’s formula than soy milk, thus reminding him of his grief.

    Michonne commits to Rick and Carl. She says she’s done running and takes control for Rick – telling him to rest and giving him the opportunity to do so. She claims them as her own.

    Carl draws strength from Michonne. He’s still grieving over the loss of his sister and he sees that she has moved on from her own grief over the loss of her son. That is another sense of claim: People’s lives are claimed when they die. There is yet another sense of the word claim – Michonne acknowledges and claims the memory of her son – finally able to share it with Carl. They are able to help each other to heal, to replace something that they’ve both lost.

    Both Gurira and Riggs are fantastic together in every scene and as they clear the house – and claim the spoils for themselves. I love this new Michonne – she IS funny! I loved that she made it a game to clear the house – remember how Carl made everything  a game – that he won - in “After.” She knows him and she knows what motivates him. I thought it was very astute of Carl to ask Michonne if she’d been married – he didn’t simply assume that she was because she had had a child. He never does ask what happened to Andre’s father because that would appear to be obvious. Carl is still a protector in his own right and reassures Michonne that her secret, her confiding in him, is safe with him – he’ll protect her both physically and emotionally.

    She returns the favor by sparing him from the horror that she finds in the pink bedroom. This was another wonderfully shot sequence. We see Michonne move through the one child’s bedroom into the pink bedroom to find that the mother had put all of her children to bed and then killed them before shooting herself. It is the complete abrogation of hope. Carl immediately realizes that there is something horrific in the room and the most horrific thing he can think of is a dead baby. Michonne tries to spare him by telling him it’s a dog. Again, this is such a contrast to what a normal boy would assume and what you would tell them to comfort them – a dead dog should be the most horrific thing a boy his age should have to see.

    Carl tells Michonne that Rick had let him name Judith and then comforts both himself and Michonne with the thought that maybe his baby and her baby are together somewhere also looking out for each other. By the end of the episode, Carl, Rick and Michonne are on the train tracks and decide to head to Terminus, so there will be more reunions in the near future. I can’t wait for Carl and Rick to be reunited with Judith, but I fear it won’t be for long. And what will Rick do once he sees Carol (Melissa McBride)?

    We also start Glenn’s (Steven Yuen) story with a tight close up of his face as he too wakes to a nightmare. His nightmare is that he is being taken further from Maggie. Abraham repeatedly exhorts him to help him save the world, to help with their mission. But for Glenn, Maggie is the world. Ironically, Abraham tells him that he needs to find “some strong, like-minded comrades and you stay stuck together like wet on water.” That’s exactly what Glenn is trying to do – find his group.

    And this brings us to another meaning of claim: “state or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof.” And another: “an assertion that something is true.” Tara (Alanna Masterson) questions Abraham’s (Michael Cudlitz) assertion that he is a good guy – just as she denies his assertion that she is a good person. The bigger question is whether Abraham and company are what they say they are. Does Eugene (Josh McDermitt) really know what started this mess? There is a nice contrast, however, to the group Rick finds himself among who are completely out for their own personal gratification and Abraham’s group who at least say they are out to save the world.

    Once again, the horror of the episode is punctuated by the humor of Eugene being completely inept with an assault rifle – ending in killing the truck. When Glenn finally asserts that he is leaving, they all follow him, seemingly propelled by his determination to find Maggie. This is a nice contrast to “Home” from last season in which Glenn resisted becoming a leader – is he ready to claim that position now? I have to admit that I was surprised to Tara astute enough to recognize that Rosita (Christian Serratos) is in love with Abraham and that’s why she follows him. It’s also the reason Rosita relates to Glenn’s love of Maggie after finding and returning her picture to Glenn and that’s what motivates her to follow him. Abraham puts love of country above the love of a woman. Tara tells Abraham he doesn’t have to tell her why he’s compelled to try to save the world, but she asks him not to lie to her. Cudlitz has already made Abraham a likeable character. He’s clearly more loyal to his cause than he is smart – Eugene is the brains of the group – which is in direct contrast to his mullet! Eugene may not know how to use a gun, but he knows how to manipulate Abraham.

    This was another great episode for me. The writing and acting just never disappoint. What did you think of the episode? Are you a fan of the comics? Were you thrilled to see Abraham appear? Do you think we will see the group from the house again? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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