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The Walking Dead - One More - Review

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  The Walking Dead “One More” was written by the team of Erik Mountain and Jim Barnes and was directed by Laura Belsey. Mountain’s previous credits include Taken, Lethal Weapon, and one of my all time favorites, Person of Interest. Once again, the team found a creative way to keep Covid-19 exposure to a minimum and safety first on set with a skeleton cast – who delivered outstanding performances! Robert Patrick guest stars as Mays – and (spoiler alert!) Mays’ twin brother. The story centers around Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) out together searching for food and supplies. The title – ironically? – resonates in more than one way…

Even though I still dislike this new voiceover beginning, I think I need to pay more attention to what the characters are telling us about themselves. Also? With the return of Mayans MC, I realized just how much I’d forgotten that had happened since we last saw that show…This week it’s Gabriel catching us up. He reminds us of all they’ve lost and now he succumbed to darkness and vengeance – and he seems to have retained a rather violent version of God. But he also tells us there is still work to do to save their community and their souls. 

An episode can never end well that begins by forcing us to look at the flower – with blood suddenly dripping on them. Given the wholesale slaughter in the opening scene, there are still plenty of walkers still out there. I loved that they used no extras in this scene and we only see blood on the flowers and then a field of corpses with Gabriel and Aaron standing in the middle. 

They find a burned out house with three charred skeletons outside it – with flowers growing over them. Aaron is more disturbed by them and his eyes stay on the as they continue to move. We get a great hero walker who is “stuck” to a post and comes partially apart trying to rise before Gabriel kills him. Gabriel then uses an egg timer to flush out a bunch of walkers in a field so that they can pass. 

It turns out that the house was on a map that Maggie had given them of places to check for supplies. The next come on a line of abandoned cars and Gabriel insists they search them. There could be something there. Aaron isn’t too enthusiastic – and they don’t find anything. Gabriel is disappointed but says two more.

Next is an old Mini Mart that is boarded up and full of walkers. The two kill a walker – and it’s like a scene out of Winnie-the-Pooh when he got stuck half out of Rabbit’s hole after eating too much honey. Only instead of a bunch of friends pulling him loose, Aaron and Gabriel gruesomely pull the skin off the walker’s forearms and hands – ending up on the ground, holding fleshy gloves! Gabriel then climbs up to the roof. He finds yet another dead family – with one walker still “alive.” There’s a sign that says “Save Us.” When Aaron asks if he sees anything, Gabriel spares him and says nothing but a ladder down. 

Gabriel comes out of the Mini Mart shaking his head. Gabriel says one more. Aaron, however, is done. They’ve been out there for two weeks and found nothing. Gabriel insists that they have to see it through. Aaron tells him he misses his daughter and knows Gabriel misses his too. But Gabriel just repeats one more and Aaron follows.

Gabriel is reading the map, walking through mud and not paying attention when a walker suddenly grabs him from the mud, flinging him face down into it ! This could NOT have been fun to shoot! Gabriel turns over to protect himself – so now completely covered – when Aaron stabs the walker from behind and it falls on Gabriel. Aaron is laughing until he helps Gabriel up and he falls into him and covers him with mud too! The map is destroyed, but Gabriel knows that the last target was by a water tower. Aaron insists that they aren’t doing it without a map, but Gabriel counters that it’s only an hour away. Aaron doesn’t care, and Gabriel finally gives in – just as it starts to poor rain. The two stumble across a building that wasn’t on the map…

The two make their way cautiously in. Aaron thumps his arm on the metal shelving – it appears to be a warehouse. No walkers appear. I have to say this looked a lot like the warehouse way back when they first got to Alexandria where Aiden was killed. Gabriel finds a pile of Bibles, one with a bunch of pages ripped out. Aaron hears something behind a door and goes to investigate. Gabriel finds a bottle of very fancy whiskey hidden in a desk. Aaron, meanwhile, tells the unknown behind the door his name and not to be afraid. Suddenly, Gabriel hears screaming and runs to Aaron’s aid.

Gabriel finds Aaron leaning over a dead wild boar. He tells him it came at him and he didn’t have a choice. Gabriel mentions the scream. Aaron insists “These things are vicious!” (they are!) But Gabriel just keeps ribbing him about screaming like a girl and bursts out laughing. However, it breaks the tension and Gabriel tells him he feels like dinner – and drink!

The two cook up a pile of pork, and Aaron is pleased to have found some stuffed animals – clearly like Beanie babies that had been popular back in the day – and he’s sure that Gracie going to go nuts and he’s got one for Coco too. They sit down to eat and Gabriel pours a tiny bit of whiskey into their glasses. Aaron wants more – it’s just whiskey. Gabriel insists it’s more – it’s perfection. It’s rare. The bottle used to cost $2,000! Aaron suggests that people paying that much to get drunk was one of the things that was wrong with the world. But Gabriel knows about whiskey and leads him through a proper tasting of it. What does it smell like? Aaron decides breakfast as a kid. Gabriel tells him to take a sip and let the flavor finish. Aaron says wow. Gabriel is pleased and says the meat will taste even better now.

Aaron says that he gets that it’s rare and all, but they’ve had a bad day… Gabriel gives him another drink – but always a small one. The two go on to play cards. Aaron runs out of “money” and Gabriel suggests that he can play the whiskey – but Aaron folds instead. Later still the two are well and truly drunk. Aaron asks what God would think of Gabriel drinking and gambling? 

Gabriel tells Aaron about his mentor, Reverend George, who taught him about whiskey. He was a good friend and a good teacher. His first “class” was at a boy’s funeral. A young man in his freshman year of college who died of cancer. Reverend George said all the right things as the boy was lowered into the ground. When they get in the car to go to the wake, he drives like a maniac to get there before the others. He gets there and goes straight for the liquor cabinet. He pulls off both their collars and pours, and when the boy’s father walks in, the Reverend meets him with two drinks and starts talking. He talks to everyone, putting them at ease, getting them to smile and laugh. He tells Gabriel that all he has to do is be with them in the moment. To speak from his heart and don’t worry about what he thinks they want to hear. Real ministering isn’t preaching from the pulpit, it’s talking to people on their own terms, relating to them. And that skill is going to come in handy…

Aaron tells him that he needs to start preaching again. Aaron also remembers when he was going out, finding people. That felt right – helping people was right, and they haven’t done that for a long time. Aaron thinks it’s time to get back to it, but Gabriel doesn’t want to preach anymore. Gabriel doesn’t believe things will go back to the way they used to be. Gabriel chillingly tells Aaron that evil people aren’t the exception to the rule, they are the rule. Aaron stares at him in shock. He says that after the next round he’s going to climb up to the roof and jump off head first and Gabriel asks if Aaron wants him to perform last rites as he cracks open the bottle. Aaron says he’ll get back to him…

Aaron startles them both awake in the night when his arm hits the floor. He staggers off ‘to take a piss.’ The next morning, Gabriel wakes up with a heck of a hangover – and Aaron is nowhere to be seen. There’s a great shot as Gabriel turns around at the end of an aisle and there’s a shadowy figure in a hood – with a huge rifle – just standing there. It’s Mays – and he asks what Gabriel was cooking. Gabriel says a boar. The figure asks how it was, and Gabriel says good. The figure steps forward into the light and takes off his hood to reveal a heavily scarred face, saying he’d like a bite. Should we assume the boar – or a boar? – did that to him?

Gabriel sits across the table as Mays eats a plate of cold boar slowly. Gabriel introduces himself and asks what his name is. It’s as much a game of poker as the one he played with Aaron the night before – and nicely shot to echo just that. Let’s not forget that Gabriel beat Aaron the night before… Gabriel asks if he’s seen the friend he came with. He asks what Mays wants. Mays says Gabriel is the one who wants – the broke into his place and helped themselves to his boar and his whiskey. It’s Goldilocks and the ONE bear! Gabriel maintains it didn’t look like anyone lived there – and Mays rightly asks if it seems likely the boar got into the room on his own…

Gabriel insists that they meant no harm, and Mays brings Aaron’s arm out of his bag, asking if it looks like no harm meant – hard to argue with the mace at the end of it – and Mays and mace seem very similar don’t they…? Gabriel tries a different tactic, telling him they are part of a larger group. And then Mays reveals that he’s heard everything they’ve said since at least the card game. Mays asks if Gabriel thinks his gun is loaded. Gabriel points out that there aren’t a lot of bullets left, and Mays shoots up the wall behind him. He then asks if Gabriel thinks his buddy made it, revealing that Aaron is in the room behind the wall. 

Gabriel gets up to check and Mays stops him. Gabriel wants to see him when Mays says he’s still breathing, but Mays wants to know why Gabriel still wears his collar. Gabriel changes his approach again, earnestly telling him that it’s because the word of God still matters (maybe the guy is religious?!?). It’s a reminder of the goodness still in us: mercy, forgiveness… Mays tells him he uses the Bible’s as toilet paper – he likes the thin pages. Gabriel tells him that maybe he should have read it instead of wiping his ass with it – but that’s why Mays wipes his ass with it. 

Mays is a good poker player too it seems. He says it must be hard preaching about something you don’t believe in. Gabriel insists that he does believe – but Mays heard him: evil people aren’t the exception to the rule. Gabriel says he was drunk, but Mays says an honest drunk. There are only thieves and murderers left in the world. Gabriel insists that there’s still goodness. Mays asks which one of them he’s trying to convince.

Mays wheels Aaron out, tied to a chair. He unties his arm, takes out a pistol, and randomly loads it in a chamber: 1 in 6 chance. He tells them that each time, they have a choice. Point it at themselves or the man across from them. Gabriel says they won’t do it, and Mays says then they’ll both die. Aaron wants to know how they know he won’t kill them anyway. Mays says they don’t. Aaron promises they can make it right – replace the boar. But Mays says it’s not about the boar, it’s about enlightenment. 

Gabriel picks up the gun. Mays watches intently. Aaron is tortured. Gabriel hesitates with the gun pointed straight up – and then points it at his own temple – no shot when he pulls the trigger. It’s Aaron’s turn. He doesn’t hesitate nearly as long. He smiles at Gabriel as he holds the gun to his temple and pulls the trigger. 

Aaron wants to know why he’s doing it. Mays asks what happened to Aaron’s arm, and he tells him it was crushed in a construction accident. He asks about Gabriel’s eye. Gabriel tells him it was an infection. I tend not to think about these things – these are our friends, our heroes, but of course, Gabriel knows that Mays is looking for evidence of evil people – that someone plucked out Gabriel’s eye or that Aaron’s arm was cut off by someone. Mays does look shocked. Gabriel sees he wants to prove how evil man is. Mays tells him to pick the gun up again. Gabriel steels himself - the odds are getting shorter all the time remember. He doesn’t seem to hesitate as long and pulls the trigger.

Aaron is next, but when he picks up the gun and cocks it, it makes a different sound – Mays says it makes a different sound when the chamber loads. Aaron has a choice to make. Aaron tells him that they aren’t thieves and murderers. They don’t kill each other, they protect each other – like family. And that was the wrong thing to say. Family means nothing to Mays. He was on the road with his brother and his family and saved them many times until he caught his brother stealing the last of his food and came at him with a knife. Aaron asks what happened. Mays says he handled it and doesn’t blame his brother because he gave him something valuable. 

Gabriel says he didn’t give him anything. Mays is just trying to make sense of it. He’s just used it as an excuse to wall himself off in the warehouse and assume everyone else who is left is evil because it’s easier to believe than the truth: that Mays meant less to his brother than some scraps of food. Aaron cautions Gabriel, but Gabriel says he knows something about trying to find the meaning in things and there is no grand design. Gabriel says that Mays is so wrapped up in his own hate that he can’t see that he’s about to murder to good people for nothing. Mays insists that it will prove that they aren’t any different, but Gabriel insists that they are. 

Mays has lost his cool know and yells at Aaron to pull the trigger. Aaron is about to put it to his own temple again, when Mays asks about Gracie – he’d been listening remember. Mays tells him not to look at Gabriel, asking if he wants to see his daughter again. Aaron is devastated, but screams as he puts the gun to his temple and is about to pull the trigger when Mays tells him to stop! Mays points to his face and says this is who people are, this is truth. Robert Patrick is just outstanding here – as are both Gilliam and Marquand in the scene. 

Gabriel is earnest as he tells Mays that there is still good in the world. His brother didn’t give him any truth, he just betrayed him. He tells him that if he punishes others for his sins, he’s no better than his brother. Gabriel tells Mays he wasn’t always like this, none of them were. He tells him to remember who he was. Mays insists he knows who he is. Gabriel tells him that they know people just like him – broken by the world – but he doesn’t have to be like that. There’s another way. Their community is real. It’s full of people who were lost and found their way back. They can help him if he’ll let them. Mays calls him Father and tells him he doesn’t believe him. Aaron uncocks the gun – there should be a bullet in the chamber now, and Aaron could shoot him – and puts it down. He tells Mays to believe him because that is who they are. 

Mays cuts Aaron loose after putting the gun back in his own belt. As he finishes untying Aaron, he tells him that his name is Mays. As he looks at Aaron, Gabriel hits him with Aaron’s arm and kills him! Aaron looks as shocked as I felt! Gabriel tells him it’s ok. They’re good. And Aaron asks are we? Have they completely lost their humanity – or has Gabriel? But Gabriel points out that they couldn’t take him with them. He killed his brother’s family! It seems brutal after all that Gabriel said to him – but have we forgotten the rules for accepting people? How many people have you killed? Gabriel wasn’t wrong – even if Robert Patrick’s performance made us feel for Mays…

Before they leave, Aaron remembers that Mays had heard everything they’d said and wonders where he was hiding. They find the spot upstairs. There’s a cot. And a man chained to the wall – Mays’ twin brother. There are also the corpses of his family – one with a bullet hole in their temple and one with the bullet hole in the forehead…

The brother tries to shrink into the wall, and Gabriel says they aren’t going to hurt him. He unlocks one side, and the brother grabs the pistol – now in Gabriel’s belt. He points it at Gabriel and Aaron, with the rifle tells him to drop it. Gabriel insists that they aren’t going to hurt him. They both tell him that he can come with them. The brother takes one look at his family and puts the gun to his temple, killing himself. Aaron and Gabriel leave him grouped with his family – and it’s a perfect mirror to the three corpses at the burned out house at the beginning of the episode. 

Gabriel pauses to pick up some cans and bullets. Aaron just looks stricken. The two walk out and the camera focuses on family photos of Mays and his twin sharing a beer, and Mays with his brother’s family. 

Aaron and Gabriel are crossing a field. They see the water tower. Gabriel points out that it’s the last place on the map and asks what Aaron thinks. Aaron says one more.

I thought this was the best episode yet this season. Such amazing performances, great directing, and fabulous writing. We’re starting to see the long term effects of the apocalypse now – and maybe these are resonating even more strongly during the current pandemic. I loved the psychological tug of war that went on, and Gabriel’s adeptness and peeling back the layers of Mays. In the end, it is the inherent goodness of Gabriel and Aaron that really wins. It would be easy to see this as a very dark episode. Gabriel’s insistence that evil is the rule and there is no grand design, but in the end, it’s really good that wins. Gabriel wasn't seeking vengence by killing Mays - he was protecting his community. He's still working to save the community - whether he still believes in the goodness of the soul and whether they can be saved remains to be seen. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

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