This episode of The Walking Dead tells us two stories, but contains three significant high points with the show’s characters. Not only do we get to see more of the hotly anticipated trio from the comics led by Sgt. Abraham, but more amazing emoting from Michonne and Rick, still deep in conflict about violence, but taking action despite his reservations. All this and gloriously gory walker destruction awaits in our recap of “Claimed.”

The Sergeant, the Scientist and the Lady Soldier

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Fans of the graphic novels were thrilled with the ending of last episode and the introduction of a pivotal trio of characters from the Walking Dead universe. Sgt. Abraham is an ex-Army jarhead who smiles while dispatching walkers, doesn’t take no for an answer and is never happier than when following orders. And his mission at the moment is to take the scientist Eugene to Washington D.C. to save all of humanity. He saw how Glenn and Tara fought the roadside walkers and is taking them with him to help on his mission.

It never occurs to Abraham to ask if they want to come along. Why wouldn’t they want to save the world? But Glenn doesn’t care if they entire planet falls into the sun as long as he is reunited with Maggie. Unfortunately for Glenn, when he regains consciousness he is several hours away from the bus where he knows Maggie will be looking for him. In his attempt to get away from Sgt. Abraham and head back towards the bus, the two get into a brawl and Glenn holds his own against the trained killer. This, however, attracts walkers and Mr. Mouth-breathing Scientist decides to use an automatic weapon in self-defense. The only thing he manages to take out is the transport vehicle.

Sgt. Abraham is determined to find a new transport, but Glenn is just as determined to find Maggie and leaves him behind with Tara in tow. The lady warrior, who so far has had zero impact on the story since her appearance and has yet to explain why she is dressed like stripper from Tijuana, decides to go with Glenn. The Sergeant and Scientist have no choice to go with them to stick together.

Abraham doesn’t seem as menacing as he first appeared when finding Tara and Glenn by the side of the road. In fact, he seems rather dim and eager to follow orders from Eugene. Other than being manipulated by those even marginally smarter than himself, I’m not sure what they are going to do with this guy. His moral system seems very simplistic and straightforward, something that isn’t going to hold up in this post-apocalyptic mess.

The other notable point in this storyline is Tara. Her intense loyalty to Glenn is based on him saving her from the prison after she gave up on herself. It seems largely fueled by guilt. For example, when Sgt. Abraham says he can tell if people are good or not and decides she is one of the good ones like him, she tells Abraham he has no idea what he’s talking about pointing out both his simple thinking and her own view of herself.

Michonne Shows Us Her Cheesey Side (and that’s a good thing)

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Michonne and Carl continue their mother-son relationship in a wonderful way that brings the horror around them into sharp contrast. When Carl gets despondent at his assumption that baby Judith is dead, Michonne shoots cheese-in-a-can into her mouth and pretends to be a walker in a comic fashion. Not getting a response out of him, she notes that toddlers love her, prompting Carl to pepper her with questions about her life before they met. She reveals her three-year-old son (who we saw in flashbacks for the first time in the previous episode) was named Andre Anthony and he died. She has never told anyone that but claims it’s not a secret.

I get the feeling that she hasn’t given herself permission to grieve over her son’s death until now and her time with Carl is part of her healing process. The actress, Danai Gurira, does an amazing job of shifting between badass, stone cold zombie slayer to joyfully laughing and lighting up the room as she tries to cheer up Carl. Hello, Emmy nominating committee, are you paying attention?

Another poignant moment comes when Michonne finds a room where the entire family is dead and laid out together on beds. She barely holds back tears seeing a complete family together in death, while she still remains alive with her own family gone. Rick asked her earlier in the episode if she is going to stick around for Carl’s sake and she responded that she is done taking breaks. And here we see that she is tempted to join her family in death to be with them again, but now she has something to live for. Even if it is, you know, Carl. Nicely done, TWD writers, nicely done.

The Sheriff Takes Up Arms

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Rick’s been struggling with all the violence he’s had to endure and be a part of. This led to a lot of, well, gardening this season much to chagrin of his son, the people he is supposed to lead and most of the viewing audience. But in this episode, Rick’s non-violent attitude is put to the test when four invaders break into the house he is sleeping in while Michonne and Carl are out. Rick had given his only weapon to Carl and now must endure a post-apocalyptic rapist gang version of Home Alone.

Struggling to get out of the house before Carl and Michonne return, he is forced to hide under the bed, which two of the invaders fight over. One of them is killed (right when he finally saw Rick under the bed which was a nice touch) while the other takes a victory nap. Rick takes this opportunity to get away, but stumbles upon another invader in the bathroom. He is forced to kill this one by strangulation and before he sneaks out the window, he does something very smart. He opens the bathroom door a crack.

With the dead man’s gun in hand, Rick sneaks out a window and around the back porch where one of the two remaining invaders is eating canned food while waiting for Michonne to return to start the gang rape (they found her belongings in the house). Rick has the opportunity to kill this guy, but hesitates. He struggles with outright murder. Killing the guy in the bathroom was done out of instinct and necessity. Rick had no time to think, just react to keep the invader quiet so he could make his escape to save his son and friend. But this scenario, with the guy being killed in cold-blood, tests Rick’s morals.

When he sees Michonne and Carl walking towards the house from their scavenging hunt, he knows he has to kill this guy before they are spotted. However, his earlier cleverness saves the day. The invader he killed in the bathroom zombied up and attacked the other still living guy in the house because Rick had made sure it could get out of the bathroom by leaving the door open. This creates enough of a distraction for Rick to sprint to Michonne and Carl before they reached the house and for all three to run off.

This whole storyline had some great tension, but largely relied on the invaders to be your garden-variety horror movie idiots. Would one invader kill another over a bed on a street full of nice two-story houses full of potentially even bigger beds? And would he leave the guy he killed dead on the floor and take a victory nap knowing the guy is going to rise from the dead and eat his face while he slept? This whole thing was saved by Rick’s dilemma and the desperation convincingly portrayed by actor Andrew Lincoln.

In the end, Rick, Michonne and Carl find a map to the sanctuary Terminus. This is the same place Tyreese, Carol, baby Judith, psycho Lizzie and Mika found in the previous episode. So it looks like the gang is getting back together to deal with another dysfunctional community.

Overall, I found this to be a very good episode. Michonne steals every scene she is in and her new emotional range is making her even more riveting to watch. Rick had a tense story that put him to the test and didn’t involve him making bad parenting choices with Carl. And though Glenn is being kind of one note, who doesn’t love this badass side of him?

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