“Claimed” is an instant step up from last week’s series of vignettes simply because we get that feeling of a story being told to completion – something we were missing in “Inmates.” The Walking Dead saves time by, once again, focusing on two groups of people, splitting them up into three easily to follow storylines. Rick, Carl and Michonne discuss the possibility of making a home in the house they’re squatting in, with Michonne and Carl going to get some supplies while Rick gets some rest. We get to know the new characters we saw at the end of “Inmates” while Glenn stubbornly tries to go after Maggie. It wasn’t a mind-blowing hour of television, but it certainly had a greater sense of fun to it, mostly due to the cartoonish nature of Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and his companions Rosita Espinoza (Christian Serratos) and Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt). We’re still getting to know them, but “Claimed” gave us a good starting place for who these new survivors are and what roles they will play as Season 4 winds down.
Abraham has only one reason, it seems, to keep surviving: he wants to save the world. He’s a big guy with a big personality, so it’s no wonder he does the most talking out of the three in his group. When Glenn and Tara make off in search of Maggie, Abraham tells them that Eugene knows what caused the outbreak and they’re on their way to Washington, D.C. to make everything right. It’s an outlandish McGuffin and can only end in disappointment for Abraham, but it’s what he believes in. He’s a nice enough guy and does his best to talk sense into Glenn, but his tact leaves something to be desired and Glenn winds up and punches him in the face. We then get to see that Abraham is not a man to be punched and not retaliate. We really only get to see him in the context of his desire to save the world, but it’s a nice start for him.
Rosita and Eugene are a little more enigmatic. Rosita apparently is in love with Abraham and wears revealing clothing despite the constant threat of exposed skin being used as food. She might have a reason for why she dresses this way, but for now it’s just apart of her surface level character. She smirks, knows how to use a gun and is probably using her body when she can. Eugene is a little harder to pin down. He’s lousy with a gun (he shoots up their ride when walkers turn up, causing the group to temporarily abandon their quest so they can walk with Glenn and Tara until they find a new vehicle) and walks almost like a robot. In one of his scarce lines, Eugene says to Abraham, “Trust me. I’m smarter than you.” Could it be all an act? It’s hard to say. I know Eugene’s motivations in the comic book and I’m assuming they’re the same, but you can never be too sure with the show what’s going to be lifted from the book and what’s going to be altered.
Back with Carl and Michonne, the two bond over loss of life. Michonne opens up about her son, Andre, allowing Carl to ask her questions about her former life as a mother. Michonne smiles so much it’s alarming, but relieving. This is a character that didn’t quite work as a brooding lone warrior. Putting her in the position where she can care about people makes her more likeable and her heroics with a sword become even more impressive because now she’s fighting for something more than just herself. And the fact that she would spare Carl the sight of a deceased family knowing he’s still hurting from the loss of Judith is the perfect example of how she’s starting to feel like she’s a part of something worth sticking around for.
The act of survival can take many forms and can affect people in different ways. While Rick is resting in bed, in itself a form or survival, a group of men invade the house and Rick has to hide. We don’t spend time getting to know these men, but we know they are taking full advantage of this lawless world. Rick, hiding under the bed so he won’t be caught, witnesses one of the men kill another over who gets to sleep on the bed. For Rick, survival means not being found and that means he can’t confront these people. They outnumber him, so the easiest thing for him to do would be to try and escape unnoticed. He doesn’t make a perfect getaway, but he does eventually reunite with Carl and Michonne. This invasion served as a reminder as to why staying in a small house like this, in such low numbers isn’t an ideal way to survive. The prison worked because it was fortified and acted like a small community. That’s the best way to stay alive. So when Rick sees a map to a sanctuary, he immediately believes its where they need to go. The prison didn’t work, but that doesn’t mean something similar couldn’t.