Seeing as all of the survivors are now scattered (thanks, Governor), the latest episodes are alternating between the different groups. Tonight's episode, Claimed, juggles two of them. Half of the story focuses on what's going on with Rick, Michonne and Carl. The other half chimes in on Glenn and Tara as they team-up with the three new characters that appeared in last week's cliffhanger.
Introducing Abraham, Rosita and Eugene is definitely an exciting development for fans of the comic. Eugene and Rosita don't get much attention, though. Eugene's mission is revealed (without much of a bang, honestly) and we get a sample of his personality. And Rosita... well, it's just quickly established that she's in love with Abraham and she isn't a pushover. And speaking of Abraham, the big dude gets a lot of the spotlight in this episode. A more than fair amount of tonight's installment gives us a look at both his mentality and formidability. Right off the bat the show makes it clear we're dealing with a new badass and he dished out some legitimately brutal zombie action. I can't help but wonder how the show will handle the dynamic between Daryl and Abraham... you know, assuming they ever meet.
Claimed has a crazy amount of tension. Despite how well detailed the zombies and various sets are, the show has never really felt too creepy or tense to me. Claimed, however, nailed it with the suspense and actually kept me guessing how things would unfold. I mean, we all know characters like Michonne, Carl and Rick won't die so soon (or at all), but I still found myself on the edge of my seat as Rick tried to elude some bad people and Michonne wandered the house. There's a lot of gripping moments to be found in this one and the show did a stellar job creating an honestly haunting set piece. It's just too bad a little bit of product placement for one of Robert Kirkman's other comics, Super Dinosaur, took me out of the moment for a second.
Forming a stronger bond between Michonne and Carl is a logical move and shows us another side of them -- a side that isn't in "kill or be killed mode." It's a drastic change from how they usually act and it's nice to get a bit of levity from Michonne, but Carl still managed to annoy just a little bit. There's a moment where he's surprised and curious to find something out about Michonne's past, but the way he reacts feels somewhat abrasive. Then again, he is just a kid who's growing up in this messed up world, so the lack of finesse while asking about a delicate subject is sort of understandable. It's an emotional subject they're discussing, yet the conversation itself never felt impactful and came off as surprisingly lighthearted. Instead, they had the weight of the topic kick in through a set piece.
Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira and Steven Yeun all give especially engaging performances. Lincoln's able to convey the sheer amount of fear he's experiencing during the "home invasion" and, even though it isn't as moving as her "flashback" scenes, Danai Gurira continues to do a great job showing us Michonne isn't simply a silent killer in the series. Meanwhile, Steven Yeun is able to deliver on the huge conflict his character is facing -- you can really get a sense of his determination and anger.
Sure, Rick's big scene has a bunch of tropes, but despite them being something we've seen plenty of times in other shows and movies, this episode still managed to handle them pretty well. However, despite the good amount of attention-grabbing moments, there was still an instance or two which were a bit frustrating. To dive into details would be spoilery, so instead I'll just say it revolves around the bathroom scene. Also, Eugene's decision was facepalm worthy. I understand why he'd be terrible with a firearm (Abraham has been protecting him, after all), but as an intelligent guy, wouldn't running to the others be the more pragmatic option? It's not like he's new to this zombie infested world. Maybe they should have saved the "I'm smarter than you" line for a scene before that slip-up. But hey, we're all human, right?
Claimed's pacing is solid, it's loaded with suspense, and it does a thorough job establishing Abraham while also giving Michonne a little more depth. Yes, there's a frustrating moment or two along the way, but overall, it's a very entertaining episode and ends on a note that means we'll hopefully see the groups reunite sooner rather than later.