The Walking Dead 1019 – One More
Warning: Review contains spoilers!
The Walking Dead continues its extended countdown to Season 10’s conclusion with One More, a tense episode that pushes Aaron and Gabriel into the spotlight and features a cool guest star. So far, the extra episodes have generally been good focussing on Maggie’s return and the introduction of Daryl’s previously unknown love interest, Leah. This time around Aaron and Gabriel hit the road using Maggie’s map in search of food and supplies for Alexandria.
Weeks on the road together have taken a toll on the unlikely duo and the weariness is evident from the start. Aaron and Gabriel are extremely light when it comes to banter with most of the communication between the two expressed through the eyes, wilting body language and resigned sighs. A tiny drop of blood in the opening frame is the gateway to a slowly unfolding mystery. Burned human remains, handcuffed walkers and what appear to be corpses in distress point to something sinister.
After a mildly comic scene where Aaron is attacked by a wild boar, he and Gabriel decide to make the best of their fruitless pursuit. An expensive bottle of whiskey and roasted pulled pork are on the menu along with Gabriel schooling Aaron on some of the finer points of the world before it all came crashing down. When a game of cards comes into the equation the tension between the two melts. Aaron wonders out loud how Gabriel, a man of the cloth, drinking and gambling would appear in the eyes of God. Gabriel shrugs it off realizing that there are some transgressions that are more egregious than others, especially in the middle of an apocalypse.
A sizable pile of Bibles with pages ripped out found by a man of God who may be losing his faith sums up Gabriel’s perspective on matters. Knowing that his sermons have done little to stop the tide of evil that lay in the hearts of men has hardened Gabriel and is why he can’t share Aaron’s optimism that things will eventually get better. His faith in God, however, keeps him sane and provides the strength he needs to survive.
One More ambles along until a stranger, played by Robert Patrick of X-Files and Terminator 2 fame appears the next morning in possession of Aaron’s mace. Complicating matters is the fact that Gabriel and Aaron unknowingly stumbled across the stranger’s possessions and consumed them. As retribution the stranger forces Gabriel and Aaron to play Russian roulette and the fallout from their unintentional transgression kicks off a series of small tragedies that snowball into something larger and heartbreaking.
The evil that men do, particularly when all hope is lost is the central theme of One More. The stranger’s backstory coupled with his isolation is in stark contrast to the men he holds hostage. Aaron and Gabriel, both with daughters, are part of a larger family unit, a community that helps to shield them from the harsh realities of the world they live in. Without those safeguards in place, the stranger is reduced to the basest of motivations in order to make sense of the world and survive.
Gabriel’s true skill as a preacher, one that he alludes to earlier in the episode, bears fruit in the latter half of One More. His ability to talk to people, to get inside of them and relate to them on their own terms gives him some insight into what motivates his captor. It also gives him a perspective on things, separate from Aaron’s when a twist, and not the episode’s last mind you, occurs near the end. The carnage Gabriel witnessed at the start of the episode, wasn’t a random event devoid of any impact on what was to come later on. His shocking actions are directly tied to what he saw in the abandoned cars with bullet riddled cans of food, and the corpses on top of the abandoned Mini Mart.
Was the carnage leading up to Gabriel and Aaron meeting the stranger a result of him alone, The Reavers or a combination of the two? The answer to that remains unclear for now but what can’t be disputed is that the ravages of the apocalypse are more than enough to destroy even the closest of bonds.