"Walking Dead" spoilers ahead!
Things are not going so well for the survivors of "The Walking Dead." After losing Beth, then losing Tyreese, spirits are at an all-time low among Rick Grimes' group, especially for Beth mourners Daryl Dixon and Maggie Greene, and Tyreese's late sister, Sasha. Making matters worse, these people are nomads, wandering with very little supplies beyond the shirts on their backs and the weapons in their hands — minimal water and food, if any. These people who have survived so much look like they might not survive much longer.
With all the recent horrors slamming this group, leave it to the leader to put everything into perspective. Finally, at long last, Rick delivered the speech that embodies not just how he and his allies must approach survival in an unsurvivable world, but also embodies the show itself.
In the latest episode, "Them," a booming lightning storm washes over Rick and company, forcing them to seek shelter in an abandoned barn. There, Rick and a few others — Michonne, Glenn, Daryl — huddle together around a fire, reflecting on their situation. Rick explains a new theory that kids have it easier in the apocalypse; they get to grow up in this world, while it's the adults who have to get used to it.
"This isn't the world," Michonne insists. "This isn't it."
"It's reality until we see otherwise," Rick sighs. "This is what we have to live with."
Rick proceeds to tell a story about his grandfather, a World War II veteran. As a kid, Rick used to ask his grandpa if he ever killed anyone in the war, but never received an answer. Instead, Rick's grandfather explained how he survived the war, and how he survived people trying to kill him.
"Every day he woke up and told himself, 'Rest in peace; now get up and go to war,'" says Rick. "After a few years of pretending he was dead, he made it out alive. That's the trick of it, I think. We do what we need to do, and then we get to live. No matter what we find in D.C., I know we'll be okay. This is how we survive: We tell ourselves that we are the walking dead."
Did you hear that? "We are the walking dead." Rick name-checks the title of the show for the very first time, making the point of everything perfectly clear: Walking dead things rule the world, but it's the humans, not the zombies, that are the actual dead men and women walking around.
It's a riff on a scene from Robert Kirkman's "Walking Dead" comics, when Rick, still housed in the prison, tells his people:
It's an angrier, more frantic explosion in the comics. On the show, Rick's realization is more somber and mournful, the culmination of several weeks of tragedy. And not everyone agrees with Rick. Daryl insists, "We ain't them. We ain't them." And yet, you get the sense that not even Daryl believes the words coming out of his mouth.
What did you think of last night's big "Walking Dead" moment?