Comic and potential show spoilers below.
Yes! In its gloomy second outing back from midseason hiatus, The Walking Dead is finally putting these characters on the road to what is arguably the comic book series’ best narrative arc, and it all begins with Aaron (Ross Marquand), the mysteriously genial guy who shows up at the end of “Them.”
Aaron pops up while the two of the episode’s most emotionally wrecked characters – Sasha and Maggie – are having a bonding moment over a gifted, temporarily broken music box. (He approached Rick and Abraham in the comics.) Beyond the fact that he’s a neat, intelligent, clean-shaven man who doesn’t appear to be living a hard-knock life, Aaron immediately draws suspicion, offering “good news” and knowing a little bit too much about their group; namely, that Rick is the leader. How could he possibly know that?
Assuming creator Robert Kirkman and showrunner Scott Gimple don’t “remix” the storyline much for Aaron’s role in this tale, he will have been spying on the group for a short while by the time he decided to approach them. That potentially dangerous oasis of bottled water was almost definitely left by him, though whether it was a truly virtuous offering or a test of some kind technically remains to be seen. Luckily, there was a massive thunderstorm to help Rick & Co. out on the water thing. (Raining cats and roasted dogs, maybe?)
Aaron’s role in this universe is a recruiter for the Alexandria Safe Haven, a stable society that serves as a real turning point for the series in a lot of ways. (Don’t worry, I won’t be going into any real spoilers about what goes on there.) While the group obviously doesn’t take to someone sneaking up on them, the caution will presumably reach a denouement, and cooler heads will prevail to find the kind of shelter that has been absent from the survivors’ lives for a long while now. Knowing The Walking Dead, it could take another five episodes to actually get there, but it will damned well be worth it.
Because we all know now that Daryl isn’t actually gay, Aaron serves as the series’ first homosexual male character, and it’ll be interesting to see how that’s portrayed. In the comics, his recruiting partner is his boyfriend Eric, and the two are very close and protective of one another. (There was technically already an Eric on The Walking Dead as one of the Woodbury people, but he’s dead now.) Eric is part of Aaron’s safety net when recruiting, so I’m really hoping he’s introduced in the next episode, even though I don’t think there’s been any casting news that would fit that. Not that I’m letting that ruin my wishes. Either way it goes, we’re on the way to whatever form of Alexandria this show will introduce, and that means Negan awaits.
I really want there to be a flashback in next week’s episode where they show Aaron walking up on two of the characters, where one specifically states, “Well, you know Rick. He’s our leader.” I mean, this is the episode that had Rick dropping the titular line where he called the group “the walking dead.” Will it happen? Tune in to AMC for next week’s episode of The Walking Dead, in which Aaron finds himself at the end of a harsh questioning. Check out a sneak preview on the next page.