The loose threads that have made up the entirety of the back half of season four are finally merging back together, and in Us, the penultimate episode before what appears to be an action packed revealing finale, we get some answers, a reunion, and a massive dose of potential with the arrival at Terminus… but what will that potential be?
Before getting into the episode itself and breaking down the two main story lines, and the meager serving of Rick, Carl and Michonne, let’s look at that final scene. Abraham’s growing army, now including the reunited Glenn and Maggie, strolls into Terminus… finally… and are greeted by the smiling and welcoming Mary, played by Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar from Star Trek: TNG). It seems that everyone, whether they be comic readers or gamers familiar with a similar moment in TellTale’s The Walking Dead, assumes that this group at Terminus are cannibals. As someone who reads the comics, plays the game, and watches the show… I must concur.
Getting into the specifics of why I, and many others, believe this to be the case would get into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say, I don’t have a good feeling about this woman with the open arms and warm smile. Remember, The Governor welcomed Andrea and Michonne to Woodbury in the same way… and if there are so many signs leading survivors to Terminus, why weren’t there more people milling about? There were some wonderfully tended raised beds chock full of veggies and herbs, and the umbrellas and tables gave the situation a very homey feel… but where were the people?
We will have to wait until next week for these answers, and I have full confidence that we will get them.
My favorite element of the last seven episodes has been the way Gimple has weaved the disparate stories in and out of one another in extremely creative and non-obvious ways throughout… beginning with Michonne ignoring Rick and Carl’s tracks only to double back and follow them, to the second episode showing Daryl and Beth tracking the movement of Tyreese and the gang of kids, and Beth being almost munched on by the very zombie that Ty allowed to live after getting advice on following the tracks, the bus and how that tied in with Glenn and Maggie’s tale, to the sight of smoke in the last episode that was probably the fire set by Daryl and Beth (and the attending charred zombies), and if you think back to when Bob and Sasha were chatting and Bob couldn’t sleep… remember the moaning zombie that wasn’t moving? Probably the zed who got stuck in the train tracks in The Grove. All of the individual elements play out during the course of their journey, and considering each group is making their way to the same place, eventually they would all come together… but it’s been a wonderful touch to give us signs of the others’ proximity to everyone else, and to place each of the events in time with relation to where we are at any given place and time.
This episode delivers a few more moments of converging paths, not only Glenn finally closing the gap between himself and his lady love, but we now know that Joe’s merry band of fuck-wits did in fact see Rick in the house and are tracking him, and they are closing in fast based on the candy wrapper Daryl walked past. We know that Tyreese and Carol took a little extra time in the last episode, so we wouldn’t expect to see them arrive, and although Rick, Carl and Michonne are somewhat ahead of Daryl, both parties took a little extra time to get on the tracks… so they may be the last of the groups to arrive at the giant BBQ.
After having three episodes in a row without Rick, Carl, and Michonne, I was looking forward to seeing what they are up to. We get a whopping three minutes or so of our main protagonists… Carl and Michonne are playful and cute and split a candy bar as Rick looks on happily at his son and his best ninja buddy. Too bad Rick got none of that tasty candy. Jerks.
I want to care more about Glenn’s story… I want to like Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, and Tara… but generally… yawn. I liked Abraham’s comments regarding Rosita’s breasts being mesmerizing, and I did enjoy much of Eugene’s weirdness this episode, but overall I just wanted them to get to the point. It’s funny how I could like almost every moment in this episode, yet still not give much of a crap about the main thrust of the action… with one major exception, I loved the dark tunnel of death that Glenn and Tara sauntered so casually into. It’s as though they just didn’t hear all the moans coming out of that place… and to go in with limited ammo? Good gravy… not a great idea, but it made for some very groovy images and I was reminded of some of the creepier moments in The Last of Us or any other scary zombie game that relies heavily on atmosphere and the occasionally jump scare.
The tunnel scene and subsequent merging of Eugene stopping on the tracks to wait on the other side and Tara being stuck as zombies converged was a fantastic bit of clever editing. On one hand, I joked out loud that the look of surprise on their faces in the car was in response to them seeing Maggie and company, and my wife thought it could be Glenn on his own… either way could produce that look. It was a nice surprise to see that it was the former, and I think this was very much a call back to the comic in that this was precisely how Rick, Glenn, and Michonne were originally greeted by Martinez and introduced to Woodbury… with a hail of gunfire saving their asses.
If I felt disappointed by the lack of Rick, or the boredom that is the zombie apocalypse’s number one love story, Daryl’s struggle to fit in with his new group was as mesmerizing as it would be to stare into Rosita’s cleavage. The theories about how Daryl would react to being in an environment that hits a bit closer to his previous home were generally split down the line… he would either bail at the first opportunity, or he would find himself fighting with his inner redneck poor-white-trash demons. Looks like the demons are having their way with everyone’s favorite greasy bowman… and I like it.
For as hard as he tries, Daryl seems incapable of shaking off this aspect of who he is, and when given the chance to show some respect and dignity to the ass-face that did him wrong, Daryl chose to leave his body uncovered and begin “claiming” things for himself… even a single succulent strawberry. Merle’s ghost must be smiling down on him. What will be interesting however is what will happen once Joe comes face to face with Rick. I don’t imagine for one second that Daryl will side with Joe over his bromantic life-partner, and why in the hell has he given up his search for Beth so damned quickly? I’m sure he feels he’s in between a rock and a hard place, but come on man… you two had a connection, and now you have insinuated yourself as the apparent new best bud of Joe’s? Hopefully this is all some big ruse and Daryl is still going to search for the young Miss Greene… and let’s just hope that my prediction stated in mine and Grace’s Comic Talk segment in the last episode of The Walking Dead’Cast is correct (go listen to the episode to hear my prediction, no spoilers here) and Beth won’t be what’s for dinner for everyone in Terminus.
Us, while being a decent and entertaining episode of The Walking Dead, is very much a lead-in for what will probably be an explosive hour of television next week. If this is simply the calm between two storms, I can accept that, and am assuming it will play out in better fashion once seen as a whole… but, it wasn’t as engaging as I would have liked. I have a lovely image in my head of each group being a different color on a map, and over the course of the last seven episodes we’ve followed those paths and watched as they dithered here and dallied there, and eventually they all began moving in the same direction, occasionally crossing paths, or very near, but never joining up… until the end of the line, Terminus.
What do you think will happen once they reach the end? Are they cannibals? Will Joe exact revenge on Rick for killing the never-nude shitter? Will Daryl find the home he has lost in the group? And how will Rick and Daryl react when they see Carol together with Tyreese? We have been getting a smattering of questions answered in the last few weeks, but as with all great tales, each new answer begs for more questions, and Us delivered unto us many new questions. Let’s just hope when everyone sits down to their steak dinner, they aren’t enjoying Beth chops in a lovely red wine reduction.
My, what big eyes you have Mary,
Cornelius J. Blahg