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The Walking Dead “Us” 

Photo Credit: AMC
Photo Credit: AMC

After last week’s gigantic of a shocker in “The Grove”, you might think that the plot might mellow some, especially given the fact that next week is the season 4 finale. Not true. Tonight’s episode started out slow, and even had a few, warm-and-fuzzy Hallmark moments — a teary and emotional reunion, and more great dialogue between Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carl (Chandler Riggs). But, that all quickly changes. We find out what Joe (Jeff Kober) and his hooligans’ game plan is, which leaves one of the main characters with a big target on his back, and we finally arrive at Terminus. And, as a good deal of us suspected all along, Terminus is likely not a good thing.

The first storyline involves Glenn (Steven Yeun) and his neverending quest to find Maggie (Lauren Cohan), with Abraham’s Army tagging along for the ride. Maggie writing those messages in walker blood wasn’t for nothing (thank God!) because Glenn finally sees them, giving him the much-needed boast of confidence that he’s heading in the right direction. Of course, Gleggie gets their happy ending with a very tearful reunion (who really thought that wouldn’t happen?!), after Glenn and Tara (Alanna Masterson) are saved by Abraham and Maggie’s group from a mini-herd in a train tunnel (kudos and plaudits to the special effects folks for putting together that spectacular scene!). Great! Group hug, and now we can finally stop talking about Glenn and Maggie getting back together.  Even though Glenn and Maggie finding each other provided a tiny glimmer of hope in a world where death and misery are on their doorstep every single day, it wasn’t the highlight of this arc — the true stars where the characters. We see that Tara really is a good person and not just some confused lesbian, bisexual, or whatever who has a crush on Glenn. She’s helping Glenn because she believes in what he is doing and as some kind of “penance” for the horror she caused at the prison, even though she was not directly responsible. And, Glenn demonstrates his honor by not outing Tara to Maggie as someone who just stood by and watched while the Governor decapitated her father. Even with this, the true MVP in tonight’s episode was Eugene (Josh McDermitt). No one else came even close. “Us” was not a really “happy” episode, and Eugene injected much-needed comic relief. Hours have passed, and I’m still laughing at some of the crap this guy said!

    Speaking of gaming, what kind of gamer were you? RPG..<and some bullshit I didn’t understand> — Eugene to Tara

    You are good people. And, Tara, you are seriously hot — Eugene to Tara

And, I could go on and on.  Apparently this guy’s idea of courting a girl he has the hots for is to ramble on and on about technical and geeky bullcrap that no one understands but him.  Even with Eugene’s awkwardness, we find out this guy does have character, as was demonstrated by his insistence on helping Glenn and Tara, instead of just leaving them like Abraham wanted to do.

     Yes, I can save the world. But, I also have to live with myself afterwards — Eugene to Rosita

This is a far cry from the Eugene we first met in “Claimed” who couldn’t fire a gun and who seemed to be scared of his own shadow.  I’m very much looking forward to the evolution of this character in season 5.

Photo Credit: AMC
Photo Credit: AMC

And, for all of the Daryl (Norman Reedus) fans out there, I’m sure you all were thrilled to see your favorite back. We got to see how the dynamics of his new group of redneck hooligans work, and to my surprise, I may actually like Joe — at least sort of. I never really understood how this middle-aged guy could be the leader of this group of bullies, but now I do. Joe is about honesty and integrity. Joe has simple rules, and if you break them or you do something like lie or steal, then you suffer the consequences which seems to include a beatdown by the rest of the group. Joe is also pretty clever, which we could see with how he tricked Len into confessing that he was a liar and a cheat, earning him the beating of his life and ultimately an arrow through the brain.  To most, Joe’s checklist of rules may seem a little ridiculous, but the world is pretty messed up now, and you have to have some order to avoid complete anarchy. And, as belligerent and screwed up as these guys are, Joe inspires them and he has their respect, which means he’s a good leader.  And, ironically, Daryl seems to like the guy.  But there is one little problem. The punchline is Joe and his group are following the train tracks for one reason and one reason only — to exact revenge against the man who killed his comrade, Lou, at a house they were staying in. Of course, we know that guy is Rick (Andrew Lincoln). Daryl nods as if he agrees with Joe’s plan, and it’s going to make for some really intense moments when he finds out he’s been tasked to kill his friend, Rick, a man that he has grown to respect.

Photo Credit: AMC
Photo Credit: AMC

Just when we think the episode is about over, the scene we’ve been waiting for since the mid-season premiere finally happens — the group (at least most of it) arrives at Terminus. At first blush, this place looks like paradise splat right in the middle of this hell of a world these characters live in now. Fields, a few buildings in the distance, and most importantly, no bad guys jumping out to attack and try to defend the place. Perhaps this Terminus was the “safe haven” that the survivors were hoping it would be? You know, camp fires, marshmallows, and bedtime stories? Well, that is quickly shattered for most fans when the group enters a courtyard and encounters a woman named Mary (Denise Crosby, Star Trek: The Next Generation) tending a barbecue.

     Welcome to Terminus. My name is Mary — sit down and I’ll prepare something for you to eat.

Those who are remotely familiar with the comic book series, or who have read anything on the Internet on what Terminus might turn out to be, I’m sure just felt their hearts jump right out of their chests. Unless the writers are playing a very cruel joke on the fans and this is just one big tease, this place is no f***ing sanctuary — it’s the place where “The Hunters” AKA “The Cannibals” live. And , if that turns out to be the case, you can safely bet that that’s not a deer on the barbecue either! The only question that would remain is who drew the short straw and became the evening’s meal  — a “nobody” that we have never met, or one of the survivors who we did not see in this episode? That would mean it’s likely to be Beth, Tyreese, Carol, or heaven forbid, Judith. Holy freakin’ crap!  Of course, there are other possible scenarios — the “Saviors” led by the evil Negan or some other group of freaks that wasn’t even in the comics.   But, Negan doesn’t show up until much later in the comics, and manufacturing a villainous group solely for the TV series would mean a big diversion from the comics, which Robert Kirkman and Scott Gimple said they were going to mirror more moving forward.

Photo Credit: AMC
Photo Credit: AMC

As much as this turns my stomach, I’m actually very pleased with where this storyline seems to be headed, and in many ways, it has pulled all of the episodes since the mid-season finale all together with a nice bow. In the season premiere, all of the prison survivors are thrown in a hundred different directions, and there seemed to be little hope that they would all find each other again. Well, unless… unless, they found some other safe place, one where all of them would naturally go towards given the fact that they just lost their own safe haven. Enter Terminus and the promise of survival and safety. But, the best part is the way the writers have embellished the Hunter storyline. In the comics, the Hunters were, well, kind of boring and quite honestly, dumber than tube socks. They were a relatively small group, but they took huge risks by stalking their prey, not to mention the risk of being attacked by walkers as well. And, they had a very inflated sense of how scared people were of them, which ultimately led to their downfall. Here, in the TV series, these Hunters appear far more intelligent, and their actions indicate a great deal of forethought and strategy. After all, what better way to hunt humans than to lure them in with a promise of shelter and safety, right? They would have a steady food supply, and the best part is they wouldn’t even have to go out and risk their lives to hunt. Just let your food come right to your doorstep. Pretty damn smart and clever. Finally, as an added bonus, all of the episodes leading up to the group coming together at Terminus provided some excellent character-centric episodes, something that had been sorely lacking in previous seasons. I had some doubts about Scott Gimple coming on board as Executive Producer, but this episode put every last one of them to rest.

If these people are, in fact, the Hunters/Cannibals from the comic book series, you can expect the mother of all season finales next week (or very early on in Season 5), and it certainly would be in line with Robert Kirkman describing the finale as “savage”. In the comics, the Hunters kidnap Dale, and the next thing he knew, he was lying in front of a fire on which one of his legs was roasting. In part out of revenge for what happened to Dale and also just out of sheer disgust over these people’s way of life, Rick, Abraham, Michonne and the rest of the group eventually track down these Hunters and completely eradicate the group. And, no holds barred either. Every last one of the cannibals was tortured, mutilated and cut up into more pieces than we could count. It is by far the most gruesome series of scenes in the comics, and if this doesn’t count as “savage”, I don’t know what does.

What does everyone else think? Do you think these are the Hunters? And if so, who in the hell is on that open fire? And, what about Rick? Will there be a showdown between Rick and Daryl, and what will Daryl do when he finds out that he killed a member of his new “family”?

The season 4 finale of The Walking Dead is titled “A” and airs next Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.

Most memorable quotes and random thoughts

  • Hey, the darn things are near hypnotic. I’m not mad. Heck, Eugene spends half the day staring at Rosita’s ass — Sgt. Ford to Tara
  • Nobody’s slept more than a couple of hours straight since we went all Casey Jones — Sgt. Ford
  • Hey, there ain’t no ‘Us’ — Daryl to Joe
  • He tells me I’m wrong, I listen — Sgt. Ford
  • And, you don’t lie, because that’s a slippery slope, indeed – Joe to Daryl
  • Now that Maggie has found Glenn, maybe she can now start focusing on her sister.  Her entire family may have been wiped out, but there’s still hope for Beth — not that Maggie seems to care.
  • Daryl wants to cover up Len’s beaten body with a blanket.  But, Abraham coldly and nonchalantly wipes the message “Let Momma Be” from the windshield of the van that they fan.  This highlights major differences in how each of these men view the world today.

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