Not ominous looking Terminus at all, right?
So after last week’s “The Grove,” we’re back to multiple storylines this week, and we pretty much have to. With the next episode being the season finale, the show has been building toward reuniting the group at Terminus. For the second half of the season to spend so much time on this, it would have to be a pretty big payoff.
Whether it’s a happy ending, we don’t know yet. If last week’s episode is an indication of anything, it’s that The Walking Dead can raise your spirits before eating them like so many potato chips. Stole that line from Doug and have no regrets about that.
But let’s focus on this week. The episode begins with both Eugene and Abraham making attempts to converse with Tara, though Abraham has a bit more success when he tells her that he’s not about to leave Eugene’s life in her hands. His plan is to keep moving north until they find a vehicle, and then they’ll go their separate ways since Glenn is still set on finding Maggie. They each have their own missions. What happens when their missions are over is another thing.
That morning, the five find one of the blood stained notes by Maggie, Sasha and Bob. Glenn sprints down the train tracks with a gleeful grin on his face.
Elsewhere, the marauders awaken to the sound of walkers running into their barbed wire gate. Now see, that is the reason the group from last week shouldn’t have had to spend bullets! Just let them run into the wires, but I digress. The men comment on their missing new member, but as his stuff is still there, he’s probably just taking care of morning business.
Turns out that Daryl is just out hunting a rabbit. But someone else’s arrows strike first. The man, Len, played by Marcus Hester, says that he claimed it first, which apparently means it belongs to him, even though Daryl spotted it first.
The group’s leader, Joe, played by Jeff Kober, breaks up the argument and lets Daryl know the rules of the group: once you claim it, it’s yours. Daryl, of course, has never been a fan of groups or rules, but Joe tells him that going at it alone in the world isn’t really an option. It’s still survival of the fittest, yes, but there’s strength in numbers. This guy would probably get along well with Abraham, based on what we know about him. Claiming is how you mark everything you have. Daryl still doesn’t comply, so Joe compromises: he splits the rabbit down the middle. Compromise.
Then we get our one and only scene with Carl, Michonne and Rick, who lets them know that they only have a day’s worth of water left. The two don’t pay him much attention, as they’re too caught up in their bet of who can walk the furthest on the rails. Michonne loses, so she owes Carl chocolate. Again, it’s a small scene, but it’s good for Rick to at least see Carl happy for a moment.
Back with Glenn and company, Abraham has the group stop at a water tower so they can rest. Though it’s barely noon, Glenn is eager to continue, as is Tara. A walker emerges from the water tower and Abraham pushes Tara aside before the walker splatters on the ground.
It appears as if Tara’s sprained her ankle. I say appears because the fall doesn’t look that bad, but whatever. Glenn and Tara decide to keep going, telling Abraham that they don’t need to keep working together anyway. This leads Rosita to correctly call out Glenn’s crap, saying that Tara would do whatever Glenn wanted on the grounds that she owes him. Glenn offers a compromise that involves him giving his riot gear to Eugene, and Abraham agrees. If Tara’s good to walk, then they’ll keep going.
Joe asks Daryl what his plan is. Even if Daryl finds a place to stay, he’ll need a group. Daryl doesn’t have to be nice, just follow the rules is all. Don’t lie. If you do, you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of a beating, severity depending on the offense and general mood of the day. Good to know.
At last, Glenn finds another sign from Maggie, and the blood is still wet, so they can’t be too far. All everyone has to do is make their way through the very dark and long tunnel before them.
Abraham notes the sound of walkers from deep within and tells Glenn that it’d be suicidal to head in there without any illumination. So this is where the group parts ways, though Abraham does give Glenn and Tara some food and a flashlight.
The marauders arrive at a shed still filled with cars, though none have any gas left. Never mind. Each man makes their claim, while Daryl makes his bed on the ground.
Back in the tunnel, Glenn and Tara find walkers buried beneath a pile of rubble from the collapsed ceiling. The sound of incoming walkers grows louder, but Glenn takes his time to make sure that Maggie isn’t one of the walkers. Sheesh, man, have a little faith in your girlfriend to get further than this. Glenn decides that they’ll have to make the impossible decision of pushing deeper into the tunnel, even though that means running into more walkers. The two climb atop the wreckage to avoid the incoming mob of walkers long enough for them to jump down safely. Glenn eventually does, but Tara slips and gets herself stuck.
Outside, Abraham, Eugene and Rosita manage to secure a car that still works. Rosita wants to navigate, but Eugene decides it’s best that he does the navigation, despite having minimal incidents in the past.
And soon enough, he has Rosita making left turn after left turn until the group comes to a stop.
Back with the marauders, Len asks about the missing half of the cottontail rabbit he and Daryl split. He accuses Daryl of stealing it, which Daryl denies. Joe empties Daryl’s bag and, lo and behold, there’s the other half. Daryl still denies any theft. Joe asks if Len planted it himself, and he denies it, which leads him to getting a punch in the face from Joe. The rest of the marauders start beating on Len while Joe tells Daryl that he saw Len plant the cottontail. But hey, Daryl didn’t lie. He understands the rules. And as a bonus, Joe gives him the other half of the cottontail.
In the tunnel, Tara insists that Glenn leave her so he can go ahead and escape. He refuses, but luckily enough, headlights flood the tunnel, followed by a hail of bullets that down the walkers.
And in one giant convenience, it’s Maggie, Sasha and Bob, along with Abraham, Rosita and Eugene. Well, that was certainly well-timed, wasn’t it?
The groups discuss their next move. They’re only a day’s walk from Terminus and there’s no way right now that they can get to Washington without a working vehicle that would take them that far. Maggie and Glenn have their little moment after being separated for so long, with Maggie insisting that they burn the photo of her that Glenn found in the prison. After all, he shouldn’t need a photo of her anymore. Why they’re all still in the tunnel instead of outside, I don’t know.
As the marauders prepare to leave, Daryl finds Len’s body, riddled with arrows, lying outside. Just when it appears that he’s going to cover it up, he decides against it. The group makes their way along the railroad tracks and approaches one of the Terminus signs. Joe calls it a lie, saying that people like them won’t be welcomed. Not with crossbows at the ready, anyway.
At long last, Abraham and Glenn’s groups arrive at a set of inviting looking buildings. In fact, they walk right in, as the place isn’t locked. It’s a lovely looking place with sunflowers growing throughout. The buildings look very clean and neat, almost too neat.
In the center of it all, they meet Mary, played by Denise Crosby. She welcomes everyone to Terminus and offers to fix them a plate after their long journey.
Welcome to Terminus.
If “The Grove” dealt with the pain of loss, then “Us” felt like a necessary attempt from the writers to be more optimistic and uplifting. If the reunion of Maggie and Glenn is an indication of anything, it’s that The Walking Dead can take a moment to give us brief moments of happiness and triumph in a world filled with so many losses. The episode gave us one payoff by uniting Maggie’s group with Glenn and Tara, in addition to meeting Abraham, Eugene and Rosita. With everyone shrouded in so much darkness, “Us” gave us a literal light at the end of the tunnel, though the reveal and setting of Terminus was a bit too overdone in my opinion. More on that later, though.
The episode also set the stage for what I assume will be the reuniting of the remaining groups, maybe minus Beth since her fate is still unknown. As Daryl is with a new group, this just leaves the duo of Carol and Tyreese, along with the trio of Rick, Carl and Michonne, to eventually make their way toward Terminus for one big reunion. Not happy reunion, mind you, because this is still The Walking Dead.
“Us” helped develop characters like Joe and Abraham by telling us about their codes: the values they live by and how they’ve used them to survive in this new world. We learned more about the sense of purpose they have and their new philosophy.
And this is where we’ll see what direction Daryl ultimately chooses. Like the marauders, Daryl is a day by day survivor who can get along without much help from others. But there has to be some semblance of order, which is what Joe presents to Daryl. Though Daryl is a newcomer, he abides by the rules. This gains him Joe’s trust over those who have been a part of the group for much longer, like Len.
Daryl just met these men after they happened upon him. He has no reason to trust them, but he also has no reason to lie to them. Sure, Daryl is antisocial, brash and can be an outright brute, but he’s not a liar. He doesn’t open up easily, yes, but when he does speak, he’s up front with nothing to hide. So he fits in just fine, but I get the feeling that he’ll want to make his way back to the others. That’s the group he’s connected with, so I don’t see him suddenly just abandoning them for these marauders, especially when he still doesn’t know about Beth’s fate.
Speaking of Beth, I did appreciate the callback to “Still” when Daryl considered covering up Len’s body. This contrasts with him telling Beth that it didn’t matter whether she took down the body of a female walker, when she insisted that it did. Though I’m not a fan of that episode, Beth did help bring out more of Daryl’s humanity and it was nice to see him briefly acknowledge that. But then he decided against it, so never mind. Maybe Len just wasn’t worth it.
As far as the marauders go, I enjoy Jeff Kober’s performance. He’s given some of the better dialogue of the episode and I liked his conversations with Daryl about survival in a new world with new rules. For the most part, he seems genuine. It’d be easy to cast this lot off as potentially evil since it’s just a random group of men with powerful looking weapons, and they very well may be, but for the time being, I appreciate how Joe doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to order and the rules. Given how he knew that Len planted the cottontail and rewarded it to Daryl, I get the feeling that he has a lot of respect for his newfound companion.
There’s not much to say about Rick, Carl and Michonne since, again, they’re only in one scene. Though I did like the nice touch of the marauders eventually passing along the same track that the three traveled, they aren’t here for much. The scene with the three exists for a breath of fresh hair and some light humor. Like in “Claimed,” Rick seems glad just to see Carl happy and smiling, something he doesn’t get to see that often. I’m glad to see Carl and Michonne’s friendship growing. Granted, they didn’t have much to talk about, so I don’t know if Michonne has gotten better at conversation, but I got a chuckle out of Carl taking the chocolate that Michonne wanted. Since we haven’t seen much of this group since “Claimed,” I get the feeling they’ll be heavily featured during the season finale, if not the main focus.
This just leaves Glenn and Abraham’s groups, both of which I’m mixed about, but I’ll focus on the positive first. First, yes, though I felt it was a bit too easy, the reunion between Glenn and Maggie was a good moment, given how much all they’ve done is pine over each other since their separation. Now they’re together and there’s no need for Glenn to have that picture of her. I figured Glenn would try harder to persuade her, given how he had to fight through the walkers at the prison after getting the photo, but for now, I doubt he’s concerned about the photo anymore. Glenn is determined and while I’m glad that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to reunite with Maggie, he’s a bit too stubborn for his own good.
One of my favorite moments in the episode was when Rosita pointed out just how much of an ass Glenn was for just wanting to charge forward without taking a breather. It’s as if he’s saying ‘Screw the end of the world, I’ve gotta see my woman!’ At least Maggie has gotten things done, granted, with the help of Sasha and Bob, but we’ve seen her do more. Glenn has been pretty one note. An admirable note, mind you, but one note nonetheless. Even Maggie took the time to take a breather.
Granted, it was a dumb way to do it by just resting out in the open among walkers, but she stopped when she needed to. Glenn just charges forward. It’s not really a knock because it shows how much he cares for Maggie, but he’s putting her above everyone else, at their expense. When he offers his riot gear to Eugene, he’s only doing it so he can keep looking for Maggie, not necessarily because he’s concerned about Eugene’s well-being. After all, he said, point blank, that the two groups didn’t need each other, so it makes me wonder why he and Tara haven’t just ditched them.
Tara, I’m mixed about. I think it’s because I have no attachment to her as a character. Yeah, we dig a little into her past, but it’s nothing I could gravitate toward. I mean, she’s a lesbian. We learn that. Why that’s relevant or even brought up when Eugene said he was into Tara, I don’t know. But hey, it makes her distinctive. Not too often to you meet someone named Tara who happens to develop a thing for women and is basically just dead weight for the plot.
This wasn’t a particularly good episode as far as some of the dialogue goes, but I’m glad the newcomers at least had something else to do besides talk about getting Eugene to Washington. I liked Abraham’s talk with Tara about how a mission can become your life. While it sounds like Abraham could be obsessed with this journey to Washington, you get the sense that he’s got more of a stake in this that goes beyond just getting Eugene there. I don’t want to pull too much from what I know about these characters from the comic books, but for now, I’m glad the writers are expanding Abraham’s personality and making him more than just ‘I’ve gotta get Eugene to Washington.’
At the same time, good on Abraham for not just always following Glenn. As stated before, there’s strength in numbers, but those numbers won’t be of any good if there’s no strength in the group.
Side-note, it is interesting that Sasha and Bob would willingly go along with Abraham, Eugene and Rosita to Washington despite knowing next to nothing about them or the authenticity of their plan. Regardless of information being classified, it’s odd that they don’t question them at all.
It’s also a little too convenient that Abraham, Eugene and Rosita just happened to meet up with Maggie, Sasha and Bob off-screen at the exact moment that Glenn and Tara needed help.
Oh, and I don’t think Maggie will be as forgiving of Tara as Tyreese was with Carol when she finds out that she was in cahoots with the Governor.
And then there’s Terminus, which is a little too cheery for my tastes. No doubt there’s something off about it. The question is what? We don’t know yet and it’s too soon to speculate, but it just gives off an eerie vibe.
Gate not locked? Only one person around and no welcoming crew? Viewers are smart enough to know when something strange is afoot, but hopefully the writers have something well prepared, given how the second half of the season has been building to this moment. If it turns out to be a locale that looks to be innocent on the outside, but has a dark underside, it’s basically Woodbury all over again, and we already know how that turned out.
“Us” was the calm before the storm. Some of the characters have finally reached Terminus, with several other members still out there wandering. We got a taste of optimism with the reunion, but this show knows how to take your happiness and turn it upside down in an instant. The episode wasn’t bad by any means. It was so-so. The dialogue was mixed, the conveniences were hard to swallow and the writing wasn’t as sharp as it was in, say, “Inmates” or “Alone.” Given how much buildup there’s been toward Terminus, the show has a lot riding on the season finale. Will it be a satisfying payoff? We’ll see.