Last week's episode was quite explosive and a bit controversial although many saw it as the best one of this season. Either way, it had the fan base ablaze with chatter. So it's not surprising that tonight's episode wouldn't be as dark and dreary, but it did give us a much needed lift of the spirits and that's what we got in "Us."
I've calmed down since last week when I was truly pissed at what happened to Lizzie and Mika so let's move on from there, shall we? The "Us" referred to in the title is the method by which Joe--the leader of what I call the "marauders"--tries to indoctrinate Daryl into his crew: telling him over and over again that he needs a group to survive and he's just like them, wild, unlawful and vicious. Daryl isn't buying into it. Sure, before the zombie apocalypse, he was the type of a guy that would follow Joe anywhere. But now he has a purpose (rejoining his prison group friends) and a reason to live in Beth, even if at this moment he has no hope of ever seeing her again. Zach at AV Club thinks it's strange that he's not trying to find Beth and I agree with him. Even though at the end of the episode it appears that he's starting to fall in line with Joe's thinking, I believe Daryl's been through too much with Carol, Hershel and the rest to become a true marauder. But at least Joe will make sure that he knows the rules that the marauders live by. I do love Jeff Kober as an actor and here, he finally has something to do.
On the flip side, Glenn is still obsessed with finding Maggie and nothing will stop him. Not loss of life, limbs, not Abraham, Rosita and certainly not a hobbling Tara, who will follow him to the gates of Hell for her participation in the prison assault. True love is cool, but to Glenn, it's like crack on steroids. As they've been traveling together, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene share their affections with them and that's kind of nice. We get subtle glimpses from the writers that Glenn was catching up to Maggie, but when the big reveal happened, it was tightly scripted and worked really well. Glenn and Tara find themselves trapped in a tunnel filled with zombies as a result of his self-destructive quest. Just as they were about to become walker food, Maggie saved his and Tara's life with the help of Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, Sasha and Bob. When they finally embraced, did it bring a tear up to your eye? So now they are all heading to Terminus and we feel that there's some hope for them all, at least for a week before the season finale.
Meanwhile, we also learn that Joe's marauders are following a trail left behind by Rick, Carl and Michonne because they are pissed that RIck killed their friend when he was trapped in the house with them. Their bloodlust for revenge is leading them to Terminus also.
And there's little doubt that's the season finale right there: a showdown between the marauders and our heroes. Oh, and we can't forget those who inhabit Terminus. Where are they all and how freaky are they? Mary, the lone person to greet them, looked a little too nice to be believed at the end of the episode. The coming attractions shed no light on them either. I'm hoping that Beth was kidnapped and taken to Terminus by the cult who resides there so that when Daryl shows up there, he can turn on the marauders and help save them all. Yes, I know, wishful thinking.
And so it begins:
Abraham chats with Tara about her sex life, at first thinking she's in love with Glenn, but then noticing that she's checking out Rosita. She admits she's following Glenn because of something she did. Guilt is a powerful emotion.
Abraham's new group are walking down the train tracks when they come upon one of Maggie's blood-written signs telling Glenn to go to Terminus where she, Sasha and Bob will be. Glenn makes a wild dash down the tracks.
A zombie walks face first into a barb-wired fence which alerts Joe and his cohorts of its presence and they find Daryl is not in the camp with them because he's out hunting.
Rick, Michonne and Carl are walking on the same railroads tracks. Michonne is playing a game with Carl and loses to him so she must give up her favorite candy bar.
Daryl is out hunting rabbits when some a-hole from Joe's group (I never caught his name) claims the rabbit for himself. After Daryl refuses to give up the animal, a-hole starts talking smack about Beth. That's all it takes for Daryl start to draw his knife, but Joe steps in to stop the fight and spells out the rules for his marauders.
I laid out some rules of the road to keep things from going Darwin every couple of hours to keep our merry band together, stress free. All you gotta do is claim, That's how you mark your territory, your prey, your bed at night, one word: "claimed."
I ain't claiming nothing.
There's a price to pay if you don't follow the rules, but since Daryl didn't know them, Joe forgives him. As Daryl is backing up, Joe cuts the rabbit in half and throws one piece to the a-hole. Jeff Kober is playing Joe a little like a charismatic cult leader who's trying to recruit Robin Hood into his church.
Abraham wants to rest for a while since Tara is dead tired and none of them have slept much, but Glenn--still acting like a major ass--wants to push on. He cuts a deal with them. He'll give up his body armor to the all-important Dr. Porter, who's supposed to have knowledge that will save the world and in return, they keep walking for another six hours. Tara can't continue, but she feels so guilty that she'll do anything Glenn tells her to.
Joe asks Daryl what his plans are, but what he's really doing is trying to convince him to become part of the marauders.
Ain't nothing sadder than an outdoor cat thinking he's an indoor cat.
It's all about following the rules for these ruffians. Everything stays in check for them if they don't lie and steal from one another. In the episode when Rick is hiding under the bed, if I'm not mistaken, one of his people claimed the bed and fought the other one to the death to keep it. Don't mess with someone else's claim.
Glenn and Abraham's group come up to a tunnel along the tracks that's black as night with zombie sounds echoing out.
That there is a dark tunnel of reanimated corpses.
Well said, Abraham. He doesn't want to risk the doctor's life by trying to save an extra day to go through the tunnel, so they decide to part ways. Eugene tells Tara she's hot even though he knows she's gay as a goodwill parting gesture. Tara starts limping through the tunnel and Glenn finally acknowledges what she's going through, but he does not have the time to care. He's obsessed. She confesses more about the prison assault and how Brian/Governor told them they might have to kill people, but she just held onto the "might" part of his words and never thought they would take that action.
Joe's group enters an abandoned building and his members start claiming everything inside except Daryl, who lays down on a garbage bag to sleep.
Glenn and Tara come upon a bunch of walkers trapped beneath rubble from a cave-in inside the tunnel. He climbs on top of it and sees a horde of walkers on the other side of it who now see him. He tells her that since Maggie made it through, they have to push on also, even with the knowledge that Tara can barely walk.
Abraham and his mates find a minivan that works. Eugene starts spouting off a lot of word salad mumbo-jumbo because Rosita won't let him be the navigator. He apparently screwed it up once before but she finally gives in.
Glenn sets up the flashlight on one side of the pile of rubble to draw the walkers there while he and Tara come around the other side when Tara slips and gets her leg trapped. Cliches like damsels in distress with twisted ankles trying to escape monsters never die, it seems.
Rosita is driving while Abraham sleeps in the back seat and she's getting pissed off at Eugene because they keep making left hand turns. She thinks he's lost, but he makes her stop at the mouth of the tunnel from the other side. Rosita tells him that their priority is to get him to Washington, but he says that he still has to live with himself after saving the world. What a guy.
I'm not leaving them behind.
Abraham wakes up and starts yelling at Rosita for stopping when Eugene sees something coming from the tunnel and alerts them.
The a-hole comes up on Daryl, claiming that he stole his half of the dead rabbit, but Daryl denies taking it. Joe finds the half a dead rabbit in his bag and Daryl claims a set up. Joe says a few words and then punches out the a-hole and for good measure, has his men beat the shit out of him to teach him a good lesson.
I saw him do it.
Why didn't you try to stop him?
He wanted to play that out, I let him. You told the truth. He lied. You understand the rules, he doesn't it.
Glenn is trying hard to get her free, but Tara tells him to go and find Maggie. He says he's not leaving her and she screams at him to GO! He finally has some guilt about his treatment of her.
I'm not leaving.
He starts shooting zombies in the head as they come around from the noise they've made, but he quickly runs out of bullets. He yells at them to "come on," when an engine roars, new lights appear and six figures open fire on the walkers, killing them all. Glenn recoils from the blasts, but a figure walks up to him and hugs him. It's Maggie. She's crying, hugging and kissing him all at once.
The tunnel has been secured and Glenn introduces Tara to Maggie as someone he met on the road.
I couldn't have made it here without her. She heard what I was doing and she had to help me. She's just that kinda of person.
Maggie hugs her. Tara is racked with guilt, but doesn't say anything about her true identity. Sasha is excited to tell Glenn that Dr. Porter knows what caused the zombie virus, which he already knows. Abraham immediately goes into recruitment mode (the alter ego of Joe?) and tries to convince them that that they should all hightail it to Washington D.C, but Dr. Eugene cuts in and becomes the voice of reason. He explains that they only traveled 55% of the way so far from Houston in an armored military vehicle and that they should head to Terminus to see what they have. Tara agrees to go to DC and so will Sasha. Since Bob digs Sasha, he's in too.
Tomorrow, we go to the end of the line, then Washington.
Daryl wakes up to find that the men beat a-hole to death. That's the punishment for breaking a rule. Joe tells him that this world is the one that makes sense for guys like "us." They walk out of a field and onto the railroad tracks and they see the sign about Terminus. Daryl asks if they've seen this sign before and Joe says, "Yes, but it's not a sanctuary for guys like us."
Ain't gonna welcome guys like you and me with open arms.
More subtle indoctrination on his part. Joe tells him they are heading there because somebody was hiding in a home they were in and strangled their colleague Lou and left him to turn and attack them so they need vengeance.
He lit out. We tracked him to these tracks, one of those signs and thus, we got a destination.
Daryl sees a strawberry by the tracks and claims it. They pass a chocolate bar wrapper that Carl and Michonne left behind. and we know they are close to them.
Abraham, Glenn and the eight finally come to a building that has the word "Terminus" written across it in big, bold letters. There are big sunflowers lining the outside of the door with a sign that reads Lower your weapons, you will be met. You have arrived at Terminus. They continue walking into a very clean space lined with normal living items when they see a woman working at huge barbeque grill. Is that Denise Crosby?
HI, I'm Mary. Looks like you've been on the road awhile.
Let's get you settled and we'll make you a plate.
That sounds like a scary proposition to me.
Episode grade: B
Next week is the conclusion of the season.
Care to speculate on what happens?