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The Walking Dead: Us

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Walking Dead Us

Was anyone else kind of nervous about Walking Dead this week? Luckily it was just a long dark tunnel full of the reanimated dead.

There are very few shows I’ll watch the opening credit sequence for over and over, even if I’ve DVRed the show and could fast forward. Walking Dead is one. The theme song just sets the mood so perfectly. That moment when it modulates downward and the strings come in just in time for that descending drone? Shivers, every time.

What we had this week was a road episode, one where not a ton happens but we have to get everyone from point A to point B, point B being Terminus. Daryl’s plot was fairly simple. He’s fallen in with that gang of douchey white guys. Guarantee all those guys were suburban warrior Harley guys before the zombie thing. The leader is a huge Stevie Ray Vaughan fan, of this I have no doubt.

It turns those guys aren’t totally lawless outlaws. They have their own set of rules to follow, and brutal punishments if the rules are broken. Some of the rules make sense, like no lying or stealing. Some of them seem pretty childish, like the whole “Claimed” thing. I kept wanting to yell, “CLAIMED! All of Earth. Claimed. It’s mine.” Daryl clearly doesn’t want to play their silly game at first, but of course those rules are why they didn’t kill him and steal his stuff. And once the whole half-rabbit drama played out and that scumbag guy was beaten to death, Daryl’s all too happy to claim some wild strawberries.

There’s a nice bit of foreshadowing as the leader of the dudes reveals that they’re actively tracking the jerk who was in their house and killed their buddy. Oh hey that guy is Rick and their version of the story seems a little distorted. Unfortunately one of them has seen Rick’s face, so they’re planning to find him at Terminus. They even walk over the candy bar wrapper Carl and Michonne left behind.

Did anyone else notice the strange thing poking out of leader guy’s backpack when he was talking with Daryl? It looked sort of like a handle made of ice or crystal? Ok, honestly, it looked like a big sex toy. So I’m just going to imagine that guy has spent the last few months walking around the apocalypse whacking zombies in the head with a huge dildo.

Rick, Carl, and Michonne only had a brief scene. They’re getting close to Terminus like everyone else. Michonne is still acting happy, and she’s really helping Carl not be so insufferable. Makes me wonder what horrendous ordeal or tragedy she’s going to be put through.

The bulk of the episode revolved around Glen and Tara traveling with Abraham Ford and company on Glen’s quest to find Maggie (and Abraham’s quest to find a truck so they can get Eugene to Washington). When Abraham and pals first appeared a few weeks ago, they were portrayed as ridiculous stereotypes, so over the top they were intended as parodies. Thankfully, as long-term characters, that whole gambit has been dropped. It worked great for one episode, but they need to become real people if we’re going to be spending a lot of time with them.

And so they do. Eugene is still a bit of a nerd stereotype, but not in an unrealistic way. He loves video games and assumes everyone did too (“Which type of gamer were you? RPGs, sim-racing?”). I love his theory that the dinosaurs’ extinction was due to a zombie apocalypse. Zombie ankylosaur!
Rosita actually speaks this week, and her tart verbal sparring with Eugene shows her to be a strong and witty character, not the bombshell caricature she appeared to be. But oh my lord she really is beautiful. Abraham noticed. Tara noticed. I noticed.

This whole thing was kind of frustrating because Glen acts like an idiot the whole time. He’s so determined to get to Maggie as soon as possible he literally runs down the railroad tracks by himself. And he does this knowing that he’s putting Tara through hell because she’ll follow him anywhere on her epic guilt trip. Rosita is the only one empathic enough to notice and badass enough to call him on it.

When they reach a train tunnel, Abraham decides it’s too dangerous to take Eugene through, so the groups split up. Rosita gives everyone a hug, and I’m pretty sure Tara has a shot with her at some point in the future.

Glen is a super huge idiot, insisting on going into this tunnel, then insisting they keep going when they find a massive cave-in with a horde of walkers on the other side. His idiocy gets Tara trapped with her already injured leg stuck under a rock. Glen, to his credit, refuses to leave her, deciding to go out in a blaze of glory. But just when they’re about to be overwhelmed, a van comes down the tunnel and a group of people go full auto on the walkers. Abraham and friends found Maggie, Bob, and Sasha and saved the day!

I liked that moment when they found the van. Abraham dispatches the female zombie in the van and drags her away dismissively, and even then I was thinking, “That’s sad, that was obviously someone’s mom.” Then he barely notices that someone has written “Leave Mother Be” in the dirt on the windshield, just before he windshield wipers it away. No room for sentimentality when you’re on a mission.

They have a nice reunion in the tunnel, Glen and Maggie make time, and everyone learns about Eugene’s supposed value. Notice he doesn’t explain the cause of the zombie outbreak, just says that he knows what it is. I really think this is all some ridiculous thing he made up to make himself feel important. And I think Rosita and Abraham know it too, but they’re playing along because having a mission is a valuable thing. In survival situations it’s been shown that having a specific goal increases your chance of survival (a nurse who works to help other injured people, for instance). It may even just be an instinctive thing. Instead of despair, they choose to play this game with Eugene simply because it makes their otherwise pointless lives feel meaningful. You know, sort of the way we all live our lives.

Sorry, didn’t mean to get all existential on you there. Let’s talk about Terminus. When they arrive, it seems very pleasant. It’s also completely unguarded. Looks very homey. There’s a woman doing some ironing. Now even before I saw the “scenes from next week’s episode,” which looked a bit ominous, I had a bad feeling about Terminus. The woman felt a little too earnest, a little too eager to seem friendly. And the place is called Terminus. That’s just not a name you give to a pleasant place.

Season finale next week. Should be interesting.

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Posted by on Sunday, March 23rd, 2014. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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