Spoilers for The Walking Dead –
Did a zombie apocalypse cause the extinction of the dinosaurs? This Eugene guy sure knows how to keep up an interesting conversation! Tara seems to have him pegged immediately though, seeing that he’s just sticking close to people who can protect him. Abraham has her pegged too, picking up right away on how she can’t keep her eyes off Rosita. As our group marches along to Terminus, Glenn sees a zombie blood message left for him by Maggie. He takes off running and smiles big, and I can’t help but smile with him. Who says a show set in a world short on hope and gorged on carnage can’t occasionally make you grin or laugh? Michonne and Carl playing tightrope on the railroad tracks made me laugh too, and after a quick allowance of joy my heart sinks, assuming this much fun is only a set-up to bring you down even further later.
People’s willingness to sleep out in the open still baffles me. No matter how many little traps you set or who stands guard, that can’t feel safe. Daryl’s new group must just like to live dangerously. They also live by a rule of sorts, an alpha male pack animal kind of philosophy about “claiming.” I have to admit, it’s elegant in its simplicity, even among such a dirty looking crew. It’s the kind of anarcho-primitive tribal mentality that draws a lot of people to post-apocalyptic survival material. Glenn gives us a similar moment too, when he trades his riot gear as a bargaining chip. The simple but clever exchange invokes the same feelings, an idealization of how easy it could be to run on an old fashioned barter system once we trade away our daily commutes, mortgages and homeowners association fees. You can only enjoy the thoughts for so long though, before Glenn and Tara are confronted by the kinds of problems our lives aren’t plagued by, like tunnels made unpassable by a rockslide wall littered with zombies. The newly rejuvenated Glenn starts to look a little stubborn when he refuses to give up the extra time it would take to go around it. It’s a mess, but who bails them out? Maggie! Big happy moment three comes when the couple is finally reunited.
Joe, the leader of Daryl’s new gang, technically hasn’t done anything “wrong,” on screen. If you listen closely enough to the background conversations in the episode “Claimed” though, you know his gang is pretty rotten. His code of ethics gets pretty brutal by the end too. I thought the offender was only going to get a good old fashioned shit-kicking, but then again Joe did say “teach him all the way,” and it’s implied he was a constant weak link. It seems like he was the guy in “Claimed” who kicked another member off his bed, so he wasn’t respecting claims, and lied about it on multiple occasions. Joe takes on an almost fatherly tone with Daryl, going out of his way to explain how this group works, and to be fair to him. We remember screams and scares, but we don’t know the whole story behind what was going on in that house during the “Claimed” episode. Maybe Joe just knows there’s safety in numbers, and uses his code to keep this pack of crazies in line. Nothing makes him truly villainous yet, and I almost prefer it that way. Did Rick have to kill that guy in “Claimed?” If not, it makes it one of those dicey grey area situations where instead of good guys vs. bad guys, it’s just a series of unfortunate circumstances that throw people against each other. When the rest of the groups finally arrive at Terminus, it’s established that the guy on the floor from “Claimed” will recognize Rick, and the gang Daryl’s riding with will be looking for revenge. Does Joe have to be “bad” to be an antagonist? We’ll probably find out Joe crossed the moral event horizon at some point, and maybe even see it, because this show has actually been pretty easy on Rick, morally. His foes always “deserve it.” Compare this to the comics:
Our Rick on TV pretty much only kills in clear cut cases of self defense, it’s time to dirty him up a bit. I’m just making an observation though, not complaining. As far as episodes of The Walking Dead go, this is as happy of one as you get, and I’ll enjoy that when I can. We also probably deserve it after last episode.
Are there still good people in this world?
Maybe that’s why this Rick is less morally ambiguous than his comic book counterpart – to keep that question easy to answer. As far as the rest, in this episode:
Tara is literally willing to sacrifice her life to help Glenn get to Maggie. Even if she didn’t fire a single shot in the assault on the prison, she still feels that guilty about it.
Eugene may be lying about being a scientist to paint himself as important, and he’ll take Glenn’s riot gear, but he won’t let the group leave him behind. As he says, “even if I save the world, I still have to live with myself after.” His group lost a lot of people getting this far, and he also refuses to let our reunited survivors get drawn into the quest for Washington. Agreeing to check on Terminus makes as good an excuse as any, and Abraham continues to play the role of loyal grunt soldier obeying the orders of an intelligence agent.
The episode ends with Glenn and Maggie’s combined groups arriving at Terminus first. They’re greeted by a warm woman played by Denise Crosby – Tasha Yar to us Star Trek: The Next Generation fans. Will there be any good people there? The super creepy previews make me think not.