This review contains spoilers.
The tracks to Terminus stretch onward, but it seems that the more our groups walk, the closer they get to one another. Carol sees the fire from Daryl and Beth’s moonshine arson party. Glenn follows Maggie’s clues. Michonne drops a candy bar wrapper and Daryl walks right over it. All roads, or all tracks in this case, lead to Rome and the promise of safety and sanctuary within Terminus. Those who arrive survive, the signs promise, but is that the case? Is Terminus too good to be true?
We get our first glimpse of that promised land this week in an episode that takes great pains to showcase every character, save Beth, for a few moments at a time. Rick and Carl and Michonne get a glimpse, a little bit of levity, while Daryl’s initiation into Joe’s Mad Max gang continues without any real delay. Glenn is still searching for Maggie and dragging Abraham and company along for the ride. A lot of ground is covered, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of ground is covered at the same time. I think had we not gotten a stellar episode last week, this week’s episode would have seemed more exciting, but by the same token, The Walking Dead is clearly saving the best for last, meaning next week.
One of the best aspects of this week was the development of the characters of Eugene, Abraham, and Rosita. For once, Rosita gets to say some words, which is always important when you want to do more than prance around in a tanktop and shorts. I like the extant relationship between the three comic book characters, and I think that gives the show some interesting history. Here’s a group of people who have been through the apocalypse, who have shared experiences, and who have a natural comedic chemistry that feels very authentic. Eugene is never not going to be the weirdest guy in the room, and his relationship with the dumber Abraham and the more frustration-prone Rosita is a good seam of humour for the show to mine. The scene in the van with those three is surprisingly funny.
The humour is very necessary after the episode we had last week, which was definitely an emotional downer. Not only does the show provide some lightness (Carl and Michonne’s dare), and dare I say, some hope from the fact that all our groups are getting closer and closer, it also provides a lot of satisfying zombie-slaughtering action. Eugene seems like he’s going to be a great source of comedy, and Abraham and company are going to be able to up the quotient of bloodshed, so it’s a balanced addition to the cast of the show, even though there are a lot of cast members to balance out. This week’s script, from Nichole Beattie and Seth Hoffman, seems to strike a good balance with our various groups, provides some action to play around with, has a little character stuff and actor bait, and ends up being pretty balanced while keeping boots on the ground.
Speaking of bloodshed, tonight’s episode had a very impressive scene involving zombies in a train tunnel courtesy of director Greg Nicotero. The special-effects guru has become a great visual director, and he provides some great set-ups this week, particularly that train tunnel. The zombies trapped beneath a cave-in was awesome, made even more impressive by the eventual arrival of the zombie-slaying cavalry with guns blazing, leaving a pile of dead walkers (and probably some deafness for all involved). Another cool, less-violent shot was the shot of Daryl and Joe talking about the rules of the raiders while walking in tandem behind the walkers. It was just a cool visual and it gave a little artistic flair to an exposition scene. (The same technique is demonstrated during the gangland-style stomping of Len – the guy with the bow and arrow who kept picking on Daryl – while Joe and Daryl discuss more of the rules.)
It feels like there will be something to Terminus that I am not going to like. When the first group of our survivors arrives (Sasha and Bob, Glenn and Maggie AKA Glaggie, Abraham company), they immediately walk through undefended, unlocked, unguarded gates, through a beautiful series of flower gardens, and right up to a woman working a half-drum grill cooking down with meat cooking. Not only were the gates not locked, the only thing holding the gates of Terminus together was a looped chain. I have a chain holding my driveway gate closed, and when I don’t lock it or somehow fasten it together, the gates will basically blow open in a stiff breeze. So yeah, Terminus immediately feels like a pastoral paradise (Hershel’s zombie-free farm crossed with the walls and chained fences of the prison) crossed with the beginning of a nightmare (Woodbury looked pretty great until we got to know the Governor).
By comparison, it seems like Daryl’s group of raiders (who are indeed the group of raiders that Rick attacked several episodes back while Carl and Michonne were bonding) might not be quite as bad as they look. At least they have rules and a code, even if it is the holy rule of shotgun for everything. Mary (Denise Crosby) and Terminus could be anything, but just from the way it is introduced, Terminus seems like it’s going to be a cannibalistic nightmare. “Let’s fix you a plate” has never sounded so much like a threat.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan, assuming he had been wandering through the woods living off canned goods for a year, would probably be first in line for a buffet of mystery Terminus meat. Make that seconds if it was slow-roasted and served with a side of au jus. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, The Grove, here.
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