AMC’s The Walking Dead Us TV Show Review. The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 15: ‘Us’ picked up on season 4.2’s core premise of post-prison arc sanctuary, finally realized for one group, while setting two others on a collision course.
The Walking Dead has set something of a pendulum swing in motion, regarding its key events. For every period of ease/ levity, there follows one of shock/ devastation – the point being to not have its characters/ viewers take any one/ thing for granted, I guess. Sometimes the swing is measured. There was a relatively long period of adjustment at the prison, after the Woodbury War; the resolution to Woodbury War 2: Prison Fall is still ongoing. Episodes like ‘The Grove,’ however, constitute such a wild swing, that an instant reversal sort of becomes necessary. While ‘Us’ wasn’t all hugs & smiles, it did provide them. There were happy-tear-jerky reunions, some childsplay, and the seeming fulfillment to the promise of safety – for better or worse – in the form of sanctuary and numbers. ‘Us’ was a breather, taken before that final push to goal… and the potential push-back.
The first big smile came from Glenn (Steven Yeun), upon finding evidence of Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) survival, and a possible location. The episode’s childplay came from the Rick (Andrew Lincoln) party – Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), to be precise. Michonne, of course, had been all smiles since the end of ‘After,’ where she first laid eyes on Rick & Carl, and all three have been basking in each other’s company. Unfortunately, this is set to be another calm before the storm moment, as Rick’s last brush with death, in the form of a band of ‘Reavers,’ had given said band a sense of murderous purpose. They’ve been on the Rick party’s trail.
Complicating Matters further, that trail led them to Daryl (Norman Reedus), who has since taken up group leader Joe’s (Jeff Kober) offer of strength in numbers. Joe, it seems, has some real respect/ admiration for bow men (as representatives of the natural survivalist – set to inherit the post-apocalyptic Earth), making him more than a little gracious about Daryl’s rough fit. Mindful of the company he has held together, Joe had certain rules in place; rules complete with very harsh penalties for offenders. One rule, in particular, likely stood out to viewers: the matter of laying claim.
Where that last point was concerned, a battle of the bow men developed, between Daryl and Len (Marcus Hester). Len seemed determined to have Daryl “taught a lesson” on playing by group rules, but Joe kept making allowance for Daryl’s newbie status. When Len took his determination too far, and had the tables turned on him, I had to wonder if this was Joe’s plan all along. His tolerance for Len, up to that point, and Len’s contempt for Daryl might’ve had something to do with the bow man favored status factor. Joe has a soft spot for the sort; and in Daryl, he had both an opportunity for Len to overplay his hand, and a replacement for when he did.
– But I got a devious mind. Daryl, for his part, stayed true to his own set of principles, and came out better for it. Upon discovering the extent of Len’s punishment, he briefly contemplated an act of dignity, for Len’s sake, but thought better of it. However domesticated Daryl had become, through contact with the show’s other cast of characters, the original ‘wild child’ Daryl knew better than to extend the same sentiments to this crew.
I don’t recall if Len was the Reaver that laid claim to Rick’s bed, or not, but I’d like to think he was. I’m sure they’ve all done some pretty nasty things, to have made it this far, but Len allowed himself to stand out; so schadenfreude to him (and no blanky).
The rest of ‘Us’ revolved around Glenn’s last leg sprint to find Maggie, which eventually prompted a break from the Ford (Michael Cudlitz) company. Tara (Alanna Masterson), with a guilt based sense of responsibility, elected to stay with Glenn; but might’ve regretted it some, when the pair found themselves in a last stand scenario, amidst the rubble of a partially collapsed railroad tunnel, since Glenn was determined to repay her commitment.
I’ll just take a moment to note that the zombies of The Walking Dead aren’t what they used to be. Yes, the zombie threat has been regulated to a backdrop; but I mean the zombies, themselves. I seem to recall when their sense of smell was a primary factor – even a critical plot point, a few times. Glenn’s shadow puppet trick, and all the hide & seek moments, in the woods, has rendered that sense of smell thing moot. Maybe they’ve degenerated to the point where shades, motion and loud noises are all they go on, but I’m still mindful of how those old plot points might’ve play out, for some of season 4.2’s close calls.
Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) is either a very well versed fraud, or a very eccentric genius, that may actually be worth the Ford co.’s trouble. His anti-social antics did pay off, this time around (besides the delightful visual of a dinosaur zombie apocalypse), reuniting team Glenn and Ford, by way of team Maggie. Oh, the catharsis.
If Maggie insisting on burning Glenn’s only picture of her wasn’t recklessly optimistic enough, the episode’s hope well took a gushing turn, as team Glenn-Maggie-Ford were the first to arrive at the now fabled Terminus.
Terminus had not only become a destination for the show’s surviving cast, it has become a destination for its viewers, as well. While the stakes may be… somewhat different, for the home audience, loyal viewers are no doubt invested in the validity of Terminus’ promise, and the fate that awaits “those who arrive.”
Terminus might have well been the Pearly Gates, to Glenn-Maggie-Ford & assoc.. It was serene, spacious, and inviting; complete with a “kiss the cook” rendition of St. Peter (Denise Crosby), with a warm smile, and hot food on the ready.
So where, on the Walking Dead dread-o-meter does this event fall? My inner Admiral Ackbar says it’s a trap.
There were no guards, no real lock, the path to the hostess reminded me of a box canyon, and never mind that the hostess seemed perfectly happy to cook with her back to the easy access entrance, alone and apparently unarmed, she was cooking. I mean, okay, I made a case that the Walker sense of smell no longer seems to play the role it used to; but given the level of attention the Walkers gave the prison, the complete lack of not just Walker evidence, but concern for it, has to mean a level of meticulous control to the entire area.
The kind of area control one applies to a baited trap.
Even if I am being too jaded, it would be kind of perverse to end the season with a juxtaposing of team Rick-Carl-Michonne, battling for their lives against the Reavers, while the rest wallow in down home comforts. Besides, with this episode, we’ve already been granted our breather, since ‘The Grove;’ so it falls upon the show to one-up it (and the prison fall), for the finale.
That outcome won’t likely come all peaceful-like, or without cost.