This week, AMC's "The Walking Dead" finally arrived at Terminus.
Next week, of course, is the actual end of the line as season 4 draws to a close, but for now, a number of our survivors have found what appears to be an idyllic little hideaway in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Along the way, they learned a lot about one another and one of the two big, important reunions of the season finally happened.
Check out 19 highlights from the episode "Us," which aired on Sunday, March 23. Warning: Spoilers ahead!
1. Is Tara more or less doomed?
In the non-zombie world, things like giving away one of her few, meager possessions (the coin, which Eugene tells her can be used to make a battery with household products) would be a bad sign. The fact that she asks Abraham, "What do you do when the mission is over?" and then won't discuss plans for the future beyond this mission with Eugene contribute, too. Sprinkle in the fact that she was ready to let the walkers take her before she ever joined Glenn, and you've got a season finale sacrifice waiting to happen.
The cast of "The Walking Dead" often earns praise, but it's usually Andrew Lincoln and Melissa McBride who get most of it. Everybody in that cold open did a pretty great job of selling the fact that they were stunned; nobody in the group really believed that Glenn could find Maggie, and it showed.
Glenn, meanwhile, had an expression so great that #feels started trending on Twitter.
3. Familiar locations
Throughout the second half of the season, there's been a fair amount of crossover. It looks now as though the camp where Daryl's group is sleeping is the same one where Bob, Sasha and Maggie were, when Maggie left them with a note in the dirt.
4. Living, not surviving
Though they're short on water, Rick's group seems to be finding a way to make the best of it. Are they just happy to have each other after the separation? Maybe. Perhaps Terminus is giving them hope. In any case, it's nice to see the Carl and Michonne-as-besties plot playing out some more.
5. Len, you're so predictable.
When we first saw Len in "Claimed," he was claiming a bed on which one of his friends was already sleeping, then took it with violence. He tries to do the same thing with Daryl this week, and it backfires on him spectacularly.
When we saw him with a bow and arrow, that attitude and trying to "claim" Daryl's vest, it seemed pretty clear that he was bound for a conflict he couldn't win with Daryl; the pair made one another redundant within Joe's group, and Len was selfish enough to think (or know?) that co-existence wasn't plausible.
6. Joe actually kinda makes sense
You know, while the ethics of his group are shady, Joe actually has a code and he sticks to it. End of the day, that is pretty likely to keep them alive. Could Rick learn something from this guy? Well, it seems unlikely they'll have much of a conversation.
7. Walkers are the threat
So far, Joe and his group are a threat only to themselves and they're all talk as it pertains to Rick. While that isn't likely to remain the case, this week at least the promise made to reporters at Comic-Con last year to make walkers more of a threat plays out nicely. We see every group except Rick's get attacked by walkers at least once, with Glenn and Tara in grave danger (and Maggie, too, although that was offscreen).
8. Abraham and the mission
Abraham decides to part ways with Glenn and Maggie in order to keep Eugene safe, after having already tried to stop the trip to keep Eugene safe. He also has a bit of a fit when Eugene elects to follow Glenn and Tara to Terminus. He's very fixed on the mission.
Tara, meanwhile, is pretty focused on hers, too ... and then takes a new one on pretty much the minute Glenn and Maggie are united.
9. "Try not to be an ..."
After calling Glenn a jerk for manipulating Tara into helping him despite her injury, Rosita hugs him as their group readies to leave and tells him not to do it again.
He doesn't, since he stops and risks his own life to save her when she's trapped in the tunnel, and talks to her about everything he's feeling as they enter the tunnel, then doesn't sell her out to Maggie. Whatever happens to Tara, it will be hard to feel like it's on Glenn's head.
We get a reference to Hershel here on the part of Tara; it's his death that motivated her to join the good guys, and that means she's yet another character this season for whom Hershel's life and death proved an inspiration.
11. Easter eggs
Some fans online think that one of the cars in the railroad garage where Joe and Daryl's group holes up is in fact the same car that kidnapped Beth. I don't think so, looking at it, but one thing that was definitely there? Bub, the zombie they were trying to domesticate in "Day of the Dead." He appeared in the tunnel. In fact, that whole bit in the tunnel was pretty reminiscent of the George Romero classic ... which was one of the first films ever worked on by Emmy-winning special effects guru Greg Nicotero, who directed this week's episode.
12. "Look at the walkers, Glenn."
Just as Maggie did when she emptied out the prison bus, Glenn looks at each of the walkers in the face before he kills them, making sure that none of them are his wife.
13. "Let Momma Be"
The note left on the windscreen of the minivan that Abraham, Eugene and Rosita take is too little, too late for the soccer mom zombie who's killed in order to get the vehicle. It's hard not to picture such a note coming from a child like Lizzie -- someone who has a hard time understanding the difference between the living and the undead.
Is it a coincidence she's blonde? ... Well, probably.
14. "Liar!" "No!"
In the waning moments of the episode, when Eugene manipulates his way back toward Terminus instead of directing Rosita to Washington, D.C., she exclaims "Liar!" He responds, "No!"
Fans who read the comic books know that he was, at least in that version of the story, a liar and that there is nothing to be gained in Washington. That, many fans think, is why he fired on his own truck, smirked about it, and then has been so keen to follow Glenn and Tara for days; he gets to continue enjoying the protection of Abraham and Rosita without actually having to prove his worth.
15. The season can pretty much just end now, right?
Maggie and Glenn's reunion is pretty much exactly what you would hope. Is there anything that's going to top that, really?
16. Little white lies
Will it come back to bite Glenn that he lies to Maggie in order to protect Tara? It's clear what he meant to do, and it's an admirable enough goal, but I'm not sure Maggie would be delighted to find out she gave a big, warm hug to one of the people responsible for killing her dad.
While Rick has taken on the look of Hershel lately, with slicked-back hair and a beard (this is particularly evident in a recently-released promotional poster for the finale that asks "who will arrive" at Terminus), Glenn does a fair Rick impression here; the jacket, the hairstyle, the whole "I just had to find my wife" vibe he's had going is all pretty reminiscent of Rick from season 1. Everyone, it seems, is growing up a bit.
18. Joe's version of "Claimed"
You know, his version of "Claimed" isn't so far from the truth. If Rick wasn't the main character of the series, his unprovoked murder could seem pretty heinous and questionable. He is, though, and we know that Len was a pretty despicable sort, Lou was a junky and the group, collectively, was anticipating Michonne's return in the hopes of raping whatever woman had been washing the clothes they found.
Daryl, of course, won't know any of that until they're face to face with their next "victim."
19. "Let's get you settled and we'll make you a plate."
Robert Kirkman, creator of the series, is on the record as saying that his money would be on Terminus being "terrible." The man is a pretty awful liar, so the likelihood that there's something wrong with Terminus is pretty high.
Not much in the world of "The Walking Dead" is likely to be worse than The Hunters, a group of cunning cannibals who stalked and killed other survivors. They appeared in the comics for the first time in the same issue that Ben and Billy -- the comic book equivalent of Mika and Lizzie ? met their makers.
Some stray thoughts:
- Abraham continues to phrase things in terms of "the mission." His military background is seemingly something that he's clinging to in the apocalypse to make the world make some kind of sense to him. What happens if, like in the comics, Eugene turns out to be full of it and that mission evaporates? That will happen, of course, if Eugene turns out to be a liar. Maybe helping Tara to deal with her lack of purpose now that Maggie and Glenn are reunited will help Abraham come to grips with his own situation.
- This might be a weird question, but ... is Joe Daryl's father? He shows a keen interest in the lad, chews tobacco in the scene where Daryl is "missing" from the marauders' camp, drinks moonshine after Len's body is seen, and says thing like, "Isn't that what we've always done?" and "You belong with us."
Daryl's father was abusive and then left them. In "Survival Instinct," his name is Will and he has a bit more backstory, but that hasn't been mentioned in the TV series, and he's not explicitly been referred to as dead that I can recall. Assuming he's still alive, a punch in the mouth and a failure to acknowledge the relationship might not be entirely out of line from the son you used to hit and then left.
Here's the thing: actually MAKING him Daryl's literal father would be ... well, terrible. SO contrived. It might happen, but I hope not. More likely is that they're setting him up as a surrogate father so that he can ultimately reject that version of family and that version of himself and choose the good guys when he realizes that Joe wants to kill Rick. If that's the case, though, they're laying it on a little thick.
- Mary doesn't have a direct analogue in the comics, the video games or the novels. It's pretty difficult to guess who she might be, except from the context clues of the barbecue, which seemingly reinforces the widely-held belief that The Hunters have set up Terminus as a trap.
That said, it's equally possible that someone with a New Testament name like Mary might be a stand-in for Jesus, a friendly (but potentially dangerous) character from the comics who helped Rick and his group find the Alexandria Safe-Zone, one of the only really nice communities (at least for a while) we've seen so far.