'The Walking Dead' - 'Us': Feeling My Way Through The Darkness

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'The Walking Dead' - 'Us': Feeling My Way Through The Darkness

By TK | The Walking Dead | March 24, 2014 | Comments ()


Dear readers: On the day that this episode ran, we lost a loyal and lovely reader to cancer, that pernicious bastard of a disease. She was one of the best of us, and she was always a big fan of this show. So rest in peace, Natalie. This one’s for you.

We are finally at the point where the group is starting to slowly come back together, each marked by the experiences that they’ve endured since the destruction of the prison. In some cases, they’ve found new allies, although I’m not sure that term applies when it comes to Daryl. Regardless, ‘Us’, the fifteenth episode of this season of The Walking Dead, dealt with that gradual reunion with a combination of hope and foreboding.

It wasn’t always the most exciting episode, unfortunately, and it often felt like it contained cast-off parts of longer episodes. Perhaps that’s the natural consequence of focusing so intently on a single group for the past few episodes — suddenly when we’re back to cutting back and forth, things seem more fractured and disjointed. Ultimately, despite the somewhat out-of-place quick scene with Rick and Carl and Michonne, this episode dealt with two main groups — Glenn, Tara, and their new, world-saving allies; and Daryl and his new band of merry sociopaths.

As for Glenn, Abraham, Eugene, Tara and Rosita (who is slowly shedding the image of her vapidly impractical costuming), that was where the episode was the most inconsistent. Eugene was easily the highlight of the episode, with his staggering nerdiness bringing some much, much-needed comic relief into the fray. But it’s Abraham who, despite his crudity and violent outward persona, has a surprising amount of insight, and quickly picks up on what dark forces are driving Tara and understands Glenn’s fervor, even if he can’t stay with them all the way. Steven Yeun continued to thrive as Glenn, from the hope in his eyes as he found the first of Maggie’s gruesome beacons, to the determination to not leave Tara behind. Between him and Michael Cuditz’s Abraham, there’s a solid amount of charisma going around. That said, even with those two working off of each other, the first half of the episode felt like a bit of a drag, replaying the same tapes that we’d seen before — Tara being dedicated and guilt-ridden, Abraham being determined to save the world, Eugene being weird and cryptic, without any real change being affected.

It wasn’t until the parting of ways at the tunnel that things finally began to evolve and we could sense the buildup to a new set of circumstances, as if it was finally time to get the larger ball rolling once again. And that tunnel was pure Walking Dead brilliance — the cave-in was a garish, horrible collage of stone and death, leading to a horde staggering in the darkness. Yes, Tara’s stumble was predictable and a little lazy, but it gave the opportunity for Glenn to finally show some loyalty himself, in the face of overwhelming odds. And that final moment, when all seemed lost in the dark, saved by not just by a barrage of bullets, but by the one he’s sought for so long — I admit, it worked, hitting the emotional notes just right, up to and including the burning of the photograph, which was as close to real romance as one can get in this hellish world.

And on the other side of the coin, we had Daryl and Joe and a crew of scumbags and psychos. From the moment Joe’s henchman starts trouble with Daryl, we know this is a group that has been playing by entirely different rules. For me, this was the more enjoyable group to observe this week, because they really were something of a fresh perspective. This isn’t the Governor, with his madness masked by order and discipline and law. This is a band of outlaws, of lowlifes and killers, bound together by a need to survive and nothing else. There’s little camaraderie, only a harsh, cynical, deliberate purpose, given to them by a man with just enough leadership skills to keep their own violent tendencies in check.

Yet Joe is a leader, and an intelligent one at that. Like Abraham but different, he displays a similar insight, an unexpected and uncommon wisdom given the band of goons he runs with. Daryl stays because he hasn’t a better option — and Joe knows it — but we also know that there’s a familiarity, a sense of knowing and belonging that Daryl feels. He knows he’s not like them (not anymore) but it’s also not too difficult for him to understand them. They are many things — drunks, killers, fighters, but they are also a new version of Merle, the embodiment of all the things Daryl thinks are within him, but that he’s overcome. Yes, there’s a savagery to them, but there’s also just enough honor and order to them to keep them alive, and Joe has cleverly created a system of rule that allows them to periodically break free and release their inner demons, even if it’s occasionally on each other.

It ended with a surprising sense of hopefulness — Sanctuary has been found. Quiet, peaceful, beautiful, it’s a home, or at least it seems that way. It’s a place where things grow, where a warm-faced woman welcomes them, and where they can finally rest. And that’s the most terrifying part of all, because we know there can be no rest. There can be no peace. Whatever Sanctuary is, we all know that this world does not suffer kindness and respite for very long, and those sorts of bucolic trappings often end in fire and bloodshed. Because we also know that those killers — Daryl in tow — are coming, and they will blow a hole in that quiet little world. Assuming, of course, that there already isn’t a darkness seething beneath its peaceful veneer, something that wouldn’t surprise me at all, for Joe is right — there is no sanctuary in this world. Yet those are grim thoughts best left for another week. For the moment, there is joy to be had. Perhaps we should let them revel in it, even if we know it will all come apart soon — as it always has, and as it always will.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Miles Curtis

    People here should check out the New Zealand promo. Shows a lot more than the US one

  • SeattleIsInfected

    I'm nervous about how they're gonna tie all of this up next week. the group is fractured and separated. Beth is kidnapped, Daryl is with bad guys (and STILL has not gotten with Carol OR Beth if that is the train you're riding), Rick is being tracked by Daryls group, Carol Judith and Tyrese are... somewhere.. We have seen basically nothing of Terminus.. How will this be made better in 42 minutes??

  • glittergirl1970

    Also, too bad there's no internet during the zombie apocalypse, since Terminus is Roman god who protected boundary markers and required human sacrifice.

  • glittergirl1970

    I am extremely uncomfortable with Michonne and Carl's interactions. It's just too abrupt a change for Michonne. She should not be "silly". The character could have warmed up without going into giggling about candy bars mode.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    Eugene's hair was the best actor this show.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Before I ate anything roasting on that grill, I'd want to be shown were it came from.

  • lowercase_ryan


  • F'mal DeHyde

    That's one stupid rule that would make me stabby.

  • lowercase_ryan

    seriously, who made these rules?
    *in my best Mantzoukas voice*

  • grr arrgh

    I'd go full on homicidal the first time someone decided to be an asshole and claim something I was literally just about to claim myself. Either that or I'd murder everyone just because I'd get sick of hearing "CLAIMED" every damn hour.

  • amberdragonfly

    Damnit, I was going to say that!!! I'll pinkie fight you for it....

  • lowercase_ryan

    I can't wait for Eugene to make Rick's life hell. He will most assuredly call that dick out.

  • lowercase_ryan

    For all his talk of the rules and honesty, Joe's story about the man they were chasing reeked of bullshit and half-truths. He's a manipulative prick and the only reason he sided with Daryl in the great cottontail showdown was because he thinks Daryl is more useful than the other dude.

  • Zuffle

    Didn't we see that? Wasn't he talking about Rick?

  • lmtj

    I find it odd that this ragtag group of something beyond rednecks actually trust each other, even though they beat each other up and kill one another. AND trust this Jos guy. The whole group is totally bizarre.

  • Matt Smith

    Does anyone else think that Glenn and Maggie are toast? When she burns her picture, and says basically we will never be apart again. Is that foreshadowing something bad? And I guess we got our answer to if the guy that saw Rick under the bed died or not.

  • Miles Curtis

    I kind of think/hope it was a red herring - it just feels too damn obvious to be actually foreshadowing the demise of one or both of them

  • grr arrgh

    As soon as he burned the picture, I was like "Welp, one of them is gonna die next week." I only hope that it's a "both or neither" deal. I cannot deal with mopey Maggie or Glenn. I was getting really sick of the "I HAVE TO FIND HIM/HER!" crap.

  • John G.

    I think a lot of people are toast. I feel a red wedding coming.

  • rio

    Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with all this shows thinking they need to up the ante compare to the red wedding, it made sense there but man is it just me or this year is like death galore on tv?
    Im still recovering from last week episode and I have to prepare myself to see most of the gang die? No, no, no, no, no. Give me a fucking break, also Beth better not be barbecued because that would be too much for Daryl to handle right now, damn it!

  • Bert_McGurt

    I gotta say, Terminus is pretty damned easy to get into... those fences are not very walker-resistant. Someone's clearly been there long enough to grow flowers and corn, but apparently haven't seen much in the way of attacks?

    F*ck you cancer. Rest easy Natalie.

  • Miles Curtis

    I would guess to make it seem more homely they don't want to have it all shut down tight for new arrivals, but I imagine they'd put snipers on the roof or other high up areas

  • John G.

    That bothered me too, but I think what it must be is a kind of way station, not the actual Sanctuary. It has fences with locks on them, so you can easily lock the gates if you have to, but it's also open for new arrivals. I think it's probably somebody's shift to wait there each day. Although, it would be wasteful to cook all that food on the days no one shows up.

  • Sean

    Could Rosita's original ridiculous attire been a concious choice to motivate mullet nerd boy? Because us large nerdy men really like cute women in short shorts. We do what those women ask of us, for the most part.

  • The Terminus lady reminded me of the Dharma gang, and we all know how that turned out.

    Disappointed in this episode (Nat would have been too). The first half bored me to tears, and you're right, it felt like retread. I believe Daryl would go on his own rather than stay with that group of f*ckwads, and how much ammo did Glenn's group waste in that tunnel? (BTW, am I the only one not shipping Maggie and Glenn? I just don't feel them anymore.)

    On the other hand, just a few moments with Michonne, Rick and Carl made me feel better. For now.

    We shall so miss you, Natalie.

  • Miles Curtis

    I think you probably are one of small minority :P They're a very good TV couple compared to a lot of others.

    It seems he'd have trouble leaving, as Joe and co's mentality is very much 'you're with us, or we'll claim your shit', and he's hardly in a position to fight them all of by himself. Plus I think he sees something of Merle in them, and maybe misses that.

  • Nadiney

    I've never felt Maggie and Glenn. I do not give a fiddling shit about those two.

  • lowercase_ryan

    you're so cold. SO COLD!

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