True Lies

Season 5 Episode 5 “Self Help”

The Episode

This is a story about two liars. One lies to everyone and the other is lying to himself. As we watch this episode though, the two lies are about to completely come undone.

We get the origin story of Abraham and Eugene through very brief flashbacks spattered throughout the episode. I think the parallels to what we see present day with the quick bursts of flashbacks are really well done. As we learn more about Abraham and Eugene military man from waist down with weaponpresent day, we also find out how it all started. One of the more perplexing themes surrounding Abraham is his need to “complete the mission”. He’s often quick to irritate at any sign of delay and don’t even ask him to turn back. At first it seems like he’s just a man following orders, but as the flashbacks reveal it is much darker. He savagely beat some men to death to protect his family, but they were so frightened of him after that they ran away. Of course, though, they wind up dead and Abraham is about to kill himself when he meets Eugene who gives him the mission. This is eye-opening into Abraham as a person. For the first time you can actually understand why he is the way he is. As many of our friends have, he’s lost everything and lost the will to live. Only the hope for some sort of future to make it all better could stop him. Eugene gives him that hope.

Abraham was the perfect person for Eugene to give the mission to. And I wonder how much of that was a choice and how much of it was random. When Eugene meets Abraham, he’s ridiculously running away from three walkers and screaming for help. Abraham is sticking a gun in his mouth. The fact that Abraham stopped to help Eugene I believe was a tip-off that Eugene found the right guy. Someone who was strong enough to take out multiple walkers and protect him and someone who was at the end of their rope with nothing to live for. The perfect person who would be open to a story about saving the world.

While Abraham has survived believing he’s going to save the world, Eugene has spent every minute of being alive lying to everyone he meets. The biggest reveal of the episode is that Eugene is not a scientist and he can’t cure everyone. On one hand this is shocking news. On the other, it did always seem a bit too good to be true. It’s such a casual announcement back when Glenn and Tara meet Eugene. Too casual. I had no idea when first watching if what Eugene was saying was true but I wanted to believe. So, it was a letdown when he announces he’s been lying this whole time. It’s also a bit of shocker to learn exactly how much of a coward Eugene is. Not only has he been telling tales the whole time, but he almost gets them all killed on the bus when he sabotages it to cause a delay. And just to put the cherry on top, he also likes to creepily watch Abraham and Rosita do it. Yes, I’d have to say we learned a lot about Eugene this episode and most of it is unpleasant. He’s a coward, a creep, selfish and utterly useless. At this point, my least favorite person on the show.

One of the more positive events of this episode is the friendship beginning between Tara and Eugene. Tara becomes quite the influence over Eugene. I think when she speaks to him, the words actually get through to him. He also enjoys talking to her I find. He secretly confesses to Tara that he sabotaged the bus. This is directly following her catching him peeping on Rosita and Abraham. But Tara takes it all in stride and she’s still able to be a confidante to Eugene and not openly pass too much judgement on him. I think she’s a major factor in Eugene admitting the truth later on.

That conversation about strong vs. weak comes up again when Abraham talks privately to Glenn. Abraham believes everyone alive now is strong. The weak have been weeded out so to speak or they are with people who are willing to kill for them to stay alive. Glenn hopes that will change. I would argue that the real strong people are the ones who are trying to not be the ultimate warriors or killing machines. Harkening back to the days of Shane, it is still increasingly easier to kill someone in your way then it is to find compromise. The strong are the ones like Glenn, Maggie and Tara who are trying to maintain their humanity instead of relinquishing it to some lie that there’s no place for it anymore.

Best of the Episode

Fire truck spray down. Still nothing better than a great walker take-down. In one of Eugene’s more useful moments, he uses the fire hose on top of the fire truck to spray down the walkers. As the intense spray hits the decaying walkers, their body parts come flying off in chunks. Eugene hoses them down one by one like it’s a game at a carnival. It’s enjoyable to watch and gives me a giggle every time.

Eugene ruins everything. It’s an intense moment for the group when they realize that a empty roadgiant herd is blocking their only path forward. Abraham is freaking out about going back and he grabs Eugene by the collar to put him in the fire truck. Everyone is trying to stop Abraham when you hear Eugene shout over all of them, “I’m not a scientist!”. They all stop and Eugene spills out his story. What makes this stunning moment even better is that Eugene has no filter at this point and he starts to say to Abraham that he’s still smarter than him. Well, Abraham responds the only way he knows how and swiftly punches him in the face. He only gets a couple of hits in before he’s restrained by the others but that’s all it takes. I weirdly enjoy watching Eugene’s head bounce off the front of the firetruck and fall face first onto the pavement. He did kinda deserve that.

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Super Beth

Season 5 Episode 4 “Slabtown”

The Episode

It’s Beth! And not just a little of Beth, we get a whole dang episode of her! It’s about time! Lots of interesting stuff is going on this episode. New characters. New settings. New problems.  We get to take a step away from the everyday horrors our other friends are going through and get to see something a tad different.

As excited as I am about Beth, let’s start with the new characters. The most important of which is Noah. Noah sticks with us for a bit after meeting Beth at Grady Memorial Hospital. Noah is about the same age as Beth, and he’s gotten stuck at this hospital for the past year. He’s got the place figured out and hates it but he’s smart enough to make a plan and wait for the right time. He does several nice things for Beth which gives him bonus points. He has the vibe of a trustworthy and nice person, but not a pushover either. I like Noah right away but I do get upset at him a little bit at the end of the episode for leaving Beth behind.

Then there is Dawn and Dr. Edwards. Dawn does not give anyone a good vibe. Her introduction to Beth as she first wakes up in the hospital includes a chilling “You owe us”.hospital patient hand with IV You know whenever you hear that you are assuredly not in the presence of anyone kind-hearted. Dawn is a police officer who was next in line to take over after the first guy lost it. Her gang of merry cops includes one very creepy man named Gorman. Dawn along with the doctor run a scam on weak looking survivors where they take them in and then force them to work for them as payment. This is why they took Noah and not his dad and Beth and not Daryl. I suppose it’s not a bad strategy if Dawn would just be honest with herself about what she’s doing. She seems to be under the impression she’s surviving for some wonderful after world that is going to happen, and using people now to get there is just a means to an end. This is what these bad guys do wrong every time. They get wrapped up in the rules of their ideologies, leaving no room for adjustment. Be flexible dammit! Dr. Edwards has a bit of a harder time coping with what they are doing but he’s no shining star either. He may regret giving Dawn this idea but he’s certainly willing to play the game. When another doctor is brought in, Dr. Edwards tells Beth to give him the wrong medication on purpose so he dies. Dr. Edwards can’t have another doctor around because then he won’t be necessary and becomes disposable.

And here we have Beth in the middle of this crazy hospital now. If there is one thing that Dawn and the rest of these people take for granted it’s Beth’s strength. They put her through a multitude of challenges and she stands up to all of them. She doesn’t have the backing of anyone she trusts and she faces off with all of them. The creepy officer Gorman is a complete pervert with her. It’s the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been when he forces her to put the lollipop in her mouth. But Beth gets him in the end when she tricks him into letting his guard down and she hits him with the lollipop jar, very fitting. Then she shoves him into the waiting arms of Joan the walker, the previous young woman he undoubtedly raped. Dawn is repeatedly cruel to Beth, including smacking her around several times and verbally putting her down. But when Dawn mentions rescuers coming some day to save them, Beth gets in her face and tells her no one is coming. Beth doesn’t let Dr. Edwards’ sins slide either. She confronts him about what he did to the other doctor. Beth could have let all of these people get away with what they were doing and she didn’t. She has the tenacity of a freaking lion.

At the end of all this fun, Noah and Beth try to escape together. However, it doesn’t go well and Noah is the only one to make it past the fence. As I said earlier, I’m a little perturbed that Noah didn’t go back to help Beth, but when Beth smiles, we get permission to forgive Noah. Beth is happy for him that he is going to get to go find his family like he told her he wanted to. And I suppose that’ll have to be good enough for us as well.

Best of the Episode

generic office buildingJoan’s unwilling amputation. Joan is brought back in to the hospital after running away. But she returns with a bite on her arm, so they want to amputate it and save her. We don’t have the pleasure of watching this done with an ax this time, but we do get a metal string which seems just as gruesome if not more so than the ax. It’s stomach turning to watch as the doctor saws her arm off and Beth holds her feet down.

The surprise ending.  Beth looks like she’s about to get herself killed when we see a stretcher come in with Carol. Carol is unconscious and we have no idea what has happened to her. No sign of Daryl yet so it would appear we’ve been left out of the loop on something again. But now Beth is forced to put aside whatever she had planned and make sure Carol is alright.

Promises Kept

Season 5 Episode 3 “Four Walls and a Roof”

The Episode

tree with no leaves at nightThis episode is dark…literally. Much of the episode is at night with people creeping around in the shadows. It matches the substance of the episode well. Our friends take a final stand against Terminus, and it’s a bloody and vengeful one. Rick and many others again begin to toy with their dark sides.

Gabriel reveals his sin that everyone has been wondering about. Rick and our friends pressure him into telling them as they freak out because they don’t know yet what happened to Bob, Daryl or Carol. Gabriel reveals that when the outbreak first happened, his parishioners came to the church but the doors were locked. And Gabriel kept them that way. He had to listen to them scream and die outside his church and he never let any of them in. Then he buried them when it quieted down. Pretty bad for a holy man as far as sins go. Gabriel continues to reveal he has no spine and it really is a miracle that he has made it this far. At the end of the episode, after our friends do their worst, Gabriel remarks that this is the Lord’s house. Maggie replies with the episode title, it’s just four walls and a roof.

I’m going to over analyze that morsel for a moment. I believe what Maggie is implying by her statement has to do with what Gabriel has done as well as what our friends have just done. Gabriel locked his parishioners out leading to their deaths. By Gabriel’s failure as a pastor, he has diminished what the building itself means. In conjunction with Maggie’s feelings on what she has just taken part in, it really is no church at all at this point. I would say besides Gabriel the next most religious person of the group would be Maggie. Hershel was a deeply religious man and Maggie and Beth were raised in a religious family. Back when we are first introduced to Maggie in Season 2, one of her first conversations with Glenn is about God. Even though she questions her belief, she’s still the only person of our group to even bring up the subject. By Maggie stating that this is just four walls and a roof, it’s removing God from the terrible deed they just committed.

And as for that terrible deed they did, it was pretty gruesome. Rick is really pissed at church pewswhat Terminus did to them and others. He’s ready for revenge. I like how they keep the actual plan hidden from us. They gave us just enough info to think things were going to go one way and then surprise us. We think our friends are about to go off and attack the elementary school, leaving a few behind to protect Judith and the weaker people at the church. And we think that plan is about to get messed up when Rick’s group passes Gareth’s group in the darkness and we watch Terminus head in to the church. We think our friends have been tricked again but really they predicted this and doubled back so they could ensure Terminus can’t escape. I have to give props to Martin again. Even as he faces death for the second time, he still has the balls to disobey Rick when he tells them to kneel. And that whole kneeling thing. I don’t know if it was my mood or if I just hadn’t watched this in a while and forgot or what but my stomach actually turned a little when Rick told them to kneel. There are a lot of similarities between Rick and a certain someone we meet in the future, but I had never connected this kneeling thing before. And it really kind of stunned me for a second. I wasn’t ready for that when I watched this. But I digress. Rick keeps his promise to Gareth and whips out the red machete and kills him. Michonne, Sasha and Abraham also take part in slaughtering the other Terminus folk.

The slaughter hits Tyreese, Gabriel, Maggie and Glenn the hardest I feel. Tyreese we’ll learn feels extremely guilty about Martin. Gabriel is a giant wimp. And Maggie and Glenn I think have a hard time swallowing any brutal murder in general. That’s not what they want to be about but they go along reluctantly.

black roseWe say goodbye to Bob Stookey this episode. But he goes out with a lot of style and heart. While he is still alive and captive by Gareth and the other Terminus members, he’s forced to listen to Gareth yap on about why they eat people as they continue to eat him. But one of my favorite moments is Bob’s big reveal about how he was bit and he screams “tainted meat!!!” at them. I enjoy the momentary freak out by them and seeing them vomit. It’s also good because if he wasn’t bit, I don’t think Terminus would have returned Bob to the church. They would have kept eating him. It also allows us to feel a little bit better about what’s happened to Bob. It’s terrible that he’s been amputated and watched people eat him, but knowing that he was going to die anyways is somewhat…for lack of a better word, comforting.

Losing Bob is particularly sad because of what him and Sasha had just gotten started. It took Bob a long time to get through Sasha’s hard outer shell. And pretty much as soon as he does, he’s taken away from her. No doubt this is going to have a long-term effect on Sasha. Her bad days are just beginning. Their last moment together is heartbreaking. Bob wakes up for a brief moment to tell her about his dream where he was smiling and she was smiling back and then she does smile for him. As he passes back out for the last time, Sasha tries to ask him what the good is that comes from this bad. But Bob can’t answer because he’s finally passed.

As the episode closes, Maggie, Glenn and Tara keep the promise they made to Abraham and hop in the school bus to go to Washington. It feels weird with them leaving like this, just a bunch of casual goodbyes and hugs. But we’re not done with them yet, not by a long shot. And Daryl brings back a surprise of his own. Daryl comes out of the darkness and is greeted by Michonne. When she asks where Carol is, Daryl calls out “come on out”, but he wouldn’t talk to Carol like that. We don’t get to see if it is or not but I was 100% sure at the time this aired it was not going to be Carol.

Best of the Episode

Rick vs. Abraham. As Abraham again tries to force everyone to take off for Washington immediately, Rick refuses because they are missing Bob, Carol and Daryl. Abraham continues to push and Rick’s pressure meter is in the danger zone. Rick begins to march towards Abraham with the intent of getting into a brawl but Glenn gets in the middle. It’s that walk Rick takes towards Abraham that makes me giggle with anticipation. Like he’s ready to fight the world even if his chance of survival is slim to none. I know I was pretty damn excited to see that fight. Rick at his boiling point is not someone to mess with.

Tyreese opening up to Rick. On a more somber note, Rick takes a moment to check in with Tyreese and dig some graves. Rick asks Tyreese how it was for him getting to Terminus. And Tyreese says “it killed me”. There’s a long pause and it seems like it’s going to end there but then Rick says very quietly, “no it didn’t”. That line hit me in the feels. And it somewhat connects with what Gareth had been saying back at his camp to Bob. “Every day above ground is a good day.” Tyreese feels like he’s had his soul ripped out of him, but he couldn’t be more alive as he digs a grave for someone else.

Secrets Don’t Make Friends

Season 5 Episode 2 “Strangers”

The Episode

This is a real re-building episode. Many of the group haven’t seen each other for a while and they are reconnecting. There’s a lot of forgiveness going ‘round. And we get an introduction to a new group member that everyone is a bit wary of. Plus, several surprises!

It’s nice to see all the forgiveness happening between our group. Rick and Carol have a good heart to heart. She gives him the watch back. Rick is thankful and proud of Carol for saving them and for surviving on her own. It is really sweet when he acknowledges he exiled her and now they are out here in the world with her and he asks her permission to stay with her. Tara is the recipient of a lot of acceptance. Rick and Maggie both decide to forgive her for being with The Governor at the prison. But goddamnit Tara with those fist bumps! I hate the fist bumps! Someone once tried to explain to me that it shows kind of what age Tara got stuck at when things went bad. She was an adult but still didn’t have any real responsibilities yet. She was frozen at the age where you’re a bit of a juvenile even though you’re technically grown. And the fist bumps reflect that. To be honest, I have nothing against fist bumps in real life. I just find it utterly ridiculous in the zombie apocalypse. But that’s Tara and I’ve spent way too much time talking about fist bumps now.

We get an introduction to Father Gabriel. I can’t even tell you how much I can’t stand Father Gabriel. All the way to present day on the show. Right now though, he’s a bit of a mystery. Our group finds him in the woods on a rock trying to fend off walkers. After they rescue him, he sets the tone for himself by vomiting on the ground. I love the looks of annoyance almost everyone has when he does this. It tells us right away that this guy is weak. That’s kind of where we are now. Our group is strong and anyone who can’t do what they can, which is a lot, is weak. It comes to be a key factor in the later episodes of this season. We’re just getting a glimpse of it now though. But for now, our group is willing to cautiously follow Father Gabriel to his church.

Old time mail boxes

Father Gabriel continues to raise suspicions at the church by making unfunny jokes and not answering questions straightforwardly. Several times Rick tries to ask him what he’s done and he just says it’s between him and God. Unacceptable if you ask me. Gabriel even freaks out when they take a run to a food pantry and presumably someone he used to know and is now a walker tries to get him. And Carl finds an ominous warning scratched into the outside of the church that says, “you’ll burn for this”. Many signs that Gabriel is for sure hiding something pretty bad.

We’re beginning to see another new stage in the evolution of Carol. Although she saves her friends and is happy to see them, she tries to run from them. Previously she told Tyreese she wasn’t going to stay at Terminus before all this happened. Even though they didn’t wind up at Terminus, she seems to want to hold true to that sentiment and she sneaks off at night to a car her and Daryl found earlier. Daryl catches her but the two don’t have time to talk this out just yet because the car that Beth was taken in drives by and Daryl wants to go chase it. It would seem that Carol is uncomfortably stuck with our group for the time being. More to come on that and Beth in the future!

Bob’s journey looks like it is coming to an end unfortunately. I am particularly sad for him and Sasha. They were just starting a new relationship and they looked so happy at the beginning of the episode. He even told Rick that he knew eventually he would say yes to going to Washington. You can tell something is up with him at the church though when he looks longingly after Sasha and then goes outside. Bob has always been a pretty smiley guy. Even when the going got tough he was the positive one. But when he’s outside alone, the smile fades and he begins to cry. We’ll find out next week why he was crying, but for now something worse happens. He gets hit from behind by a hoodedMan in hooded sweatshirt facing away from camera in woods stranger and when he wakes up, he’s at a camp with the remaining Terminus survivors. What they do to him has to be one of the most sadistic things you could ever do to someone in my opinion. As Gareth is explaining himself to Bob, we can tell something is up. We eventually get to see that Bob’s lower leg has been cutoff and what these people are eating right in front of him is his leg. It gives me the shivers just to think about it!

One final important topic is what is happening between Rick and Carl. Carl is becoming a real guiding light for his father. Rick right now is untrusting of pretty much every stranger. He treats Gabriel like a criminal even though he is dressed like a priest and cowering from walkers. He tries to tell Carl he’s never going to be safe and to always keep his guard up. But Carl doesn’t buy into that completely. He is that person now who can keep his dad from going too far. Carl doesn’t want to lose that ability to help people. It was only a few episodes ago that Carl was calling himself a monster. But he is so very wrong about himself. I think escaping certain death at Terminus right after a plethora of other bad things has made him realize that they are the “good guys”. They’ve encountered a lot of people with bad intentions and that is not them. They are tough, but not so tough that they have to turn away people or hurt them unnecessarily. This is really just the beginning of that we are seeing here, but it really becomes who Carl is through the remaining seasons he has. And now I shall cry again.

Best of the Episode

The food pantry. All the food our group needs is right in front of them. It’s just down in a wet basement full of walkers. Nothing is easy these days! They have to climb down into the basement and fight in rain water up to their waists. They do pretty well considering they have a useless priest that only creates more trouble for them when he freaks out. We’re all laughing at you Gabriel!

Baby Judith makes her first decision! Not really but sort of. After our group’s long day, they feast at the church and everyone is happy and relaxed for a moment. Abraham makes a toast and also uses it to try to convince them all to go to Washington. As Rick holds Judith and everyone waits for his answer, Judith makes a noise and Rick playfully says “if she’s in I’m in”. Such an adorable moment between father and daughter.

Many Happy Returns

Season 5 Episode 1 “No Sanctuary”

The Episode

Season 5 comes out swinging. There are so many great moments of this episode that I’m not even sure where to begin. This season is an interesting one. As we begin, our group is roaming without any clear plan, but we will wind up somewhere very specific that will change everyone’s lives one way or another. Well, everyone who is still alive that is.

I think I’ll start with Terminus. In real-time, it was extremely difficult to wait the months and months between seasons and see what Rick’s parting words of last season were going to mean and if he could follow through. But here we just have to wait a week! We find that we may want to empathize a little with Terminus. From the flashbacks we see, Terminus was once a really nice place. A bunch of people who wanted to do good. And then some really nasty people came and raped the women, beat them and locked them in the train cars. Although they won the place back, they were deeply traumatized by what they went through and vowed to no longer be “the cattle” as they say. Which is totally understandable a position to take after a life altering trauma. When you believe things should be one way and it goes horribly wrong, it’s highly likely that you’re going to swing in the opposite direction. Ultimately though, that’s the problem. They swung a little too far out into the crazy zone. From the outside looking in, maybe some minor adjustments could have sufficed. Maybe slaughtering regular people with bats and stringing them up like a butcher shop isn’t going to solve your problems? Yes? No?

And then there’s Carol. Our great heroine of this story. At this time, without her decisive action, Rick, Glenn, Daryl and Bob would not be here. That’s a fact. Their heads were in the trough ready to be bled out and Carol set off a diversion that saved them all. Not only does she set off a giant diversion, she also walks into the place hiding among the walkers and starts picking off the living. She finds Rick’s watch and Daryl’s bow. She fights with Mary and leaves her to be eaten by walkers. Then there was that beautiful moment when she reunites with everyone. Daryl, the first to see her, runs to her and hugs her like he just found his mother. And the tears start coming from my eyes. Rick had been fired up to go kill any remaining living Terminus folks, but when he realizes Carol just saved them, everything slows down. He is stunned and happy. You can tell Carol is a little unsure if Rick is going to be happy she’s here. The last time they saw each other, Rick had banished her from the prison for killing two people. Now, he’s proud of what she just did. One may argue that Terminus wasn’t their people, but still, Rick seems to be very willing to overlook all the people Carol just get killed as well as his own body count. As am I.

Tyreese plays an interesting role this episode. As one of our more emotional group members, he struggles with what being a good person means to him. When is it okay for him to be merciful and when does he need to be the brutal person he can become. When him and Carol encounter Terminus bad guy Martin and hold him captive, Tyreese is left small housewith Judith to watch the hostage. Martin plays an excellent role in bringing out all sides of Tyreese. Although he’s not a very large role, Martin is very memorable and interesting. Martin likes to talk and antagonize. He tries to push Tyreese into killing him. I love that moment when Martin says “I don’t want to do this today”. Like being held hostage is just a giant inconvenience for him like running an errand. Martin ends up briefly taking the upper hand with Tyreese when he gets a hold of Judith. He forces Tyreese outside the cabin where walkers are waiting. Unfortunately for Martin he is not aware that Tyreese excels at escaping walker swarms and it’s not long before Tyreese busts down the cabin door and begins beating Martin. Tyreese had made a promise that nobody had to die today but Martin just wouldn’t let that be true. It’s a violent contrast on display as Tyreese beats Martin to the brink of death all the while saying “I won’t, I won’t”. But it sure appears like Tyreese will. He even tells Carol that he’s killed him but we find out later that is not true and something that Tyreese will regret in the end.

Besides these major events, there are a bunch of tiny little moments that I love in this episode. So, I’m just briefly going to list them all.

  • When Gareth asks Rick what is in the bag in the woods and Rick lists all the weapons and the red machete last and then says “that’s what I’m gonna use to kill you.” So badass.
  • Carol shooting the propane tank and exploding it with a firework. Walkers fly everywhere. Also badass.
  • In the butcher area when one of the Terminus guys says, “Look at me” to another Terminus guy and then Rick pops up from behind and stabs the guy in the neck. Even more badass.
  • Our poor friend Sam from Rick and Carol’s banishment road trip. I think we all thought we were never going to see him again. I know I thought he was dead somewhere. But as it turns out, he made it to Terminus. His luck didn’t get any better because he is the first to go at the trough. I think it was a pretty cool setup though to have Sam and Rick look at each other but unable to speak because they are gagged. I often wonder if Rick at this moment regrets leaving Sam behind that day. I like to think yes.
  • Tyreese calls Judith his friend. It seems odd to think of a large adult man considering a baby his friend. It just adds to the depth of Tyreese’s giant heart that he could have a tiny little baby girl be his friend. It’s beyond sweet.
  • Carol brings everyone back to meet up with Tyreese and in that moment as Tyreese is holding baby Judith we all realize that we forgot Rick and Carl have no idea she is alive. And we all start crying when they hold her for the first time again. Or was that just me?

As our friends hit the road again, they have no idea where they are going. They’ve just been through some of the most traumatic times of their lives. There’s a lot of loss of trust railroad tracks closeupin human nature we see in Season 5. It’s not so much about having a main villain. We just wiped out Terminus, for the most part, in the first episode. But there’s so many tiny villains all around now. We’re about to see how our friends either keep or lose their own humanity as the struggle to survive continues.

Monsters

Season 4 Episode 16 “A”

The Episode

Here we are, another season under the belt. We end with a real doozy of an episode. One of the darkest of the series. But there’s always hope and our friends will always find their way.

There is a lovely flashback story interspersed throughout this episode with Hershel. As farm gatethe current timeline progresses, we get bits of flashbacks of how Hershel saved Rick from himself and ultimately Carl as well. Hershel convinces Rick to stop going on runs for a while and help him start farming and having livestock. He can tell Rick is losing himself into the violence that happens out on runs and that if he doesn’t take a break than he’s going to not be able to stop. There are some real beautiful moments with Hershel and Rick and their little family with smiles and jokes. It’s refreshing to look back and see that the good times existed.

But the lovely is in stark contrast to what takes place current day. The conflict between Rick and Joe’s group comes to a head as Rick and Michonne talk by a fire. Joe’s group attacks in the dark. At first Daryl is not present but as Joe counts down to killing Rick, Daryl appears to try to stop it. Daryl offers himself up to save Rick and the others. That’s truly something. Or as Rick would say, “that’s everythang”. Daryl would willingly put his life on the line to save Rick. But why? I would have to guess that Daryl thinks Rick may be more important than him, or that it’s for Carl. And even after taking a beating, he is apologetic about being with these villains. He is a special kind of man that Daryl.

But Rick wins the prize for craziest motherf-er. Facing certain death for himself along with the rape and murder of Carl and Michonne, Rick goes mental and headbutts Joe standing behind him. They fight and when the two get eyeball to eyeball Joe asks him what’s he gonna do. And Rick shows him by taking a chunk out of Joe’s neck with his damn mouth! Step aside Patrick Swayze, there’s a new guy in town. It stuns everyone, the bad guys, Carl, Michonne and not to mention us the audience! Rick even stuns himself. He just sits there after covered in blood.

Carl has been asking some big questions this episode. What are they going to tell the people at Terminus? Who are we? Carl is feeling like he’s not normal. He’s seen so much and had to do so many things a kid shouldn’t have to do. He’s become scared to meet new people because he thinks they’ll judge him or not want him because of what he’s done. And after Rick goes psycho, he really thinks that they don’t belong. At first it seems like he’s mad at his father for doing it, and it seems like he’s ungrateful that his father just saved his life. But we find out that it’s much deeper than that. When Carl watched his father kill those evil men, he saw something he sees in himself. A dark side that comes out. Their “monsters” as they say. Rick talks about accepting that this is what you do sometimes to survive. But Carl hasn’t quite gotten there. This is what Hershel was trying to protect them from. He wanted to show them another way of living. A way that didn’t involve violence. Not because he didn’t want them to ever be violent, but because he knew there would come a day when they would need to be violent again. And if they didn’t take a break they’d never be able to quiet the monsters they have. And it’s so true; Hershel was very on point.  If Hershel had not done what he did, who knows where Rick and Carl would be right now. They question who they are and what they have done, and that’s what good people do when they do bad things. Real monsters don’t ask questions about what they do. You may not get to be the best version of yourself all of the time, but you also can’t let yourself succumb to being the worst version of yourself either.

Heading into Terminus after this latest misfortune, our friends are suspicious of everyone. They’ve just lost their home a few days ago and now they’ve been brutally attacked by more strangers. They aren’t about to walk through the front gates with open arms. They hide their weapons in the woods and go in the back. They take Terminus by surprise but don’t really see anything too bad at first glance. We meet Gareth, the leader. abandoned train stationA friendly guy, perhaps too friendly. There’s a brief welcome and reasonable explanation of what Terminus is. Then they head outside to their courtyard area where the real welcome is supposed to be. What I think all of us miss as Terminus is explained to our group is what Rick sees and takes no time in reacting to. People in Terminus are walking around with objects that belong to our other friends. One person is wearing riot gear, another has a poncho we’ve seen Daryl and Maggie wearing and another has a pocket watch. Rick’s reaction is to take a hostage. And I love how everyone else immediately acts as well even though they have no idea what’s happening. Daryl, Michonne and Carl immediately raise their weapons in response to Rick. That’s the level of trust they have in him. It’s beautiful.

As our friends try to make their escape we get glimpses of Terminus. One very unsettling site is a pile of bloody bones laying on the ground. It’s very brief and you almost think you didn’t see what you saw. They also find a room lit with candles and a strange phrase on the wall, “Never Again Never Trust We Always”. And then there are the As. The letter A has come to be a mystery of its own on this show. It continuously appears throughout many locations with various meanings. But us fans are also wondering if they somehow are all tied together. Most of the time, this episode is what people site as the first appearance of the letter A. Here it appears beside several doorways they go through and on the train car they wind up at. But if you pay close enough attention, way back in Season 2 you see a scratched out A on the doorknob of the bar’s backdoor when Glenn, Hershel and Rick are trying to escape. Keep that in mind but for now we are still following our friends through Terminus trying to escape. They are being shot at but not really. At first I thought perhaps these Terminus folk just had bad aim because they weren’t even coming close to shooting such easy targets. But then you realize that they are shooting at the ground to lead them somewhere. While our friends think they are escaping, they are actually being lead right into a point of no escape. They are marched into a train car where they find the rest of our friends minus Carol and Tyreese.

Not the happiest of reunions. And while everyone including me is thinking our friends are in deep doodoo, Rick surprises us all with my absolute favorite season finale line ever. Even after watching it again for the hundredth time, I still get a little excited. Rick starts by saying, “They’re gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out.” To which Abraham who doesn’t know Rick yet asks, “Find out what?” And Rick says, “They’re screwing with the wrong people.” Boom! And just like that I know everything is going to be just fine. Rick is sooooo done with bad guys that he ain’t even tolerating a minute of this. Rick had already proven himself to be the biggest bad ass with the throat tear, but also he delivers the most supreme bad ass line in the same episode. I can’t even!  I told you it would be the best line and I hope it excites you as it does me.

We are left with a bit of a cliffhanger for Season 4. We don’t know what is really going to happen to them at Terminus but we sure are excited because Rick’s not gonna let them take this lying down. All in all, I would argue that Season 4 is the best season of all. Not to say that I don’t also love what happens next, because I do, I just think there’s something so special about Season 4. It’s gritty, it’s heartbreaking and it’s pretty bad ass. I’m not sure, it just has something magical about it that I love.

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks the 1st anniversary of my first blog post for Dead Central. I am so happy it coincided with the end of Season 4, one of my favorite episodes. I’ve really enjoyed writing these this past year. I will continue on and hopefully find the time to branch out into other topics of the show. Thank you for reading this little blog of mine.

Finding the Way

Season 4 Episode 15 “Us”

The Episode

After “The Grove” episode, pretty much any topic would be a welcome relief from the heavy subject matter we just dealt with. We get some relief from Glenn and his band of merry men and women. And Michonne and Carl are content playing games together. But our poor Daryl is still having a tough time with his new friends. Our story lines seem to be converging on Terminus as we are now one episode away from the season finale. And we are still wondering if everyone is going to find each other.

But one pair we don’t have to worry about finding each other any longer is Glenn and Maggie. After a bit of back and forth with Abraham, the group splits up at a tunnel that Abraham refuses to take Eugene through. Tara goes with Glenn and Rosita and Eugene go with Abraham. It seems to turn sour for Tara and Glenn pretty quick when they find a bit of the tunnel collapsed with a lot more walkers than they can handle. Plus stupid Tara goes and gets herself stuck. Glenn’s heroism is on full display here as he would rather get himself killed with Tara then leave her to die. Some would call it foolish. Why die when you don’t have to right? But that would be selfish. And if there’s anything Glenn is not, it’s selfish.

Meanwhile Eugene tricks Rosita into driving to the other end of the tunnel while Abraham sleeps. This is how Eugene plays his cards most of the time. His long-winded explanations are amusing and he comes out with some real good lines, but he’s relatively useless in a tough situation. So when he wants something his way, he uses his wits to make it happen. He gives us a line here that I’m going to throw back at him down the road when we get to Season 8. He says, “After I save the world I still have to live with myself.” It’s a nice sentiment here and it certainly plays well for Glenn. Because at the end of that tunnel is Maggie, Sasha and Bob. And they all go back in that tunnel and save Glenn and Tara. It’s a sweet sweet reunion. Glenn looks at peace. He’s been going full speed since he woke up on that ledge back at the prison. So has Maggie. And now that they’ve got each other, they smile and rest and look like nothing could be better.

railroad tracks closeupThe next day they arrive at Terminus. It looks clean and it is certainly quiet. The front gate is unlocked and a sign tells them they can put down their weapons because they won’t need them. Inside they are greeted by a woman named Mary who is cooking something on a barbecue. So at this point, four seasons in, I’m no naïve casual watcher of the show. I’m wondering, “what’s the catch?”. This looks too good to be true and it usually is. And it’s only a little suspicious that there’s only one lady cooking alone. Those were my initial thoughts. Definitely waiting for the other shoe to drop. More to come with that. For now I suppose we can just be happy for our group that they’ve arrived somewhere that looks really pleasant.

Unfortunately, Daryl is not having such a great time with his new friends. It’s a bunch of hard living dudes with some really poor impulse control issues. As much as Daryl looks like he fits in with these guys, and in his old days he would have just fine, living with Rick and everyone else has really taken him to a higher level. Dealing with these losers is slightly depressing. The leader almost makes sense sometimes until you see his implementation of what he talks about. He understands the need for structure and holding people accountable, but his way of handling tough situations is brutal. Killing people because they lie, sorry, shouldn’t be a thing. And calling out “claimed” when you want something to be yours even if someone is clearly going for it, rude! Daryl doesn’t really see himself as one of them but it’s either these guys or no one and it seems like he’d rather be with these idiots than be alone. The leader tells Daryl, “there’s nothing sadder than an outdoor cat thinks he’s an indoor cat.” Never heard that one before but ok. I don’t know much about cats so I can’t get too deep with this one but if I had to guess an outdoor cat looks a lot like Daryl does most of the time. Perhaps trying to be a little bit of something that doesn’t come natural to him. Not to say something he can’t be, but something that takes a little bit more effort to be. We find out that Daryl does not know is that his new group is chasing after Rick, Michonne and Carl for the incident at the house. It would seem that we’re heading for a new confrontation in the season finale. Is Daryl gonna have to pick a side? Seems that way. As always, we’re hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.

Best of the Episode

The rabbit. Daryl has a tough time with one jerk in particular who seems to want to haze him real bad. After Daryl shoots a rabbit as the same time as him, the guy tries to get under his skin by talking about how he looks like he’s all mopey over a girl and says some very nasty things. The leader, Joe, keeps the peace by cutting the rabbit in half. Although this idiot decides to try to pull one over on our Daryl by hiding his half in Daryl’s stuff so it looks like he’s stealing. But this completely backfires on the guy and he’s caught lying. To which he’s beaten to death. Not to dwell too far outside the realm of the Walking Dead, but there’s a line from “The Mummy” (the Brendan Fraser one) where Rachel Weisz’ character says, “nasty little men like yourself always get their comeuppance.”. I’m definitely dating myself but I still use that line quite frequently since that movie came out in 1999 (omg). But it sure holds true.

Eugene saying goodbye to Tara. Eugene seemed to really like talking to Tara this episode. And I don’t think Tara felt the same but she humored him. When the groups decide to split, Eugene says goodbye by telling her she’s super hot. On its own it was funny in that way Eugene says things. But Tara gives him nothing back and says she’s a lesbian. But Eugene is not discouraged, he just says he knows. The honesty between these two and the exchange they have is just amusing as all heck.