Though it has been a full week, it still bothers me that I didn’t give last week’s episode a proper review. Carol has been one of my favorite characters from the very start. She was given one of the most talked about episodes in a very long time, and I didn’t give it proper dues. Granted, I was writing from a hotel bed at 2:00am, tapping out the post one letter at a time, with no way to pause the television long enough to take any pictures. It really was half-assed. My apologies for that one. At this point, though, it would be best to keep moving forward rather than go back for a rewrite. Which brings us to episode 15: Us. I’m on the fence about how much I liked this episode. In seasons past, the 2nd to last episode usually brought death and heartbreak; S1 had the goings on at the CDC, S2 had the fall of Shane, and S3 had the
fall rise of Merle. This episode just continued on it’s slow and steady pace of moving the chess pieces around; an analogy that started early in S4 with the Governor. More on that in a minute.
First, for those who need to catch up on US, you can click here for a spoiler-filled recap.
Ready? Okay, let’s do this.
I have to ask, as it has been bugging me for weeks, but why hasn’t Glenn told anyone what happened at the CDC? Why hasn’t anyone bothered to ask Eugene how the ZA began, since he claims to have that knowledge? Blind faith in humanity went out the window a long, long time ago. There is a disconnect there that I find more unbelievable than walking corpses.
There was a nice moment between Abraham and Tara where we got to see them come to an understanding about who they are, respectively. Tara asks him, “What happens when the mission ends?” This ties in nicely with topics discussed in my recent blogs; Everyone has a purpose. Beth nailed that point this season when she made Daryl realize he was merely surviving. Sure, alcohol wasn’t important, but it was something to do. You have to give each day purpose, no matter how big or small. It keeps you from going insane. Glenn and Maggie each had the mission to find one another; Carol and Tyreese, to keep Judith safe; Rick, to protect his son; and Abraham, to protect Eugene. Bob finally found purpose and that made the difference between his walking around aimlessly early on, and who he is now with Sasha. The same can be said for Michonne. Poor Daryl needs a purpose. But, as Tara pointed out, Abraham needs to accept that once he is done protecting Eugene, what comes next? Best not to push everyone away, as you just might need them down the line.
“What kind of gamer were you?” ~Eugene
So, here’s a thought…we all know Eugene is full of crap. Stepping away from the comics for a few minutes (whether or not the show’s writers will adhere to the source material or go another way is irrelevant right now), what if Eugene is playing a game? Go with me on this; the entire season has been about purpose and forgiveness and so on, but ultimately it has been a game. The Governor introduced the concept at the start of the season, literally, playing a game of chess. The interactions between Rick and Carol were likened to a chess match when they went out on their own for supplies that final time. When Carl went off on his little solo adventure, he capped every kill with the phrase, “I win.” as though he were living out his own live-action RPG. And then, Eugene asks Tara what kind of gamer she was before the ZA. The scattered signs for Terminus, the animal traps, the funeral home, all of it can be looked at as another game: the Labyrinth. Someone is manufacturing this maze, leading them all in like little mice.
Eugene, however, is playing a different game. Obviously, I don’t buy his story for one minute. He seems to be a smart man, but smart in that Sheldon Cooper, Asperger Syndrome kind of way. This is a man who more than likely was not readily accepted prior to the ZA. Suddenly, he can create a role for himself. He can be the hero in his own ‘game’. I mean, what else is there to do anymore? You survive, and then what? What is the purpose? Eugene has created his own purpose. He has developed a mission and in his own mind, this way of life works. His bizarre form of charisma has allowed him to pull others into his game, people like Abraham, someone who needs to be told what to do (reminds me of Daryl in that regard). Every time Abraham brings them closer to completing the mission, Eugene resets the game. Remember when he “accidentally” shot the gas tank on their armored truck? Or, in this episode, when he decided it was more important to rescue Glenn and Tara? And later, when he decided they should go to Terminus first? He is stalling; choosing different adventures to not reach the end of the book. Eugene is a character.
Speaking of characters, what do you think of Joe? I am fascinated by him, in the same way that I was fascinated by the Governor. There have been a few things that Joe has said and done since his introduction that lead me to believe he is playing a similar game to Eugene. Upon meeting Daryl, Joe made a comment about how you can never tell who someone was before all of this, how they could have been a photographer or a soccer coach. At first, I assumed it was part of his observation that a bow-man is a bow-man through and through. But watch him; listen to him. Joe has dropped more SAT words in 2 episodes than the entirety of the cast in 4 seasons. He waxes philosophical and is very well spoken. You know who else was like that? The Governor. Prior to the ZA, Phillip was a normal, average, suburban family man. He dealt with things by learning to adapt and survive. And he used his brains and his charisma to adopt a new personality, a new role in the RPG: the Governor. He quickly gained followers, turning it into one of those on-line cooperative game play situations, but ultimately he remained the Moderator for the game. You never know who someone was before… Joe goes on to tell Daryl that he thinks Terminus is a “lie” because they’d never accept guys like them. His statement that “There’s nothing sadder than an outdoor cat, thinks he’s an indoor cat.” What if this was an indoor cat who is living out an RPG as an outdoor cat because that was the only way to survive?
Joe’s rules are firm. He feels that lying is the worst and most actionable offense one can make. They beat down liars. You know what kind of man establishes a rule like that? A LIAR. A charismatic liar would find a way to recruit the lost and lonely rough-necks of the world and manipulate them into protecting him. Just the way Eugene has done. Just the way the Governor did. I know that their merry band of misfits is going to arrive at Terminus and possibly save the day. But when they encounter Rick, that will change the game. Daryl will be caught in the middle of this battle. I hope, though, that Joe’s “army” will be “captured” and he will have no choice but to adapt to Daryl’s family and their way of life. That would make for some interesting character work, if only the writers would play the game my way 😉 While I do believe he is playing a game, I do not believe Eugene has malicious intent. Regardless, it will be a major disappointment to Abraham. Watch out, Eugene.
Rick’s arrival at Terminus will change many other things as well. In the Tunnel of Terror, which by the way, caused me to have a nightmare last night–well played, Glenn finally learns of Tara’s loss and her regrets. There is forgiveness there, made evident when he introduces her to Maggie as someone he “met on the road” rather than the truth. He has protected her in that regard. However, Rick and Michonne have prior experience with Tara and will blow her cover when they meet up. Another possible explosion will be when Carol shows up. Rick will see that Tyreese has forgiven her, and he will also feel like a heel for banishing her and forbidding her to be near his children. Hey Rick! How’s it going? Me? Oh, I’ve been busy, you know, keeping your BABY alive.
Funny, though, the continued use of the word “claimed” in recent episodes. Joe and his gang “claim” things (much the way gamers do as they work their way through levels of game play….) Michonne tells Carl he won the candy bar “fair and square” thus he claimed it. Daryl claimed the pig’s feet at the funeral home. Sasha claimed that brick building before finding Maggie. In an argument between Eugene and Rosita, he says “I never claimed that.”
Did anyone else notice the difference in train tracks? Every season we see the sudden jump from summer to late fall. I always find this odd, given that they film in the hottest months of the year, and then go back for a few re-shoots in the fall to get the authentic feel of the season. That transition worked well in S2 because of how long they were at the farm. But S4 seems to have taken place in the span of 3 weeks–unless things got all wibbly wobbly timey wimey and I missed something–but yeah, just a few weeks. And the season went from sweaty tank tops to trees that rain leaves with every step Michonne makes, like in a fairy tale. The various sets of train tracks make me laugh, though. For each of our mini-groups, the tracks and surrounding areas look so serene. But whenever we see Daryl and Joe walking the tracks, there is more litter than anywhere else in GA. He’s from the wrong side of the tracks, we get it, enough already. The same thing goes for Tara’s sexuality. Kudos to the show for including a gay character, but do they need to tell everyone every time she talks? The heterosexuals on the show don’t remind one another of their preferences with such regularity. Nor do any of the homosexuals that I call friends in real life. Stop trying to pigeon-hole and define her character that way. Who is she, really? If you’re going to keep referencing her as “the gay one” you might as well stick her in a red shirt and send her off with the away-team.
With everyone living all of these lies, playing all of these roles, I’m curious to see what will transpire in the season finale. Who will be check-mated? For your consideration:
Beth: “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” (and every other I have purpose statement she made to Daryl)—disappears.
Lizzie: “Will you miss me?” (Carol responds, “I won’t have to miss you.”)—bye, bye Lizzie.
Maggie: “You don’t need a picture of me; you never will again.”—Really, Maggie? Really? So long!
It has been rumored since before the holidays that the season finale would feature the death of a character that is still alive in the comic books. Since that list is so short (Rick, Michonne, Carl, Maggie) my guess is she just drew a target on herself by burning that photo. Again, it is just a rumor. But, if it is true, I don’t see Rickchonne or Carl going anywhere any time soon. Kirkman himself, described the finale episode as “savage” so anything can happen. And since the show runs in a separate universe than the source material, all bets are off.
“We’ll make you a plate!”~Mary
What do you think about Terminus, the end of the line? I expected it to much more protected. They entered that little utopia far too easily. With all that the Governor had created in Woodbury, I find it hard to believe that he didn’t know this place existed. Looking at the overhead layout, it would have been far more secure than the town of Woodbury was. Perhaps it is protected. Will this be the introduction of the Saviors? Could the “savage” portion of the show come with Glenn being introduced to “Lucille”? He certainly wouldn’t need that photo anymore. And what of Mary? First off, she’s played by the brilliant Denise Crosby, whom I can’t look at without thinking of Pet Sematary. So, she wins the creep-me-out-factor in that regard. But what lie is she living? What is this facade? And what the hell was on the BBQ? Beth-burgers? “We’ll make you a plate”? Yeah, I bet she will! As they said in Fried Green Tomatoes…”Secret’s in the sauce!”
Whatever the end is, the time is nigh. Each of our groups is playing some sort of game, be it Chess, Risk, or Left for Dead, everyone has their own mission. But what happens when the mission ends? All of their game boards are about to collide like the various worlds in the Lego Movie or Wreck it Ralph. I find it doubtful that anyone is waiting with a fist full of quarters to keep the game going. Who are the liars? Who are the characters? Who is good and who is evil? Who will be left standing when the timer runs out and…..GAME OVER.
P.S. For those who weren’t paying attention, Lennie James (Morgan) has been listed on Imdb for months as being part of The Walking Dead S04-Ep16. Mind blown? You’re welcome! Let the theorizing begin!!