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Well, I guess the only positive takeaway from “Us” is that we’ve finally reached Terminus. Other than that, “Us” is yet another weak episode from the back half of The Walking Dead‘s fourth season.
I’m willing to concede that part of my extreme disappointment with “Us” is rooted in my growing dislike of what the writers have done with the character of Glenn (and, since she appears in the episode, Maggie as well). But I even found the Daryl and Rick/Michonne/Carl aspects of the episode to be pretty much unnecessary. Since Glenn’s horribly dull and slow journey to Terminus (and, back to Maggie) finally comes to an end in “Us” I’ll tackle my issues with his storyline first.
Remember Glenn from the first season of the show? He was a shy pizza delivery guy who managed to pluck up the courage to head into Atlanta with Rick on what could have been a suicide mission. His arc has been that he has become the most unlikely of survivors, with intelligence and the ability to figure out how to survive in this new world against all odds. He was the geeky guy who managed to become pretty badass. And now he’s a complete idiot who is willing to eschew help from others, run blindly into dark train tunnels, and potentially risk the lives of those he is with just to find his wife.
I get that Glenn loves Maggie and vice versa. But the complete lack of sense these two have shown over the last eight or so episodes is mind-boggling to me (and, from what I’ve gathered, many fans). Once Glenn and Maggie got together, their individual characters slowly morphed into a pair that seemingly cannot exist without each other. Spending these last several episodes with them separated has been torture, as all they have done is whine, complain, and put Bob, Sasha, and Tara into danger. I spent each episode with either of them in it praying that they would find the other, just so I didn’t have to watch them keep searching and running headlong into ridiculously stupid situations. Actually, I would have rather they both been killed, as then I won’t have to wait for the inevitable moment when one dies and leave the other to mourn (which, I’m sure, will make the surviving character all but unwatchable).
The saddest part of this unexplained regression has been that I have really liked both Glenn and Maggie for nearly all their time on the series. They were crucial team members within the group. They had good heads on their shoulders. But when you see how calm and calculating Sasha and Bob and Abraham and his crew are, it’s nearly impossible to compare how absolutely insane Maggie and Glenn have been acting. You don’t see Daryl running through the woods screaming for Beth, or Sasha running into a tunnel and nearly getting Bob killed as she looks for Tyreese. Even Tara, who started her time of the series being a complete mess, has developed into a rather complex character who would be excellent to have on your side in a fight. I hope that both Maggie and Glenn gain some common sense now that they are reunited.
Our other storyline this week offers very little in the way of forward movement for Daryl and his new band of not so merry men. We see near the end of the episode that these tough guys are gaining on Rick/Michonne/Carl, as evidenced by the candy wrapper in tracks, but other that that hint, Daryl’s entire storyline consists of him “learning the rules” for this rather violent group of thugs. Does Daryl fit in with this group? Perhaps. But, they strike me as a bunch of Merles, only looking out for themselves and spoiling for a fight. Daryl appears to be becoming more comfortable with them as the episode goes on, but I have to believe he will jump ship as soon as possible should they reach Terminus and reunite with the prison group. Of course, that is taking into account that Terminus isn’t an Admiral Akbar-style trap.
With one more episode left in the season, I almost hope that everyone will make their way to Terminus by episode’s end. And I’m not all that broken up about that possibility. I think it’s more important to see what Terminus is actually about rather than have a complete reunion of all our favorites. No matter how things go down, I certainly hope the episode is more successful than “Us.”
— This second half of the season has been accused by many as having pacing issues. After this non-starter of an episode, I’m tempted to agree. However, I’m more concerned that certain characters couldn’t seem to carry “their” episodes, while others passed the character development test with flying colors. It’s always a gamble to give screen time to only a few members of an ensemble, as the nature of an ensemble series is that the cast often works much better as a whole than as individual elements. Here, I think the gamble just didn’t work. For every amazing Carol/Tyreese episode, there was a plain awful Glenn or Maggie centric piece.
— You know the writers are in trouble when four new characters (Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, and Tara) are more sympathetic than one of your original characters. If Glenn had let Tara die, I’m not entirely sure I could have forgiven him, even though she was part of the Governor’s gang. I’m not sure his actions in wiping her past slate clean when introducing her to Maggie make up for his asshole nature the past few episodes, but I guess it’s a start.
— The mysterious Mary at Terminus is played by Denise Crosby. There’s just something about her that I don’t quite trust.
— With regard to Terminus, comic readers and TV fans are equally in the dark. I will say it looks every inch like a trap- or a really nice hippie commune.