In the aftermath of “The Grove” nothing is going to look as good as it could. And moving right into the goofy bullshit of Eugene (Josh McDermitt) flirting with Tara (Alanna Masterson) by talking about videogames set me on edge from the opening moments. I just can’t warm up to these new characters despite any affection I had for them in the comics.
In fact, there’s not a whole lot about this particular storyline that I’m enjoying at all right now. Glenn (Steven Yeun) is acting like a dick, making bad decisions and generally making me forget everything I’ve always loved about his character. I understand that he’s desperate to find Maggie (Lauren Cohan), but his impulse control seems to be completely gone and he isn’t really being the man we’ve watched him grow into over the last few seasons.
His behavior isn’t so much out of character, as it’s just disappointing that the creative minds decided to present him this way. He was reckless in the early days, sure, but he outgrew that. This Glenn is a throwback to the early seasons and, as with the rollback of Carl (Chandler Riggs) I mentioned a few weeks ago, it’s not welcome.
I mean, really. Heading into that tunnel was about the most stupid thing the character could have done, and once Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and the rest of the crew discover a truck and end up on the other side in no time whatsoever, it turns out to have been a horrible choice logistically as well. And while we finally get to hear some actual dialogue from Rosita (Christian Serratos) – and she’s wearing pants this time! – there’s not a lot done to endear any of these characters to me. The fact that Glenn and Tara made it out alive is one of those weak-ass plot points that littered the early seasons and I’d hoped we’d moved beyond.
Really, somebody should have died in there.
And Maggie’s whole “I shot the ceiling until it collapsed” explanation made absolutely no logical sense given the number of walkers that were on the other side. Did they collapse the ceiling behind themselves? Ridiculous.
Although I did love the walkers-under-rubble touch. That was nice and creepy.
I’d say it was Greg Nicotero‘s direction this week that helped to elevate the mediocre script into something that at least held your interest (and did you catch the Bub cameo in the tunnel?). And it was nice to see Maggie and Glenn finally reunite, although after the horrible emotional wringer we were put through last week, it felt kind of thin.
And if Maggie burning her picture wasn’t a portent of bad things to come, I don’t know what is.
Over in the other storyline (not counting the minute or two we spend with Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Carl, where it is made very clear that everyone acting happy and goofing around is NOT where these actors excel) we get a little more of what I was expecting.
Thematically, it’s nice to see some work being done showing Daryl (Norman Reedus) struggle not to give in to his old wicked ways as he’s been not-so-warmly embraced by his new Band of Douchebag Brothers. None of them are really very well-defined beyond just being douchy, except for their charismatic leader Joe (Jeff Kober) and Generic Troublemaker Dude Who Is Clearly Destined for a Bad End (Marcus Hester).
These guys are obviously dangerous (if only for the firepower they’re sporting) and I understand why Daryl can’t just leave them – the protection they provide may be invaluable if he can never find the others – but they don’t seem to be the badass threat that one would normally expect a season finale to build toward. Even when Rick ran into them a few weeks back, they were more of an annoying danger than an overt one.
The group dynamic of the Band of Douchebag Brothers is pretty standard fare. They have their rules and strict punishments for those who break the rules, but they’re kind of aimless. Their entire purpose at the moment seems to be geared toward finding Rick and killing him (thanks to his Kill a Dude and Leave Him to Turn in their Midst plan in “Claimed”) and that’s not really a great motivation.
I suppose it can play into a sense of randomness and how directionless hostility is even more dangerous in the zombie apocalypse than it even is in the real world, but at times it just feels like they’re fodder for the eventual bloodbath that will take place at Terminus.
Speaking of which, I’m not sure what to make of the big Terminus reveal. I was kind of expecting more. Although there’s something inherently creepy about the way the gates are left unlocked and the way plants and flowers are being cultivated everywhere. Which I know is a crazy thing to say, but IT’S THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE – things shouldn’t be nice and welcoming! Nothing good can come from it! When the always intriguing Denise Crosby shows up in the final moments, stepping from behind a loaded grill to welcome our tired travelers to Terminus, I can’t help but wonder if that’s Beth cooking up and looking delicious.
Maybe I’ve been watching too much Hannibal.