The Walking Dead, Ep. 4.15 “Us” just isn’t enough to get me coming back for season five

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The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 15: “Us”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Nichole Beattie & Seth Hoffman
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

Last week, I made it pretty clear how much I disliked “The Grove,” calling it the worst episode in the series so far. “Us” doesn’t do much to change the fact that after four seasons of watching and reviewing The Walking Dead, I’ve decided I am breaking up with the show. In the past, I asked for slower and more character-focused episodes. Character is action I say, and while The Walking Dead has taken this approach these last few weeks, it’s also been more often than not, incredibly boring. Splitting everyone into small groups and dispersing them was a wise decision on the part of the writers. The majority of instalments worked extremely well, specifiably the stand-alone episode “Still”. And while I may have hated “The Grove,” the episode at least had critics and viewers divided. Season four has placed focus on many of the survivors with varying degrees of success, fleshing out previously unknown characters, while providing a number of memorable vignettes. So what is my problem? Why am I breaking up with AMC’s monster hit? I simply don’t like the majority of the characters on this show, and those who I do like, are often left with little, or nothing to do. We’ve hardly seen Carl, Michone or Rick in the past three weeks, yet the entirety of “The Grove” revolves around Lizzie and Mika, two characters I’ve hated from the very start. Tyreese has had little to do lately, apart from sleep and babysit baby Judith, and after spending the first half of season four doing an excellent job in building Carol, the writers have decided to make her a cold blooded killer. And don’t even get me started on Glen and Maggie and their undying devotion to each other. If the show is going to invest more time and energy into its characters, it would be nice if that investment was actually worth something, and if these characters were far more interesting.

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This week’s script, from Nichole Beattie and Seth Hoffman, does at least strike a good balance. “Us” finds time to inject some much needed humour; stops to check in on the status of most of our survivors, and features an effects-heavy scene involving zombies trapped beneath the debris of a tunnel. The effects courtesy of director Greg Nicotero are of course a treat to watch, and Bear McCreary continues to provide one of the best scores to any television show in quite some time. One of the best aspects of “Us” is the development of Eugene, Abraham, and Rosita. The three actors share a natural comedic chemistry and the humour between them is extremely welcoming for what is usually a bleak series. Josh McDermitt is perhaps the standout as the gaming enthusiast Dr. Porter, and his relationship with Abraham and Rosita is the best thing the show has going for it right now. The series could seriously use more scenes like the one in the van.

Almost every surviving character makes an appearance this week, and while they haven’t yet all reunited, the clues left behind along the train tracks allow viewers to grasp the geography of these episodes, and understand just how close everyone is to each other. Last week Carol and co. saw a fire in the distance, clearly referencing Daryl and Beth burning down the shed with their moonshine and matchsticks. Meanwhile, out in the open, Glenn follows Maggie’s blood-soaked graffiti and Daryl notices the candy bar wrapper Michonne drops after losing a dare to Carl. All roads lead to the terminus and the hope for safety and sanctuary it promises.  Those who arrive survive, the signs reads, but as Sasha pointed out two weeks ago, it seems too good to be true.  

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As for Joe, he seems a bit more realistic than the Governor, but apart from some uninspiring words of wisdom, he hasn’t been given much to do yet. His ragtag band of outlaws however, are a different story. So far, they seem no different than every other henchmen we’ve seen previously on the series. In fact they might just be the worst yet. Sorry, but having a bunch of characters bicker and fight, so they can claim objects do not make for gripping television. At the rate they’re going, they’ll all be dead and forgotten by the end of season four. In Joe’s eyes, the rules he established for him and his group are intended to simplify things, but watching fan-favourite Dary arguing over half a rabbit carcass, it heartbreaking. There’s survival of the fittest, and than there’s bad writing.

When Sasha, Bob, Glenn, Maggie, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene arrive at the Terminus, it immediately feels like a paradise. The group is able to walk through the front gates which are left undefended, past a beautiful flower garden, and right up to a woman cooking a stew. Based on what little we see of the Terminus, and the creepy introduction to Mary, I’m guessing this pit stop will be the least interesting locale our characters will ever visit. Perhaps I’m watching too much Hannibal, but did anyone else think Mary’s a cannibal when the credits role?

Other thoughts:

Rick, Carl, and Michonne are not awarded much screen-time this week, but the trio do share a nice moment.

It now seems clear that Eugene must be lying about knowing how to save the world.

Joe: “People don’t have to be nice. They don’t have to be friendly, don’t have to be brothers in arms. You just have to follow the rules.”

Joe: “When men like us follow rules, the world becomes ours.”

Joe: “Ain’t nothing’ sadder than an outdoor cat who thinks he’s an indoor cat.”

Eugene: “After I save the world, I still have to live with myself.”

“Hi. I’m Mary. Looks like you’ve been on the road a while. Let’s get you settled and we’ll make you a plate. Welcome to Terminus.”

Maggie still doesn’t seem all that concerned about her sister.

Why is Tara’s sexuality a reoccurring topic? Like seriously guys. Show some class.

Beth is the only major character left whose whereabouts and general well-being remain a mystery. Although I’m sure we’ll see her in the near future, somewhere in and around the sanctuary.

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