The penultimate episode of the fourth season starts to bring the gang back together...
Once again focusing on our heroes on the road, "Us" brings with it a lighter tone that is in stark contrast to last week's bleak offering. There is a sense of progression this week and the new characters breathe new life into the show.
Glenn and his group are the most entertaining aspect of the episode. Not so much Glenn himself, more his new travelling companions. Eugene is hilarious and Abraham is compelling to watch. This is due to Josh McDermitt and Michael Cudlitz's performances. McDermitt makes Eugene the awkward geek who is too cool for school. Essentially his slightly cartoony character shouldn't work in this "gritty" show, but McDermitt has such great comic timing it is hard not to laugh. He shows that the show has been lacking a sense of humour and is definitely a welcome addition to the cast. Cudlitz plays Abraham as a larger than life soldier man. He is exaggerated, just like Eugene. However there is a seriousness to Abraham that Cudlitz perfectly conveys. In essence Abraham is one of the show's few complex characters.
Glenn, Tara and Rosita all get moments to shine, but don't have the same impact as Abraham and Eugene. Glenn's reunion with Maggie is suitably cathartic, but only due to the fact that the show can move on from that plot point. As always The Walking Dead deals with their meeting in its usual heavy handed manner. Even going so far as to blatantly set up a predestined tragedy (the burning of the picture). Tara gets more to do here so that the audience can get behind her, however Alanna Masterson isn't that strong an actress. Her lines fall flat most of the time. The biggest bonus is that Rosita actually becomes a character as opposed to eye candy. Also it is fun that writers Nichole Beattie and Seth Hoffman actually make note of her attractiveness in the script.
It isn't all fun and games with Glenn and his friends. As a zombie infested tunnel poses a slight problem for Glenn and Tara. The zombies look remarkable and continue to be impressive wallpaper for the show. But as always there is little threat or danger in any scene involving them. There was no doubt that Glenn and Tara would get out of the tunnel alive. Much like the show keeps saying since it began, it is actually the other humans that are the danger, not the zombies.
And that moves us to Daryl and his merry band of roughneck psychos. Jeff Cober oozes a sleazy charm that makes his Joe seem like a very unpredictable element. Joe talks of rules, this way of life being suited to people like him and of a man who killed one of his friends. These scenes obviously serve a purpose, but it doesn't make them any less dull. Daryl was certainly more interesting with Beth. This is just another rehashing of the tried and true "Daryl you ain't like these people" story that his brother once used only a season ago. Yes the circumstances are different, but the intent is the same. Only the outcome will give any indication that this plot point is going to be different from last time. The only real compelling factor to the Daryl storyline is that Joe is hunting Rick. It is a mini cliffhanger and an interesting one at that. Mainly due to the idea that Terminus is for all and surely a fight between two new arrivals will be dealt with in that mysterious place.
And that is the episodes most intriguing element. The showrunners have decided to keep Terminus a mystery. Hoping that the finale would have enough room to explore this new place. It is an interesting risk. A risk because the episode will already be rammed full of content due to all the loose ends being tied up. But it also allows "Us" to have the most interesting cliffhanger the show has had in a long time.
"Us" is a lighter episode and one with genuine humour. It closes Glenn and Maggie's narrative and moves Daryl's forward. Rick's ever so brief scene shows that even he can be happy. However we have arrived at Terminus now. Is the smiling woman a friendly face or a viper waiting to strike? We shall find out next time.
7 ass end's out of 10
Review by @gizmo151183