So, welcome back to the world of ‘Dead’. And what a welcome wagon it was. Carol is now a bonafide superhero, most of our gang has reunited, and the last two seconds of the show blew our minds.
Before we get to all that though, this week the episode was an action-packed delight, bookended by brief horrific glimpses into the world of our Termites as they were being actively robbed of their humanity in the not-so-distant past. Quite a deal of backstory was revealed to us. Here’s what we learned: Terminus was actually a place of sanctuary at one point in time, but then horrible men came and took advantage of the situation, gleefully raping and pillaging their way through the community. But the Termites fought back. Following their successful revolution against the baddies, their PTSD addled minds told them what the world needed them to do - become cold-blooded cannibals.
I have a feeling we are going to see more of the Termites backstory as the season progresses. As Scott Gimple mentioned on Therapy Hour (aka: Talking Dead), our heroes have also done some pretty heinous things to ensure their survival and a reckoning may be coming for them as well. Given the generally triumphant tone of this episode, I’m feeling that a reckoning is coming, fo sho. If history has taught us loyal viewers anything it’s that the WD world is never at peace for long.
However, let’s get back to the episode at hand. In the present, the action picks up right where we left off – in the train car. Clips of dialogue are interspersed with shots of our gang prepping what little resources they have for battle. A belt buckle becomes a Wolverine claw, and the chain of Hershel’s watch is put to use as a makeshift saw. When we first see Rick he’s using the chain to jimmy a shard of wood paneling free from the side of the car. The crew moves like scrappy ninjas, and all definitely earn points for amazing DIY weapons. Sasha asks if they’ve seen Tyreese (no), and Daryl fills them in on what happened with Beth.
The Termites come and sneakily blast our gang with some sort of knock out gas from above. We follow Rick’s perspective as he is dragged from the train car and into the bowels of Terminus.
From Rick’s hazy POV, we enter a sterile room. A body appears to be getting sawed apart on some sort of operating table, Dexter-style, sans plastic wrap.
(Side note – Dexter Morgan would totally be alive in the apocalypse. I have no doubt. Dexter writers, you can totally make up for that abysmal series finale by convincing Michael C. Hall to cameo as Dexter in an episode of Walking Dead. Please? Pleeeease???? #kthxbai)
Bob, Rick, Daryl and Glenn are placed on their knees before a sparkling clean stainless steel trough. Hippie Sam (yes folks, that is the kid who Carol and Rick encountered early on last season!) is on the far end. Two goofy looking Termites, who’ll we’ll call ‘Tweedle Swing’ and ‘Tweedle Slash’ expertly position themselves behind Sam, thwacking his skull and then slitting his throat in rapid succession. A viscous river of blood creeps down the trough, slowly sneaking toward our boys. This is a tremendously disturbing sight, and for the first time we see Daryl with a look of genuine panic on his face. However, Rick has an ace up his pant leg, and by ace I mean a giant shard of wood. As Rick shimmies the shard free, Gareth walks in and interrupts the Tweedles by asking about their shot counts from earlier in the day. During this exchange, Bob gets Gareth’s attention and tries to reason with him, but Gareth’s not buying the redemptive tale that Bob is selling.
However, Gareth does turn his attention to Rick. He gently pulls the gag out of Rick’s mouth, and asks him about the contents of the bag buried in the woods. Rick is cagey about it until Gareth threatens to skewer Bob’s eyeball, prompting him to comply with an answer. Rick says there are guns in the bag, along with a machete that he plans on killing Gareth with. Gareth gives Rick a wan smile, and then shoves the gag back in Rick’s mouth. The Tweedle’s resume their work, Tweedle Swing’s bat poised to strike our sweet Glenn’s noggin when…..
Huge explosion rocks the slaughterhouse. Cue credits. This ep wins hands down for most intense intro ever.
Elsewhere in time, Carol, Judith and Tyreese approach Terminus. A walker ambles out of the woods, and Tyreese says he can’t kill it because he’s not ready yet. I wonder, because of Lizzie? He wants to honor Lizzie’s memory or something? I don’t quite get it, but the happenings in 'The Grove' were certainly a traumatizing experience for all of us, so I’ll let Ty have a pass on this one.
Carol slams her knife into the walkers rotting skull, taking him down to the ground. I’ve always admired the commitment that Carol dedicates to her walker kills, throwing her entire body weight into her weapon, ensuring that she makes her actions count. She looks up only to see a herd coming their way. They hide as the herd travels blindly down the tracks, moving toward the distinctive noise of gunfire at Terminus. As they emerge from the brush after the herd has passed, Carol and Tyreese decide that they still need to press on to Terminus for answers.
Cut to an unidentified rando setting up fireworks near a shed as he cheerfully radios to Terminus. Hearing key pieces of his conversation, Carol sneaks up and puts her gun to Rando’s temple, saying, “We’re friends with the chick with the sword and the kid with the hat.” Rando insists that they are only holding the “samurai and the kid”, but Carol knows better than to believe him. They tie him up and toss him in the shed.
Carol rapidly formulates a plan, gathering a bunch of supplies from the shed and turning to walk out the door. Tyreese begins to stop her, saying, “Carol, how are you going to do this?” She responds in a resigned whisper, “I’m gonna kill people.”
Once Carol leaves, Rando is free to mess with Tyreese’s head. He asks about Judith, and then attempts to humanize himself by sharing a bit about his past. “I used to watch football on Sundays. I went to church. I know I did, but I can’t picture it anymore.” Rando nonchalantly snaps his gum like a truck stop waitress, as he asks why Tyreese hasn’t killed him yet. He’s pegged Tyreese for a good guy, a guy who saves babies, a guy who hasn’t had to get his hands dirty yet. And he’s 100% right.
Meanwhile, a woman who has had metaphorical ‘dirty hands’ time and time again is literally dirtying her hands with walker guts and mud. Moving with purpose, Carol creates an invisibility shield as she coats a cloak with walker guts, and then proceeds to smear mud on her face.
As Carol creeps through the woods, I get a strong feeling that ‘Carol Camouflage’ may be a super popular Halloween costume this year. So simple, yet effective! She peers through the perimeter fence in time to see a bound and gagged Rick being dragged away to an unknown location. A gas tank in her sights, she slips undetected to another portion of the fence and proceeds to set up shop.
The herd approaches the Terminus gates, and Carol calmly sets her plan into action. She shoots at the propane tank, creating a hole. As the gas starts to hiss out of the tank, Carol lights a firework. The resulting sparks detonate the tank in short order, creating the explosion that we heard earlier in the episode, and a horde of flaming walkers advances on the Terminus compound.
BOOYAH CAROL! YES! She has come to save the day with a vengeance. But just you wait, her work here ain’t quite done yet….
Walkers continue to advance in droves on the front entrance of Terminus. Carol seamlessly integrates herself into the horde until it becomes apparent that snipers are taking down some of the walkers. She sidles into a doorway for protection and handily takes out two of the snipers before she shuts the door and enters Terminus.
Back at the checkpoint shed, Rando continues his chat with Tyreese. Tyreese makes the mistake of saying, “nobody’s gotta die today”, to which Rando responds matter-of-factly, “if you believe that, then it’s definitely going to be you and the kid.”
In the slaughterhouse, Gareth leaves the Tweedles to supervise our four boys. Tweedle Slash panics and says that he wants to go out there to help, but before Tweedle Swing can make a case to stay, Rick jabs him in the neck with his wooden shiv. In two strides he is by the remaining Tweedle’s side, and stabs him in the neck too. Bye bye Tweedles, we hardly knew ye. The camera pans to the man on the carving table, who is revealed to be Alex, Gareth’s brother.
As the guys flee, they enter a makeshift drying/carving room, complete with nausea-inducing hanging torsos. They all arm themselves with various weapons and start to form an exit strategy. They peer out onto the courtyard and see a train car with someone screaming for help locked inside. Glenn insists that the group takes the time to free them. He says, “We have to let them out. That’s still who we are.”
They open the latch to the train car, and a bedraggled bearded man with a crazy tattooed face charges out. He starts to maniacally scream, “We’re the same! We’re the same!” as he grabs Glenn and invades his personal space. Glenn shoves him aside, and Tattoo Face gets chomped. So much for doing the right thing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Kindness gets you nothing in the WD world.
Rick moves to a better vantage point, and takes out one of the gun-toting Termites. He uses the gun to wound the remainder of the Termite walker extermination crew, and leaves them to be chomped by the walkers that continue to flood the compound.
Still inside Terminus, Carol enters a curious room that resembles a post-apocalyptic pawnshop. Entire folding tables are piled with a variety of items, including boots, weapons, watches, and a table full of well-loved stuffed animals and toys, indicating that children have definitely been at the mercy of the Termites. Ugh. She grabs Daryl’s crossbow and a watch that she seems to recognize.
Carol’s not-so-guided tour of Terminus continues as she stumbles into the cult-y graveyard creep out room. Carol starts to make her way across the floor, when Mary storms in. The two women tussle but Carol quickly gains the upper hand. Carol trains her gun on Mary’s face, and Mary starts to vomit out the story of Terminus, focusing specifically on what seems to be the motto of the place, “You’re either the butcher or the cattle”. That would look great crocheted on a pillow.
Disinterested in what Mary is selling, Carol asks her where the men from the train car are. When she gets no response, she coolly trains her scope on Mary’s leg and fires. Mary writhes in agony for a second, and then composes herself as she bids Carol to point the gun at her head. Carol hesitates, asking Mary about what Terminus actually is. With an indignant cackle, Mary tries to explain the creed behind Terminus ending with, “…we’re still here.” Carol stares at Mary, slowly backing away, and says, “You’re not here, and neither am I.” She opens the outside door to the walkers, and slinks past them in her invisibility cloak of gore.
Over in the shed, Rando realizes that he has the element of surprise and grabs Judith. Tyreese slides over his weapons as asked, and then Rando insists that he go outside with the walkers. With a guttural war-cry, Tyreese complies and shoves himself outside. Rando listens from inside as the walker snarls reach a fevered peak and then suddenly stop.
Rando walks tentatively towards the door when, POW! Tyreese charges through the door and body slams Rando to the ground, placing a knife to his throat. (Side note – What happened to Tyreese’s hammer?) Rando tells him to do it, just kill him. Tyreese pummels Rando in the face while howling, “I WON’T!!!” “I WONNN’T!!!!” over and over again like a wounded animal.
The remainder of our crew is still stuck in the train car. Sonia asks about the cure, and after some prodding Eugene eventually provides them with a line of impressive sounding jibberish that really means nothing. The best I can gather is that they he intends to use another disease to fight the walker disease? Fire with fire? Just as everyone starts to figure out that Eugene is basically spouting nonsense, Rick and Co open the train car and the group goes feral. They slash, club and claw their way through the courtyard, clearing a path through the walker herd and to the fence. As they escape, Rick takes out a sniper and appears to clip Gareth’s side, but doesn’t kill him. I have a feeling he’ll be back.
We are treated to a shot from above as Terminus burns. This brings to mind all of the other communities that we have seen collapse throughout the series. Where is home? In a world absent of a distinct ‘home’, is home truly with the ones you love? The people you can trust? While the Terminus crew appears to have gone cold on everyone, including one another, our gang is truly a family.
The crew follows Rick out into the woods, and he and Daryl unearth the bag of guns. Abe questions what they’re doing, and Rick states that they’re getting supplies so that they can pick off the remainder of the Termites. Rick has clearly learned his lesson by being merciful to those who had wronged him in the past. Lesson learned: You can’t leave those who have scorned you behind. However, Abe, Glenn, Rosita and Maggie disagree with this philosophy and say they should just skedaddle. As the group discusses the matter, Carol slowly approaches them and the issue becomes moot.
SOB SOB SOB. HAPPY TEAARRRS!!! Daryl and Carol! I’M SO HAPPIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!
After the everything-I-wanted-it-to-be reunion between Daryl and Carol, Rick walks up, dumbstruck, seeing her for the first time since he exiled her. As he tentatively approached her, he asks, “Did you do that?” then embraces her and says, “thank you.” Hopefully now he sees that Carol Pellitier is a valuable asset.
Carol leads them to the shed where Tyreese and Judith are waiting, and we get Joyous Reunion Part Two. Tyreese and Sasha hug, and here go my happy tear waterworks again as Rick and Carl are reunited with baby Judith.
Once everything calms down a bit, Tyreese explains to Carol what happened with the walkers, and how Rando had his hands around Judith’s neck. Carol instinctually advances on the shed, but Tyreese gently stops her, saying, “No, he’s dead. I had to. So I did. I could.” Carol nods.
(Side note – This kid is totally not dead. Despite the fact that I have serious doubts about Tyreese’s abilty to kill, Rando did not appear on the ‘In Memoriam’ montage on Talking Dead. He’ll definitely be back. Probably with Gareth, that “asshole that he survives with.”)
Rick looks towards Terminus and says, “I don’t know if the fire is still burning”. Carol says, “it is,” with no explanation, but we all know how she knows. Thank you sweet Mika, your Survival Tips live on in your absence! Rick concludes that they should move from the scene immediately, and they do.
As the group makes their way down the tracks, Rick scoops up some mud and smears it on a Terminus sign so that it reads, ‘NO Sanctuary”.
Credits roll. I am giddy with happiness and delight. I am so satisfied that I don’t even care that future episodes will probably be cloaked in horror and sadness. I wait to watch the scenes from next week and begin to settle in for Talking Dead.
A figure approaches the ‘No Sanctuary’ sign. The figure turns, and removes a black mask to reveal…..MORGAN!! ZOMG MORGAN! He brushes a cryptic carved symbol in a nearby tree with his fingertips and then continues silently into the woods.
Best. Episode. Ever.
Some thoughts before I go -
- When Rando talks to Tyreese about his ‘past life’, how he went to church and played football, I remembered how much I love these moments. In past episodes, my interest was piqued when we found out that Glenn was a pizza delivery boy, and that Michonne had a little boy. Last season finding out what Daryl did ‘before’ was such a hard earned moment that an entire episode was spent on the reveal. It’s interesting to have some context as to whom these people are and how they’ve developed and changed since the world collapsed. Who benefits from the situation? Who survives? What needs to be sacrificed for survival? Oddly enough the plot this season revolving around the Termites appears to be focusing on the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of the trauma they experienced, but, alas, not who they were before the actual end of civilization.
- I truly hope that the WD writers aren’t just being teases with the shot of Morgan. Please reintegrate him, and soon.
- Where is Beth?
- We can add ‘cold bodies’ to our ever-growing list of synonyms for ‘walker’ thanks to Rando. However, my personal favorite is still ‘reanimated corpses’, used to great effect by Abe in 'Us' last season. Frankly, that one is going to be hard to top.