The episode opens with a flashback to the old halcyon prison days. Rick, Maggie and Glenn return from some sort of recon trip, and Hershel is there to greet them with open arms. As far as I can see, this scene has no other purpose except to make me weep with sorrow that Hershel is gone. I miss him so much. The focus skips ahead in time to Rick slumped next to a truck with flat tires. He is coated in blood and twitching, staring blankly off into the distance.
Another skip in time brings the viewer back to the ‘present’. Rick, Michonne and Carl make it clear that they are hungry, hungry hippos and they all go to check the traps that Rick set earlier. Rick earns a Survival Tip Bonus Point by teaching us viewers how to effectively set a snare. Carl rambles on about what they will tell the people at Terminus, and asks the existential question, “who are we?” Just as Rick starts to contemplate this age-old query, they hear screams in the background.
Carl dumbly sprints off to help, gun in hand. Rick grabs him and pulls him back as they witness a walker chomping into the man’s face like one of those life sized gummi bear from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
The Grimes gang proceeds to get the eff out of dodge.
Flashback - Hershel wakes Rick, asking for some help. Rick asks what time it is, and Hershel twirls his mustache and replies, “It’s time to make the donuts!” No, just kidding. He says, “I never know what time it is anymore. Ever since I gave Glenn my watch it’s always ‘right now’ to me”. Beth dutifully scoops up Judith, leaving Rick free to hang with Hershel.
Back in the present, Mich, Carl and Rick head down a road, and encounter an abandoned truck from the first scene in the episode. A walker who appears to have melted into the ground is clawing at the air, and Mich dispatches of it. It’s a mercy kill, and I can’t help but think that crazy Lizzie wouldn’t approve.
As night falls, the Grimes trio polishes off their meager dinner and speculates that there’s another day’s travel until they reach Terminus. Michonne starts to wonder if the whole Terminus thing is legit when an immediate threat presents itself.
A gun cock is heard, and a snub nose appears at Rick’s temple. Denim Joe warbles, “Oh dearie me. You screwed up, asshole…..today’s the day of reckoning sir.” Joe babbles on about how happy he is that he’s found ‘New Years Eve’ and he starts counting down when our hero Daryl appears out of the darkness to stop Joe.
YESSSS!!! Reunited and it feels so good!!!!
(This is how I feel, don't be judging my feelings, ok?)
But before the first few notes of Peaches & Herb hit the air, Joe says, “You’re stopping me on eight Daryl.” Daryl proceeds to stand up for his friends, says they’re good people and he says if they need blood, that they should take the blood from him. Joe is not a fan of this option. He says, “This man killed our friend, and you say he’s good people, that’s a lie.” “Teach him fellas, teach him all the way.” The Goon Squad viciously pummels Daryl, and I scream at the TV, barely noticing as the fat goon pulls Carl out of the car.
Joe growls, “We can settle this, we’re reasonable men. First we’re going to beat Daryl to death, then we’ll have the girl, and then we’ll have the boy. Then we’ll shoot you and we’ll be square.” Carl flails around for a knife that is literally within his reach as he squirms around and whines like a bitch. Rick gets a crazy twitch in his face, and snarls, “Let him go” as he wings his head back, slamming Joe right in the schnozz. Rick appears to get the high ground for a second, but Joe regains his composure and kicks Rick on the ground.
Joe, ever the daredevil, goads Rick into getting up. They tussle for a moment, and Joe gets Rick in a hold. “What the hell are you gonna do now, sport?”
What’s Rick going to do? He’s going to go Mike Tyson all over your neck, son! Rick chomps a big juicy bite into Joe’s neck, brutally ripping out his jugular, and the remainder of the Goon Squad puts their marauding on a hard pause. It’s kind of like when Zach Morris used to freeze time in Saved By the Bell, only, not. If memory serves, I don’t think Zach ever killed anyone using only his teeth at Bayside High….
Unfreeze! Carl continues to be pathetically useless as he lies on the ground whimpering. Michonne, the polar opposite of Carl, actually acts on the opportunity and grabs Tony’s gun, popping him one in the face.
“Let the boy go!” Daryl’s in on the action now as he stomps a goon in the face. Rick grabs Joe’s knife and advances on the fat one who attacked Carl. He literally guts him like a wild animal, and then stabs him repeatedly, far beyond a reasonable number of times. Let’s just say a crazy number of times. An insane person number of times. Michonne holds Carl who watches this stabby show with dead, angry eyes.
Flashback - Hershel talks about the horses and feral pigs. Oop. Guess the flu was Hershel’s fault. Oh well. He’s telling Rick that he needs to put down the gun and pick up a shovel. It’s time for Farmer Rick to come out and play, for the sake of his son. And as much as I miss Hershel and loved his rosy worldview, the previous scene with Rick and the Goon Squad shows exactly why Rick needed to stay his combative, cautious self. The recent theme of the show seems to be that there is no room for soft people in this world. There is only survival.
Back to a bloodied Rick slumped next to the truck. Michonne cuddles a sleeping Carl inside, brushes his hair back from his head. Once again I silently compare Michonne to Lori. No way would Lori have been able to do what Michonne did.
Daryl approaches Rick with a bottle of water, encouraging him to wipe the blood off his face. He extends the bottle to Rick saying, “you can’t see yourself, he can.” Daryl goes into a brief synopsis of where he’s been since the Great Prison War. He explains that he didn’t know who the goons were. He says he got out with Beth, but now she’s gone. Oddly he doesn’t give too much more of an explanation regarding Beth’s whereabouts, and Rick doesn’t press him for one.
Daryl continues to explain why he had pledged membership in the Goon Squad, and Rick goes all Good Will Hunting on him. “It’s not on you, Daryl. Hey. It’s not on you.” Daryl silently takes that in, and nods. He then tries to repay the favor by justifying Rick’s actions from the previous night. Rick says that even though his actions were brutal, the only thing that matters is keeping Carl safe.
They walk down the tracks, Rick asks Michonne if she’s ok. She says she’s ok, and she knows he’s ok because she’s ok. That’s some circuitous logic, but it brings a half smile to Rick’s mangled face. They approach a Terminus sign, indicating that they are close. Rick theorizes that they should be cautious and travel through the woods. Good call Rick. Ummmm, why didn’t Abe think of that?
The Grimes Gang cases Terminus, stealthily sneaking up to the chain link fence. Carl chooses to wander the perimeter with Michonne instead of his father, prompting Michonne to ask why. When Carl is cagey about his answer, she tells him the story about how she lost herself after her son Andre died. She went on a run, and left Andre with her boyfriend. When she came back, the fences had been breached and Andre was gone. She goes on to let Carl in on the zombie pet origin story. She says, “I was gone for a long time. But then Andrea brought me back, your dad brought me back. You did.” She says that Carl doesn’t need to be afraid of her or Rick. Carl mumbles some crap, realizing that he has to be tough, says “I’m not what he thinks I am. I’m just another monster too.” Please Carl, please dear god I beg of you. Show us this monster.
Rick buries a large bag of weapons in the woods. He tops it off with his iconic sheriffs’ pistol, and zips the bag, nodding to Daryl as he says, “just in case.”
The group scales the fence, creeping stealthily across the tracks. As they sneak in the back, a woman repeating the mission statement of Terminus over a radio frequency can be seen, as well as a small group of sign makers. The Terminus-ers stop what they’re doing, and look at our gang. A skinny man asks, “you here to rob us?” Rick responds, “No, we wanted to see you before you saw us.” Skinny dude introduces himself as Gareth and welcomes them to Terminus.
Gareth asks them to lay their weapons down. The Terminus-ers (Terminus-ites? I feel like I’ve heard them called Termites before so I’ll go with that from now on) pat them down for any other weapons, and then hand them back. Apparently satisfied with what they see, Gareth leads them to the proper ‘welcome wagon’ entrance.
Up front, Martha Stewart Mary is at the grill, giving them kudos for coming in the back door. Rick looks around, and spies the poncho and the riot gear. As Alex hands Carl a plate, Rick smacks the plate out of his hand. Eyeing Alex’s pocket watch, he grabs Alex by the neck, and twists his gun to Alex’s head. Michonne, Daryl and Carl react as one, pulling their weapons without asking, trusting Rick implicitly. Rick does his best Christian-Bale-as-Batman impression as he rasps, “Where did you get this?”
Flashback – Cutie Patrick plays with Legos on the ground. Enjoy it while you can, Patrick. Life is short. Further in the cellblock, Carl is fixated on reassembling his gun like a budding psycho, juxtaposed by Beth innocently playing with Judith on the stairs. Oh Beth, where are you? Rick approaches Carl and says, “I need your help with something.” He gestures to Carl’s gun, saying, “Leave it behind. Itl’l just get in the way.”
Back at Terminus the standoff continues. Alex says hes got this. He explains that he got the watch, “Off a dead one. I didn’t think he’d need it.” Gareth further digs into the lie, saying that they got the poncho off a clothesline. He calmly talks to Rick for another moment, stating, “What’s there to say, you don’t trust us anymore.” Gareth closes his opened hand into a fist, signaling for the snipers to go into action.
Uhhh the snipers are terrible. They spray the concrete at the Grimes Gang’s feet, liberally wasting bullets. The gang runs through the bowels of Terminus, trying to escape. They race through what appears to be either a shooting range or a training ground of some sort, old rusted out cars and boxes littered with bullet holes. As they attempt to flee, the camera briefly pans over a blue tarp covered with bloody and picked over carcasses. The un-guided tour of Terminus continues as the quartet bursts into a creeptastic room with candles, and the words ‘NEVER TRUST, WE FIRST ALWAYS’ painted in bold black paint on the walls.
As they run out into the outer courtyard our gang is surrounded. Gareth says, “drop your weapons, now.” Carl’s mouth is agape. They drop their weapons. Gareth uses sweet nicknames for each of the characters as he directs them toward the train car marked ‘A’. He calls Rick the ‘Ringleader’, Daryl the ‘Archer’ and Michonne the ‘Samurai’. Carl doesn’t get a nickname. Probably because he’s super lame. Gareth instructs them to go in to the train car in order. Rick opens the door.
They pile into the train car. On the other side of the dark car, Glenn emerges, then Maggie. She breathes,“You’re here.” Bob and Sasha. Tara and Abe etc. Rick looks at Tara with a bit of confusion. Maggie says, “They’re our friends. They helped save us.” Daryl is immediately accepting and says “now they’re friends of ours.” Abe adds, “for however long that’ll be.” Rick looks at Abe and simply says, “No.”
Flashback - Back to the prison farm. The makeshift Grimes/Greene fam tends to the earth. Rick says that they’re going to have to get Carl a new hat. “There’s a new sherriff in town” and puts the hat on Beth. An optimistic Hershel says, “It can be like this all the time.” Sorry, Hershel. Wrong.
Back in the train car, we see the opposite of the idyllic prison farm. Rick says, “They’re going to feel pretty stupid when they find out” Abe asks, “Find out what?” The camera slowly pans over all the faces (Rosita is noticeably absent), rapt in attention at Rick as he responds, “They’re screwing with the wrong people.”