Original air date: March 23, 2014

Review (with SPOILERS): Geez! What a flat episode…  There wasn’t much great, but there wasn’t much to really hate on either.  I almost feel like I could end the review right now, by giving the episode a “B.”

Probably the best thing about this episode was the sense of forward momentum.  It reminded me of a car that is stuck in the mud that begins to inch forward before launching itself back onto the road.  Mind you, we didn’t get the full LAUNCH in this episode, but a story that had been swirling for weeks/months with everyone separated is finally headed in the right direction.  Things just started to snap together when Glen saw the touching notes Maggie had written in zombie goop.  Next thing you know, Glen’s group is united with Maggie’s group and they’re wandering into Terminus.  Ditto for Darryl’s band of rednecks as they are clearly right behind Rick/Carl/Michonne on the road to Terminus.  All roads lead to Rome– or Terminus.

This is important because the story has been a little stuck.  While I’m not exactly eager to see this entire band back in a fixed set for a half-season, the Terminus story has lingered a week or two longer than necessary.  Let’s just get there already!  It’s time to move onto whatever is next and this episode was a nice step in that direction.

Also interesting was the whole dynamic between Darryl and Joe the Redneck.  That’s mostly because both Norman Reedus and (especially) Joe Kober are both pretty charismatic actors.  They both have a presence about them where you just want to see what they’re doing next.  So, even if Joe rattled on a little more than was necessary about their stupid “CLAIMED!” system and the nature of man, it was at least entertaining.  That “claimed” system was a little stupid.  It wasn’t a very good way to show Darryl’s rejection or their methods; just because he won’t “claim” a place to sleep.  Or at the end when he “claimed” the roadside radishes?  I mean, was that the dumb guy who picked them up and forgot to say “claimed!” just the dumbest of the group?  Suddenly, Darryl is the fastest one to the magic word?  Or was it some joke where one of the guys ran ahead and peed on the radishes and they all let Darryl “claim” them?  But, here I am analyzing that silliness more than when I actually watched the episode.  It was only marginally dumb, so I’ll stop and move on since I generally enjoyed Darryl and the Rednecks.

There was a lot of “meh” in this episode too.  Probably the biggest downer was listening to Eugene talk.  This show just has a thing about getting actors to fake ridiculous southern accents.  We’ve already had the terrible accents from Shane and the Governor and the strange accents from Maggie and Rick, now we have this preposterous crap coming out of Eugene’s mouth.  I just don’t understand the fixation on forcing actors to affect these accents.  I mean, a southern accent isn’t important to the Eugene character in the comics and I doubt it is important to the TV version.  So why not just let the actor speak normally?  Furthermore, why would anyone believe that a guy who sounds like that (and looks like that) would have the solution to the zombie problem?

Other stuff was kinda lame too.  All the nonsense about Tara feeling this great debt to Glen is really hollow, mostly because Tara has the screen presence of an empty diet soda can.  I’m just not sure where that is going and I’m not sure I want to know.  Tara should be fed to zombies asap, not be given expanded storylines.  The reunion between Glenn and Maggie wasn’t as touching as I’d hoped either.  I really like the two of them and have previously enjoyed their relationship, but that reunion was pretty sterile.

And there were moments where the action sagged enough that I noticed set flaws.  For example, during the tedium of Tara having her foot stuck in the rocks, I suddenly realized it was awfully bright in that tunnel.  If the action and acting were better, I wouldn’t have noticed that.  Similarly, that auto shop that Darryl, Joe and Gang slept in had the cleanest floor I’ve ever seen: no oil stains anywhere.  I shouldn’t have time to notice things like that OR if the set is going to be that way, they should pick a different framing shot (i.e. not one that announces, “Cleanest Auto Shop EVER!” from on-high).

So, the show was just a mixed bag.  Nothing awesome, nothing truly revolting…  Well, except for that zombie that rubbed its face all over the barbed wire… That was revolting.

Conclusion: An episode that doesn’t merit a whole lot of examination, praise or derision.  It does give some momentum as we head into the finale next week.

Grade: B

-Dean Stell

Postscript – I didn’t even think of the zombies in this episode until I put the “zombies” tag on the review, but I do like how the zombies have faded into the background a bit.  They are obviously omnipresent, but they feel more like annoying barking dogs than anything truly dangerous.  That’s a good thing because the show needs to develop the human angle a little more.  I’m usually critical of the human angle on this show, but they’ve obviously done something right; I haven’t really noticed the zombies slipping into the background until now.