The week after a report loosely connected to NASA was widely interpreted as predicting the apocalypse and one week before our favorite post-apocalyptic show terminates for another season, the survivors make their way to a place that may or may not be safe.

A genre veteran joins the cast. There’s something about Mary….

Title: “Us”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Gregory Nicotero
Written by Nicole Beattie and Seth Hoffman

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Danai Gurira as Michonne
Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
Larry Gilliard, Jr. as Bob Stookey
Sonnequa Martin as Sasha Tyreese
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Michael Cudlitz as Sgt. Abraham Ford
Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter
Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa
Jeff Kober as Joe
Davi Jay as Tony
JD Evermore as Harley
Marcus Hester as Len
Eric Mendenhall as Billy
Keith Brooks as Dan
Denise Crosby as Mary

Additional cast and crew information may be found here.

Premise

Several groups make their way towards Terminus.

High Points

We’re seeing a range of group dynamics, from heroic (if parodic) to anarchic (if moronic). We could see some interesting interactions—and, repugnant though he may be, Joe is a character with whom we must reckon.

Low Point

1. How long should they be able to find abandoned cars that start, and on the first try?

2. Glenn and Maggie’s reunion was satisfying, but the whole Cavalry to the rescue scene felt very forced (Glenn would know to turn back) and pop-culture. It’s The Walking Dead, not The Avengers, dammit!

The Scores

Originality: 2/6

Effects: 6/6 This ep features some especially gruesome walker effects. I really liked the brief view of the skeletal walker in the tunnel.

Story: 4/6 This episode principally featured various people walking towards the set-up for the season finale. “Us” lacks the character development of certain other recent episodes, but we did learn more about group dynamics. Darryl, in particular, has fallen among a group of thugs whose concept of order is a blend of prison yard and schoolyard (“Claimed,” being the equivalent of “Called it!”). They also spell trouble for Terminus, even if Terminus turns out to be a good place–

–which, given the show’s history, we have reason to doubt.

Acting: 5/6 I still don’t know what to make of Ford, Porter, and Espinosa—though it’s good to see she owns pants. I cannot believe that Porter actually has the explanation for the walkers, or that he’s even any kind of scientist, for that matter. Additional clues this week suggest he’s a nerdy gamer with some helpful information (he can navigate and calculate, for example). If we learn that this group has bought into a collective delusion in order to give their life purpose, I’m happy with them. If Porter is what he claims to be, then the show’s writers have some explaining to do.

Porter and Ford at least provide entertainment—and the former gets a point for referencing zombie dinosaurs.

Emotional Response: 4/6 This is a weaker episode, but it sets up the finale well.

Production: 5/6

Overall: 4/6

In total, “Us” receives 30/42

Final Comments

Maybe the writers and characters are just more intelligent than we think. I’ve often noted how much Romero zombies differ from historical zombies. Our idea of a zombie has more in common with the Middle Eastern myth of the ghoul. Hell, these creatures come closer to vampiristic revenants than they do the historical zombies.

“Walkers” is kind of a good compromise for these undead creatures.

This week, of course, the living characters did most of the walking.