Within survivors of the disease that created the walkers, there are people of varying polarities of age, race, morality, honor, bravery, sense of self. Sympathy and hope lie with the innocent, but the realities of post-apocalyptic life reveal a harsh truth. Many of those who make it past the initial chaos are suspicious, ruthless, battle-seasoned and hard hearted people. Even Sheriff Rick, who started as a hero trying to save everyone he could, has since revealed in himself a gray scale when it comes to helping/hurting others, based on his experiences and those around him. Everyone has a past and each member of the former prison tribe has made mistakes on the path to Terminus. For Daryl and Glen, this path includes determining where on the humanity scale they lie. What choices must be made to maintain status as part of a tribe? What needs to be done to keep one’s humanity in the face of violence and anarchy? What type of person wields the most power and influence in a dystopic universe and what must take place to hold on to a position of power? What is the end game and when is the mission over? As the different factions travel closer to Terminus, one must take into consideration all these elements as part of the BIG question–what has humanity become?
Episode: So4xE15 “Us”
For Daryl Dixon, the choice to integrate himself into the original prison tribe was long and drawn out. Coming from his background–which we don’t know too much about except his father was a drunk and his brother was an asshole racist douche–it seems the decision to move toward a greater good and become a leader in a core group of hardworking and kind hearted folk was not an easy one. Daryl is not a natural leader, he is a follower. He followed Merle around their entire lives and, at one point, avoided death by envisioning his brother goading him into saving himself. When Daryl finally accepted his position in the tribe, it was as Rick’s right hand man, who expected nothing less from Daryl that absolute loyalty, which Daryl gave freely. Daryl, for all his bravado, strength and ability, is still the same scared little brother looking for guidance and answers from an older, male authority figure. Even if those answers are not in line with his personal values, Daryl seems to have the ability to shift his morality to fit that of his chosen leader. Although he plays up his own ambivalence, people like Rick, Carol and Beth have touched this man’s empathy while encouraging him to be honest and open about his feelings. On the other hand, Merle and now Joe (the leader of the bandit faction) both use Daryl’s fears as a manipulation tool, turning his empathic nature into a weakness. As the bandit faction heads toward Terminus, Daryl wrestles with a desire to find the people that remind him of his own humanity or fall into the habits of his youth with people that resemble the man he was before the apocalypse. Changing one’s nature is a continuous, uphill climb. Even the strongest have breaking points. Still, Daryl showed growth in the face of his most long-running antagonist–his brother, Merle. For now, the bandit faction has only threatened Daryl’s own, personal value set. When and if the fight comes down to those with whom Daryl has an emotional connection versus those with whom he has a cultural connection, this will serve as Daryl’s epiphanic moment, a fork in the path toward his true self. The path taking the tribes to Terminus.
Glen’s goal, since separation from the tribe, has been to find Maggie. Tara, who participated in the ambush of the prison with the Governor before she knew what a psychopath he was, has remained with Glen out of guilt as well as necessity. The pair break off from the military tribe, or, more accurately, the military tribe breaks off from them when Glen wants to take an obvious risk entering into what Sgt. Ford calls “a long, dark tunnel full of reanimated corpses” that the group most likely does not have the weapon power or physical ability to come out alive on the other end. Glen, even though Rosita readily accuses him of being selfish and ignoring Tara’s guilt as a driving force of her companionship with him, takes the risk and enters the tunnel, simply because Maggie did it first. The military tribe reluctantly loses 2 members and veers off to continue their objective, which is to find a vehicle and get the mulleted scientist, Dr. Eugene Porter, to Washington and thus, save the world. For the first time since they began traveling together, Tara and Glen discuss the prison incident and the death of Maggie’s father, Hershel. Tara’s guilt is evident not only in her actions–she enters the tunnel injured and resigned–but in her words as well. She legitimately had no idea who the Governor was and what he was capable of when she aligned with him. Hershel became collateral damage in a war she did not understand, and so Tara follows Glen with a penitent heart, hoping to soothe her guilt about her part in the events at the prison ambush. While Glen has remained a helpful source of positivity throughout the events in the Walking Dead universe, in this situation, he allows his selfishness and fear to guide his decisions. He knows Tara is injured, but presses on, feigning ignorance to her pain until she gets stuck in the rubble of the tunnel and yells at Glen to leave her to find Maggie. Here is Glen’s fork in the path of his own humanity. He has recklessly moved toward Maggie, headless of Tara’s involvement, and she has followed him. Sacrificing Tara for Maggie seems almost a nonissue at this point, and yet Glen wavers, choosing instead to stand and fight the onslaught of walkers, even though it means certain death for both of them. Seconds after he makes this choice, whether karmic or not, Maggie, Sasha and Bob turn up, guns blazing, with Sgt. Ford, Eugene and Rosita, to rescue Glen and Tara. The reunion between Maggie and Glen is sweet and, for a moment, the zombie apocalypse is not all about death and destruction, but about loyalty, love and hope.
The military tribe and Maggie’s tribe are now united and make easy way to Terminus, the unknown destination that each of the factions are headed to. The site is peaceful–although seems almost abandon and they see only one woman cooking on an outdoor grill–the group has been through hell and don’t question (as of yet) the mission of a place like Terminus. Still, if the zombie apocalypse has taught survivors anything, it is to fear the living and protect the tribe.
With Rick, Michonne, Carl, Daryl and the bandit tribe all moving toward Terminus and Beth still missing, the impending unification of the former prison tribe may result in a permanent break of the larger group or may strengthens bonds and help form new alliances. Whatever it is, Terminus will be an important juncture on the path of each tribe member.
The Collectiva Diva
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