S05xE01 “No Sanctuary”
The Tribe has come to Terminus and encountered the basest of humankind. The Terminus tribe have lied, connived and taken advantage of as many ears as their broadcast has reached. No one at Terminus has been forced to abuse their fellow man; these are the choices of their tribe. Still, the question becomes, what happened to Terminus that made these people engage in such vicious activities? Is this a case of a good group gone bad because of circumstance or is the Terminus tribe inherently evil? If evil is inherent or learned through experience, what does that mean our Tribe has the potential to become?
Spoilers ahead, sweetie!
Although in factions, the former prison tribe–now just the Tribe–has spent the last few months working toward the common goal of reaching Terminus, a “sanctuary” they knoww nothing about. While enduring the post-apocalyptic lifestyle of travel, kill and forage to survive, the Tribe members have experienced tragedy, loss and the viciousness of the living. While Terminus seemed like an oasis in the middle of catastrophe, we find that the promise of peace is precariously balanced on a moral principle not easily swayed. There have been hints that the Terminus tribe practices cannibalism– the mysterious meat they serve and cook, the creepy room set up to mourn the dead and the way they trapped the Tribe much like Rick showed Carl how to trap a small animal–but we get confirmation in the first 10 minutes of the episode when we see a body being cut up by butchers. The clinical way they assess the Tribe, their future victims, is terrifyingly detached. Rick, Daryl, Glen and Bob are set in front of a trough and, along with other kidnap victims, they are set to be slaughtered. Gareth, the last hipster in the zombie apocalypse, visits the room before they are to be killed, to assess the efficiency of the butchers and complete his paperwork and shell count. The most chilling fact of Terminus is that they are engaged in corporate murder–a shared ideal within the larger group that kidnapping, slaughtering and eating passersby is an acceptable practice. Gareth comes through with the most mundane of office tasks and is not emotionally swayed in the least at the pleas from the Tribe members. Instead, he coldly threatens Bob while asking Rick where the guns are hidden. Before Rick’s group can be murdered, flayed and barbecued, a loud explosion distracts the butchers, and they escape, using the influx of zombies as cover for their exit.
What Rick and his Tribe do not know, is that Carol and Tyreese (with baby Judith) overheard the gunfight at Terminus (S4 finale), and discovered one of the Terminus tribe lighting fireworks in the woods to distract the walkers from attacking the compound. This dickhead, douchebag, would-be baby killer (I’ve got strong feelings about him, obvi) is nonchalantly chatting on his walkie-talking about the woman with the sword and the boy with the hat–Michonne and Carl–while Carol and Tyreese slip up behind him. Carol has evolved from a meek victim to a fierce protector, willing to do whatever it takes to keep her Tribe safe. She is not only a survivor, but a leader, as well. When she hears what the Terminus tribe has planned for her friends, Carol decides to attack the compound and destroy their defenses, draping herself in gore and using the walkers as cover to infiltrate the camp.
The moral dilemma of whether to leave Terminus tribe members alive is never discussed. As a group, Rick and the others work their way toward freedom, killing all the walkers and cannibals they come across, indiscriminately. Even as a lone fighter, before she meets up with Rick and the others, Carol does not hesitate to shoot Terminus Mary in the leg and leave her to the walkers. While the punishment fits the crime, we must at least consider the circumstances that led the Terminus tribe to develop such a systematic structure of corporate murder. In none of the Terminus tribe members did we see guilt or doubt over the execution of innocents. Even the young man who threatens to break Judith’s neck doesn’t seem particularly sorry about his actions. It begs the question, how does a seemingly normal, organized, rule abiding (at least within their own tribe) group of survivors condition themselves to accept the tenets of cannibalism? It is a question the showrunners have promised to explore with the snippets of flashbacks showing Gareth and Mary in the boxcars as prisoners in their own camp, victims of violence and “cattle” as opposed to “butcher”, with text such as “Never Again,” “Never Trust” and “We First, Always” written on the walls of Terminus.
As they move away from Terminus, the Tribe will be forced to decide the value system within their own group. While cannibalism is obviously a no-go, what other deplorable actions has the Tribe taken so that they might reach this point and what are they willing to do to keep the group intact? On what scale are sins measured in a world where civilized society does not exist?
xoxo The Collectiva Diva
Tweet me your thoughts @collectivadiva