Mar 262014

The second half of season four of The Walking Dead has been one of both focused storytelling and also a building anticipation. By breaking the overall group into smaller ones, the show has been able to delve more deeply into the psyche of the individual characters. I’ve been a big fan of this as we’ve learned more about the characters, and we’ve also had some amazing episodes, such as The Grove. On the flip side, we have the series building towards the discovery of Terminus, the is-it-too-good-to-be-true oasis of peace and sanctuary at the end of the railroad tracks. Everyone has come across one of the many signs pointing towards Terminus with sayings like, “Everyone who arrives, survives.” So, the question in the minds of The Walking Dead fans on whether or not Terminus is a trap.

Last Sunday, we had our first glance of Terminus when Glenn and Maggie’s group arrived at the end of the episode. They were met with a chain link fence that was closed with a simple chain. They passed through growing crops and another latched fence that had a sign to say lower your guns. The show ended with them coming across an older woman that was barbecuing. She smiled at them, introduced herself as Mary, and offered them some hot grub as they had obviously been traveling a long time.

The Walking Dead Terminus
Looking at the above situation, is Terminus a giant trap? My gut answer is a resounding hell yes! There are so many warning bells surrounding the group’s entry to Terminus that it’s almost impossible to count. Perhaps it’s the gamer in me talking, but I become automatically suspicious when something so precious is left unguarded and essentially unbarricaded. First, let me explain my gamer logic. I’ve been playing pen-and-paper roleplaying games for over thirty years, with games running from Dungeons and Dragons to Rolemaster to Paranoia to Call of Cthulhu. Every gamer that has spent more than two months roleplaying has been set up by the “friendly” encounter. This is where the GM has someone who looks harmless or a location that appears harmless in order to lull the players into a false sense of security. The moment their guard is let down, all hell breaks loose. I’ve been the recipient of it numerous times, and as a GM myself, I’ve used it countless times to mess with my gaming group. It’s a time honored gaming device.

So let’s look at the situation of Terminus in The Walking Dead. First, we have many, many signs spread out for miles directing people to come there. That takes a lot of manpower and firepower as the zombie apocalypse isn’t too kind to the tourism bureau. Next, we have this “sanctuary” guarded by a mere chain link fence that isn’t locked. There’s no other defenses noticeable such as ditches, stakes, or barricades. Even more noticeable is that there are no guards anywhere to be seen. After all that, we have the second fence that is wooden and has a simple latch gate you can just open like you’re heading towards your backyard pool. Again, you would think a better lock or some guards. Finally, we have the single woman by herself welcoming the group. Any time I’ve encountered a single woman, especially if she’s older, when gaming, my danger sense went into high alert.

Admiral Acbar
For all the reasons cited above, it’s blatantly obvious that Terminus is a trap. As soon as my friends saw the episode, they called me to say the exact same thing. This is the classic GM screw the party template in action. One buddy told me that as soon as he saw the woman, Mary, welcoming them with barbecue and smiling, he would have shot her because he knows the hammer is coming down somewhere and somehow. This is why gamers (if they’re in shape) have a better chance to survive a zombie apocalypse because we think along these lines. 🙂

On the geek side, it was great to see who was playing Mary. For those who didn’t immediately recognize her, that’s Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar) from Star Trek: The Next Generation. That’s one of the awesome things about geek shows. You can see actors you greatly like from one show appear in other geek shows. Also one last note. I’ve had people ask me why I don’t know things from The Walking Dead comic. The answer is that I’ve never read them, and I have no desire to now so as to not ruin the suspense of the show for me. Eventually, I will read the comics, but not before the show ends.

  One Response to “My Gamer Senses Tell Me that Terminus is a Trap in The Walking Dead”

  1. The minute I saw Tasha Yar at the BBQ grill, my first thought was, “They’re CANNIBALS!”

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