Daryl and the Not So Merry Band of Marauders
Awaking to the dulcet tunes of a Walker rubbing its face on barbed wire, the marauders greet the day. Although there are questions of whether that "Robin Hood cat" stuck around, Daryl is still with the group — merely out hunting for grub. Daryl manages to shoot a rabbit just as Len (the other bowman) sneaks up behind him to shoot the same "cottontail." Len invokes the Rule of the Claim, which obviously Daryl doesn't know nor care to know. He also calls Daryl "boy" and taunts him about Beth. Daryl unsheathes his knife, but
Mayor Hale Joe diffuses the situation before it turns bloody. He explains the Rule of the Claim, which acts as their group's central law. The Rule of the Claim is essentially calling "SHOTGUN!" "SHOTTY!" or "DIBS!" for everything — common among children entering vehicles and roommates avoiding garbage duty. Acting as the Zombiepocalypse equivalent of King Solomon, Joe splits the rabbit in half, giving each man one half.
Later, Joe has a heart-to-heart with Daryl, asking why Daryl insists he's only temporarily with them. Daryl doesn't give a straight answer — which I hope is rescuing Beth — instead mumbling about just finding the right place. Joe wants him with the group, recognizing his value. He further explains the Rule of the Claim, adding "you steal, you keel" and "you don't lie." The punishment of breaking the law is a beating of varied intensity, depending on the gravity of the offense and "the general attitude of the day."
Joe, a cat person, tries to convince Daryl to stay with his gang with his axiom about those lovely, vicious creatures: "Ain’t nothin’ sadder than an outdoor cat who thinks he’s an indoor cat." An indoor cat who thinks he's an outdoor cat is sad, too — just hearing my cat cry at the birds as he sits by the window breaks my heart... but I digress. Daryl's sense of self-identity has been challenged this season more than ever — can he sustain the just, compassionate leader role he built for himself or will he regress to the morally ambivalent follower he once was?
Joe chooses a commercial car garage close to the tracks as the night's shelter. Each marauder quickly "claims" a spot, leaving Daryl to the floor. Later, Len confronts Daryl over the missing half of his "cottontail." Joe acts as mediator again, searching through Daryl's bag and finding the halved rabbit carcass. Daryl accuses Len of sneaking it into his bag; Len denies it. Joe, chief arbitrator of the Claim law, saw Len put it in Daryl's bag. Len lied and therefore must reap the punishment. He punches him and calls for the others to beat the liar. Oh well, poor Len. NOT.
Daryl and the gang — minus Len — gear up for another day on the tracks. Daryl finds Len's body, beaten and bloodied, rocking an arrow in his head. He grabs a cloth to put over the body — like Beth would have — then thinks better of it, moving on to join the gang. Len was not worthy of the courtesy.
Joe has taken quite a shine to Daryl, sharing his liquor with him. He reveals that they're on the tracks not to go to Terminus but to hunt down the "walking piece of fecal matter" that surprised them in the suburbs. With Tony catching his face, they are on the trail to enact their revenge. As they walk, they pass a candy bar wrapper trapped under a wooden plank.
It's only after Joe addresses why they're on the tracks that I realize it hadn't been previously explained. I was so used to every group trudging between the rail lines every episode, I hadn't realized not every character had yet encountered the signs for Terminus.
NEXT: Candy is the harbinger of doom. Plus, so many questions and only one episode left!