The sixteenth and final episode of the fourth season of AMC’s, The Walking Dead aired tonight. The finale, titled, “A“, will be an episode long remembered. Once again our group faces danger and are pushed to their limits. One scene in particular may be difficult to watch for many, especially for those that are unspoiled by the comic book. Tonight’s episode questions how far we are willing to go to protect the ones we love and what happens when we reach our breaking point.
The episode starts off with a flashback of happier, better times at the prison before returning to the present where Rick is sitting beside a vehicle alone, blood all over his hands and on his face. He’s visibly shaking, as if from shock. Something extremely bad must have happened but before we can find out what it is, we must jump to the left, step to the right and do a bit of a time warp.
Rick, Carl and Michonne are sitting around a campfire talking about how hungry they are. Michonne’s twenty-eight point hunger on a ten point scale isn’t a good sign. Rick had set up snares in the woods and wants to take them along to check on them. He also wants to show them how the traps work. While it’s not much, one of the snares did score the group a rabbit. They aren’t too far from Terminus and Carl asks his father what they will tell the group there. Will they be honest and share the things they’ve been through and done? Rick tells his son that they will tell them who they are. A scream is heard nearby and Carl runs towards the sound. Rick pulls him back and tells him that they can’t help because the man is surrounded by a large group of Walkers. Sure enough, they close in and make a meal out of the poor guy.
In another flashback, Hershel wakes Rick up and tells him it’s time to get started. Rick asks him the time. Hershel says he never knows anymore because he had given Glenn his watch. Rick goes to strap on his gun but Hershel tells him he won’t be needing it.
Rick, Carl and Michonne come across a car on the side of the road. It looks like a good place to make camp for the night. Michonne dispatches a Walker nearby with her katana. I have to say, that’s probably my favorite one this season. The poor thing had clearly been run over by the car (perhaps even numerous times) as the lower half of the body was a flattened mess.
Carl falls asleep in the back of the car and Rick and Michonne begin to talk about Terminus. They wonder if it’s safe or not as both the prison and Woodbury had “let” people in. Rick puts it best by saying you never know until you know. Mere seconds later, there’s a gun at his head and another at Michonne’s. Joe and the other Hunters have finally caught up to him. He tells Rick that it’s time to pay retribution for killing one of his men. Another hunter spots Carl in the car and keeps an eye on him. Daryl steps out and tells Joe that these are good people, even offers that they take it out on him instead. Joe tells him that he’s a liar for calling them good people and as per the rules, the remaining hunters begin to beat Daryl up.
Now comes the scene that may be a bit difficult for some to watch. The man takes Carl out of the car and licks the side of the boy’s face. While Daryl is getting beaten, Joe tells Rick that before he dies, he’s going to be forced to watch Michonne and Carl get raped. The man pushes Carl onto the ground and gets on top of him. Carl begins struggling, fighting for his life. The man punches Carl in the face before flipping him around, face down onto the ground.
You can the snap, crackle and pop in Rick’s eyes. He shoves back at Joe, forcing his gun to go off. Despite the ringing in his ears, he gets up and begins fighting. He wastes no time because his son is in danger. He literally leans in and takes a huge bite out of Joe’s throat, killing him and shocking the rest of the Hunters. He then grabs the gun and begins shooting. Michonne uses the distraction to overwhelm her captor and aids Rick. This frees Daryl, who joins in and begins giving one of his attackers a beat down.
Soon only one man remained; the one that had been preparing to hurt Carl in the worst way imaginable. “He’s mine,” Rick says coldly before dashing forward and stabbing the man in this throat. The camera focuses on Carl, safe in Michonne’s arms but you can hear Rick stabbing the man over and over.. and over again. Carl watches in horror.
Back at the prison in another flashback, we have Hershel telling Rick he found pigs. He wants to teach him and Carl how to snare them, and how to farm. He says that Carl needs his father to show him the way. The kid can shoot, but what will become of his life? There’s got to be more to life.
Rick is shaken out of his memories when Daryl approaches him with a bottle of water and a washcloth. While he would rather conserve the water, Daryl reminds him that Carl will see him all bloody. Rick begins to wipe the blood from his face. Carl is in the car sleeping, with his head resting on Michonne’s lap. Daryl tells Rick that he had been with Beth for awhile. Rick asks if she was dead and he tells her no, she’s just gone. He also tells Rick that he knew the Hunters were bad people but they had a code and it was stupid. He had no idea what they were capable of. “This is not on you, Daryl. You being back here with us now? That’s everything. You’re my brother,” Rick tells him. I think it surprised Daryl a little to actually hear it.
Daryl attempts to comfort Rick by telling him anybody would have done what he had last night. Rick shakes his head, “No, not that.” Daryl pushes and says that some might. At this point, Carl is awake and had been listening to his father talk. He overhears Rick saying that all he wants to do is keep him safe. That’s all that matters.
A little later, they continue their trek towards Terminus. Rick and Michonne tell each other that they are okay. They have always been alike, understood one another and could get by with few words. When they are near Terminus, they decide to cut through the woods. It’s wiser to split up and watch the sanctuary for awhile before moving forward. Rick asks Carl if he wants to go with him but he apologizes and goes with Michonne instead. When alone, she asks him why he wanted to go with her instead of his dad. It seems like Carl is afraid of what he had seen Rick do the night before.
She decides to open up and tell him more about what happened to her. Her family and friend had found a refugee camp and had been staying there awhile. Her son was at the camp in the care of Mike (his father) and their mutual friend, Terry. When she returned from a supply run, she saw the fence down and knew the place had been lost to Walkers. Her son was dead. Mike and Terry had been high when it happened and were bit. She let them turn on purpose. She put chains around their neck and used them as pets. She wanted them as a reminder of what happened, felt it was what she deserved. To her surprise, they ended up keeping her safe, hiding her from other Walkers.
She wants Carl to see that she was capable of doing something “sick” and questionable too. That she used to be a monster. It was he, Rick and Andrea that brought her back and that he should not be afraid of his father or her. Carl opens up in turn and tells her that his father is proud of him and thinks he’s a good person but he’s not what his dad thinks he is. Meanwhile, Rick pulls a handgun from a bag before burying it. He tells Daryl that he wants to leave it behind to get later, “just in case”. Then the four of them jump the fence and head inside Terminus.
They enter a large room with several people in it. An elderly woman is speaking into a microphone repeating the same phrase that had been on the signs: Sanctuary for all, community for all. Those who arrive, survive. The leader of the group asks Rick if he intends to rob them. When he learns that Rick and his group are not a threat, he introduces himself as Gareth. He asks them to put down their weapons and after a brief frisk, returns he guns, crossbow and katana to them. I think this was a clever ploy to give our survivors a false sense of trust.
They head outside where Mary is once again cooking an awfully lot of meat on the grill. Everything appears friendly enough. Michonne asks why they let people in and are told that more people make for a stronger community. It’s how they survive. If only it were true. Rick soon spots Hershel’s watch on one of the men and grabs him as a hostage. He demands to know where he got the watch. He also spots one of the prison’s swat uniforms and inquires about that as well. He is told that the watch was pulled off a dead body but knows it to be untrue. “Where are our people?,” he demands.
Suddenly shots start ringing out. The man Rick took as a hostage is dead so the group begins to flee. Bullets are hitting at their feet, missing them. Every time they cut a corner and head in another direction, bullets strike the ground either ahead or behind them. It becomes clear that they are being corralled like a herd of cattle. As they run, they can hear people screaming for help. They enter a building and it’s filled with dozens of candles all over the ground. Also on the ground are names of people, apparently in a huge circle. Talk about creepy! Definitely creepy. They run out one of the doors and into an awaiting trap. Quite a large number of guns are pointed at them.
Gareth tells them to put down their weapons. He must have forgotten their names as he referred to them as Ringleader, Archer, Samurai and kid. He tells them to enter a train car that was nearby and having no choice, the group listens. Once inside they are reunited with Glenn, Maggie, Sasha, Bob and newcomers Tara, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene. Unfortunately, they are all now locked up. A final flashback of the prison shows Rick with Hershel, Beth and Carl. They are farming and happy, teasing each other. “We can be like this all the time,” Hershel tells Rick. He replies that it’s enough that it’s like that now.
Back in the train car, it seems like some of the group have begun to lose hope. However, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, we have a new, improved and far more deadly version of Rick. He glances at the locked door and says, “They’re going to feel pretty stupid when they find out.”
“Find out what?,” Abraham asks.
Rick’s answer couldn’t have been any better and leaves much to look forward to next season, “They’re screwing with the wrong people.”
Thus, “A” ends with our characters back in trouble and we’ll have to wait until October to find out what awaits them. Let’s be honest, it’s going to be the longest seven months of our lives and we may go into The Walking Dead withdrawal but hey. — at least we’ll have each other!
I personally loved tonight’s episode. I think it’s safe to assume that the people of Terminus are a bunch of cannibals. Also, as hard as it was to see an attempted sexual attack on Carl, I’ve always felt it was necessary to the story as it really pushes Rick to his breaking point. It’s a character changer, and at this point in time, we need a stronger, more resilient Rick Grimes. I could feel his anger, fear and hatred in tonight’s episode. I know some may disagree with me but I can justify him doing what he did, even in the brutal manner it which it was done. When your child is in danger, you do whatever is necessary. You don’t stop to think or to question the morality of your actions.
I do wish the episode had given us some insight into what happened to Beth, or if she was even still alive. I also wonder about the powdered milk bags that were on the ground outside of the train car. Is it possible that Carol, Judith and Tyreese have already arrived at Terminus? Could they have been the screams we heard earlier? Who.. were the inhabitants of Terminus eating? Oh, The Walking Dead, how you like to torment us, but we love you for it!
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