Season 4 of The Walking Dead has gone by and we are left with more questions and less answers. This season has been a whirlwind experience for fans of the series, as the first half of the season culminated with The Governor annihilating the prison, sending the remaining survivors on the road to fend for themselves. Season 4, part 2 was all about the remaining prison dwellers surviving in four different groups. Here they were met with intense situations and emotional turmoil which lead to the incredible development of characters who previously had little screen time. However, it all came to a head in the riveting season finale simply entitled “A”. Furthermore, this was a record setting episode of The Walking Dead as 15.7 million viewers tuned in to see who survived and who perished
In the penultimate episode entitled “Us” viewers were delighted to witness a heart felt reunion of Maggie and Glen, whose road to the mysterious Terminus had now been paved. The road was not so easy for Rick, who in the season finale, experienced a reunion of his own, only this time, it wasn’t so friendly. As Rick, Carl and Michonne were closing in on Terminus, Rick is greeted with a gun to his head and by his former buddy, Daryl Dixon. The rag tag crew of misfits that took Daryl in have caught up to Rick, who brutally strangled one of their own earlier in the season. Revenge was on their minds but, as tough as this crew are, they were no match for the new Rick Grimes. A new attitude is unleashed from Rick when the threat of Carl being raped is brought into the fray. Daryl also shows his true colors by telling his crew that “these are good people”, a statement that causes him to get beaten horrifically.
Though it is Rick who is pushed to the limit when Carl is over powered by his assailant. Rick then commits one of the most terrible acts of violence seen on the show, ripping out one of the assailant’s throats with his teeth and then brutally stabbing Carl’s attacker repeatedly. This new Rick will stop at nothing to keep his friends and family safe, especially when it comes to his only son. This was one of my favorite scenes in the episode and season as it was taken directly out of the comic book. There is a scene in the comics in which Carl is threatened in the same way and Rick takes that person apart limb from limb. Although, the comic book was more graphic, the show did a great job translating it to the screen and showing a new violent side to Rick that will certainly carry over into the next season.
Another aspect of the season finale I enjoyed were the flashbacks that included Hershel. These were put in to showcase times for Rick Grimes when he didn’t have to be so brutal, hostile and violent. Viewers can’t forget it was Hershel that witnessed Carl gunning a boy down and warning Rick of his boy’s actions. Hershel was always the voice of reason on the show and when he died so did Rick’s simple way of life. The days of being a friendly farmer have been destroyed for Rick as he has now become, in essence, a cold blooded walker, ripping the flesh out of his foes if need be. All of this violent behavior has taken a toll on Carl, as he is struggling with his own identity.
I loved the scene in which he asks his father, “Who are we?”, a question I don’t think Rick can easily answer anymore. The heroes of the story are not sure who is more dangerous the walkers or people still living in this world. Look at the horrible acts the Governor committed earlier in the season and topped off with this rag tag crew who have sex and violence on their minds. The youngsters of the series, Carl and Beth, still hold on to the thought that there are good people left in the world. However, when they witness violent acts over and over again, it changes them. Carl goes through this transition in the episode as he laments to Michonne that he is not a cold blooded killer like his father.
After Rick, Carl, Michonne and now Daryl reunite they find themselves at the doorstep of Terminus. They are smart about it though, as they go in quietly through the backdoor unlike the survivors in the previous episode did. Inside Terminus things go awry quickly as Rick notices Hershel’s watch that was given to Glenn and Glenn’s gear that somebody else is donning. That is the beginning of the end for Rick’s crew and Terminus. The foursome make a valiant effort to escape the fortress but are ultimately outnumbered.
There are some great scenes and eerie environments that show creepy messages such as “Never Again. Never Trust. We First, Always.” painted on a wall. Clearly, these people who run Terminus are also villainous adding to the theme that there are no good people left in the world. All of a sudden dealing with walkers is a walk in the park compared to what’s in store for our survivors. Just when you think things can’t get any worse for our heroes they are ordered into a train car labeled “A”. After a nail biting shoot out, another reunion transpires as Maggie, Glen, Sasha, Bob, Abraham, Rosita, Eugene and Tara finally encounter Rick and company. With their backs against the wall, its Rick that exhibits the most confidence stating these people “don’t know who they’re dealing with”.
The episode establishes Rick Grimes as the leader of the survivors but that’s where it ends literally and figuratively. I have to admit, I was disappointed by this ending. Nothing was finalized and there are too many unanswered questions that have to wait until October to be answered. I was expecting an epic ending in which Terminus would be exposed, the whereabouts of Beth would be revealed and where in the blue hell were Tyrese, Carol and baby Judith. Perhaps one of them were cooking on the grill, but I want to know for sure. The most disappointing thing though was no major characters died, something that is a fixture in Walking Dead finales. I really hope they make up for this in season 5. I want answers right away. Get on it writers, there are 15.7 million people waiting on baited breathe for this show to return, don’t screw it up.
Rick Grimes Unleashed: Rick is pushed to the limit and goes on a tear, reestablishing him as the fearless leader of the group.
Reunions Unbound: It was great to see Rick and Daryl reunited and picking up right where they left off. Reunited and it felt so good.
Random Acts of Gratuitous Violence: The scene is which Rick, Daryl, Carl and Michonne dispose of the rag tag crew of miscreants and deviants was perhaps one of the best in the entire season.
Several Questions Remained Unanswered: For a season finale they sure left us with cliffhangers. Where are Beth, Tyrese, Judith and Carol? Also, what actually is Terminus and why are the survivors hoarded into a dilapidated train car? This would have been fine for a mid-season finale, but I don’t want to wait 6 months to find out.
No Major Character Deaths: Sure we got to see an entire crew meet their end at the hands and mouth of Rick, but no show staple got offed, something this show usually delivers on in a season finale.