What a let-down.
Look, I expected a cliffhanger. To absolutely no one’s surprise, The Walking Dead has been renewed for a fifth season, and TWD likes cliffhangers, so I didn’t expect all the Terminus answers in A.
Most of this episode was taken up by flashbacks and by resolving the Claimed Guys Are Bad Guys storyline. Terminus amounted to a tense conversation and an extended shoot-out. Herding them into train car A (it’s the title—get it?) was tense and ominous, but said nothing and did nothing. In an effort to preserve the cliffhanger nature of that last scene, no one talked. And honestly, if you’d been taken prisoner and a bunch of your friends suddenly arrived in that prison, wouldn’t you immediately start sharing information as fast as possible? Like “OMG Rickyou’rehere! They did thisandthenthey did that and OMG”! It would be urgent to convey that information. The silence of that scene was for the audience and not true to the story, so I call bullshit. Especially when it ends with the weakest, most clichéd line possible.
They’re screwing with the wrong people.
Look, it was a good episode for about 3/4 of its length, but I cannot help thinking that the writers and producers just don’t know what they have with this show. They don’t know what’s good about it, what the fans love, what the fans hate, what works and what doesn’t. We’ve had a great half-season, great, and I turned off the TV tonight thinking they (Kirkman, Gimple, et al) just don’t know why.
A balance of tension and action, good characters, good story, and scary atmospherics: That works. Talk, talk, talk, heavy-handed meaningfulness, repeating conversations from previous episodes: that doesn’t work. All that flashback to the prison was for what? To show us that Rick wishes that Terminus turns out nice, and that he had a home? That people are “the real monsters”? There were more elegant ways of showing that.
The final confrontation with Joe’s “Claimed” gang was great. I am not kidding, if the whole show had been that good I’d be jumping for joy. Rick finding a strength, tenacity, and speed he’d doubted in himself, finding a monstrousness as well, was powerful. The threat of Carl being raped was just too much—and rightly so. He’s worried about what he’s teaching Carl, but if he teaches him that the person who’s trying to rape you gets stabbed repeatedly? I’m okay with that. Those people were the monsters I said they were all along, “claiming” anything and everything. Daryl stood up as contrast to them, offering himself in Rick’s stead, and then crumbling in shame that he was with them. Rick calling him “my brother” was extraordinary, and moving, and totally earned.
The conversation between Michonne and Carl was also good, but it was a retread of things Michonne had already revealed. As with past episodes, this season finale felt dragged out and then rushed. Why say the same things over and over when there’s new stuff you’re not saying?
I was very glad that Michonne and Rick discussed Woodbury. It seemed crazy to be so full of hope without acknowledging the danger. And ultimately, in any community, including a good one if they ever find it, at some point they will have to put down their weapons and trust. So this group’s arrival in Terminus made sense to me, including the willingness to take a risk.
What we don’t know:
- Cannibals? Jury is still out, but there was some kind of meat/body pen at Terminus that our folks ran past during the gun chase.
- Where are Carol, Tyrese, and Judith?
- Denise Crosby? Does she get to talk, or are they giving her opening titles credit for dishing up food? Presumably she’s Season 5’s Big Bad?
- Where’s BETH FOR THE LUVAGAWD?