The Walking Dead: A (Season 4 Finale)

 Posted by on March 30, 2014 at 10:55 pm  The Walking Dead
Mar 302014
The Walking Dead-A-Rick Grimes bloodied

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.

But some?

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?

  25 Responses to “The Walking Dead: A (Season 4 Finale)”

  1. Cannibalism, which I’ve suspected from the beginning, would be suitably horrible, but perhaps it would be cleverer for the hints of canibalism to be a fake-out. Something would have to substitute for it, though. It was a good idea for the mask to be ripped off Terminus so early.

  2. It not only felt like too much retread, but as crazy as it sounds, it felt like they don’t know where they’re going with it all. Or rather, they know point A and point B, but they have no good idea of what happens in-between. Shoot it from the hip, folks. I believe I liked this half season more than a lot of people did, but I also felt they were very inefficient and wasted a lot of time and potential in the process. Is this a consequence to the lamebrained idea of a split season and milking shows? I’m good with slow pacing. I liked the slow pace of this finale, but other than the Rick/gang scene, it was a snail and underwhelming. I rather respect that in a way, though. From last week’s Talking Dead (more waste of time), they talked as if this was going to be a “everything and the kitchen sink” compression wave. I’m looking forward to next season, but it isn’t because they left me wondering anything or with anticipation. It’s more that I’m looking forward to something happening.

    Someone was sloppy in editing. Rick has his hand caught on the snare, and then, BAM, they’re running. I wouldn’t have cared, but they made too big of a deal over that thing to make that mistake.

  3. I loved this episode. The parallels between the flashbacks — showing Herschel’s attempt to bring a sense of humanity to Rick’s life — versus the Heart of Darkness moment where he bites into the jugular of his captor, knowing if he doesn’t do something Carl is going to get raped (hints of the inhumanity in “Deliverance”). Rick has come to realize it’s a different world out there where humanity as we know it has no place.

    As for the cheesy line at the end, they are just staying true to the comic book – except that it would have been a more powerful statement had the writers used the original “f*cking around” rather than “messing around” verbiage.

  4. Completely disagree. It was a pretty good finale. All questions can’t be answered. The first 20 minutes were fantastic. I wasn’t a big fan of the flashbacks but I understand the narrative they were trying to tell. I’m not sure how people wanted/expected it to end. If they had just ended it at the arrival at Terminus I would’ve been disappointed. The tension when Rick realizes that the people in Terminus are walking around with items that belonged to his people was intense. I liked that we got resolution on that by seeing everyone in the train car, instead of another unanswered question. And I don’t think it’s odd for there to be not much to say at first- they are in a dark train car and who knows what happened to them. It takes your eyes a while to adjust to the light and then the magnitude of recognition hits, and then again we don’t know yet what they’ve been through. Part of the cliffhanger is that we are left wondering just what exactly they are up to at Terminus, so I’m OK with that. I didn’t think the last line was cheesy at all. After Rick killed the gang he had that moment of breakdown where you wondered if he was going crazy again, and I think that line showed us Rick has turned a corner and is all in as far as doing what it takes to survive, and it sets up the conflict for next season. I would’ve liked to check in one more time with Carol, Tyreese, and Judith, sure, but overall I thought it was a solid episode and a satisfying end to the season for me.

  5. To me the whole thing felt like a flash back for no reason. When did any of the bad guys see Rick clear enough to find him in the woods of Georgia? He killed the only guy I remember that saw him, back at the house. It would have made more since to send in ONE person to find out what Terminus was before sending in the whole group. If they did not come back out. You go some where else. I know it is in the Comic book this story line but , Why do we the TV audience have to be put through the original story line I would never read such. If it was not for the TV show I would never had heard for the writer. Most of the characters that we know and love , gave up on who they are that make us love them. NO Way would they behave the way they did in this season let down. Characters are built not built and destroyed and built up again repeat ,repeat till we all vomit. Keep the TRUE.

    • Not to mention…why would the people of Terminus tell them to put down their weapons, frisk them, and then *give them back their weapons*? What is the point of lulling people into a false sense of security if you’re just going to turn around and pen them up? Do they wait to see if people are with them or against them? I just don’t get it.

    • When Rick was under the bed, the guy who ultimately had is gun on Michonne/was killed by Michonne, was getting choked and saw Rick under the bed. His comrade choked him to where he passed out, so he didn’t have a chance to alert anyone until after Rick had already escaped, but he had given him a good hard look enough to spot him on the road.

    • Terminus isn’t out of the comics. There are three or four different story lines in the comics that Terminus *could* be, and people are guessing, that’s all.

  6. Beyond the cannibalism, I was wondering if the food is drugged. Everyone is hungry. It’s smarter to let them keep their weapons, knowing they’ll pass out after they eat, than it is to create problems while folks are awake and armed.

  7. I am with Julie C., and a few others, on this. Deb, while I agree with you on the “rushed and dragged” feeling of the episode, I think it felt this way by necessity: the brutality of the fireside scene was so intense I had to leave the room, and the quiet scenes gave me what I thought was recovery time. But I didn’t recover, because something worse was ahead.

    I felt as though the final scenes of the season delivered on the dread of all these recent episodes: Terminus is bad. The ultimate bad.

    Terminus felt wrong from the beginning to me. Its name, for a start; the flower boxes, the barbed wire. I felt as though last night’s “Never Forget” shrine, steely white people wearing others’ belongings, and railroad car (!!!) all made the point a little heavy-handedly, but I still appreciated it: these people are wrong numbers on a Nazi level. I needed to feel as bad as I did by the end, because the Terminus people are actually the worst of us, and they are in control here.

    At least the Claimed guys never pretended to be anything but what they were. Fear the hoodlums who wear a smiling face, who promise to “restore” something we’ve “lost”. After last night, I certainly do.

    • I kept thinking about that train car, and thinking, if you really want to demoralize people, and let them know they’re meat, you strip them naked. Once you’ve stolen people’s belongings and stuck them in a train car, why be shy?

  8. Season 5 Spoiler Alert – I predict that Rick & Friends will break out of Terminus, find some canoes and take the river to Aintry, GA.

  9. This world is already high stress and based on distrust. People are starving. You leave your gates open. You let someone keep their weapons. You offer them a meal that is laced with drugs. They pass out. You take their weapons and everything they own. Throw them in a train car. No confrontation. No gunpoint and the dangers involved. It’s the first thing/only thing I thought when Rick knocked the plate of food out of Carl’s hand. You don’t want to eat the food or take anything from them.

    • If they really are cannibals, drugs taints their “meat.”


      • You knock them out with drugs just to avoid resistance and then keep them caged and fed well enough to keep them alive until its their turn. Maybe feed them well enough to fatten ’em up. By that time, the drugs are well out of their system. Like cattle.

      • Using them as a meat source is also likely why they didn’t just shoot them dead. They showed a couple different rooftop angles when Rick’s crew was trying to escape that were clearly meant to show you they were shooting in front of, and around, them, not at them. They could have easily killed them, but they more or less corralled them with gunfire. Even shutting that one door in the sanctuary was pushing them to go out the other door in the sanctuary. It was a well-planned, methodical way to get them out in that yard and in front of a fenceline of guns with no other choice than to surrender.

        • Agreed. Even they noticed it.

          I have to say, if they’re feeding human meat to humans and then eating those humans, cyclically, they are creating some nasty diseases.

          I also think there must be some people that they’re keeping, that are joining them. The niceness isn’t just to get their guard down. There’s more going on.

  10. Top 10 Reasons
    Terminus is not Salvation

    10. Unlimited refills of TCBY frozen yogurt for new “guests”.
    9. A fully stocked, clean home/morgue is a trap – duh!
    8. “To Serve Man” is a best seller.
    7. The skin and hair of the “permanent” residents have such a glow.
    6. If someone offers Judith a tee shirt with “Organically Raised”, decline it.
    5. You actually get to see how the sausage is made.
    4. “You are what you eat” has a completely different meaning.
    3. Ask for the Marinara instead of the Bolognese on Spaghetti Tuesdays.
    2. Has anyone seen Guy Fieri around?

    And the number one reason Terminus is not Salvation:

    Terminus = End of the Line

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