[NOTE: This review is for The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 15 and contains SPOILERS!]
Scott M. Gimple deserves a lot of credit for this season; he made some questionable calls (in my opinion), but he clearly had the ‘big picture’ in mind all along. Episodes that seemed like a waste of time ended up coming together in a more thematic way, giving the tagline, “all roads lead to Terminus” a fairly poignant double meaning. The characters are not only heading to the same physical place, but their individual experiences have also been building to what could be the greatest showdown we’ve seen on the show to date. “A” wraps up most of the stories from season four – with the exception of Carol, Tyrese, Judith and Beth – finishing season four on an interesting note, but making for what should be an explosive start to season five.
Joe’s gang finally catches up with Rick, Michonne, and Carl; the standoff ends in a tense and violent battle with the ‘Claim’ gang. Daryl gets beaten up for defending Rick and the group while Carl almost gets raped, Rick loses all control and in a ‘poetic justice’ kind of way, bites Joe in the jugular like a walker. Their story started back in the episode “Claimed,” which at the time only served as another threat for the group to deal with. It comes full circle with the theme that Rick, Michonne, and Carl, and Daryl have all been hardened by their time in the apocalypse, but still fight to retain their humanity. The flashbacks featuring Hershel are handled carefully to juxtapose the brutality that is required in the moment, giving credence to Rick putting his gun in the ground at the start of season four in “30 Days Without an Accident”.
Michonne tells Carl how Andre died, and the origin of her walker pets Mike and Terry. Like Rick, she was consumed by rage after losing a loved one, and became a lifeless monster as she drifted with the walkers. However, like the mid-season finale title suggests, they are definitely not “Too Far Gone” and can be brought back thanks to people like Andrea, Carl and Rick. Carl’s response sees him identifying himself as a monster too (a reference to him shooting the kid outside the prison). Another flashback shows how different Carl and Patrick were back at the prison with one putting a handgun together while the other is playing with Legos. Rick was hoping Carl would be the one playing with the toys, but in the present now realizes and has made his peace with the horrifying reality of Hershel’s words, “…he needs his father to show him the way, but which way will you show him?”
The answer can be found in the idiom, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” Even when it’s difficult, like when they are unable to help the random guy with glasses getting mauled by a group of walkers or when it’s dangerous, like confronting the “Termites”. The rules have changed, and there’s a definite lesson to be learned from season four, just as season three taught us to “Fight the Dead. Fear the Living.” with The Governor. The end of the episode gives us an assertive Rick in an otherwise hopeless situation, assuming leadership in a warlord-like fashion saying, “They’re gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out… they screwed with the wrong people.” It makes you wonder if he is going to take Carol back into the fold or even if she’ll be the one to save the day by murdering and burning her way through the Terminus lot.
I’m slightly frustrated however that the poster campaign appears to be misdirection with the slogan, “Who Will Survive?” alluding to the idea that someone would die on the way to sanctuary, but at the same time, I’m also relieved we didn’t lose any of the big players…yet. Regardless, it was an undeniably nail-biting episode, especially when Rick noticed Glenn’s pocket watch, bag, and riot gear without the rightful owner in sight. Fortunately it didn’t end on an abrupt cliffhanger.
I don’t know about you, but I’m extremely excited for season five. So, tell us what you thought of the season finale — would you give it an “A”? Which season so far has been your favorite? AMC wants to have the series continue to 2022. Are you planning on sticking around till then or is this the end of the line for you?