Spoilers dead ahead.
It’s been quite a season. I didn’t expect anything huge for the finale, but it was a really strong ending. There was enough action to please a lot of people yet it’s still a bit stronger in character development than anything else. If you haven’t seen The Walking Dead 4×16: A you will want to stop right now and do that before you go on.
Done? Then let’s begin.
Hershel is in this episode. We get these flashbacks to the prison where we see new scenes of how Hershel tried to get a reluctant Rick to put away his gun and try farming. We also see Rick start to give in and teach Carl the same thing. It makes you miss Hershel and the days where peace and order were the norm and crazy was the exception.
In the present, Rick, Michonne and Carl are running low on resources and have zombies closing in from all sides That’s not the bigger issue though. During an overnight stop they are ambushed by Joe and his gang. It is a tense situation, the closest they’ve been to being completely done for. Daryl makes a plea to Joe. He promises these are good people. He asks Joe that if it’s blood he wants, he offers himself instead. That goes sour in a hurry as he is beaten up. Joe keeps the gun on Rick’s face as another gang member is trying to rape Carl in the most uncomfortable scene we’ve yet to witness. Joe tells Rick that Daryl will die first, then they’ll have their way with Michonne and Carl and then they’ll kill him before they’re square.
Rick snaps. Can you blame him?
He head butts Joe. The gun goes off, stunning Rick momentarily. Joe fights him, kicks him to the ground, grabs him in a bear hug. Then Rick bites and tears a chunk of Joe’s neck off. The rest of the gang is shocked. Michonne quickly grabs the gun from her captor and turns it on him. Bye, Tony. Daryl manages to knock down one if his attackers, the other is shot down by Michonne. She then turns the gun on the guy holding Carl. Rick takes the Joe’s knife and tells Michonne that this one’s his. The guy sees Rick coming at him as a madman and quickly surrenders. He gets gutted like a pig. The friends survive, but all that Rick learned from Hershel at the prison seems to be slipping away as his own sanity unravels.
It’s survival in its rawest form. You are up against predators. There’s nobody to call, nobody that will assist. It’s just pure instinct. However, once Rick lets the monster out there’s no way it’s going back inside. So it’s still his own savage self that makes him kill the man that was going to hurt Carl beyond measure. Whether it is justified or not is not relevant. The point is to live to fight another day. We’re still seeing the lessons from Hershel to Rick in the flashbacks, lessons that seems to be fading away as survival takes priority.
The group moves on. They’ve been shaken. The arrival to Terminus is next, but Rick wisely opts to avoid the front entrance as they sneak around the back. Michonne reveals the last bit of her story to Carl, as the kid seems to prefer to hang out with her instead of his dad. Carl lets Michonne know he thinks of himself as a monster. Rick watches from a distance as he buries a bag of weapons that include his own revolver. Remember they took all the weapons from Joe’s gang so they have quite a cache stored there.
The team finally jumps the fence and sneaks into Terminus. The people inside are surprised to see them, but as cautious as they are they also seem sensible. Gareth seems to be the one in charge. He and another guy named Alex check the team for weapons, but give them back to them.
Here’s where the story could have ended, but it’s not as easy. You see, we all expect Terminus to be a trap. We’re all waiting for it. The series again takes the road less traveled and decides there’s no point in letting us wait until October to find out what we already know.
Somebody cue Admiral Ackbar. It’s going down.
It all starts as Rick’s keen eye notices his friends’ belongings are spread out with the inhabitants of Terminus. It’s Hershel’s watch – that he knows that Glenn would never give up – that is the final straw as he notices it inside Alex’s pocket. He takes him hostage. A sniper threatens them from the roof. Alex tells him to stand down. Gareth appears. It’s a distraction maneuver as they get fired upon.
The team runs but they are constantly shot at from above. It’s not bad aiming or luck that is keeping them safe. They are being led through a labyrinth of warehouses and corridors with a purpose. We get a glimpse of meat and blood lying around several corpses (human, for sure). As they cross another open space, they pass by containers that seem to have people inside.
More shooting leads them into a building with an “A” marked next to the door. They end up in a room filled with candles, names on the floor and messages on the walls stating to “Never Trust”, “Never Again” and “We First, Always”. They leave the room through a door that also has an “A” next to it.
They are finally trapped right in front of the fence with several guns trained on them. Gareth asks them to surrender and drop their weapons. He then asks each one in turn to walk towards a train car. He calls Rick first as the Ringleader, then Daryl as the Archer and Michonne as the Samurai. There’s a moment in which you think Carl is going to be left behind or executed, but he’s finally ordered to join them.
The train car is also marked as “A”. It ends up containing the previous group of survivors that arrived at Terminus: Glenn, Maggie, Tara, Bob, Sasha, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene. That means we still have Carol and Tyreese with baby Judith unaccounted for and of course, the uncertain future of Beth.
Rick’s has the last word as he states to the group that “they are screwing with the wrong people”. It sounds like a hollow treat, but we’ve seen him unleash his darkest side. Whether or not he can lead the reunited group of survivors to their freedom is something we’ll have to wait to find out in October.
Highs: Rick’s character goes through hell to realize he will have to become something darker to survive, and hopefully he will always make it back. Whether or not Carl might be able to pull the same trick is yet to see. The gang has regrouped, although we have some people yet to appear. Rick turning to the dark side was one of the most disturbing yet amazing moments in the series. Rick telling Daryl that he’s his brother. Michonne’s moment with Carl. Gareth nicknaming the four survivors. The four prisoners reuniting with their friends. Nobody died.
Lows: We have to wait until October for the next season.
It’s being an amazing season. We’ve had crazy events and had to endure major losses. We saw the Governor return, Hershel die, lost Mika and Lizzie, and had our survivors lost their home and spread to the wind. We’ve all got theories about Terminus. We still have to see Carol and Rick face each other and perhaps we’ll get Beth back. Rick won back his humanity, lost all hope, gained again and had to accept that sometimes he has to become a monster. And the people of Terminus might need to be taught not to bite more than they can chew.
That will do for now.