The fourth season of The Walking Dead came to a violent close last night with ‘A,’ an episode that featured Rick’s rebirth, as well as a troublesome revelation about Terminus. This record breaking episode definitely stands tall amongst the three previous season finales, and like a good cliffhanger should, the ending left you wanting the Fall to come quicker than Summer.
Please note that SPOILERS will follow, so if you’re not caught up on The Walking Dead you should mosey on by.
‘A’ predominantly featured Rick, Michonne, Carl, and Daryl, but towards the end Glenn’s group also got a bit of screen time. This episode also featured Rick-centric flashbacks to the time just after Woodbury fell at the end of season 3.
Throughout the episode Rick thinks back to his time at the prison when Hershel slowly persuaded him to put up his guns for a shovel, so he and the rest of the prison camp survivors could live a peaceful and sustainable life. At first Rick couldn’t give up his dark side if you will, but overtime he succumbed to Hershel’s wise council and began to filter a more peaceful life down to Carl. This is why we see Rick the farmer throughout most of season 4. He’s tried his damnedest to keep ass-kicking Rick at bay to embrace Hershel’s new way of thinking, and for the most part Rick maintains his more peaceful demeanor throughout season 4, but there’s been hints of his dark side (Tyreese fight), and the season four finale shines a spotlight on it.
Rick and the Marauders reunite
Rick, Carl, and Michonne are steadily approaching Terminus, and along the way Rick gets in some hunting training with Carl, while also teaching him that not everyone can be saved in a zombie apocalypse. This is further highlighted in a scene where the three of them must watch a man die because there’s just too many walkers around him to save him. There’s still a bit of tension between father and son, which has been palpable throughout all of season 4, but Rick continues to opt for peace over violence which doesn’t always sit well with Carl.
During the night the three are descended upon by Joe and the Marauders who have finally caught up to them. Things don’t look good at all for Rick, Michonne, and Carl as Joe and his gang begin to terrorize them for Rick killing their buddy. Daryl eventually shows up and vouches for Rick, but that leads to him getting beat down by his new crew for “lying.”
Rick tries to escape the gun being held to his head, but he fails, which leads Joe to command one of his goons to violate Carl’s behind. Rick’s inner badass begins to finally come to the forefront during this traumatic meet up with Joe’s group, so in what could be the most brutal death of the series, Rick chomps out Joe’s throat with his own teeth, and then proceeds to violently gut the man who tried to rape Carl.
This entire scene was very tough to watch, and if it didn’t make you uncomfortable you probably have some issues of your own to deal with, but it served as the vehicle to bring Rick’s demonic side back to the surface, so it wasn’t shot just for shock’s sake (loosely based on a scene from the comics.) With Rick back to his old self, and Daryl back in tow, the four head on towards Terminus to see if it truly is a sanctuary.
Welcome to Terminus
After the murderous encounter with Joe and the Marauders Rick doesn’t want to take any chances with the denizens of Terminus, so he and his gang break into the camp to have a look around. The group eventually stumbles upon the inhabitants of Terminus, who seem harmless, yet odd. Their leader Gareth calms Rick and his group down and takes them to the main entrance that was shown at the end of last week’s episode. While looking around at the food grill Rick begins to notice that the citizens of Terminus have items from his prison camp friends in their possession, such as Glenn’s armor and chain watch. Rick sense something is up and pulls his gun out and demands answers, which leads him and his small group into a chase to get away from Terminus, which obviously isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
Gareth and his followers take pot shots at Rick and his crew as they run through Terminus for safety, but their aim is way off, and it begins to seem like the Terminus survivors are herding Rick and his friends towards a trap. This is indeed the case, as Gareth and his gang force Rick and his group into a train car. When Rick enters the car it’s revealed that Glenn, Maggie, Sasha, Bob, Sgt. Ford, Eugene, and Rosita have also been captured. Rather than panic and end the episode on a depressive note, Rick calmly tells his friends that, “They’re screwing with the wrong people.”
Just like that badass Rick is back, and the more docile version of him that has been featured in season 4 has been put to rest. Season 5 is going to be a violent affair indeed.
‘A’ didn’t feature any major character deaths, but it did a great job at bringing Rick’s season 4 emotional transition to a close, while also opening up all sorts of paths for the show to take in season 5. The scene with Joe and the Marauders is easily one of the most nerve wracking and uncomfortable moments of the entire series, but it perfectly shined the light on just how far Rick can go if his family and friends get threatened, which was needed to bring him as a character full circle in season 4.
Gareth and the Terminus survivors have enough mystery about them to keep things interesting in season 5, but if you were really watching close to the Terminus scenes you may have guessed what’s in store for Rick and the other survivors next season. They’ll have to deal with a new type of zombie apocalypse survivors, because these people seem to have a taste for human flesh. With that being said Rick is back in charge and ready to kick ass, so it’ll be interesting to see how he and his fellow box car mates deal with the cannibals of Terminus once the show returns next Fall.
The only former prison camp survivors that still aren’t accounted for are Carol, Tyreese, Judith, and Beth, so there’s a great chance they’ll have a hand in the Terminus debacle next season as well. Head on down past the break to check out two behind the scenes featurettes for ‘A.’
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Photos by Gene Page/AMC