The season four finale is finally here. While it wasn't the best, it certainly wasn't the worst either. I actually rather liked it. The writers completed a few story lines and character arcs that showrunner Scott M. Gimple put into play, but there are still a few remaining puzzles for season five. Where is Tyreese, Carol and baby Judith after they left behind the bodies of Lizzie and Mika? When we last saw them in episode 14, it appeared they were heading towards Terminus, but we're not sure if they ever made it. And an even bigger mystery is who kidnapped Beth away from Daryl?
Gimple wanted to work on character development this season and he certainly did that. Rick was a broken man during season three which led to his complete mental break where he had visions of his dead wife Lori in the prison. He slowly recovered with Hershel's help, but after the Governor's attacks, he was once again beaten down pretty badly. And as the season unfolded, he was pushed to the brink and did what only comes naturally to humanity during the zombie apocalypse. He became the biggest, baddest monster of them all. And that's the point of The Walking Dead. The zombies are only an apocalyptic flu, but the humans are the real bogeymen.
Joe's marauders finally catch up with Rick, Michonne and Carl and are ready to exact their vengeance upon them for killing Joe's compadre Lou. Joe had a gun to Rick's head, while another headband-wearing sleaze had Michonne covered and two others from the Claimed gang were beating the sh*t out of Daryl. But it was the sight of a disgusting pedophile named Dan, putting his body on top of Carl, ready to rape him, that triggered the moment of Rick's transformation. He becomes a living zombie at that moment, stunning Joe with a head butt and then bit down hard on his neck, ripping it to shreds. This leads to them quickly overtaking the rest of the marauders and it was topped off by Rick going Hannibal Lecter on the pedo. It appears Rick has finally embraced his inner psycho.
Michonne was very much an isolated and damaged sword wielding loner, who was slowly brought back to humanity by hooking up with Andrea when we met her. She still hated most people and trusted even fewer. But by the end of season four, she has become a dependable support system for Carl, who is barely clinging on to his own sanity. I also learned that she was very much like The Governor in many ways and I think that's what tipped her off to his own insanity when she met him at Woodbury. She confessed to Carl that she led around her dead boyfriend and her friend (correction) in chains like zombie pets for a long time after they were killed which is exactly what the Governor did with his daughter. Her development has been fun to watch.
Daryl didn't have as much of an up and down arc as Rick did this season because he's been one of the more stable members of the zombie apocalypse, but as he drew closer to Beth, he seemed to become a more mature man and after losing her, he was ready to fall back to the old Daryl. Seeing Rick snapped him out of it again. I still find it odd how difficult it is for him to talk about Beth.
Carl has become much more likeable and he's at least developed to the point where he's afraid of the things he thinks about. He could have easily gone in the same direction as crazy Lizzie did after he killed that boy.
The spirit of Hershel resonates within every member of the group and is a constant source of inspiration for Rick, Maggie and Glenn. He might be more powerful in death than he was when he was alive, but he'll always be missed on TWD.
And the finale also set up season five very well. Only the comic readers know what's happening at this point within the walls of Terminus (please refrain from future spoilers in the comment section), but it appears living cannibals are on the loose now. The fact that Maggie, Glenn, Bob, Sasha, Eugene, Rosita, Rick, Carl, Daryl and Michonne are locked together in a darkened railroad car with no hope of escape would have been downer, except for Rick. He turned their situation around by declaring that these terminus people really stepped in it because they are people not to be f@*ked with. That was very cool. It actually gave the finale an uplifting quality to it.
And let the recap begin.
Flashback time. It's always good to see Hershel, but not when it's Rick's flashback and he's covered in blood sitting in silence against a puke green 4X4 and trembling.
Carl, Michonne and Rick are cooking up some canned food in the woods and they're hungry. Carl wonders how close they are to Terminus and then questions how they would explain to the people there all the things they've had to do to survive.
Who are we?
Rick finds that they've caught a small rabbit in his trap. He's teaching Carl how to hunt when they hear a man screaming for help. Carl bolts towards the noise. There's a man surrounded by zombies, swinging a stick and begging for help. Carl is about to start shooting when Rick wraps him up and tells him they can't save him. The zombies calmly chow down on his face. They make a run towards the railroad tracks as a few walkers begin to follow them. A little ways up the tracks, they see zombie ladies eating somebody on the tracks in front of them. As Rick rushes them, he flashes back to Hershel at the prison.
Michonne and Rick kill the four zombies in front of them as a gang of walkers come up from the rear. They are off the tracks now and are power-walking down a road when they come in contact with an abandoned 4X4. The same one that's in the opening. At night, Carl sleeps in the car and Rick complains that he caught a really small rabbit when Joe puts a pistol to his head.
You screwed up, asshole.
Joe proclaims that the day of reckoning is upon him on New Year's Eve and starts the countdown to shoot him when Daryl yells at him to stop.
These people, you're going to let them go. These are good people.
Now, I think Lou would disagree with you on that.
You want blood, take it from me.
You say he's good people. See now right there, that is a lie. It's a lie.
The marauders start beating the sh*t out of Daryl.
Teach him fellows, teach him all the way.
That's his code for murder. Marauder Dan grabs Carl out of the car and leers at him. Rick sees this and tells Joe that it was just him that killed Lou.
See, that's not some damn lie. We can settle this; we're reasonable men. First we're gonna beat Daryl to death and then we'll have the girl, then the boy. Then, we'll shoot you and then we'll be square.
Pedo Dan knocks Carl onto the ground and tells him to stop squirming as he hovers over him. Rick knocks his head back into Joe's face and the gun goes off next to his ear. Joe is coughing, blood flowing down his nose and says:
Oh, it's going to be so much worse now.
Carl's trying to reach for a knife, but the pedo laughingly rolls him onto his stomach. Joe kicks Rick to the ground while Michonne tries to grab the gun, but headband knocks her back. Joe picks Rick off the ground and asks him what he's gonna do now. Bad idea.
Rick goes zombie on him and takes a big chunk of flesh out of his neck. Blood shoots out from it as Joe falls gurgling to the ground. Pedo Dan looks up from Carl to see Rick spit out Joe's neck. Michonne's gunman is momentarily stunned seeing Joe hit the ground so Michonne is able to grab the gun and blow his head off. Then Michonne shoots one of Daryl's attackers, freeing him up to kill the other one. Fat man Dan grabs Carl by the throat and says he'll kill him if they don't back off, but Rick walks up to him and plunges a blade through his chest and rips it up towards his throat. As he falls to the ground, Rick continues to mutilate his body over and over again as Michonne holds Carl in her arms.
Flashback: Hershel takes Rick to the spot where he says they can't start a garden and domesticate the feral pigs. They can grow their own food. "It's time we started planting." Rick is still worried about Carl after he shot the unarmed kid. Hershel tells him after he teaches him what to do then he has to teach Carl. He asks him what he thinks Carl's life is going to be like. What does he think his life will be about?
We've been here two months. You've made it work. The war's over. This is a good place to start.
It's Rick's flashback and we return to him, covered in blood, sitting in silence against a puke green 4X4 and trembling.
Daryl tells Rick how he met the marauders. He says that Beth was not dead, but just gone and then he ran into these guys. He didn't know how bad they were, but they had a simple stupid code and that was something. He's guilty over what just happened to them, but Rick quiets that idea.
It's not on you. You being back here with us now is everything. You're my brother.
What you did last night. Anybody would have done that.
Rick admits that he is partly a savage now, especially after he almost killed Tyreese, but all that matters is keeping Carl safe.
The four of them now walk the tracks heading to Terminus. They come upon a high wired fence and see Terminus on the other side. It's still eerily quiet. Carl follows Michonne instead of Rick because of how psycho Rick turned last night. As they are walking, she asks him why he never asked how her son died because the how is important. She opens up about her past again: They were living in a refugee camp, but the morale had turned real low. She came back from a supply run and found the camp had been overrun by walkers. Her boyfriend and child were bit, but she let them turn instead of killing them and knocked their teeth out.
Michonne: I tied chains around their necks. It was insane. It was sick. It felt like what I deserved. Dragging them around so I'd always know. I found out that they kept me safe. They hid me. The walkers didn't see me anymore. I was just another monster. That was me. I was gone for a long time. But then Andrea brought me back. Your dad brought me back. You did. I see the way you've been looking at your dad. You don't have to be afraid of me... or him.
Carl tells her that his father told him how proud he was of him, but that's not what Carl sees himself as. "I'm just another monster too." Michonne hugs him.
Rick buries some weapons in the ground outside of Terminus for an emergency. They climb over the fence and into the camp. They enter and find people slowly milling around. A woman is on a radio telling people to come to Terminus.
Those who arrive survive. Terminus sanctuary for all. Community for all.
Rick says hello and a thirty-something named Gareth asks if they are there to rob them. Rick says no, so Gareth welcomes them to Terminus. He asks that they turn in their weapons and they do. A twenty-something named Alex helps frisk them and then Alex gives them back all their weapons and they head into Terminus.
Mary (Denise Crosby) is still at the big barbeque grill and tells them they'll fit right in. Mary fixes them up a plate and Michonne asks them why they let people in at all.
Gareth: The more people become part of us, we get stronger. That's why we put up the signs. We invite people in. It's how we survive.
Rick is spying a few people and he's apprehensive immediately. Their actions aren't hurried but rather lethargic. And then Rick notices Terminus people wearing things that belonged to Glenn and the others, so he rushes Alex and pulls a pocket watch out of his pants and wants to know where he got it.
Prison flashback: Beth is holding baby Judith, poor Patrick is playing with children's toys and Carl is cleaning his gun. Rick tells him he has something to show him, but leave the guns because they'll get in the way.
Rick yells at Alex, demanding to know where he got Hershel's watch. There's a sniper on the roof and Alex yells at him that he's got this. Rick sees other items that he recognizes and asks where they got them from.
Where's my people?
Gareth comes out and Alex is really scared now.
Rick: You talk to me.
Gareth: What's there left to say? You don't trust us anymore.
Gareth makes a hand signal and guns start firing. Alex gets killed in the crossfire. Alarms go off inside Terminus. Rick and the others try to make an exit, but they are trapped by the gunfire. They run back in and through a doorway marked "A" and it leads them outside through a demolished alleyway. The sniper shots are herding them into a desired location. They run into an auditorium that is covered with lit candles with weird sayings written on the walls.
Never trust. We First, always.
There are names written on the floors next to burning candles which look like memorials to people they have lost.They finally are trapped outside near a red railway car. They have been herded like cattle to this spot. They are forced to drop their weapons and Gareth demands that they all enter the railway car.
Gareth: Ringleader, open the door and go in.
They enter the dark car one by one. As they are trying to get used to the dark, Glenn, Maggie, Bob, Sasha, Tara, Abraham, Eugene and Rosita join them.
Prison flashback. Hershel, Carl and Rick are working in the new garden as Beth holds baby Judith in her arms. Hershel says it can be like this all the time.
Rick stares at the group who are still quite shaken up from being forced into the train car and he angrily says:
They are gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out.
Abraham: Find out what?
They're screwing with the wrong people.
To me, the flashbacks were Rick coming to terms with Hershel's vision of how they could live in Zombieland. To Rick--at this moment--there are no sunny days ahead, no gardens to be planted, pigs to be raised, there's only violent survival.
And so ends Season 4.