The Walking Dead Season 4 Review “A”

The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 16 A (2)

So…wow. All right then. That was…not what I was expecting.

I’ve made it very clear in my reviews of this half-season that I was a bit impatient with The Walking Dead in this 8 episode run. We first learned about Terminus in episode 9, and we’ve slowly watched all of the main characters on the series slowly make their way there. With the entire second half of your season leading up to a clear conclusion, that conclusion really better live up to the hype. So, was Terminus as cool as we thought it would be? Was “A” the season finale that we all wanted? Read on to find out.

Tonight’s finale was directed by one of the best TV directors working right now, Michelle MacLaren. She most recently directed the incredible Breaking Bad episode “To’hajilee”, and if she could capture even half of the tension and drama of that episode, I would have been just fine.

The episode begins with a flashback to Rick’s life in the prison, and continues to cut back over the course of the episode, with the since-deceased Hershel playing a large part in these scenes. It was great to see Scott Wilson back in these moments, and it was interesting to find out how big of a part Hershel played in Rick making the decision to put down his gun and decide to live a more peaceful life. It was also nice to have these scenes to flashback to, since it was very nice to cut all of the tension from the present day stuff.

Of course the episode wasn’t all happy flashbacks and reminiscing, with the first big scene coming when Joe and his men attacked Rick, Michonne, and Carl. I said last week that I would need some kind of explanation as to what makes these guys that bad of people. Joe seemed pretty confident that Terminus wouldn’t accept people like them, but all we’ve really seen them do is just hunt and scavenge to stay alive. We hadn’t seen these guys do anything worse than, say, Rick or Daryl! Well that all changed tonight, when Joe makes it very clear that they’re going to kill Daryl, rape Michonne and Carl, then kill Rick to cap it all off! Whoa! I guess these guys really are bad news! Of course that doesn’t happen, with Rick having one of the coolest kills ever by going all walker on Joe by biting his jugular off. The rest of the crew is able to easily overcome their attackers, with the cherry on top coming from Rick as he brutally disembowels the guy that was about to rape his son. Pretty dark stuff.

Carl’s reaction to seeing his dad do all of that crazy stuff was a bit surprising, though. I mean, sure, it’s never fun seeing some dude getting stabbed a million times, but he was just about to rape you! It was the only course of action at the time! We later find out that Carl is feeling a little guilt of his own, telling Michonne that he’s not who his dad thinks he is, and that he’s a monster too. I’m a little tired of all of this drama between Rick and Carl. It all just seems so manufactured and false. When is Carl going to grow up and realize that his dad can’t be a friendly, happy-go-lucky guy in the zombie apocalypse. Sometimes you got to bite a few throats and stab a few child rapists! That’s what I’ll tell my son one day!

Michonne tried to make Carl feel better by sharing a bit more about who she was before she met Rick’s group. I liked that she admitted how insane it was to be keeping zombie pets, and it really showed us how much she’s matured as a character (as compared to Carl, unfortunately). Michonne was frustratingly tight lipped and dour when she was first introduced, so I’ve loved seeing her open up and grow such a tight bond with Carl and Rick, and it was nice to have a brief but sweet namedrop for Andrea. RIP, Andrea. Maybe try a little harder to get free if there’s a dude turning into a zombie right in front of you.

So Rick’s group finally found Terminus, and met all of the crazies that inhabit it. Their leader seems to be Gareth, who is a pretty cool villain for our protagonists. He really oozed a lot of natural charisma and intimidation, despite being a scrawny dude with an emo haircut. The design of Terminus was really cool, too, with all of the cult-ish imagery and people’s names being scribbled all over the place. However, that’s where all of my good feelings about Terminus ends.

Rick’s group is quickly shepherded into a train car where they meet the rest of their friends. Rick says the Terminans (that’s the official name of them according to IMDb) are going to feel pretty stupid when they realize something. Glenn asks him what he means, which is where things get really disappointing. The music swells, the camera zooms in on Rick, and he utters the last line we’ll hear of the whole season: “They don’t know who they’re screwing with.” Um…really?

So, that’s it. The big showdown that we’ve literally been waiting for over these last eight episodes was over before it began, and now we have to wait until October to see what happens. I was hoping that the showdown at Terminus would live up to the hype that they were building up, but man was it a disappointment. Nothing happened! None of the characters died, we didn’t find out what happened to Beth, Tyreese, or Carol, and nothing was really learned about Terminus. We don’t even know if they’re bad people! Maybe they’re just trying their best to stay safe from outsiders. Maybe Glenn and his group also tried to pull a gun on someone, so they got sent to the train car. If these Terminus guys were really so bad, you’d think they’d just shoot them instead of clearly just shooting around them to herd them to where they were supposed to go. We really don’t know anything that we didn’t already know before, which is really frustrating. Why did we spend these last eight episodes just running in place leading up to this lame climax?

You want to know what happened in these eight episodes? Beth was kidnapped, Lizzie and Mika died, and we met Abraham and his crew. That’s it. It took eight episodes for all of that to happen, when it all could have probably happened in one. Maybe you want to stretch out all of those events into four or five episodes. Sure! Then we could have been at Terminus for the last three or four episodes! But no, AMC pushed all of this Terminus hype, with their obnoxious “#Terminus” flashing up over the last few weeks, and it didn’t result in anything.

I’ll continue watching the show in the fall, since I want to see the Terminus payoff that I should have already seen by now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this shows meteoric ratings start to dip a bit by then. I guess we’ll see, but I am not a very happy camper right now.

What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments section below!

Random Thoughts:

– I’m very interested to find out the logistics behind how they pulled off those scenes between Rick and Hershel. Did they shoot all of those scenes will Scott Wilson was still in Georgia shooting the show? Before they destroyed the prison set in the mid-season finale? Maybe they were just scenes that they already shot and cut from the first half of the season, and decided to stitch them into this episode.

– Why is Michelle MacLaren not directing major motion pictures at this point?! After Breaking Bad, tonight’s Walking Dead, and some episodes from the upcoming season of Game of Thrones, she’s becoming one of the most in-demand directors on television!

– I said this last week, and I’ll say it again: My prediction is that the Terminus folks are killing the people they capture and eating them. Did you see all of those skeletons in that yard when Rick and the rest were all running from the gunfire? That’s where they put the parts they don’t eat! You heard it here first!