The fourth season of the wildly popular series, The Walking Dead, wrapped up this past Sunday, and 15.7 million viewers tuned in. Most of this season was spent rebuilding each character after the end of their peaceful stay in a refurbished prison. The fourth season separated each of the main characters into groups and began to build out backstories and develop narratives in a very pleasing way. The finale ended that granular storytelling and brought the larger group back together. It also created a new antagonist to contend with.
The finale, “A”, was comprised of the current storyline juxtaposed with a flashback story of Rick in the peaceful prison. This showed that Rick is done trying to live a life of peace in this brutal new world. However, the show, as it sometimes does, dangled over the edge of being too obvious and cliché with its signaling of character changes. There was also the constant reminder that “We’re all the walking dead!” which is ubiquitous and overdone.
Nevertheless, in the flashback, Rick is talking with Herschel (R.I.P.) about showing his son another way to live besides constant violent struggle. They investigate the possibility of being farmers. Flash-forward to the current day and Rick is on the road at the hands of evil men. Coincidentally, Darryl has linked up with this group of sociopaths, without knowing how evil they truly are. This band holds Rick at gunpoint and promises to beat Darryl to death for vouching for Rick, Michonne, and Carl. They then tell Rick they will rape Michonne and his son, and then kill them both before they kill him. In perhaps one of the most satisfying recent examples of the good guy delivering justice, Rick tears out the leader’s throat with his teeth a la Hannibal Lector and then stabs the man threatening his son at least fifteen times.
Clearly, the idea of Rick the farmer making his separate peace is over.
As Rick, Michonne, Darryl, and Carl pick up the pieces after brutally killing several people, they continue to travel towards Terminus. Terminus is the latest pipe dream to come upon the survivors. Each group saw signs promising shelter and community for anyone who arrives. Desperate for any type of saving grace, all four groups from the prison head in that direction. Glenn and Maggie’s group united in the penultimate episode of the fourth season, and they have already made it to Terminus. Now Rick’s group arrives.
But something is amiss. Rick notices people at Terminus wearing goods, clothing, and armor that his former compatriots owned. And where did the meat that they are offering come from? There aren’t any cows around. Rick immediately jumps into action and takes one of the Terminus members hostage. However, a sniper kills the hostage and Rick, with his friends in tow, begins to run. They end up at the mercy of the Terminus group and are rounded into a train car where they find Maggie, Glenn, Bob, Sasha, Tara, and newcomers Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene. Carol and Tyreese are not there, and most likely they will play a roll in the inevitable escape.
In the ending scene, Rick promises that the Terminus cannibals have made a grave mistake in his best Clint Eastwood voice. And post neck-biting, I tend to agree with him.