In The Walking Dead’s Season 4 finale, Rick’s group finally made it to Terminus. So did they find friends or foes?
Okay, I don’t necessarily need the word “f***” on a TV show. Many great shows have gone without. But I do need it when the word “screw” is used in its place. I’ve never used, nor have heard, the word “screw” in any serious way in my entire life. Only for minor offenses. As in “I screwed up.” And Rick’s last line in the medium-roast Walking Dead finale really needed that “f***.” They’re f***ing with the wrong people.” They could have just bleeped it out. It would have still been effective.
Especially since other shows use the bleeped version. Whether it’s for comedy, like on Parks and Rec, or on AMC’s own Breaking Bad, which has used it to put an extra exclamation point on something. That final line needed it.
Because, honestly, it was my favorite part of the episode. A shame actually that it came right at the end. It just really helped sell the situation with the cannibals at Terminus as being wholly different from every other situation the gang’s gotten into with other horrible humans. And it helped because A: We’d just seen Rick run afoul of a Joe’s group at the top of the episode (they turned out to be – surprise! – horrible killers and rapists after all), and B: all of us watching the show predicted something was horribly wrong with Terminus from the get-go. So Rick’s big rallying moment there right at the closing was sort of a nod to the viewer, and all the characters on the show, who knew something was rotten in Denmark weeks ago.
I know “Terminus,” by definition, doesn’t mean anything sinister. But it sure sounded ominous. Like a Skynet assassin actually. So the writing was on the wall (even literally here in the episode) a while back. Cannibals (again, as many predicted). And I suppose I’m thankful that the jig was up rather quickly. It took Rick all of a few minutes before noticing that something was way off. A good thing for us, and a good thing for the episode since his group didn’t even arrive there until the third act.
The Joe stuff wound up being a bit of a waste. We’d spent a whole episode with his gang and his rules (very happy to hear Daryl dismiss Joe’s ways as being dumb) – enough to start making us wonder about where Joe stood overall. Then here, we found out that he and his crew were just another bunch of roaming a-holes. There wound up being nothing interesting about them at all. And after all Daryl had gone through with Joe last week in “Us,” Joe just turned on him in a blink.
So Joe’s gang were all quickly killed off to pretty much service the Rick/Carl storyline – allowing Rick to get extra vicious (going full-walker with that lethal neck chomp), making it so the Ringleader, Archer, Samurai, and boy got to live another day. It didn’t add up to all that much thematically, so the episode was constructed in a way to make it seem extra poignant – using flashbacks to the time Hershel introduced Rick to the farming life as a way to highlight the temporary peace and safety that everyone had lost.
Yeah, so no big deaths here in “A.” Also, no follow up on Beth, or Carol/Tyreese/Judith. Perhaps the whole cannibal situation would have gotten too complicated with a baby around. In place of those characters (and big show exits) were flashbacks featuring Hershel, Beth and Judith. Even “Plague-y” Patrick showed up.
Oh, and another reason you knew Terminus was up to no good is because Star Trek: TNG’s Denise Crosby now looks like Karen Black’s Mother Firefly in House of 1000 Corpses.
Overall, a suspenseful but soft season finale. I am glad, however, that we finally got the full story about Michonne’s lost child. We knew Mike and Terry were the two zombies she dragged around with her (Wait, did we know that on the show? Or am I thinking of the comic?) so it was nice to hear her finally say it.
Matt Fowler is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler