The Walking Dead: A

Carl: “Who are we?”

It’s the season finale and we have come back to the same question that always threads through this story. If this happened to you, who would you be? Would you become what you needed to be to survive? If you couldn’t, would that mean the end of you? How would you deal with the monsters both outside and within? It seems impossible to tell who is a ‘good’ person anymore.
If Terminus is any indication, it is only the people in your tribe. Everyone else is fair game -- literally. I think what is different in our group is that they still want to be good people. Rick is shocked at his own behaviour and Daryl is upset that he was even associated with Joe and his gang. Maggie and Glenn's group just walked into Terminus, happy to be fed and looking for others like them. It's a good bet that the food was drugged and from the skeletons heaped behind the fence our group ran past, it was probably people they were eating.

The flashbacks to the prison were painful. The opening scene with Glenn and Maggie so relaxed and happy was heartbreaking. Hershel was there, a ghost trying to bring peace to Rick and Carl. It was so sad to watch them all hope while you knew that it would all come crashing down. The Rick and Carl from before the attempt at farming have returned and have kept them alive. As Rick says, it is his monster that has protected himself and Carl. It was interesting to watch him accept that part of himself. Perhaps by doing that he will have more control over it. Does that mean that all survivors must also be monsters? Is that why Terminus is still there? Frankly, I prefer the violent monster of Rick to the cool cunning of Gareth. Even with monsters, there is a line. Joe and his crew were all monster and probably were before the apocalypse.

There was a lot of foreshadowing and clues in this episode. The snare for the rabbit was a metaphor for the trap that Terminus set. The constant chatter about food also spoke to possible shortages that might call for desperate measures. There was also a lot of talk about, and illustration of, human monsters. It is interesting that the threat is shifting from walkers to other survivors. I know that there was a lot of conjecture that the people at Terminus were cannibals. The skeletons seem to prove that and the train cars with people in them seem to support it but I’m not sure how you would get an entire village to agree to it and be so calm when people arrive. If Rick and the group were just meat, it would have made sense to kill them. It would be less trouble although maybe they needed fattening up. But why would you take people’s things if you were going to incorporate them into your group? I still haven’t bought the cannibal thing completely, but that might just be because I find it abhorrent.

So where are the lines of monstrous behaviour now? Raping women and young boys is obviously over the line. Killing humans is not anymore, or even letting them die to save yourself. As time goes on, the line slides. Is eating humans over the line? If they are bad? If there is no more food? Maybe it is okay if you only do it until the first crops come in or you find some livestock.

Finally, as predicted, our whole group is still not together. We have no Tyreese, Carol, Judith or Beth. They may be at Terminus in another car or they may be still to come in various ways. While I didn’t find this the best of the season finales, at least there is quite a set-up for next fall. We probably need the Terminus people to be monsters if our group is going to destroy them, but it would be so much more interesting if they are actually good people and our group, albeit unintentionally, are the monsters this time.

Bits and Pieces

I wasn’t fond of the explanation for Michonne’s actions. It would have been enough that her partner insisted on staying at the camp even when she had argued it was dangerous.

I enjoyed the reunion of Rick and Daryl. I found it unusual that Rick didn't ask any questions when Daryl said that Beth was just gone.

Carl cleaning his gun on a colouring book was a nice metaphor. Not to mention Patrick playing with Legos. Patrick was doing what Rick hoped Carl would do, but Carl is alive and Patrick is dead.

The Ringleader, the Archer and the Samurai. They sound like comic book heroes.

Things I could live without: The poor guy being ripped apart by walkers as Carl watched. Rick stabbing the guy over and over again after taking a chunk out of Joe’s throat.


Hershel: "Ever since I gave Glenn my watch, it's right now to me."

Rick: "Yeah, it's always the same, isn't it? We don’t get to know until we know."

Joe: "Shit and I was thinking of turning in early on New Year's Eve."

Daryl: "You want blood, I get it. Take it from me, man." (Have I mentioned that I love Daryl?)

Rick: "He's mine."

Rick: "You being back with us here, now, that's everything. You're my brother."

Michonne: "I was gone for a long time."

Carl: "I'm just another monster, too."

Written on the wall in the room full of candles: "We first, always." (That seems to be the motto of any group of survivors).

Rick: "They're gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out."
Ford: "Find out what?"
Rick: "They’re screwing with the wrong people."


Freeman said...

Again! This show has another episode that inspires me to keep watching. It's like I'm in an abusive relationship or something, geez. The scene with Rick and Joe's gang was amazing. I had to watch it again. I was so uneasy and horrified. And then when Rick snapped I didn't know whether to cheer or be upset. I don't care what anyone says, Andrew Lincoln is a great actor. He looked like an uncaged animal. That scene was just brutal between Rick tearing out a dude's throat then repeatedly shanking a guy and Daryl curb stomping the other guy to death. And Carl's face while he watched was haunting. Obviously Rick and Carl have the same monster inside them, and Carl's just scared to show it because he knows it will let down his dad. I knew there was more to him brawling with Tyreese than simply testosterone. At least on his part.

I had hoped way back when in the Nebraska episode that Rick was gonna become truer to his comic book counterpart. But I think this episode is more of a clearer indication that Rick isn't taking anymore mess from anyone anymore. From him sniffing out Terminus and reacting immediately and planning ahead with the gun bag. I also loved how Daryl didn't even miss a beat and had his bow up and ready to go once Rick acted. Their brotherhood is one of my favorite things on the show.

Jess Lynde said...

I had a lot of the same reactions as Freeman. Particularly to the throwdown with Joe’s gang. It was pretty much the reaction Scott Gimple said they were going for on The Talking Dead: I was mentally cheering when Rick head-butted Joe and went after him, but then he ripped out his throat and went hardcore on the attempted rapist, and I thought “Whoa. I’m not sure how I feel about this.” Ultimately, it seemed necessary, but in the moment I was so shocked that it went that far. I do like that it seems to have brought Rick to a place of peace with both the man and the monster within, and I agree that it was good to see him get back to the guy from ‘Nebraska’ (a slightly more aggressive version). But I’m haunted by the look on Carl’s face as he watched. That one still has a way to go to make peace with himself, and find the balance between young man and monster.

I really liked the focus of the episode being back on Rick, Carl, and Michonne, with a nice dash of Daryl on the side. And I’m relieved that no one I care about has died, as of yet. Whew.
I also loved the flashbacks to the prison, because they underlined the full scope of Rick’s transformation this season. And I was just really happy to spend a little more time with Hershel again, and to see everyone somewhat happy.

Billie Doux said...

I kept thinking that Rick was going to die in the season finale because they seemed to be signaling it, but it's obvious now that they were signaling that Rick had to change. What he did was shocking, but it made sense. And that last line was great -- except I kept hearing Riddick saying it, with the F bomb. Am I really comparing Rick to Riddick? That's actually pretty cool.

Another great season of reviews, Doc. I'm so glad you review this show for us. You always bring up stuff I was thinking, and take it further.

Tarek Nabhan said...

i thought the finale lacked a big final punching scene, it just felt like another episode with a cliff hanger. Not to say the episode wasn't good, but i felt like they could have done much better.

I also didn't like the flashbacks, they felt out of place for me, they did serve their purpose, but i mean they really didn't fit the mood.

All in all, this season of the walking dead has been mediocre. The whole series would have been better if Darabont stayed. But with AMC firing two show runners for the walking dead so far, i wouldn't say the show is in good hands, especially not with AMC.

Treerox said...

I've just re-watched this season in time for season 5. All I can say is that I found this season good, probably cause I don't over-analyze each episode and go with the flow.

Lamounier said...

This was a good season finale in what has been, for me, the best season of this series thus far. The writers made the right call to deal with Joe’s gang on the first half of the episode. That was a very tense scene and frightened me more than any other scene The Walking Dead ever did. There’s something very disturbing about rape / attempted rape scenes, and having a child be the victim is taking it to a whole new level of disturbing. I agree with Daryl, a lot of people would’ve done what Rick did (maybe not so cruelly, but still).

Of course Terminus was a bad place. I’m very na├»ve. That was a good set up for season five. I thought Rick’s final line was “they’re screwing with their own people” and I tried to make sense of it for minutes. Then I read the review and the actual line makes much more sense.

I really like Michonne’s relationship with Carl. And Rick’s “you’re my brother” made me say “aw” out loud, that moment between the two of them was very much earned.

The flashbacks didn't do much for me, but I loved seeing Hershel again.