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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 4 Episode 16 Recap: “A”

“They’re screwing with the wrong people.”

With these words comes the most chilling, frightening, and enigmatic episode that we’ve ever had to face on The Walking Dead.

Tonight’s season finale managed to provide a somewhat satisfying ending to a shaky season, yet managed to keep a whole lotta other things under a huge cliffhanger, on this thrilling roller coaster of an episode (quite literally speaking, I was out of breath towards the end).

First off, let’s just form a prayer circle and thank the writing gods that Rick is back. The badass sheriff (that we’ve kinda lost interest in this past season) was driven back into the main storyline of the show. And it couldn’t be more wonderful.

The episode flips back and forth between flashbacks at the prison and the present day terrors. It’s really not that instrumental to the plot, but it does remind us of Hershel’s sage wisdom, and gives us leeway into understanding Rick’s character development from the prison days to now.

On the road, Rick, Michonne, and Carl seem like a happy bunch. Come nightfall, Rick and Michonne gather around a fire while Carl sleeps in the car. They are suddenly ambushed by the team of hicks that Daryl joined in the past episode, who have come to avenge the death of one of their members. The leader holds Rick at gunpoint, while Michonne and Carl are kept under close watch.

It seems like all is lost for the trio, until Daryl steps into the scene. He tries to convince the leader that Rick’s not a bad guy, and instead offers himself. As the leader thinks that this is a lie, and therefore a anomaly from their rules, the other hicks begin to beat Daryl up. Carl is dragged out from the car by a shit-faced man, who intends on raping him (I REPEAT, RAPING HIM. RAPING CARL). Things are looking quite bleak.

And in this moment, Rick snaps.

It’s a little frightening, seeing this sudden change in momentum of his character. As he enters combat with the leader, he ends up gaining the upper hand by actually going full blown walker on him and biting his actual throat, spewing flesh and blood out.

So first off, woah. Yeah, that actually happened. This made me wonder…had Rick become this weird, human-walker hybrid? I mean, his skin did look a lot more palish. In the end however, we know that this is just a father pushed to his utmost limits, whose only intent is to make sure his kid is safe. Once he’s taken care of the leader, Rick goes over to the creep hovering over Carl, and rightfully guts his balls and and intestines out.

The next morning, Carl rests in Michonne’s arms, still quite shaken about the turn of events from the previous night. Daryl sits next to Rick, and they both share a temporary moment of peace whilst they update each other. Rick confesses to Daryl that he is, in fact, like a brother to him. Daryl seems taken aback, but quite happy. Definite aw moment.

They begin their trek to Terminus, and reach it in no time. Rick decides to hide the majority of their guns outside the perimeter, which in retrospect was a pretty smart thing to do. They split up, with Carl following Michonne. Michonne takes this opportunity to tell Carl about how her baby died, and who exactly her two puppets were (her husband and family friend). Her philosophy was to make sure that they couldn’t bite anyone else, but still had the ability to protect her. Carl adds to the confession hour that he’s actually not what everyone (including his father) thinks he is, and that he’s actually turning into a monster. How about we leave that judgement for later, okay Carl?

Rick, Michonne, Daryl, and Carl climb over the fence and enter Terminus through the back entrance. Inside the building, they come across a warehouse room, where a lady repeats “Terminus”, “safe haven for all”, and other phrases into a microphone, while a group of people in the back create signs. They are introduced to Gareth, the apparent leader of Terminus, and are welcomed into their “safe haven”.

As they are led into the open area (which we recognize from the end of last episode), everything seems to be going well. There are pretty flowers, lots of happy faces, and food! Rick stays on his guard, however, and soon notice some very strange things about the Terminus people. He recognizes Maggie’s poncho, glenn’s battle gear, and Hershel’s watch in the hands of others. Rick immediately understands that something has gone horribly wrong with the others, smacks the plate of meat away, and takes their guide as a hostage.

From the barbecue to the creepy reference, Terminus led pretty much everyone onto the same conclusion: it’s a freakin cannibal fortress, making their situation a whole lot more desperate.

As gunfire ensues (and horribly, horribly aimed gunfire, might I add), our gang tries to navigate themselves through the maze of Terminus. They pass through a room lit up with a bunch of candles, circular patterns on the ground defined by names of people, and black-smeared messages on the wall, all suggesting some ritualistic (satanic?) nature of the Terminus people.

When they get out into the open, they find out they’re surrounded. Creepy Gareth comes out and orders them to get in a line one by one, and head over to a train cart off to the side. The leader, the archer, and the samurai are ordered first, leaving Carl out in the open.

Now this is where I actually lost my mind: I really thought that Carl would become a martyr or something for the other three, and would die at the hands of these cannibals. Thankfully, Carl is led over to where his dad is, and they each enter the train cart.

Once inside, we find that the four are not alone: they are joined by Maggie, Glenn, Tara, Sasha, Bob, Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita. It’s a wonderful, but unfortunate reunion. As the group looks at each other with hopeless expressions, Rick makes it clear that these Terminus people are simply screwing with the wrong people (translation: “ain’t nobody fucking with my clique”). And thus concludes Season 4.

So OKAY. A lot of stuff to deal with, with no one dead. Let’s just say that the biggest winner in this episode was Rick. As horrified as I was by Rick’s tactics, I was actually punching the air when he bit off the leader’s neck. I honestly cannot wait to see where this character development leads into the next season. This new amalgamated group looks super awesome, and it’ll be wonderful when we see Rick’s ending words come to life. We also must come to realize that there really aren’t any more safe havens in the world.

I have to say that the writers of The Walking Dead really pushed the limits. Granted the neck-biting scene was actually in the original comics (Issue #57), the whole rape-situation with Carl was absolutely shocking. We obviously know that creeps like that probably still exist in this world, but we haven’t actually been exposed to this type of evil. And I know I love hating on pubescent Carl, who’s just trying to live his teenage life in this apocalyptic world. But seeing him on his own and isolated from his dad, a target for the Terminus creeps, made me super sad and dreading the moment at which he might have been executed. Thankfully we didn’t see that happen.

Now for all the unanswered questions. Where the hell is Beth? What was the deal with that one dude in the forest getting eaten up by the walkers?? And the milk powder packages by the train car…I recognized it as baby food stuff. Could that mean that Tyreese, Carol, and baby Judith passed by Terminus? I’m hoping not, but you honestly never know.

So yes, the past season has been pretty crap. But after this latest episode, I think I can speak on everyone’s behalf that we are all super pumped up for the next season. Let’s believe that Rick can keep this momentum going, that we get some more insight into the people of Terminus, and that fall 2014 will come right around the corner.

Rating: A+