OK, show of hands. Who else thought that the last line that Rick was going to deliver in the season finale of The Walking Dead after he said, “They’re going to feel pretty stupid when they find out …” was going to be, “WE ARE THE WALKING DEAD!”? And then the entire train car would break out with fist pumps and chant, “GOONIES NEVER SAY DIE.”
So, yeah: That last line kind of fell flat, but up until then, “A” was a intense, thrilling episode, even if it was ultimately fairly predictable and even a benign in its outcome, especially for a season finale.
I will definitely give the episode this much: That was one hell of an opening shot, to see Rick covered in blood, sitting in front of that car all catatonic, thinking back to a more peaceful time in the prison with Hershel. Is he dying? Is Carl dead? What the f*ck is going on? It very much had the feel, again, of a Lost episode, misleading us into believing that Rick might not make it out of the season finale.
He did, of course. They all did, except for maybe Beth.
But before we get to there, let’s back up. It was a growing episode for Carl. After shooting a kid in the face last season, and after a midseason premiere in which Carl thought he could make it on his own, the monster inside of him finally seemed to die. He’s no longer that little Joffrey sh*t he was after his Mom died. He’s feeling again. He felt bad for the guy eaten by the zombie horde, and after nearly GETTING RAPED by one of the marauders, he truly came to appreciate his father and how important he is to him, and the group. He’s never respected his father more, though he’s probably regretting calling him a ninny earlier in the season.
Also, is that a basic cable first? Seeing a kid nearly raped? That was grisly.
Speaking of Rick, he also came full circle, in a way. After beginning the season taking a backseat, giving up leadership, and trying to become a farmer, he found himself again. He officially reclaimed his position as the true leader of The Walking Dead. After ripping out Joe’s jugular WITH HIS TEETH, he’s more than a leader now. RICK IS A F**KING BAD ASS AMERICAN HERO (or at least a British hero with a bad American accent).
That right there was Rick’s shining moment of the series. That’s how you do it, son. YOU LEARN FROM THE WALKERS. When your kid’s life is on the line you use everything at your disposal. And in true action hero fashion, he did end the season with a somewhat lame, action-movie one-liner: “They’re going to feel pretty stupid when they find out they’re screwing with the wrong people.” I’ll at least give Andrew Lincoln credit for selling that line better than it deserved to be sold. Would a bleeped F-bomb been more or less effective?
As for Terminus, I think it’s safe to say that they are, indeed, cannibals, unless of course skeleton piles are simply a decorative fixture in the zombie apocalypse. Do you smell what the Gareth is cooking? Was that, uh, Beth on the grill? Or Judith? Or neither one, or was it just part of Beth, like a limb? And if she’s not at Terminus, then where the f**k is she? And Judith? And speaking of missing people, why haven’t Tyreese and Carol arrived yet? Are they set to be the saviors of the group now? And are we to expect that Gareth will be next season’s villain?
I was impressed, however, with their ability to herd Rick and the gang toward the boxcar by shooting at their feet. I mean, it was a tremendous waste of bullets, but I get it: If you kill them now, the meat goes bad, and in a community of cannibals, I suspect they’re very particular about their cuts of human flesh.
Carl’s slow walk to the box car, though? That was cruel hoax to play on the audience, both those who didn’t want Carl to die, and those who did.
In the end, I think that “A,” more than anything, was a bonding episode for the survivors. Michonne finally revealed to Carl how she lost her husband and his friend, bringing those two closer together. Daryl saved Rick, and Rick saved Daryl, and those two confessed their brotherly love to one another. And of course, the survivors had that Goonies moment in the “A” railroad car where they’re waiting to become dinner for the people of Terminus. Abraham, et. al, were immediately welcomed into the fold, and they will begin the fifth season as solidified as they’ve ever been. There’s no longer any inner turmoil. It’s The Walking Dead vs. Everyone Else, and though that last line wasn’t exactly inspiring the way it was written, it did get the point across. These are people not to be f*ked with.