The Walking Dead – Season Four Finale!

The Walking Dead SDCC Season 4We come to it at last, the season four finale of the Walking Dead. And my apologies for arriving late to this party, but this week has been a rather busy one. Lucky for me things have slowed down to the point where I can finally get my two cents in about the highest rated finale in TV history. Yes, apparently, this week’s episode broke the finale record for ratings with 15.7 million viewers, and 7.3 million even stuck around for the¬†aftershow. One would think people were anxious to see what happened or something!

Alas, the finale delivered on several fronts, bringing the whole Terminus storyline to a conclusion, bringing all the main characters back together, and forcing a confrontation between Rick and the marauders led by Joe. And they even managed to merge some of the relevant comic book material into the mix, which was something I was wondering about. Once again, they are kind of off script with things at this point, so its interesting to see how and where they choose to include things.

Anyway, onto the show!

A:
WD4_16_0
The episode opens with Rick having a flashback to the old days when they were still living in the prison. He remembers the time after the Governor fled, and how they began making a good life for themselves. Intrinsic to this was his efforts He also recalls how he was very much concerned about giving Carl a normal life again. During his last flashback, he remembers when he, Herschel, Carl, Beth and Judith were all together and happy.

Things then flash back to the present, where Rick, Michonne and Carl are completely occupied with finding food and avoiding Walkers. After setting down for the night in an abandoned car, Joe and his group catch up to them and take them prisoner. Daryl emerges and tries to tell Joe to let them go, and that he will stand in for them. Joe orders his men to beat Daryl for “lying”, and Carl is pulled from the car by one of the men who attempts to rape him.

WD4_16_1Rick and Michonne attack them, and Rick manages to get close enough to bite Joe’s jugular. His men are shocked and this gives Michonne and Daryl the opportunity to turn the tables on the rest of them. Rick finishes it by eviscerating the man who tried to rape Carl. The next day, Daryl talks to Rick about his time with Beth, her disappearance, and how he fell in with Joe’s group. They assure each other that they’ve done only what they had to stay alive, and set out again.

Having reached the outskirts, Rick and the others choose to search around the edge of the town. Carl and Michonne go in one direction, and she fills Carl in on the rest of her story, and how Andrea, Rick and Carl brought her back. Carl confesses that he’s changed and is no longer what his father thinks he is, that he is just another monster. Elsewhere, Rick buries their stash of weapons, but keeps a pistol for himself “just in case”.

WD4_16_2They then sneak around the back way, pass through the fence and then proceed inside. Finding their way into a building, they come to a room where people are preparing maps and putting out radio broadcasts, inviting people to town. Rick gets their attention, and a man named Garreth welcomes them. After a quick weapons check and pat down, another man named Alex comes to escort them to the welcome area. They meet Mary, and she prepares them food.

Rick begins spotting things that make him suspicious, including one man wearing riot gear, a woman wearing a poncho, and that Alex is carrying a pocket watch. He grabs Alex and puts a gun to his head, demanding to know where they got these things. A standoff ensues, turns into a gunfight, and Rick and the others flee. They quickly pass through a strange room filled candles and altars, and realize that the townspeople are not shooting to kill them, but to drive them.

wd4_16_3Once outside, they find themselves surrounded on all sides and are forced to put down their weapons and surrender. They are then told to go to a train car parked nearby, step inside and seal the door. Inside, they find the others – Glenn, Maggie, Bob, Sasha, Tara, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene (but not Tyreese or Carol) – who have also been taken prisoners. Defiant, Rick says they their new enemies are going to feel pretty stupid when they find out. When Abraham asks what, Rick declares “that they’re screwing with the wrong people.”

Thus ends season four of the Walking Dead!

Summary:
As expected, the season ended on a brutal and ugly note, but with the hope of some serious ass-kicking to come. And as predicted, the town of Terminus, which offered people sanctuary and salvation, turned out to be a pretty messed up place. Only passing hints were given as to what is involved in this, but the blogosphere has certainly been alive with plenty of ideas. I forgo those for just a second to say what I liked and what stood out about this episode to me.

For starters, I liked what they did with it. Sure, they concluded the whole “Joe and the marauders are looking for payback” thing rather quickly, but were never a huge plot aspect so it didn’t seem terribly wrong to me. I was also pretty impressed with how Rick and Michonne took out their captors, though I could have done with a little less eviscerating! And they did manage to incorporate some aspects of the comic book material from this part into the mix.

WD4_16_4Speaking of which, and it seems this is the current favorite amongst bloggers, is that Terminus is a community of cannibals. The proof? First, during the chase scene, Rick and the others run through a courtyard where human bones (stripped of all flesh) have been piled. Second, the character of Gareth does bear a resemblance to the character of Chris, who in the comics was the leader of the cannibal community. And third, this was the ugly turn that things took during this part in said comics.

And let’s face it. If you were running a cannibal community, you too would need a constant influx of fresh bodies. I mean, why else go to all that trouble of putting out maps and sending out broadcasts? In a post-apocalyptic landscape, the biggest threats of all comes from bands of ne’er-do-wells, especially if they are well organized and equipped (as the Governor and Joe illustrate). So if you have a secure community, chances are you wouldn’t be advertising it and inviting everyone and their brother to come find it. Not unless you got a trap waiting for them!

And of course, this has effectively left things on a cliffhanger and promises that next season will contain its fare share of ass-kicking and badassery. And I am once again looking forward to see what happens, provided they don’t go terribly off-script again! There is one thing that I can’t seem to figure out though. What was up with the title of this episode? A? Seriously? What the hell does that stand for?

See you next season!

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 15

The Walking Dead SDCC Season 4The penultimate episode of season four has aired! The climax is approaching, and after last week’s exploration of brutality and corrupted innocence, this week’s was rather soft and cushy by comparison. A good thing too, I don’t know if anyone came away from that one unscarred! In addition, this week also began bringing season 4.5’s various plot threads together – and by that I mean the different bands of characters who, up until now, have been separated and looking for each other.

At the same time, it answered a few burning questions, and left some others for next week. For example, we finally get a glimpse of that big ol’ MacGuffin that the latter half of the season has been revolving around – aka. Terminus. But of course, the bigger question of what it represents – salvation, or false hope – remains to be seen. Next week, it all comes together. But in the meantime, here’s what happened this week…

Us:
wd4_15_0The episode opens with Glenn, Tara, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene carrying on down the railroad tracks and getting to know each other. Along the way, they find another road map with Maggie’s writing on it, telling Glenn to go to Terminus. After running some distance, Abraham tells Glenn they need to stop and rest in a water tower. However, a Walkers emerges from it and nearly lands on them, which sends Tara to the ground, hurting her knee.

Tara says she’s okay to walk, and Glenn insists that they keep going. To make it happen, he promises to hand his riot gear over to Eugene to ensure his safety. They come to another message painted on the side of a tunnel, but hear Walkers inside and debate going around. Glenn decides to proceed through with Tara and avoid a day-long detour, but Abraham and his group choose to take the detour route and promise to meet them on the other side.

WD4_15_1When they get deeper into the tunnel, they find a slew of Walkers pinned under a fallen section of the ceiling. Glenn worries that this would have prevented Maggie and the others from getting through, but Tara concludes that it had to have happened today. Glenn proceeds through it and inspects the Walkers to make sure none are Maggie or the others, and they begin killing them. Once they make it over, they find a dozen or more Walkers on the other side, which begin to approach them.

Outside, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene double back to the last intersection and find a vehicle, which they plan to start driving for Washington DC again. However, Eugene insists on navigating and tells Abraham to sleep, then misdirects Rosita so that they end up back on the railroad on the other side of the tunnel, where Glenn and Tara are expected to emerge. Abraham wakes up and they begin to argue, until Eugene warns them of something that’s approaching them from the tunnel.

wd4_15_3Back in the tunnel, Glenn once again is scanning the faces of the Walkers, making sure Maggie isn’t one of them and finding no traces of bodies on the ground. Tara says they don’t have enough ammo to make it through and insists they turn around, but Glenn demands that they push through. Tara’s leg gets caught by a piece of concrete and she tells Glenn to leave her, which draws the Walkers closer. Glenn tries to fight it out, and they are both saved when a group arrives from the opposite end in a vehicle and opens fire on the Walkers.

After shooting them all dead, Maggie runs forward and embraces Glenn. Her group had met up with Abraham, Rosita and Eugene on the road and came in to help them through. They make camp in the cave and introductions are made. Abraham tells them that Eugene knows what caused the walker outbreak and once again says they should head to Washington. But Eugene insists they continue to Terminus first and a consensus is struck. Maggie takes the picture Glenn was keeping of her and burns it, saying he will never need it again.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Elsewhere, we catch up with Daryl’s new found companions, the group of armed men led by Joe. Daryl heads out to hunt and is joined by Harley, and the two begin to fight over a wild rabbit they both have claim to. Joe intervenes and tells Daryl that they live by a strict rules to ensure that things don’t get chaotic. By the rules of their band, everyone is forced to lay “claim” to something and respect it, and he then splits the rabbit between them.

As they continue on, Joe insists that Daryl join them since no one can make it alone anymore, despite Daryl’s insistence that he’s better off by himself. He also fills Daryl in on the rules – you claim; if you steal, you kill; and don’t lie – and the punishment for breaking any of them, which is a beating. They take shelter in a rail station for the night, find a bunch of cars inside, and begin claiming them for the night. Daryl, having made no claim, sleeps on the floor.

wd4_15_4During the night, Harley confronts Daryl and accuses him of stealing his half of the rabbit they killed. Joe inspects Daryl’s bag and finds the missing half, and Daryl accuses him of planting it there. Joe orders that Harley be beaten and tells Daryl that he saw do it. In the morning, Daryl finds Harley’s body outside with an arrow in his head and covers him up. On the road, they see a sign to Terminus, and Joe reveals that this is where they are headed, mainly because they are tracking the guy who murdered one of their own (Rick!).

At the end of the line at last, Maggie, Glenn and the others see a building with the name TERMINUS painted on it in large letters. They enter through a gate and find a series of small gardens and come to a large barbeque being tended by a woman. She identifies herself as Mary (though Trekkies and geeks will probably recognize her as Tasha Yar), and welcomes them to Terminus.

Summary:
Straight off the bat, let me say that I enjoyed this episode. It had just enough twists and turns to be interesting, and revealed enough that it was enjoyable. At this point in the season, that is to be expected since they can no longer afford to drag things out or confound viewers with 11th hour complications. I was glad for that much. I was also pretty pleased with the way they answered some important questions and brought key members of the cast back together finally.

Naturally, the big focus of this episode was the reunion of Maggie and Glenn, something which we’ve been waiting for since season 4.5 started. And I liked how they went about doing this, showing one group retracing the others’ steps and then meeting up in the middle. But another thing I enjoyed just as much was the way they revealed Joe and his group’s story. For some time now, we’ve been seeing them pop up and wondering what their angle in all this is.

Obviously, they are a bunch of marauding survivalists that no one in their right mind would turn their back on. And Daryl’s involvement with them represents a conflict which is sure to be resolved next week (echoes of Merle’s involvement with the Governor here…) But I also wondered if they were related to Terminus at all, if it was their base camp or a trap they were leaving out for unsuspecting wanderers. I also wondered if they played any role in Beth’s disappearance.

Now, it would seem that they are just an armed group of survivalists looking to make their way and take from others. The reason they are heading towards Terminus has everything to do with their last encounter with Rick, and apparently nothing to do with the town itself. And Beth’s disappearance? Well, that wasn’t revealed, but I’d bet dollars to doughnuts this Terminus community is a cooky social experiment and she was kidnapped by them because they are looking for women of child-bearing age. Seriously, anyone want to take that bet?

Ah yes, and at last, we got a glimpse of the place itself and now know that it does in fact exist. We did not find that the place was overrun and the promise of salvation it once offered had expired long ago. Nor was it an obvious trap where men with guns jump out and murder anyone willing to accept the invite. If anything – and this is a key part of that bet I’m making – it’s Woodbury 2.0, a seemingly nice community who’s happy exterior hides a dark and sinister interior.

In any case, that and other things will be answered next week. And as the sneak peak shows, we will be hearing from Rick, Michonne and Carl; who I imagine will have some ‘splaining to do once the marauders catch up with them. And of course, it won’t end well, mainly because things never do on The Walking Dead.¬†Actually, they never really end at all. They just keep going and going, despite themselves. But in a post-post-apocalyptic landscape beset by rotting zombies and evil people, what else can you do?

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 11

The-Walking-Dead-season-4-wallpapers-7Episode three of season 4.5 is here! And since I don’t want to drag things out with a long intro, let me just recap what happened last week as quickly as possible. Maggie and her group find the bus and all people aboard it are dead, but find no trace of Glenn. Tyreese and the girls are found by Carol, Judith is still alive and with them. They find out about a safe haven named Terminus and go looking for it.

Glenn finds Tara and sets out, and is found by Abraham, Rosita and Eugene, some new blood who got guns and a big honking army truck. And that’s what happened last week. Here’s what happened this week!

Claimed:
WD4_11_0The episode opens with Tara in the back of the army truck, taking notes on where her new “friends” are taking her. They stop to dispatch a group of Walkers, and Tara witnesses Abraham singlehandedly kill three. She notes how he did it all with a grin on his face and a sense of humor, to which he replies that he’s “the luckiest man in the world”.

Glenn wakes up in the back of the truck, demands that Abraham pull over and tries to leave. Abraham stops him, tells him that they are on a mission which may decide the fate of the human race, and introductions follow. They are Sgt. Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa and Doctor Eugene Porter; and apparently, Porter knows what caused the mess and needs to get to Washington DC.

WD4_11_2He reveals that Eugene was talking to people in Washington on a satellite phone, but for the past few weeks, no one has been responding. He asks for Glenn and Tara’s help since they know how to deal with Walkers, but Glenn is intransigent. Tara tells him she’s been keeping track of their route since they got picked up, and that she can get them back to the bus.

Abraham tries to convince him by telling him his wife is surely dead, and Glenn responds by slugging him. A fight ensues, which Tara and Rosita try to break up. But they only stop when Walkers are approaching and Eugene starts clumsily shooting at them. The others join in and take out the herd, but the truck is damaged and begins leaking fuel. Glenn and Tara depart yet again, and the others decide to follow.

WD4_11_1At the house, Michonne and Carl are having breakfast; they laugh, until the subject turns to Judith. They go out in search of more food, leaving Rick to rest and watch the house. Rick confides that he’s happy to have Michonne around, since Carl is in need of friends. While out, Michonne and Carl bond by speaking about her past, which includes how she lost her son, Andre Anthony.

While searching one house, Michonne finds her way into a child’s bedroom and discovers the bodies of the entire family laid out on the beds, having all died in a suicide pact. When Carl comes, she closes the door quickly. When he asks if there is a baby in the room, she lies and tells him it’s a dead dog. Carl responds by opening up about Judith’s death, saying he hopes she and Andre are somewhere together.

WD4_11_3Back at the house, Rick begins to hear voices and realizes he is not alone. When a armed man appears, he sneaks under the bed and hides. The man comes in to inspect the room and ends up taking the bed, leaving Rick underneath. Another man comes in soon thereafter and they begin fighting over the bed. One is killed by the other, and looks Rick in the eye before he is strangled to death.

Rick eventually slips out and hides in another room just as the intruders begin to gather back on the ground floor. He hides in a bathroom and comes face to face with one of them, and is forced to kill him. Taking his weapon, he sneaks out the window and finds his way outside the house just as Michonne and Carl are returning. He runs to them and they begin to run off together.

wd4_11_4On the road together, Abraham tries to appeal to Tara’s sense of reason by espousing their importance of their mission. They come to an agreement of sorts that they are all doing what they think is right because they are good people. Elsewhere, along the railroad tracks, Rick, Michonne and Carl come upon a map indicating the location of Terminus and decide to head there too.

Summary:
First off, let me say that I enjoy what they are doing with the show at this point. This is to be expected thanks to the introduction of Abraham, Rosita and Eugene, and the rather appropriate casting choices for them. Michael Cudlitz, Christian Serratos and Josh McDermitt manage to look the part of these characters very well, and so far, the character they are striking seems pretty accurate too.

Also, the way they have introduced these characters and their plot element at this point, though it does diverge from the comic book somewhat, works when paired with the other character’s trying to find their way in the wilderness. And the way they’ve inserted bands of marauders is akin to other elements in the post-prison part of the comic.

For one, it adds some sense of urgency, showing how people are being pulled in different directions. And now, it seems likely that everyone is going to converge on Terminus, and I think I know what they will find there. On the one hand, they might choose to go with something out of Volume 11: Fear the Hunters (which the roving band of armed men in this episode made me think of).

On other hand, they might choose to fast forward and go directly to Volume 12: Life Among Them which deals with the groups discovery of a working safe zone where they hope to build a new life. However, this seems unlikely at this point, as there is plenty of material that this would circumvent – good material that all took place between the prison being overrun and the entire group heading together to Washington.

I shall say no more on that front, as it would risk getting into major spoiler territory. Suffice it to say, at this point the show seems more like an open canvas. In the first half of season four, it seemed like the show was duty bound to deal with all the changes they had made in season three (i.e. the Governor surviving, the attack on the prison failing, etc.)

Now, it seems like they are back on track and free to experiment with a wealth of material, which – for me, at any rate, and I imagine other fans of the comics – has made the show exciting again. So I am interested to see how the second half of season four turns out, and hope that they don’t do something terribly off-script with the whole Terminus thing…