The Walking Dead: 2.16 - A

Do not read on if you’ve not seen the finale of Season 4. There are spoilers included.

If you’ve read any of the interviews with current showrunner Scott Gimple or comic book creator Robert Kirkman you’ll be anticipating an action packed and character dispatching final episode, with a focus on Rick Grimes and an introduction of a key new character called Gareth.
And boy did they deliver, especially on the Rick front, we’ve been waiting for a great Rick episode all year, and not had an episode this Rick-centric for a long time but it really paid off as this is the character we’re most attached to; The Walking Dead is really Rick’s story. This episode, A, brings the old Rick back to us, finally. It’s been a long time coming but the farmer that started the season off was finally dispatched as Rick sank his teeth into the carotid artery of Joe, with one bite becoming feral and badass again. Ever since the face off with The Governor we’ve seen Rick shed his peaceful farmer persona and slowly morph back into survivor Rick, the one that would do anything to save his son and the people he cares for.
His transformation is neatly handled, juxtaposing the current day travails of Rick, attacked by Joe and his gang, captured by the Terminus lot, more troubles with Carl, with Hershel – yes he’s back, only in flashback though – convincing angry Rick to give up the gun and settle into a calmer life farming in the prison. It gives some meat to the bones of how Grimes senior became the man he was at the start of Season 4. Hershel’s people focussed attitude was key to keeping Rick on the straight and narrow and always had been (“He needs his father. He needs his father to show him the way.”). Unfortunately for Rick it seems Carl is minded in the same way, his confession to Michonne that he’s not what his father thinks he is was an interesting moment, likely to set up some further grief for the father and son in Season 5.

Despite finally arriving at Terminus the key scene was the night-time face-off between Rick, Michonne and Carl, and Joe’s gang of hunters. The way that the Grimes gang literally tore apart the hunters was violent, visceral, and surprising. The only upside was seeing Daryl standing up for his friends. And the morning after scene between the two men was one of the best this season, and “You’re my brother” is the most touching line the show has ever uttered.
So, where to from here? Well into the long summer with a six month wait to see what’s really on the other side of the train carriage door, one theory is that the initially mild mannered Gareth and his Terminus people are drawn from the comic book, no spoilers of that here, but there were hints within the finale to suggest those people are not as normal as they seem. Still, it was good to see Season 4 end on a relative upper. “They’re screwing with the wrong people.” Indeed Rick. It’s nice to have you back.

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