As far as season finales goes, “A” wasn’t quite what I expected. The finale begins innocently enough with a scene at the prison of Rick, Glenn, Maggie back from a run. Hershel is there to greet everyone. The scene fades and we see Rick, shaking and bloodied, leaning against an SUV.
The writers backtrack from bloodied Rick to earlier that day. Rick is teaching Carl how to catch prey as Michonne looks on. Carl wants to know if they should tell the Terminus group about their past experiences when he hears screams and runs to see a man surround by walkers. Rick tells Carl they can’t help the poor man who is losing the battle. They run.
Back to the prison (Rick’s daydream): Hershel pulls back the curtains to wake Rick. He tells Rick he needs his help, but to leave his gun because it will only get in the way. Beth takes Judith as Rick walks off with Hershel. You almost get the feeling they’re all dead and together again, especially after Hershel tells Rick that giving Glenn his watch means that he never knows the time. It’s always “right now” to him.
.. And we’re BACK to the woods and the run from the walkers – Rick, Michonne and Carl keep going until they find an abandoned SUV (ruh roh). By nightfall, Carl is asleep inside, as Rick and Michonne talk about Terminus. They hear a sound they assume could be walkers and at this point I wish it was. Just as they relax we see Joe and one of his henchmen with weapons drawn on Michonne and Rick.
Joe calls it a day of reckoning – balancing the universe. He says that it’s New Year’s Eve and that he almost turned in early for the evening. His countdown to the “dropping ball” is a reference to the moment he kills Rick. Just then Daryl appears and tries to speak up for Rick and Michonne – telling Joe that they’re good people. He offers to let Joe take blood from him if he’ll spare them – Carl, watching the scene from inside the truck, is grabbed. Joe plans to have his men kill Daryl, they’ll rape Michonne, and then rape Carl – who is pinned down as one of Joe’s men is grabbing at his clothes. Rick attempts to stop Joe by head butting him, but fails until he takes a bite out of Joe’s neck during a fight. Joe falls, bleeding profusely.
Michonne grabs the gun being held on her and shoots Joe’s man through the head. Daryl gets the drop on one of his attackers, Michonne shoots the other. Carl’s attempted rapist is gutted by Rick who rips him from belly to throat. Whatever innocence Michonne helped Carl reclaim is now dead — if his eyes tell the story.
Post break we return to the prison with Hershel who talks to Rick about feral pigs and planting crops. Hershel tells a skeptical Rick that the war is over. They’ve been at the prison for two months. Carl needs his father to show him the way, but what way will Rick show him? He wants Rick to give Carl a sense of peace.
The morning after Joe’s attack we see a sleeping Carl with his head on Michonne’s lap as they sit in the SUV. Rick sits outside with Daryl. Joe and his men are left where they’ve fallen. As Rick is cleaning the blood from his face, Daryl tells him that he didn’t know what Joe and his men were. He tells Rick about meeting them after Beth was taken. He knew they were bad, but they at least had a code. Rick knows that Daryl isn’t responsible and calls Daryl his brother. Daryl looks overwhelmed. He’s touched. Carl and Michonne are listening as Rick tells Daryl he’ll do what he has to in order to keep Carl safe. As the four move on, Michonne and Rick reassure one another that each is ok. I could love them as a couple.
As they get close to Terminus, they head through the woods hoping to enter undetected. Carl chooses to search the grounds with Michonne rather than Rick. She continues to tell the story about her son Andre’s death. She’d gone on a run and when she returned to the camp the fences were down. Mike and Terry were sick with fever. She couldn’t bring herself to put them down before they turned. After she turned them into the “walker pets” we saw her with when she was introduced. She tells Carl how he, Andrea, and Rick brought her back. They stopped her from being dead inside, like the monsters around them. She tells Carl he doesn’t have to fear her or his father. Carl tells her that his dad is proud of him because he doesn’t know that Carl is a monster, too.
Rick plants guns outside the gates of Terminus “just in case.” They begin searching and find a group putting together “Terminus maps.” They are greeted by “Gareth,” the leader. All seems normal. They are asked to turn in their weapons and oblige. Rick seems suspicious, even though the weapons are returned.
They head for the courtyard where Mary is still at the “grill of mystery meat.” Rick notices the dead hitchhiker’s leather bag. He sees that their guide, “Alex,” is wearing what appear to be Glenn’s cargo pants with Hershel’s watch inside the pocket. Another is wearing Glenn/Eugene’s riot gear and there’s Maggie’s poncho. Rick grabs Alex as the survivors close rank, asking him where the hell he got the watch! Gareth approaches, with a lie for every “found” item.
WHY!!?!!? What just happened?
We’re back at the prison. Patrick is playing with Legos while Carl is taking apart a weapon and putting it together. Rick tells Carl he needs his help and to leave the gun behind – it will only get in the way. That lesson is useless now. We’re back at Terminus and Carl is holding his gun on the group to help protect his family. Rick tells Gareth he only wants to know where his people are. Shots are fired and Alex is down. The sharpshooters appear to be herding the unsuspecting group who run through buildings and back outside, trying to reach the exit when we see what appear to be human remains in a fenced in area. It’s not clear if only Rick sees the rotting flesh and bones.
They duck inside another building having run past shipping containers from which human voices can be heard screaming for help. Could Tyrese, Carol and Judith be in the containers? They decide to run inside, ducking into a room filled with candles and slogans scrawled on the walls: “Never Again,” “Never Trust,” “We First, Always.” Michonne and Rick realize the intent was not to kill, but what is it? As they run out of the building, they are trapped by gunmen outside the fence and on top of the buildings.
Rick is told to go to a nearby train car, and that he will be allowed to take Carl with him if he goes peacefully. It’s Rick, first, then Daryl, then Michonne. Carl follows last. Inside the rail car, the Mullet crew approaches. They are all together, again.
Back to the prison memories, Judith, Beth, Hershel, Carl, and Rick are together digging in the dirt and laughing when Hershel tells Rick that it could be like that all the time.
Back in the rail car, Rick comments that “they” are going to feel pretty stupid when they find out.
“Find out what?” Abraham asks.
“They’re screwing with the wrong people,” replies Rick.
And we’re done. That’s it. That’s all. I’m sorry, but I’m a little disappointed – What about you?. Bring on Season 5!
Read all of our recaps of previous episodes here.