Season 4 Episode 16 “A”
Here we are, another season under the belt. We end with a real doozy of an episode. One of the darkest of the series. But there’s always hope and our friends will always find their way.
There is a lovely flashback story interspersed throughout this episode with Hershel. As the current timeline progresses, we get bits of flashbacks of how Hershel saved Rick from himself and ultimately Carl as well. Hershel convinces Rick to stop going on runs for a while and help him start farming and having livestock. He can tell Rick is losing himself into the violence that happens out on runs and that if he doesn’t take a break than he’s going to not be able to stop. There are some real beautiful moments with Hershel and Rick and their little family with smiles and jokes. It’s refreshing to look back and see that the good times existed.
But the lovely is in stark contrast to what takes place current day. The conflict between Rick and Joe’s group comes to a head as Rick and Michonne talk by a fire. Joe’s group attacks in the dark. At first Daryl is not present but as Joe counts down to killing Rick, Daryl appears to try to stop it. Daryl offers himself up to save Rick and the others. That’s truly something. Or as Rick would say, “that’s everythang”. Daryl would willingly put his life on the line to save Rick. But why? I would have to guess that Daryl thinks Rick may be more important than him, or that it’s for Carl. And even after taking a beating, he is apologetic about being with these villains. He is a special kind of man that Daryl.
But Rick wins the prize for craziest motherf-er. Facing certain death for himself along with the rape and murder of Carl and Michonne, Rick goes mental and headbutts Joe standing behind him. They fight and when the two get eyeball to eyeball Joe asks him what’s he gonna do. And Rick shows him by taking a chunk out of Joe’s neck with his damn mouth! Step aside Patrick Swayze, there’s a new guy in town. It stuns everyone, the bad guys, Carl, Michonne and not to mention us the audience! Rick even stuns himself. He just sits there after covered in blood.
Carl has been asking some big questions this episode. What are they going to tell the people at Terminus? Who are we? Carl is feeling like he’s not normal. He’s seen so much and had to do so many things a kid shouldn’t have to do. He’s become scared to meet new people because he thinks they’ll judge him or not want him because of what he’s done. And after Rick goes psycho, he really thinks that they don’t belong. At first it seems like he’s mad at his father for doing it, and it seems like he’s ungrateful that his father just saved his life. But we find out that it’s much deeper than that. When Carl watched his father kill those evil men, he saw something he sees in himself. A dark side that comes out. Their “monsters” as they say. Rick talks about accepting that this is what you do sometimes to survive. But Carl hasn’t quite gotten there. This is what Hershel was trying to protect them from. He wanted to show them another way of living. A way that didn’t involve violence. Not because he didn’t want them to ever be violent, but because he knew there would come a day when they would need to be violent again. And if they didn’t take a break they’d never be able to quiet the monsters they have. And it’s so true; Hershel was very on point. If Hershel had not done what he did, who knows where Rick and Carl would be right now. They question who they are and what they have done, and that’s what good people do when they do bad things. Real monsters don’t ask questions about what they do. You may not get to be the best version of yourself all of the time, but you also can’t let yourself succumb to being the worst version of yourself either.
Heading into Terminus after this latest misfortune, our friends are suspicious of everyone. They’ve just lost their home a few days ago and now they’ve been brutally attacked by more strangers. They aren’t about to walk through the front gates with open arms. They hide their weapons in the woods and go in the back. They take Terminus by surprise but don’t really see anything too bad at first glance. We meet Gareth, the leader. A friendly guy, perhaps too friendly. There’s a brief welcome and reasonable explanation of what Terminus is. Then they head outside to their courtyard area where the real welcome is supposed to be. What I think all of us miss as Terminus is explained to our group is what Rick sees and takes no time in reacting to. People in Terminus are walking around with objects that belong to our other friends. One person is wearing riot gear, another has a poncho we’ve seen Daryl and Maggie wearing and another has a pocket watch. Rick’s reaction is to take a hostage. And I love how everyone else immediately acts as well even though they have no idea what’s happening. Daryl, Michonne and Carl immediately raise their weapons in response to Rick. That’s the level of trust they have in him. It’s beautiful.
As our friends try to make their escape we get glimpses of Terminus. One very unsettling site is a pile of bloody bones laying on the ground. It’s very brief and you almost think you didn’t see what you saw. They also find a room lit with candles and a strange phrase on the wall, “Never Again Never Trust We Always”. And then there are the As. The letter A has come to be a mystery of its own on this show. It continuously appears throughout many locations with various meanings. But us fans are also wondering if they somehow are all tied together. Most of the time, this episode is what people site as the first appearance of the letter A. Here it appears beside several doorways they go through and on the train car they wind up at. But if you pay close enough attention, way back in Season 2 you see a scratched out A on the doorknob of the bar’s backdoor when Glenn, Hershel and Rick are trying to escape. Keep that in mind but for now we are still following our friends through Terminus trying to escape. They are being shot at but not really. At first I thought perhaps these Terminus folk just had bad aim because they weren’t even coming close to shooting such easy targets. But then you realize that they are shooting at the ground to lead them somewhere. While our friends think they are escaping, they are actually being lead right into a point of no escape. They are marched into a train car where they find the rest of our friends minus Carol and Tyreese.
Not the happiest of reunions. And while everyone including me is thinking our friends are in deep doodoo, Rick surprises us all with my absolute favorite season finale line ever. Even after watching it again for the hundredth time, I still get a little excited. Rick starts by saying, “They’re gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out.” To which Abraham who doesn’t know Rick yet asks, “Find out what?” And Rick says, “They’re screwing with the wrong people.” Boom! And just like that I know everything is going to be just fine. Rick is sooooo done with bad guys that he ain’t even tolerating a minute of this. Rick had already proven himself to be the biggest bad ass with the throat tear, but also he delivers the most supreme bad ass line in the same episode. I can’t even! I told you it would be the best line and I hope it excites you as it does me.
We are left with a bit of a cliffhanger for Season 4. We don’t know what is really going to happen to them at Terminus but we sure are excited because Rick’s not gonna let them take this lying down. All in all, I would argue that Season 4 is the best season of all. Not to say that I don’t also love what happens next, because I do, I just think there’s something so special about Season 4. It’s gritty, it’s heartbreaking and it’s pretty bad ass. I’m not sure, it just has something magical about it that I love.
Today marks the 1st anniversary of my first blog post for Dead Central. I am so happy it coincided with the end of Season 4, one of my favorite episodes. I’ve really enjoyed writing these this past year. I will continue on and hopefully find the time to branch out into other topics of the show. Thank you for reading this little blog of mine.