The Walking Dead season 4 finale, A, was teased by Robert Kirkman on Reddit as being “savage.” The episode proved true to Kirkman’s words, but yet, surprisingly felt very little like a finale. Instead of a grand conclusion with its fair share of character deaths, the writers went for a minimalist approach that was more of a character study.
The episode opened with a flashback to the good times at the prison when Rick was civilized and Hershel, who made a surprise guest appearance, was still kicking. The sequence quickly transitioned to Rick in present day, his hands soaked in the blood of another. It turns out he, Michonne, and Carl were attacked by Joe and the gang with Daryl in tow.
The predicament leads to Daryl ganged up on after standing up for Rick, and Carl about to get raped by one of Joe’s men. Seeing his son in trouble, Rick in all his rage manages to get the upper hand in the first “savage ” moment of A by biting a chunk out of Joe’s neck. He then proceeds to repeatedly stab the man holding Carl, before pretty much carving him out brutally as his son watched.
More flashbacks follow taking viewers through a journey in the last several months to a year of Rick’s life. The former sheriff went from a civilized father trying to keep his son sane and innocent in this world of death and survival, to a man who would do anything to survive and does not seem to mind bringing his son down with him.
Rick’s reaction to his brutal killing of the man who tried to rape his son was none at all, he was completely fine, a contrast to the guilt ridden Rick at the beginning of the season. As he cleans his bloody hands time is given to cement the friendship between Rick and Daryl, with the former telling the latter that they are “brothers.” Together, with Michonne and Carl, and Rick’s transformation to a “savage” complete, they head over to the Terminus to what is expected to be a grand final 15 minutes of The Walking Dead season 4 finale. What follows is more of the same illogical Rick that viewers have come to know throughout the entire series. His stupidity eventually putting the group in jeopardy.
One of the biggest questions that people always ask going into The Walking Dead finales is, who will bite the dust? The posters for The Walking Dead played on this hype and had “Who Will Survive” posters with action photos of characters. In fact, the finales never usually have the most impactful deaths. In season 1, supporting character Jacqui bit the dust, losing hope after all of her family died and opting to stay behind at the CDC as it was counting down to explosion. The season two finale again saw two minor characters who no one cared about get killed, Patricia and Jimmy, from the Greene farm. Last season, Andrea, along with Milton, died and it was the first finale that saw the death of a major character, though it was not impactful as everyone was expecting it. This episode had unpredictability going into it, everyone was expendable and vulnerable. The result, however, did not live up to the hype at all. Neither a major or minor character bit the dust – every survivor came out of A alive. However, that was not the problem, what was wrong with A was that it was more of a filler, character kind of episode than a finale. Season 4 reached its peak in the mid-season finale with the war with The Governor. The episodes since have been almost a buildup to what is ahead in Season 5.
To recap, when Rick and the gang arrive at the Terminus, they are welcomed with open arms and everything seems to be fine. Rick, however, soon realizes the group at the sanctuary are wearing and holding possessions of Glenn and Maggie and other survivors. Instead of playing along and finding a vantage point for him and his cohorts, Rick decides to confront the entire group in the middle of an open courtyard. Once again, Rick exemplifies he is not fit to be a leader. Fortunately for Rick, they are not shot down on the spot and Terminus people on roofs shoot down at their feet to lead them to somewhere. Rick and company are led into some creepy, candle lit room and instead of holding ground and letting the Terminus group come at them where they can pick them off one by one, Rick decides to let himself and the survivors run back out into the open straight to their eventual imprisonment where they are led, weaponless, into a cargo carrier with the letter A on it, thus the title of the episode.
The Walking Dead season 4 finale ends with all the survivors now reunited and imprisoned, save for Tyrese and Carol whose location is unknown, and Beth who was kidnapped. Rick tells everyone that it is unfortunate for the group at Terminus because they picked on the wrong guys, cue him looking at the camera with the take no prisoner look of a man turned into a savage. Unfortunately, despite his brutal transformation, the leader of the group still has no brains and it is tough to believe based on his consistent illogical decisions that he could get the survivors out of the predicament in one piece as their leader. The group is definitely going to need Tyrese and Carol to come to the rescue!
Review By Kollin Lore