The Walking Dead Season four finale, A was a reckoning all right, just as Joe promised. Unfortunately things don’t go as they should for just about everyone in this week’s show. After watching the sneak preview at the end of last week’s episode, Us, fans of the show were shown a blood drenched Rick sitting and he appeared to be shaken. This one clip, along with the Twitter rumor mill that was going full blast, put fans in gore mode and they readied themselves for the possibility that at least one main character was going to be dispatched. Messily.
The finale starts with a memory. It is Rick re-living certain events back in the prison before the Governor stepped in and blew the place apart. This particular nostalgic vision is about the lessons he learned from the late sage that was Hershel. The audience are treated to that same vision later on in the episode. Its significance, along with the other “Rick memories” comes clear only after the episode ends.
After teaching Carl about traps, just how prophetic is that, they hear a man yelling for help. Rick’s son takes off despite being told to wait and the three of them up on a man surrounded by walkers. There are too many and the three of them have to run leaving the unfortunate victim to die.
As they draw closer to Terminus, by following the train tracks, they come across a smaller group of walkers that they kill. These walkers are feasting on a dead body and are few enough to easily handle. Afterward they come upon a stranded SUV and it is here that Joe and his band of killers catch up. With his pistol pointed at Rick’s head, he speaks of a reckoning and it looks as though Rick may have reached the end of the line in A The Walking Dead finale.
Daryl shows up and attempts to sacrifice himself for Rick and all this accomplishes is Joe siccing two of his men to kick Daryl to death. This leaves Michonne, Carl and Rick to face their fate. Carl is taken by a nasty bit of work who clearly watched Deliverance too many times and it’s up to Rick to bring out all that brutality that he’s been struggling with and denying throughout all of season four.
Once the darker side of Rick is unleashed, the reunited group easily defeat the band of killers. Perhaps one of the best scenes of the second half of season four is the reaction by everyone when Joe is killed. Everything…just…stops. The band of miscreant murderers are transfixed by their leader’s death and one of them is so terrified at the sight of a blood-drenched Rick approaching him that he lets his hostage go.
After Daryl and Rick reaffirm their friendship, or brothership, the group move on to Terminus. When they arrive, the feelings that fans of the show experienced at the end of last week’s episode when Maggie, Glenn and crew arrived first at Terminus, rear up again. The place does not feel right.
There are two places where things that happened at the beginning of the episode foreshadow events that occur later. The memory of Hershel talking about giving his pocket watch to Glenn and Rick teaching Carl about how to make a trap both signify what will happen when they finally reach Terminus. The moment that Rick realises that this place of sanctuary is not what it appears to be, the lies start and then the small band are herded into a dead end.
By the close of The Walking Dead season four finale, A there have been at least a couple of reckonings take place. Since the translation of the word means a calculation, estimation or to reward or punish, Joe’s use of the term seems almost prophetic in the overall series of events in the episode. Rick has “rediscovered” the true essence of himself and the finale closes with him having what may be one of the best closing lines in the show. A is a brilliantly done final episode and it will do nothing to stop time dragging from now until October when season five begins.
By Michael Smith