Woah, man. That was an intense finale. Action packed, fast paced, and definitely left us wanting more. In fact, I don’t think it could have left us hanging any harder if it tried. Some of our questions were answered… actually, the answers to our questions were more like, hinted at, while more questions were piled on top. So while we might not know much about the fate of our rag tag group of survivors, we do know this: next season is going to start off with a bang.
Last night’s episode started back at the prison, about two months into their stay there. Things are looking peaceful enough, comfortable and safe, but Rick still feels it’s his duty to stay alert and in survivor mode. Cut to present time: Rick is sitting on the road in front of a car, soaked in blood, and the look in his eyes is untelling; either he just killed someone, or someone important just died.
Then of course the opening credits happen along with the first round of commercials, less than three minutes into the episode. Thanks AMC!
When the show returns, time has jumped again, to what I can only assume is the day before blood soaked Rick appears. As Rick, Michonne, and Carl walk through the woods to Terminus, Carl asks if they’ll be divulging all of the details of their past to these new people. Rick explains they won’t say what they’ve done, but who they are. Carl sees a problem with this because he doesn’t know who they are anymore.
The trio have set up camp, and Rick is explaining the intricacies of setting a snare. As he finishes his lesson, a distressed voice is heard in the distance. Without a second thought, Carl goes off running, Rick and Michonne trailing behind. There’s a man in a clearing, basically surrounded by walkers. Carl wants to help but Rick holds him back, and we watch as the dude’s face is literally eaten off. Of course, one dudes face isn’t enough for a huungry zombie hoard, so they quickly turn on the group. They make a run for it down the tracks, only to be stopped by another group of hungry zombies.
Here we get another brief flashback to the prison, as Herschel asks Rick for his help with something, and to leave his gun behind, then we’re suddenly back to Rick slicing zombies apart.
When they come across a broken down car on the side of the road, the group cozies in for the night. Michonne and Rick discuss their hunger, their hopes for Terminus, and the future, when a stick cracks in the woods. The good ol’ marauders have come to claim Rick’s debt to them.
Before they can do anything about it, Rick, Michonne, and Carl are all on their knees with guns to their heads. Because he’s a man of excellent swagger and impeccable timing, Daryl comes to the rescue and tells the leader to stop. He explains that Rick is good people, and says that if the group needs blood, they should take his instead. Now if you recall, lying is a punishable offence to these angry men, and since Rick killed one of their own he can’t be a good man. Commence the brutal beating of Daryl.
Rick does his best to escape the gun of the leader, but he fails and is told that they’ll be square once Daryl is beaten to death, they have the girl, then the boy, then kill Rick. And just like that a dude who looks like the southern version of Peter Pettigrew begins to attack Carl and get him face down in the dirt. Refusing to watch his son get raped, Rick goes full animal on the leader and rips out his neck WITH HIS TEETH. Seriously. It’s both horrifying and awesome. The Marauders watch as their leader falls, giving Daryl and Michonne a chance to grab the upper hand. Soon, the only bad guy left is the one who has Carl, but he doesn’t last long. Rick gets a hold of him and stabs him repeatedly while Michonne and Carl look on.
Back to the prison we go, as Herschel starts his farming lesson for Rick. He explains that they’re safe now, and he doesn’t have to be the hardened man he’s become. This is something that he can use to shape Carl into the man he wants him to be. Something to help them become human again.
Rick sits in front of the car covered in blood. AJ has decided he shall henceforth be known as Rick Red Beard which I think could totally be a thing. Daryl joins him, and explains how and why he ended up with the crazed man-pack. Red Beard tells Daryl that he doesn’t blame him; they’re brothers (awww).
Once everyone is rested and a little less bloody, they continue on to Terminus. When they arrive at the fences, they decide to scope them out from the outside before heading in. “See them before they see us” kind of deal. Carl goes with Michonne and we FINALLY learn what happened to her son, and how her boyfriend and brother ended up he pets.
They were staying at a camp, and while it started out ok, things kept getting worse. One day Michonne had returned from a run to find the camp overrun; everyone had been bit. Her boys had been stoned when it all went down, and were incapable of stopping it. So, as a reminder of what they’ve done, Michonne let them turn, and made it so they couldn’t hurt anyone else and they become her protectors. Pretty epic story, but you’ve gotta wonder where the boys got drugs in the apocalypse.
So why is this story brought up you ask? Well Michonne has seen how Carl looks at his dad since the whole throat ripping out incidient, and she wants him to know that everyone is just doing what they need to do to keep them safe. Carl says that he’s not afraid of his Dad, he’s just afraid that his Dad will realize that he’s nothing short of another monster too.
Outside of the Terminus gates, Rick buries a bag of weapons, and then they head on in. They wander into what looks like the nerve centre of the community and they’re greeted by a man named Gareth. Gareth explains that they have indeed found sanctuary, but before the can enter they must lay down their weapons and get a standard TSA patdown. Once they’re cleared and given their guns/crossbow/sword back, a man named Alex takes them to Tasha Yar’s BBQ to grab a bite to eat. Suddenly, Rick grabs Alex at gunpoint, reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pocket watch. Herschel’s pocket watch. As we look around we see someone in the riot gear, and someone in that damn ugly poncho. Gareth seems to have answers for everything, but Rick knows none of them are true.
Another jump to the prison shows us Rick going up to Carl and asking for his help with something. Carl goes to grab his gun but Rick tells him to leave it behind.
Back at Terminus, shots have been fired. Men overhead with machine guns are firing at the ground beside the group, forcing them to run down a very specific path. They run through a room that looks like a shrine – candles lit everywhere and walls that read “Never Again”, “We First, Always”. They continue to run to dodge the bullests, and every door they’re forced to take is marked by the letter “A”.
They soon come to a stop as they find themselves surrounded. There’s no way out, and they lay down their weapons. Beside them is a train car, also marked “A”, and Rick is told he must enter the car or Carl dies. Daryl follows, then Michonne, and finally Carl goes once it’s clear that Rick is complying with every request.
Once the four of them are sealed in the dark car, it becomes clear that they’re not alone. Maggie & Glenn and their groups are inside too.
The final flashback to the prison shows us the moment that Carl surrenders his Sheriff hat while farming. Herschel says that this can be their new way of life, and Rick responds that it’s like this now, and that’s enough.
In the train car, Rick steps back into leader-Rick mode, and claims that the people of Terminus are going to feel pretty stupid soon. When asked why, he just responds that soon enough they’ll find out they’re messing with the wrong people.
AND THAT’S HOW IT ENDS. Everyone is locked up in a train car, three characters (4 if you count Judith I guess) are still unaccounted for, and we have to wait until OCTOBER to find out what happens next. As my buddy Ramsey says, this show is nothing but a cruel social experiment to see how badly you can make people want to see what’s next by making the cliffhanger more suspenseful each year. I think he’s right.
Who are these people in Terminus, and what do they want? Why did they take everyone’s fancy clothes, then shove them in a train car? If there’s a car A, is there a car B? Is that where Beth is? Did Carol and Tyreese make it yet? SO MANY QUESTIONS! And I don’t want to wait until October for answers. These guys are just cruel.
Frustration aside, I did like this episode. I’m happy the marauders got what they deserved, but I love how the writers aren’t shying away from the darkness people can succumb to when their desperate. Those guys were mean, and made up from my worst post-apocalyptic nightmares, but you can’t deny that if the world crumbled, they would rise up from the ashes. And then a desperate father would rip their faces off.
The theme of the episode was interesting as well. Carl’s question, “who are we?” is a poignant one. What has the world done to them? How have the evolved? And in a world where there are no social identifiers, how do you explain who you are to someone? The flashbacks to the prison helped illustrate who Rick is brilliantly. Not only is he an adaptable dude and a survivor, above all else he is Carl’s father. And he stepped up huge tonight… teeth first.
My only complaint is Rick’s last night. Working with the theme of the night, wouldn’t it have been so much better if he said Terminus would feel stupid when “They find out who we are”? The Walking Dead should probably hire me on as a writer. Just don’t make me start before noon, I hate mornings.
I seriously cannot wait for October. Last night kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire hour, and I’m still not sure I’ve completely unclenched. Well played, AMC. Well played.