A day later than usual (sorry!), I have seen The Walking Dead’s season 4 finale. It’s been somewhat overshadowed in the TV geek chatosphere since then by the How I Met Your Mother conclusion (which didn’t really work), but nonetheless, I’ve reviewed every episode of this show to date and I’m not going to miss one now.
So, just like for the last few weeks, we focus in on a small group of the scattered regular cast as they converge on the mysterious TERMINUS. What is it? Will anyone die? Which dead character returns in flashback? Spoilers to follow.
Rick Grimes – Cowboy Warrior Farmer
For anyone expecting a massive change of pace or sharp drawing together of strands in this last episode, I imagine this was a disappointment. We do get to TERMINUS midway and move everyone towards reuniting, but for the most part, we’re looking tight in on Rick, Carl, Michonne and later Daryl’s final short journey together.
As Rick encounters the group of Evil Leather Jacket Men we met last week and is forced to use extreme measures to save everyone from them, we flashback to Hershel teaching Rick the fine art of farming. This to remind us of a storyline earlier this season where Rick was attempting to be a land-cultivatin’ man of peace, scared of what he was becoming as wild west leader figure.
And if there’s a central conflict in this episode, it’s Rick being forced to accept that part of himself to save everyone. Took long enough, but okay. It’s not the deepest insight in this latter-half run of character studies, but provides some closure to his season four arc and I enjoy the way Andrew Lincoln plays tortured.
Mysteries Of The TERMINUS Mystery Menu
That done, they finally reach TERMINUS, after a tortured chat between Michonne and Carl, and then we discover the residents are creepy people who might be cannibals. Or they might be slave-drivers or some other brand of bad guy – despite a steady few scenes, we never quite get a handle on what’s going down.
However, it provides the plot excuses for most of the cast (bar Carol, Tyreese and Beth) to reunite and get ready for a less fragmented future. This is a moment I expected to see, but I was kinda thinking we’d get it in the penultimate episode, then have a more unified finale. Must admit, despite enjoying a lot of the character focus, maybe it would’ve been better to do that.
In the meantime though, another decent episode which provides enough closure for Rick’s storyline to feel like a cap to season four. The flashbacks were a heavyhanded way of showing it, but got the job done. And no-one major died (though I still think Beth is in the TERMINUS stew), which is probably a good idea. Would be a bit predictable to get rigid about killing someone off every finale.
And season four as a whole – honestly, I think it might be their most consistent year yet. Yes, the back half was slow, but at least The Walking Dead broke its bad habit of stringing out a single plot point for weeks with no development or progress. That two-parter with The Governor could maybe have been cut to one, possibly nice to have a more dramatic finale, but fundamentally, I still think this was a satisfying year. Good to see the writers availing themselves of the versatility the premise offers them.
See you back here later in the year for The Walking Dead season five, and in the meantime, if you’re hungry for more stomping through the forest – don’t worry, Game of Thrones is back on next week.