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The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is a drama about a zombie apocalypse. It is based on the 2003 Image Comics series. AMC 2010-???

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Episode 16 - A

4 April 2014

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Rick, Carl and Michonne get close to Terminus. Joe’s crew catch up with them and threaten to rape and slaughter. Darryl offers himself as sacrifice. Rick bites Joe’s throat out and kills their whole crew. Carl feels distant from his father as Michonne tries to reassure him. They approach Terminus with caution and sneak up on a bunch of people broadcasting and making maps. However Rick soon recognises his friends’ stuff and pulls out his gun. The four of them are ushered into a train car where they find Glenn’s group.

The Good: I really liked this. It was brave and different and memorable.

Scott Gimple has changed The Walking Dead and I think for the better. I cared about Rick, Carl, Michonne and Darryl here. I felt emotional when they had their big moments. The show has for so long got away with sub-par characterisation because the imminent threat of death was drama enough. This season has been pretty light on major Walker moments. Instead we were treated to a proper arc plot. Farmer Rick under the guidance of Hershel tries to live in peace. But disease and the Governor rob him of that opportunity. He is forced instead to explore the depths of his own brutality to the point where he rips someone’s throat out because, basically, he has become the Walking Dead himself.

And yet that inner toughness is still combined with an outward morality. Or vice versa. Rick only performs such a horrific act to protect good people from bad ones. The real message of the season is summed up in the final line. The people of Terminus have made a big mistake. Whatever they think they can do with our survivors they won’t be able to. They won’t be able to turn them, persuade them or cajole them into a new way of life. Rick knows that they’re “screwing with the wrong people” because the bonds which hold this group together are greater than any external pressure. Through the forests of Georgia the group has somehow managed to reunite and surely it’s a matter of time before they either escape Terminus or take it over. That combination of light and dark that’s personified by Rick is what will carry them through.

It’s a hell of an achievement to give a sixteen episode season a genuine, un-contrived, sense of unity like that. And in essence the message of this season is a blueprint for the whole show. Why should we care about these survivors? Because they combine the qualities we’d like to see in ourselves: toughness, intelligence, loyalty, morality. And Gimple’s sense of how to construct the season deserves huge credit. When the season began I had a real sense that we had skipped a few pages in the book. By episode two Rick was killing his pigs and I complained that it was hard to mourn the death of farmer Rick given that we’d only known him for an hour. But here we revisited that time and put emotional flesh on the bones of all that Rick has lost this year. He even brought up the moment when he beat Tyreese up (403) which at the time passed without comment despite seeming inappropriate. But it was not a needless moment of violence, instead it was part of Rick learning to accept that he isn’t and can’t be a gentle man. In this world it’s his brutality that is as much a reason for his continued existence.

The sequence with Joe’s crew was the highlight of the episode. Most viewers will have known that Rick and crew were going to emerge unscathed from this attack. Despite their “claimed” philosophy Joe’s people were always just bad guys awaiting their deaths. And yet the visual of Rick becoming a Walker and ripping Joe’s throat out with his teeth made the scene work. He literally had no other weapon but his body and no choice but to fight given what Joe planned to do to his friends. It’s testament to the visual power of seeing humans eat one another that the moment landed as strongly as it did.

The two big emotional conversations which followed worked too. Rick and Darryl have been through a huge amount together in the last four seasons. And despite being separated Darryl has no hesitation in giving up his life to save his friend. He then offers Rick reassurance about his brutal actions but Rick has already realised that he has become something else. But in acknowledgment of the depth of their reliance on each other he calls Darryl his brother and it didn’t seem cheesy or implausible. It seemed like about the only word that could express the depths they’ve been to on one another’s behalf.

Meanwhile Carl is confused about what all this means. His kind father has by now done many violent things in front of him but nothing quite so atrocious as biting and stabbing men to death with zombie-like focus. But it’s not really fear that drives him it’s more a confused realisation that Rick can’t operate a “do as I say but not as I do” policy. Carl knows that he’s more like his Dad than either had thought and that the nice-young-man Rick wants him to be just won’t be possible. Michonne is able to offer comfort and her own understanding of her humanity to the conversation and they embrace in acknowledgement of their bond and the strange emotions this new life leads to.

As I’ve implied I thought the full-on Lost use of flashbacks worked very nicely. It tied the season together while also providing us with immediate perspective on how far Rick has travelled in a short space of time. Hershel’s death has been dealt with in a manner far more reminiscent of Lost or other drama shows than those we lost in previous seasons. For the most part it’s been very effective at giving a focus to the disparate groups' sense of mourning.

The Bad: I know many will feel robbed of a mass Walker battle or shootout but I am fully behind the decision not to. Terminus clearly has a lot more story to tell, Beth is still out there and Carol and Tyreese haven’t arrived yet. So why blow the whole thing up for some thrills when you can just set next season up perfectly?

I can just about buy that Darryl would stoically refer to Beth as “just gone.” But the fact that he knows where the  mortician’s house is makes it hard to accept that. And although the final line was excellent I think Rick should have hugged Glenn and Maggie on realising that they're alive. To stand as if posing for the Season’s poster and not touch anyone seemed silly given their imprisonment.

The Unknown: The scenes at Terminus were understandably weaker than the others given the need for both confusion and a dramatic ending. So to see one guy wearing the riot gear and another the poncho was a bit on the nose. And the place still doesn’t look very lived-in, lots of empty spaces made it look very much like a set. The men on the rooves armed to the teeth and well drilled enough not to hit anyone makes the unlocked gates and unguarded fences seem less plausible too.

The actual dynamics of what took place were a bit awkward too. The gang give up their weapons, which I didn’t really believe they would do, but then were given them back. Perhaps the food is poisoned? It’s difficult to imagine how else they could have been peacefully deceived . But then why did we need the whole sequence where they were marched one by one into the train car? Why not just say “all of you in there”? We of course have to wonder what the people at Terminus are trying to achieve? They wasted a ton of bullets keeping everyone alive and yet how do they expect to persuade them to cooperate if they imprison them? It was not a satisfying sequence but I will be more forgiving if next season begins strongly.

Best Moment: Rick rips out Joe’s throat. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Conclusion: I began this season unable to feel anything for the characters. Their deaths seemed inevitable and so emotional arcs had no obvious purpose. Yet piece by piece the show has built up the characters and the story. Here I was invested and emotional. By the standards I set at thetvcritic they did everything I asked. This is the first score above 70 that I’ve given since the first two episodes of the show. It’s so rare that a show can improve with age, wouldn’t it be wonderful if this did?

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  • ***POST PODCAST COMMENTS***

    It is very sad to hear this is this the last podcast you will be presenting for the Walking Dead. I have thoroughly enjoyed engaging in conversations with you and everyone about this and will deeply miss this experience. It's very nice to find a group of folks that care as much about Television as myself. I look forward to hearing you and Roberto review Game of Thrones once again starting in a week. Will you continue to post reviews with a comments section for the Walking Dead?

    Posted by Fluids, 04/04/2014 5:44pm (4 years ago)

  • This was a fantastic ending to the season, it felt like the most professional and polished episode we have had in awhile with the clever incorporation of flashbacks.

    Rick's bite will stand high on my all-time favorite TWD moments.

    But probably the best thing going for the episode was that it was a finale, and it truly felt like Carl or Darryl could die. They made such a big deal about Carl walking to the train car last, I thought they were going to kill him to send a message.

    Reflecting on the entire season, I was slightly numb to the first half of the season (except for the midseason finale) but this back half has really stepped up TWD's game. I'd probably call this the best "run" of episodes in TWD's history. (ignoring season 1)

    Final note; Rick's ending line once more gave off a very Comic Book vibe, its interesting that the show is feeling more and more comic-book like.

    Viewer score: 74 / 100

    Posted by Ben F., 03/04/2014 10:14pm (4 years ago)

  • All right, I think it wasn’t everything I have hoped it would be. But after ending, I couldn’t expect more than this either. We had some powerful character moments, we had some brutal and effective action scenes and as I had predicted we had a damn cliff hanger that left us guessing about Terminus people and ultimate fate of our survivors till season 5.

    We always guessed that prison survivors will find each other in the end of the line. Now they did but in a very different and hard condition. So, the finale escaped to be too predictable and instead it got more emotional and exciting.

    Something that I really liked was Rick’s character arc that concluded with this episode. I think Rick showed that his inner monster is alive like many other people in such world but in a good way. He can be a father while he can rip out a throat with his teeth like a Walker when it’s needed. He can be a loving father or a farmer and he also has to be as brutal, emotionless and crazy as he can when it’s necessary. So I liked this character journey from the beginning of the season to end.

    In the end, what got my attention more that anything was the reality behind the faces of Terminus citizens. There were some hints that they are cannibals. Because there are cannibals in Video Game and Comic too. So, I kinda sure that sanctuary is a trap (or smart plan from their point of view) to bring their food to themselves easily. Also, there was a weird room with candles that indicates that they might brainwash or impose their dirty ideology on new people before accept them in their group. And whoever refuses to a part of them will be a tasty meal on the table, I guess!

    --------------------------------

    by the way Robin, will we have a whole -season -4 -review podcast or not?

    thanks

    Viewer score: 85 / 100

    Posted by Reza, 03/04/2014 3:46pm (4 years ago)

  • The first half of this episode was fantastic and the second half was good but was served to set up season 5 and a lot of questions were left unanswered.

    I enjoyed Ricks arc in this episode and although we didn't necessarily need the flashbacks it summed up his season well. The end scene reminded me of Ricks speech at the end of season 2, hopefully the "Ricktatorship" is back!

    Since the mid-season finale I've been eagerly anticipating an emotional reunion for the group and in the container i didn't get a sense of that. I understand they're in shock and its not exactly a happy situation they're in but really at least a hug or a smile would of been nice.

    The best moment of the episode for me was when Rick called Daryl his brother. It was an emotional moment and their relationship really has come a long way since "you handcuffed my brother to a roof and you left him there?!".

    I loved the fact that nobody from the core group died in this episode. Its good to know that Gimple isn't just going to kill off characters because it's a finale or for shock value.

    Overall I feel season 4 is a step in the right direction and was a lot more consistent than season 3. I'm curious Robin to hear your thoughts on the podcast on how you rank season 4 compared to 2 and 3 ( I don't count 1 because its only 6 episodes). Thanks for your great work this season.

    Viewer score: 85 / 100

    Posted by Tiarnan, 02/04/2014 1:09am (4 years ago)

  • Are you speculating on Season Five?
    You can write about that here:
    http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/178

    More Unknowns with the Season Four Finale:

    • Abraham is very strong willed. Will there be a struggle to lead the group between Rick and Abraham?

    • Will Rick go with Abraham to DC?

    • Eugene behaves nothing like Dr. Edwin Jenner. Will Rick believe him?

    • What is with the room full of candles, sayings (“Never Again,” “Never Trust” and “We First, Always” ) and names of folks (along with former possessions) in the center?

    • Are these people a cult?

    • Perhaps this is a memorial to people who were lost at Terminus after some large disastrous event and also folks who have subsequently died (post event) who are members of Terminus (Termites) such as Alex who died in the gun battle with Rick and company?

    • What was this traumatic event that the Termites wouldn't allow to ever happen again?

    • Are the possessions by the names offerings to the dead? Perhaps they are personal affects of those who have passed?

    • What are the names? Are they dead 'Termites'?

    • Are there any names of folks we recognize amongst those that were being remembered? As an example,
    is there a Morales amongst the names? (We have not see Morales and his family since the first season.)

    • 'Never Trust' must refer to new arrivals at Terminus right?

    If so, it doesn't appear to be walker related. How could you trust a walker right?

    Posted by Fluids, 01/04/2014 10:38pm (4 years ago)

  • In short, this was a great episode to close out the season. For fans of the comic, the violent confrontation with Joe's group was lifted straight from the comic series, and approach that was both ambitious and tastefully (pardon the pun) executed.

    I appreciated how Rick's explanation of the snare trap presented at the beginning of the episode foreshadowed how Rick's group (and presumably Abraham's group) were trapped at Terminus, by being led through a path into a figurative noose. This foreshadowing, coupled with the intermixed flashbacks made for a complexity rarely seen in this series.

    My only negative comment relating to this episode (and tying back to last episode) is Maggie's and Darryl's lack of concern or interest over Beth's whereabouts. Perhaps the script was too tightly packed to address this issue, but I think a mere sentence or two from both Maggie and Darryl over the last two episodes would have closed the loop on this white elephant in the room.

    Viewer score: 79 / 100

    Posted by Michael S., 01/04/2014 7:56pm (4 years ago)

  • After you watch A, this is a great bonus clip of Andrew Lincoln and Scott Gimple talking with Chris Hardwick about easter eggs at Terminus, the pile of bones, the candle room and kidding around about Andrew's southern accent. A first time appearance on Talking Dead:
    http://www.amctv.com/the-walking-dead/videos/bonus-scene-episode-416-talking-dead

    Posted by Fluids, 01/04/2014 3:39am (4 years ago)

  • I really enjoyed this finale and it kept me interested for the entire episode. It’s going to be a long summer.
    The Good: Glad they didn’t drag out Ricks group capture and beat down by the “claim” crew. For a few minutes I actually believed they would go that dark (Carl molested or Michonne raped). The button was pushed in Rick when he heard and saw Carl crying out. I think Rick has finally resolved his conflict of conscience and how far he’s willing to go to protect his child.
    I love all the backstory on Michonne; her child’s death & the origin of her original “pets”, and how she discovered the camouflage they provide. Finally.
    Great dialogue between Daryl and Rick. You could see how happy & relieved Daryl was to be a part of this group again. No disrespect, but Daryl is a follower not a natural leader and that’s O.K. He’s most comfortable being in a group with a clear leader and structure, being a sidekick.
    The flashbacks to Herschel gently pushing Rick to put down his weapons & deal with the now (putting down roots) and making the prison a real home was interesting. I think this was done more to explain “farmer Rick” and show that it wasn’t selfishness on his part to step back from defence and leadership roles. This kind of takes some of the sting from Carol’s sarcastic digs about farmer Rick.
    The Bad: I hate when Rick asks Daryl about Beth and he says she’s “lost”. Why can’t he just tell him that she was taken by someone and he doesn’t know who and whether she’s dead or not? This is such a soap opera answer that keeps the confusion going and generates cheap suspense.




    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Beverly, 31/03/2014 9:30pm (4 years ago)

  • The Good:

    1. Rabbits
    I could go on and on about what this episode got right, but for me, it was bringing the rabbit trap full circle. In an early scene, Rick explains to Carl that in order to get a rabbit into their trap they need to block the other routes around it. Skip to the shootout at Terminus and we find Gareth and his group using the same tactic. Some viewers may have thought they were a lousy shot, rather they were shooting at their feet while at the same time closing possible escape routes and ultimately herding them to the trap: rail car A. The rabbit was intended to be eaten. Can the same be said about our survivors? Brilliant. I loved it.

    2. Alex's Double Entendre
    Michonne: Why do you do it? Why do you let people in?
    Alex: The more people become a part of us, we become stronger. That's why we put up signs. It's how we survive."

    Further proof of the popular cannibal theory. After this line is delivered, Alex hands over a plate of meat, which I assumed contained a sedative of sorts.

    3. Rick and the Marauders
    Terrific acting aside, it was nice to see a pivotal scene from the comic come to life. I'm glad Gimple is using the source material more and more as inspiration.


    The Bad:

    1. Terminus
    As of right now, I'm extremely excited to see what the season five premier brings. I haven't felt like this since season one. However, I hope Terminus does not become our set for a full season and the pace and mood of the past eight episodes is killed. Here's hoping our group begins traveling to DC after the midseason break.


    The Unknown:

    1. Guns.
    The bag of guns Rick buried outside Terminus will undoubtedly come into play. Though, the $64,000 question is how?

    2. Carol, Tyrese and Judith
    Rather than using the "front door," did an off-screen Carol and Tyrese do a recon of Terminus as well, thus letting them see the events of train car "A?" Or, are they already captured? Perhaps in that quickly passed rail car of screaming survivors?

    3. Beth.
    She was dubbed the "new sheriff in town by Rick." I smell foreshadowing. I think she is safe (with a yet to be revealed comic character) and we're going to see a very confident and aggressive side of her that could possibly aid in the group's rescue.


    Bonus:

    I just did a re-watch and noticed that right as Rick says "They're screwing with the wrong people," the light seeping in through the rail car manages to cast a shadow on his right eye. It could be pure coincidence, but it does look like something or someone familiar.

    Here's a screencap:

    http://i60.tinypic.com/2mrij52.jpg

    He could never embody the hatred and madness of our previous antagonist, but I think we're going to see a very angry, possibly monstrous Rick Grimes in season 5. There has been a shift, he now sees the true value in the company he keeps. He realizes they are family, as evident in his line to Daryl, and I feel he will protect his family at any cost.

    Plus, for him to be to be locked up, seemingly helpless and deliver that final line makes me believe he has a plan.

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Patch, 31/03/2014 9:04pm (4 years ago)

  • FOLLOW UP FROM s04e15 US Podcast

    Robin – on last week's podcast, you asked if would expand my take on the "claimed" code. When a group of people spend a good deal of time together, the importance of spoken language as a means of communication diminishes over time. “Familiar” groups of people use body language, emotion, and actions to communicate their intent, and can go for days or even weeks without uttering a word, yet still understand each other. I posit that even a new member of the group (i.e. Daryl) can draw from past experience to read everyone's state of mind, as this is part of being human.

    Case in point, if Daryl is clearly tracking a particular rabbit, aims his cross-bow at the rabbit, shoots the rabbit, and picks up the rabbit. It's patently obvious that the rabbit is his. The mere thought that someone can utter the word "claimed" faster than Daryl after all these events took place would somehow negate Daryl's ownership, as well as all the effort he put into the endeavor is beyond reason.

    And where do we draw the line with this rule? Consider the following, if I'm going hunting, do I have to precede my hunt with the blanket statement "I'm going hunting and hereby lay claim to any animal that I track during the hunt". Isn’t it enough to say that I’m going hunting, as this clearly implies that I’m going to track and kill some game? Do I have to utter the words claimed immediately before I shoot the animal? What if no one is around to hear me say the word “claimed”? Does this nullify the statement? . . . And this is only one example.

    I would argue that this code may work well in a carefully crafted TV script where the path is laid out, but question its viability when applied to an adversarial group such as Joe’s. Quite to the contrary, I would think the “claimed” rule in particular would have the complete opposite affect for a group such as Joe's, and only serve to incite violent tendencies through abuse and undermining, rather than provide any semblance of order.

    I know this is only a fictional work but the TV shows I allow myself to become engrossed in are typically those that I can somehow relate to, and the claimed concept as implemented on screen took me out of the moment in an episode that I was otherwise drawn into.

    Given the demise of Joe’s group, I suppose we won’t have any more “claims” to deal with. . . that is, other than my outstanding claim to this podcast. :-)

    Posted by Michael S., 31/03/2014 5:03pm (4 years ago)

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