The Walking Dead aims for fresh start at the close of its fourth season.
Early on in “A,” the season four finale of The Walking Dead, Rick gives Carl and Michonne an in depth lesson on constructing the perfect snare to catch prey in the wild. It’s at this point any seasoned fan of The Walking Dead knows that Terminus is a bad idea.
Of course, there no way Terminus could be anything but a far cry from the promised sanctuary displayed on those roadside missives. Across these four seasons, things have always turned bad the larger the group grows. We’ve already witnessed the deterioration from the inside at Herschel’s farm and what happened when people fell under the Governor’s thrall both at Woodbury and his later camp. So, the possibility of a respite at Terminus was always a long shot, although I wasn’t quite prepared for what we found.
Seemingly led by the smooth talking Gareth, Terminus appears to lure unsuspecting survivors in like a Venus fly trap. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s up with these people, but it appears to be a cross between some weird religious cult and cannibalism. That makes it a long wait to discover the fate of the recently reunited group locked in that boxcar, with the exception of Tyrese and Carol, that is…
The back half of this fourth season has made a welcome transition in the stakes and conflict of the show. For far too often, The Walking Dead has relied on the zombies both as the ultimate danger for these characters and a method to move them around the show’s chessboard. But now the show is more about the methods of survival of the group and those they come into contact with. Rick especially is aware of his shift into a darker place after is ultra violent offense on Joe and his gang. Daryl tries to reassure Rick, that anyone would have done what Rick did, but Rick’s not hearing any of it. And I love that this conversation was with Daryl, who’s already embraced his darkness and is being coaxed back to humanity the more he stays with these people.
The only scenes that robbed “A” of being a solid finale about the origins of the prison garden. I know, I know, these flashbacks were meant to drive home the show’s recent themes surrounding the children and their growing process, here namely Rick and Carl. While it’s great to see Herschel again, most of these scenes felt a little too important and self aware for me. It’s not difficult to glean that Carl’s struggling with many things, most of which is his identity without the farming metaphors.
Despite all that, “A” is indicative of a shift in the storytelling on The Walking Dead that’s been apparent over these last few weeks. Things seem to be moving forward with a purpose and tightening up nicely. It’s a trend I hope continues into next season.
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