'The Walking Dead' season 4 finale recap ('A')

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Credit: Rodney Ho

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Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

Go figure. No major character died. Surprise!

Instead, it was just good ol' meanie Joe who took it in the neck. Or more accurately, Rick's teeth in the neck.

Joe did what every stupid classic bad guy has ever done in a Bond film.

Instead of just killing Rick, Carl and Michonne immediately, Joe has this deep need to explain himself. He tells Rick not only why he is killing him but then goes through his entire methodology. (Austin Powers, where are you now?)

When Daryl tells Joe that they are good people, Joe scoffs. Rick killed his friend Lou. Retribution is fair.

Then he says he plans to have his buddies beat Daryl to death, then kill Michonne, then his son Carl (who gets to be raped too!). Finally, Rick will be the last one to die.

Maybe he should have told Rick when he planned to smoke a cigarette and take a pee as well.

Rick asks Joe to shoot him, just him, since he was solely responsible for Lou's death. But logic doesn't dictate justice in this world.

As Rick watches the laughing caricature of a minion get ready to rape Carl, he mutters "let him go" and becomes animalistic Rick again. (Bye, bye farmer Rick!) He head butts Joe, who falls back, dazed. Rick punches him. Joe starts getting the upper hand physically but he still hasn't killed Rick. Instead, he gives Rick an opening -- to bite his neck! This vampire-like move kills Joe almost instantly.

That shocking move causes Joe's gang to freeze.

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Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Credit: Rodney Ho

Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Credit: Rodney Ho

caption arrowCaption
Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

This gives Michonne a chance to grab the gun from the dude pointing it at her and kill him. She shoots another guy who was beating up Daryl, who stomps on the head of the second dude trying to kill him. This leaves the rapist, who has a knife to Carl. But he is clearly not up for killing anybody at that moment. So Rick just knifes him - and not in the head. He makes it an especially painful death by going for his torso, again and again. Vicious! Angry Rick has returned.

During the next day, Rick looks dazed but determined.

Daryl explains to him why he joined the crew, noting how Beth was "gone." (Dead? We don't know.)

"I didn't know what they could do," Daryl says, in way of apology.

"It's not on you, Daryl," Rick says. "Hey, it's not on you."

"You being back with us now is everything," he adds. "You're my brother."

Aww...

They arrive at Terminus the next day.

Carl seems scared of his dad at that moment, though in reality he sees himself in his dad. He goes with Michonne. At this point, she decides to inform him how her son died ages ago. She was at a refugee camp that went bad. She had been on a run and when she returned, her boyfriend and his friend were both bit. Her son was gone. So she cut the jaws out of the two of them and cut off their arms and used them as reminders of what had happened. And they ironically became her sanctuary. Walkers couldn't see her. She was shut down emotionally until Andrea got her out of her shell. Then Rick and Carl helped her become human again.

Carl then tells her that he may seem okay on the surface but underneath he feels like a monster, too.

They all climb the fence and arrive via the back entrance. Gareth and the Terminus crew meet them with a rather calm demeanor. They have the quartet drop their weapons, check them, then let them keep their weapons. Is that a sign of trust?

When they arrive for lunch, Rick notices that one of the Terminus folks Alex has Hershel's watch, the one he gave Glenn. Rick suddenly grabs Alex and asks where he got that watch from. We get the impression quickly that this barbecue lunch isn't beef or chicken. Rather, it's human! We think maybe Glenn & Co. are all lunch food since their personal belongings have all been scavenged.

(This theory makes sense because the place doesn't seem all that populated and if people are being drawn to it, shouldn't there be hundreds of folks milling around? Instead, it appears they are killing people to eat them and survive. But their methodology is curious if this is true.)

Rick kills Alex and they are quickly trapped. They could easily be killed on the spot. But the sniper who could shoot them down keeps missing them - on purpose. They get guided to a spot where they are eventually led to a box car (echoes of the Holocaust?). Who else is in the box car? Conveniently, it's Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, Maggie, Tara, Glenn, Bob and Sasha! Part of the gang is back together. We're still missing Carol, Tyreese and Judith.

This is not a good situation. But Rick doesn't feel hopeless. He feels oddly empowered.

"They're going to feel stupid when they find out," says Rick, with venom.

"Find out what?" Abraham says.

"They're screwing with the wrong people," he says.

It's "Dirty Harry" Rick, dialogue wise! I groaned at that line. Ultra cheesy for this show.

End of season!

"He's made peace with the animal inside of him and his humanity," actor Andrew Lincoln (Rick) says during "Talking Dead."

Interspersed throughout the episode, we get a flashback to the prison. We get to see Hershel (with his head on) again. The time frame is two months after the Woodbury denizens had arrived at the prison after the Governor's first unsuccessful attack. It's the time when Hershel convinces Rick to stop going out killing zombies. Instead, he tells Rick to help raise pigs and crops and becomes Farmer Rick. He also  convinces Rick to bring Carl with him so Carl can rein in his own crazy tendencies. We see some poignant scenes that we know won't last.

The flashbacks are used to contrast how Rick is ready now to go into full born survival mode, no holds barred.

Scott Gimple, the showrunner, on "Talking Dead" says he used the flashbacks to explain Rick's full story, how he pulled back from violence for a time for good reason. "That was a different world," he said. "But that world is over. Now he's in an entirely different place."

Gimple brought actor Scott Wilson back for a reunion of sorts for that season finale. He had in fact warned Wilson not to cut his ponytail or shave his beard on purpose.

Zombie count: At least five. It was a relatively light week for zombie kills. Rick & Co. just kill one before seeing a poor dude with glasses get attacked by a horde. They then run across three more at a railroad crossing, whom they kill. Later, near an abandoned car, Michonne knifes a zombie so decomposed that only the head and one arm were moving. Later, the entire "Claimed" gang is killed by Rick, Daryl and Michonne, though none "turn." I presume Alex (who has Herschel's watch) at Terminus just dies as well.

Ratings: The show saw a bump up in ratings for its penultimate episode to more than 13 million. Expect the season finale to exceed 14 million.

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