The Walking Dead Episode (4×16) Review – “A”

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Never Again. Never Trust. We First. Always.

While watching the season finale of The Walking Dead it was difficult not to think about how these “Termites,” as Andrew Lincoln called them last night on the Talking Dead, were cutting up the people they’d lured to Terminus and eating them. The more thought that went into this gory subject, the more one thing stood out. If these folks are munching on ribs, then why do all the human remains we see lying around have their rib cages intact? Could this be an error, or is there something we’re not seeing? Unfortunately, these questions will have to wait to be answered this fall, but one thing we do know is that cannibalism was only a part of this episode. The main theme had to do with these people figuring out who they are now after everything that’s happened to them. So let’s grab a plate and discuss episode 4×16, “A.”

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The Farmer in the Dell

Through a series of flashbacks we see how Hershel taught Rick to become a farmer as a means of saving himself and his children. Rick, like everyone, had been through a lot and was struggling to hang on to his sanity in the wake of Lori’s death and becoming a new father. As Hershel saw it, by doing something ordinary that will end up helping them all in the long run, Rick could take his mind off his grief and refocus Carl’s attentions towards something productive. Though Rick is hesitant at first to stand down and farm the prison garden, by the end of the episode we see a bit of his and Carl’s humanity creeping back into them. Not only did these scenes give us insight into what happened prior to the season 4 premiere, but they serves as a nice juxtaposition with who Rick and Carl have become since they lost the peaceful life they had just begun to know.

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Rick: Things changing in here doesn’t change things out there.
Hershel: No it doesn’t, but we’re here right now.

There Will Be Blood

Most of the episode focused on Rick, Michonne and Carl’s journey towards Terminus. At first we got treated to more cuteness of their new family, but that quickly turned to horror when the trio ended up running from a hoard of zombies. Once they made it to safety it appeared that the episode would go back to them talking about their situation as the episode slowly crept towards the final moments, but those thoughts quickly got dashed on the rocks after Joe and his Motley Crew showed up to avenge their friend Rick killed. In one instant our three friends had guns trained on them, and Carl and Michonne were on the verge of being raped as Rick was going to be forced to look on. Not even Daryl’s rescue could have saved them. Not sure which was more horrific: Carl about to be raped by some dirty old perv, or Rick ripping out Joe’s throat with his teeth? Violence and gore are par for the course on a show that features zombies on the regular, but the animalistic way our friends were attacked made this scene one of the worse we’ve seen on this series to date.

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Joe: First we’ll beat Daryl to death. Then, we’ll have the girl and the boy. Then, we’re going to shoot you in the head.

Who Are We?

In the past Rick may have felt guilty for taking someone’s life, but that’s all done now. As a bloody Rick sat contemplating what just happened, Daryl, Carl and Michonne waited to see how these events have affected Rick. To everyone’s surprise, Rick was not only fine, but accepted that he did what had to be done to protect the people he loves. These people aren’t just his friends or folks he’s met along the way, they’re family, and Rick will do whatever is necessary for them to survive. As soon as Rick accepted this himself, Carl began to accept the truth about himself as well. He’s never going to be the little boy Rick wishes he could be. He’s a monster. A monster who will shoot an unarmed kid just because he has the misfortune of not being a part of their family. It’s in these moments that whatever residual sense of a child that resided in Carl died. He may have been horrified to watch his father rip out another man’s throat, but he seemed more horrified at the fact that he had the opportunity to save his own life, and failed to go through with it. By trying to be the kid Rick wanted him to be, Carl nearly lost his own life. If his statement to Michonne that he’s a monster didn’t solidify this change in Carl, his demeanor at the end of the episode surely did.

Rick: I’m ok.
Michonne: I know.
Rick: How?
Michonne: Because I’m ok, too.

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In Terminus We Trust

Last week when Maggie and the others arrived in Terminus something didn’t feel quite right. For one, there weren’t any other survivors walking around this sanctuary. Secondly, there was something weird looking about all that meat on the grill. This week all theories appeared to be correct when Rick began to notice these “Termites” were in possession of their friends’ belongings. In an instant, this strange camp turned against our survivors, and they were thrust aboard an abandoned train car to await their fate. At least they were reunited with the survivors that reached town last week.

Rick: They’re going to feel pretty stupid when they find out.
Abraham: Find out what?
Rick That they’re screwing with the wrong people.

The sequences at Terminus had a very The Hills Have Eyes feeling to it, as our survivors found themselves surrounded by some incredibly strange acting folk. Not only that, but as they ran trough the “town” we saw evidence of people who’ve died. Some of which appeared to have been eaten. What solidified this notion of cannibals (in case the stripped, rotting carcasses didn’t do it) was how the “Termites” herded our friends onto the train car instead of killing them out right. Rick’s statement that he and his people were the wrong people to screw with shows how far he’s come since the season 4 premiere. This isn’t the man Hershel wanted him to be. This is the man who’s decided that Hershel’s notions of post-apocalyptic living was quaint and ideal, but not possible in this new world. The last time Rick went into warrior mode aka “The Ricktator,” he stood alone, but the fierce gleam that shined in the eyes of everyone else in the train car says that this time he doesn’t stand alone. The change that’s taken place in Rick has taken root in them all.

Terminus Transmission…

  • Where is Beth?
  • How will Carol, Tyrese and Judith’s arrival change Rick’s attitude towards the “Termites?”
  • Will Rick’s new outlook turn him into the next Governor?
  • Can Hershel’s morals continue to thrive in this world?
  • Michonne explained that grief over losing her son is what drove her to using her boyfriend and his best friend as her Walker pets.
  • What are you hoping to see happen in season 5?