Did The Walking Dead Deliver "A" Finale Worthy of Season 4?

By ArnanGoodwin

Mar 31, 2014

We've come to the end of another fantastic season of The Walking Dead, and I think the journey was GREAT! When Scott Gimple said in the premiere of Talking Dead that we were going to get some much needed character development, he meant it. With the Governors side-story and the episodes following the winter hiatus, I think the creative team delivered. In my opinion, this season didn't have a single throw away episode - a problem I feel every other season did have. It was an informative and tense season that kept me riveted.

The finale, however, gave me mixed feelings. As much as I acknowledge the great moments we were treated to in this cliffhanger of a send off, I did feel cheated more than once.

Michonne seemed to put the punctuation mark on her incomplete history, but the story felt lifeless. Why get the flashback/hallucination of her past as a setup, yet never show it to us? The comics have played around her story as well and with the series only compounding that tension, I felt this was a scene we should have seen. By telling it the way she did, it felt like television broadcasting was once again skirting the powerful emotional response that would walk hand-in-hand with the inevitable infanticide that must have been rampant when the world turned to hell. This episode really should have opened with a flashback to her final day in the refugee camp instead of the awkward opening flashback-then-forward of Rick sitting by the truck, shivering. Then we flash... back(?) to show how Rick got to his bloody state... then... we move on. Huh? Why? Did Quentin Tarantino guest direct this episode? Pointless. Michonne's opening would have carried more gravitas.

While we were treated to the peaks of Rick taking a bite out of crime - in no way gratuitous, in my opinion, because what parent would not literally fight tooth (teeth!) and claw to protect his/her child(?) - we were unfortunately given nothing that was truly unexpected in this episode.

We all knew Terminus was a bad idea. We all knew there would be a cliffhanger that leaves our heroes in danger. We all knew Carol, Tyreese and Lil Asskicker were to be last in line to arrive (last to arrive, survive, it seems). And the cannibalism story arc has been on the waiting list for every reader of the comics so much that it's flooded the message boards, tweets and Tumblr feeds to the point of common knowledge. What I wanted was the ending that said "Oh.. my.. God!" instead of "Yep. We were right." And for those of us who still don't think that the Termites (thanks Andy!) are confirmed cannibals, I can understand your decision to doubt. I, myself, do wish we were given a concrete "Soylent Green is people!" scene, but I feel like the message was clear:
We get rick teaching Carl how to snare live food, and the parallel of that when our heroes follow their own game trail into Terminus. Starting with "The more people become part of us, we get stronger" (thanks Alex!), we continue through the climax of the third act as our group is quite literally HERDED (without injury - cant let someone get infected and ruin the meat) like cattle into their own shoot (path A - as noted on every available doorway to their pen - A), passing a stripped human bone yard and storage containers full of people shouting for help. If no one else noticed, Daryl did. "What the hell?".

I guess the only real surprise was that none of our cast members bit it (Get it? No one bit into the BBQ! And no one died! get it?) this year. That was something I was sure would be happening. Though, some would argue that poor lil Beth Greene was roasting on the barby, we're clearly going to have to wait for October to give us the official yay or nay to that one.

And my final point is on the final line delivered by Rick. Can we really live in an age where the guts and gore of regular violence, death and depravity are perfectly acceptable, but the simple use of an F-bomb is too frightening for network execs to get behind? Hell, we've had implied rape, nudity and sex scenes, thanks to Glenn and Maggie! But Rick couldn't deliver that line the way we all know he would have? That was too much of a cop-out, Gimple. Just say the line. Your audience would go to bat for you.

Overall, I think it was a solid penultimate episode, but a little lacking as a finale. No worries, though, because even with this slight hiccup, I still consider The Walking Dead to be one of the best shows on television.

So what did you think?
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  • techngro Jun 16, 2014

    That last line from Rick was pretty cheese-tastic.

  • ArnanGoodwin Aug 25, 2014

    its better on the dvd box set, where he actually uses the line the way it was written :D

  • itsmemadie01 Apr 11, 2014

    It's a good cliffhanger kinda feel good which is surprising for TWD but not finale material intensity wise I like the mid season one better where I stopped crying after I guess my third replay.

  • LadyJaye13 Apr 10, 2014

    I felt really really letdown by this episode. I have been more letdown as the season has progressed but not for the normal reason. I did enjoy the character development that clearly went into this season but as a reader of the comic, I felt the whole thing lacked any element of surprise at all. This was something that Kirkman had promised about the show...that it would be different enough from the comics to keep the readers interested. It simply wasn't. It was almost an exact replica and I am left going 'meh'. If the show had been sold as a tv version of the comic, I could have been ok with it but I am really disappointed instead. They started off Season 1 and 2 making it different which had me into it, and then in 3 and 4 they just regurgitated. I don't appreciate it. I will still probably watch just to see what happens but....yeah...disappointed.

  • MollyScandalicious Apr 04, 2014

    It was the worst WD finale and the worst season period. I didn't like anything about that episode, i was expected so much more after all the hype Kirkman and Co made about it. I only enjoyed 4 episodes the entire season. I did enjoy Gareth tho'.

  • ArnanGoodwin Apr 05, 2014

    honestly, i hate to hear that from anyone. its unfortunate that people take this stance on such a character-driven season. TWD has been guilty of ignoring character development for so long, making a lot of "throw-away" episodes to many folks. these episodes felt like "throw-aways" because the characters were not invested in. folks didnt want to be bothered with their story. whats being painted is a picture that allows you to care more for these individuals than before.
    the only failure in character development in this season was the governor. they started him down a great path of introspection, showing us the driving forces in his head and heart, and then they cut it short by throwing us back into the conflict. i felt like they LOST a lot of chance to make us really like the guy and feel conflicted over his past actions. honestly, stuff like this is why i think we SHOULD have full 22-25 episode seasons - to take these necessary turns.
    this focus on character development is also why we care so much whether Daryl dies. we have watched him go from rebellious asshole to loyal protector. personally, i WANT to love the ENTIRE CAST this much. and i welcome each of their deaths as long as its storyline that stays true to the characters, threats and events. the story isnt so much (to me) about Rick, as its about the human condition FIGHTING... continuing to FIGHT... even when losing... theyre fighting to survive, and protect one another and striving to GET somewhere... somewhere their hope proves fruitful

  • roryok Apr 04, 2014

    I actually didn't notice the lack of an f-bomb, I just thought the final line was a dumb one. It was like something from a cheesy action movie, and I thought it ruined the tension of that final scene. Also, they're locked in a cattle car with no weapons. What the hell are they going to do except sit around and wait to be rescued?

  • ArnanGoodwin Apr 05, 2014

    first thing i thought of was to play the kid card. carl plays immature and afraid, they talk him out of confinement and into spying on terminus. theyll most-likely try to rush the door, at least once, unless glenns group already has - and failed. but its all about what direction they want to take the writing come october. regardless, the characters theyve written here are unlikely to ever just sit around and do nothing. after all the determination glenn had to get maggie (irrationally, even), do you think hes going to just chill and relax in confinement that could mean the end of the woman he worked so hard to find? do you think abrahams single-minded mission is going to just go away at this point? nah. it goes on, beyond this, but i just dont see it. rick just ate some neck-meat for his boy, so i think hes in FIGHT mode, rather than submission.

  • sydandnancy Apr 02, 2014

    What I found interesting is that when Glenn et al were offered food, they were told to "have a plate". It was the same with Rick's group. Have a plate..no one mentioned what food was on the plate. Means nothing really as we know what they are...just an observation.

  • NinaRennie1 Apr 01, 2014

    I am rooting for the Zombies! I say eat them all!

  • abhipritiseal Apr 01, 2014

    NOOO! I was expecting so much more drama and violence and something REALLY major to happen. And they just ended at the most interesting part. I want to know who Mary is! :( I even stopped studying for my examination to see this episode but I was disappointed haha :3

  • Gnomeygnome Apr 01, 2014

    They just fucked with the wrong mexican!

  • tonyg6891 Apr 01, 2014

    "We've come to the end of another fantastic season of The Walking Dead, and I think the journey was GREAT!"

    Really? We get a slow and dreary season where everyone is depressed and self-loathing. With bits and pieces of actions sprinkled in. BORING. This has been the weakest season yet. Barely any action, the zombies aren't even an issue anymore, they have become background noise. They show us a monster herd of zombies about to blow through when Darryl was checking out the radio and didn't even bother to expand on that. I'm sick of seeing the characters walking around not doing anything. Just crying and complaining. They're what 2-3 years in this and still in the same area with the mindset of worthless POS? Get them back on the road, running and gunning. You can still have plenty of character development with some actual action and a faster pace. If the next 4 episodes are shit like this past season, then I'm out on this. Can't keep watching garbage tv for the sake of "to see what happens."

  • ArnanGoodwin Apr 01, 2014

    while i agree they dropped the ball on the monster herd, im pretty sure we're going to see that scale of zombies again. what i liked about it is that they bucked the traditional writing tropes and DIDNT set it up in one episode just to knock it down in the next. im fine with THAT tidbit. but i honestly dont think this season was boring at all. i think they wove in and out of quality character development while still keeping it true to the overall story arc. for me, i DONT want a zombie fest slash and bang episode nearly as often as i want good story. quality writing thats true to the characters. and while i can point out big flubs (like the governors side-story only being two episodes long and rick being beat senseless by the governor for, really, NO reason), i dont think they were mired down in the boredom we saw at hershells farm in season 2. my primary problem with the show as a whole is that they dont intersperse ONE or TWO severely HORROR-themed episodes each season. lets not forget that this genre of entertainment (the zombie apocalypse) is a horror genre, and i wish that every now and then they would write for HORROR. well, that and the fact that 16 episodes is too short a season. i wish theyd come up to the traditional 22-25 episode format by including some tense, action and horror heavy segments.

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