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The Walking Dead Season 4 Finale REVIEW: Don’t Call it a Comeback, Grimes Never Left

the-walking-dead-season-4-finale-rick-bloody

“That’s settles it! Only electric razors for me from now on!”

 

It’s hard to believe that Rick Grimes has been making splatter art out of the undead going on four years now (longer if you count the comic).  As per the title of this post, I bring this up because as The Walking Dead’s core antagonist, Rick (played to comic book perfection by Andrew Lincoln) hasn’t always been there, psychologically speaking anyway.

While always present physically, the former leader of Atlanta’s most popular zombie-surviving gang had a few longer than expected mental departures.  Whether it was being a Ghostbuster in dealing with Laurie’s visions after her death or playing the part of Old McDonald when he traded his gun in for a garden hoe (insert joke here), Rick has taken a few vacations from his coveted role as the Ricktator.

 

Democracy

Exhibit one as to why people just don’t vote anymore.

 

All that changed with the closing episode of The Walking Dead’s fourth season, and the re-transformation looks to be a permanent one.

Before I launch into my thoughts on the finale, I will provide a minor refresher for those who have short term memory issues (like myself) on the second half the season leading up to the events of the last episode.

 

Outlaw and Lincoln

The difference between him and I?
He does it with an English accent.

 

WARNING: There ARE some spoilers below, so please stop here if you haven’t seen it yet or if you don’t care.  Once viewed, please feel free to revisit.  Your page traffic is always welcome.

Still trying to cope with the loss of the moral goodness that was Herschel, the mid-season opened up to most of the main players being split up in a myriad of different directions post gubernatorial prison attack.  (As a related aside, it was nice, albeit bittersweet, to see Herschel on screen again for some new flashback footage.)  To be perfectly honest though, it was a fairly slow half of the season, but that’s not to say it wasn’t also an intriguing one.  Much time was spent on character development, particularly Michonne’s, and the introduction to a throng of new survivors who most followers of the comic knew of immediately, which included: Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Rosita (Christian Serratos), Euguene (Josh McDermitt) and his mullet.

 

abraham-eugene-rosita-the-walking-dead-season-4-amc

“Come and knock on our door…
We’ve been waiting for you…”

 

Another new group of not so friendly castaways was also introduced as a band of roamers lovingly referred to as the “claimers” by the viewing audience.  Led by their creatively named leader Joe, the claimers lived by a set of rules that roughly revolved around kill first, grunt later.  Much to his chagrin, everyone’s favorite crossbow marksman, Darrel Dixon (Norman Reedus), stumbled into the group and hesitantly leeched on for the presumed reason of keeping your friends close and your creepy psychopathic Neanderthal half-wits closer.  This little tidbit is important of course as it lead to one of the series’ most defining moments.  With Daryl, Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rick on the ropes with the clan, and Carl (Chandler Riggs) about to experience his first intimate experience with someone that wasn’t female in nature, Mr. Grimes did the only thing he could to save his son.  He decided to make Joe his version of an extra value meal.  With one super-sized bite, Rick turns Joe into a midnight snack and officially blurs the line between living and undead.

The entire act is not only incredibly intense, but thanks to the superb acting of Lincoln, Rick comes across as a man pushed to desperation to save his son, not as a souless monster looking for vengeance in a dying world.  The following scene with a blood-faced Rick declaring Daryl as his brother was as poignant and moving of an exchange that has ever taken place on the show.  It was the equivalent of two alpha T-rex hugging it out with their stubby arms.  Admittedly, it was enough to make a grown man’s eye sockets well up with manly eye lubricant.

 

rick-and-daryl-season-4-finale-bloody with Darrel

Don’t laugh, you told me to order the Carl’s Jr six-dollar burger.

 

Even despite the gruesome nature of the above described incident, fans of the graphic novel (including this Outlaw) were happy to see this event ripped from the pages of the comic and reproduced faithfully for the onscreen adaption.  Keeping with the theme of being faithful to the comic, one major element not included in the book is the micro-city of Terminus, which is populated by – you guessed it – Termites.  However, it’s hinted at that these Termites look to be of the meat eating variety, and the steak they enjoy is that of their own kind.  (I guess that explains why their BBQ grills looked as if they were swiped from their local Costco.)

 

Cannibals

Never mind those old things… they’re just for ambiance.

 

While Terminus itself didn’t exist within the confines of Robert Kirkman’s graphic pages, a cannibalistic group did attempt to make Rick and a few of his followers into the next best thing east of the Rio Buffett in Las Vegas.  It will of course be interesting to see the twist that’s put on the made-for-TV version of the story, and if any of our favorite survivors will become the next Grand Slam breakfast for the Terminus community.

 

Terminus

Excuse me if I tend to stay away from locations that have 90% of the word “terminal” right in the name.

 

In the end, I’d consider the season four finally to be one of the strongest episodes of The Walking Dead’s four year run thus far.  I would also like to point out that it’s proof the writing staff doesn’t have to kill a beloved character just to make a finale worthwhile.  By far, my favorite part of the episode occurred in the last few seconds when Rick (who elected himself back to leader for a third term) declared in his State of the Union Address, “They screwed with the wrong people.”  The blood hadn’t returned to my knuckles yet, but they were already partaking in an exuberant fist pump as the camera zoomed in on the fearless expression plastered on Mr. Grimes face.  In a comical side note, Andrew Lincoln confessed on The Talking Dead with Chris Hardwick that there were some better takes with the closing line where the infamous f-word was used instead of ‘screwed’.  The quote was originally written like that for the graphic novel, but show-runner Scott M. Gimple decided that they had better things to do than deal with the government.  (And don’t we all?)  Fingers crossed the more provocative take makes it to the Blu-Ray edition.  Pretty please AMC… with an f-bomb on top?

 

walking-dead beat up

Takes a lickin’ and keeps on killing stuff (and things).

 

Readers of the graphic novel and the TV series know Rick is the central character of this apocalyptic tale, nonetheless, ultimately it’s his son Carl that is turning out to be the true centerpiece of the arc.  Sure Rick is the leader and protector at the moment, but all along he has known that the survival of humanity will rest on the shoulders of the youth, on the shoulders of his son Carl.  Not to mention he has no intention of letting his son die in general.  For all Rick knows, it’s all he’s got left.  For him it’s the only thing left worth fighting for, and that makes him a very lethal threat.

 

Walking-Dead-season-4-finale-1

“Can you really say no to these eyes?
Ok fine… but what about the hat?”

 

Carl represents the future and Rick demonstrated that he is willing to up the ante by chomping away at his fellow man to survive and protect the product of his loins.  I think it’s pretty safe to say he can also be pushed to do worse (which can only be assumed by what happened to Carl’s attacker in the comic and off screen during the finale.)  The folks at Terminus may be cannibals, but they are indeed screwed, because unlike their desire to cook their meals on the grill, Mr. Grimes now likes his meat rare.

 

6 Spurs

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One Comment

  1. Daniel Coyne says:

    I think I may have surprised my wife with my reaction to Rick excising Joe’s jugular. Then gutting Carl’s would-be attacker… the whole scene was very satisfying. Then the scratch-in-the-eye with Rick and Daryl… the feels, oh man, the feels.

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