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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Walking Dead 4x16: A


So Terminus sucks. No one saw that one coming, right? Actually, I was probably more surprised than most. (That’s not to say I was actually surprised although I will say the reveal happened a little sooner than I expected.)

This is one of the times knowing the comic worked against me. Terminus is not in the comic but I thought it may take the place for another setting that wasn't inherently bad. But nope, it was just another rug being pulled out from our characters.

That happened and we also got a somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion to the Daryl/Joe’s gang subplot. It was satisfactory in that Joe’s gang got what they deserved (and Daryl called their code stupid) but I was hoping for a little more from Daryl on this. It really turned out that Daryl was just hanging out with them because it was something to do. Also, he appears to have zero inclination to at least try and look for Beth. (I know the possibility of finding her is remote but I’d at least like an effort.)

And really, that’s all that happened in the season finale. It wasn't a bad episode. We got some character growth from Carl and Rick. Carl is feeling some remorse and Rick is becoming more of a bad ass. We also finally got a look at the inside of Terminus. However, none of this felt like a big season ender.

Heck, we’re not even sure what Terminus is up to. I have a big suspicion (more on that below) but nothing’s been confirmed except that they like to keep prisoners in a rail car. Technically Rick was the aggressor towards the Terminus folk and theoretically Glenn and company could have also been aggressors. So maybe they've all been put in “prison” for good reason. I don't believe that. I'm just saying it's possible. My point is, we really don't know much about Terminus at all.

I once said that The Walking Dead’s best episodes are season openers and season finales. This finale didn't live up to my expectations. Blam, of Gentlemen of Leisure comments section fame (amongst other and almost certainly lesser things), said that this second half of the season feels like the first half of a season and the mid-season finale of this season felt like a season finale. If you followed all that, then know that I 100% agree with him. This would've been a fine mid-season finale but as a season finale it wasn't a game changer and it didn't get my juices flowing as much as I wanted it to.

Other Thoughts:
This review is going up later than usual mostly because I got a little lazy on Sunday night and then all my energy got diverted to seething over the How I Met Your Mother finale and the lengthy comments I left in Teebore's review.

No, that's not a typo. Yes, this episode is titled "A" because...well, I have no idea why.

To put a bow on my review, I would have created some more prison stories for the first half of this season and then done the Governor stuff to end this season. Then this latter half of season four could have been the first half of season five.

So, yeah, the people at Terminus are totally cannibals, right? They keep people in the rail car as cattle. The meat they were serving is probably human meat which is why none of the Rick's group actually had a chance to eat the meat.

So, in the end, it’s Hershel’s fault that Rick became the farmer that pissed off Carl so much. Way to drive a wedge between a father and his son, Hershel! (Or, you know, Carl could have been more mature about things.)

So, Rick shows how to manipulate the environment to lure rabbits into a trap. Kind of like how someone could use train tracks to lure people to a trap...

I would’ve appreciated at least some attempt to save the random dude with glasses. That whole scene was staged weirdly, though. How did this guy get in that predicament? Why did he try to fend them off when there seemed to be a clear lane to run away? What was the point of this scene?

I appreciated that Daryl immediately came to Rick’s aid and wasn't conflicted about it.

Joe’s gang made Rick angry. You won’t like Rick when he’s angry.

I’m sure Carl will have a perfectly healthy reaction to seeing his dad brutally kill a gang of people.

I’ll be honest, though, for a fraction of a second I thought that they might actually kill off Daryl. Silly, I know.

Why the hell is Daryl being all cryptic with Rick about what happened to Beth? Plot?

It was appreciated that Rick and crew exercised some caution upon entering Terminus...for all the good it did them.

I feel like Rick could have gotten the information he needed while keeping himself safe for the time being by simply asking where the guy got his watch instead of immediately pulling a gun. You could ask, see if the answer is satisfactory and then try to snoop around to find the real answer or something. No need to escalate things so quickly.

I was going to criticize how terrible at shooting the Terminus people are but that was intentional for once! They were just herding their cattle.

I’ll be honest, though, for a fraction of a second I thought that they might actually kill off Carl. Silly, I know.

I am curious how Glenn and his crew got herded into the rail car.

On the Talking Dead they said Carl admitting that he felt like a monster is actually a step forward for him because it showed signs of guilt and remorse. Last season when Carl shot that boy he felt nothing. That’s actually a good point.

So, I bid adieu to The Walking Dead for this season. Teebore is still trying to recover from his caffeine pill addiction so I will actually be taking over reviewing Game of Thrones too. Your disappointment is understandable and I’ll apologize in advance for the boob counter I will be implementing.

8 comments:

  1. Like cockroaches after a nuclear holocaust, whether in the comics or the TV show, Carl just. Won't. Die!!!

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  2. I enjoyed this episode on the whole, but you're right that it definitely felt more like a midseason ending than a true finale, for whatever that's worth in this day and age. I also question the wisdom of holding the obvious Terminus reveal for next season, just because they'll probably act like it's a big shock when everyone else has already accepted it as fact and moved on by the time the show comes back (another reason this would have made for a better mid-season ender).

    I'm always torn on the return of Crazy Rick, because he's so much more fun to watch that way, but at the same time, seems to validate the show's troubling "whatever it takes to survive is worth it" ethos.

    This is both good and bad, but while I didn't expect any of the characters to die during the confrontation with Joe and his gang, I was extremely tense throughout it because I wouldn't put it past this show to actually have Carl get raped before everyone fought back.

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  3. Yes, this episode titled "A" because...well, I have no idea why.

    It was the name/marking on the train car in which everyone reunited at the end.

    So, yeah, the people at Terminus are totally cannibals, right?

    Totes. There was also the powdered milk (used to keep their cattle alive/fat), the snare metaphor you mentioned, which was all about the trapping of food, Gareth's line about how they take people in and become stronger as a result (which is true both literally and figuratively if they're cannibals), and the room that Rick and Co. briefly ran by filled with human bones that looked an awful lot like a slaughter house.

    What was the point of this scene?

    I'm not sure if this was the point, but I appreciated the way it pointed out that Carl's first instinct when hearing a call for help is to help, regardless of the situation. Ultimately, I thought they were setting up a rift between Rick and Carl, that Carl would be first angry that his dad refused to help that guy, then upset/scared/whatever at the way Rick gutted the guy attacking Carl (like, a "he was glad his dad killed him, but he didn't need to gut him", sort of thing) but that never really developed.

    I appreciated that Daryl immediately came to Rick’s aid and wasn't conflicted about it.

    Ditto. I wouldn't have minded a little less reasoning with Joe and a little more surprise crossbowing, but for the most part, that was handled well.

    I’m sure Carl will have a perfectly healthy reaction to seeing his dad brutally kill a gang of people.

    ...after almost being sodomized by said gang. It's a wonder this kid even keeps going.

    Why the hell is Daryl being all cryptic with Rick about what happened to Beth? Plot?

    No, because of reasons.

    It was appreciated that Rick and crew exercised some caution upon entering Terminus...for all the good it did them.

    I really did appreciate that, and while I still would have sent in one person as an advanced scout, this group was small enough (unlike Glen's group) that I can make a case for sticking together, especially after not seeing anything too suspicious. And it was nice that even after scoping it out, they didn't stroll right in the front door. Yeah, in the end, it did them no good, but I can accept that if they still went about things in a smart way.

    And I loved that when they were burying the bag of guns, Rick put his iconic revolver in the bag and took a different gun into Terminus, so that when they eventually escape, he'll still have his signature weapon. ;)

    You could ask, see if the answer is satisfactory and then try to snoop around to find the real answer or something.

    Indeed. Once you know things aren't kosher, keep calm, get the lay of the land, try to communicate that to the others, etc. Don't just fly off the handle without knowing the extent of their forces.

    Teebore is still trying to recover from his caffeine pill addiction so I will actually be taking over reviewing Game of Thrones too

    >cracks whip<
    >sobs into a bottle of pills<

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  4. This episode felt so unlike a season finale that for a brief second I tried to fast forward to the next episode preview when it ended.

    Agreed on the cannibal angle. If the creators are smart, they'll see if too many people figure that out, then change it before the next season starts. But they probably already shot a scene years ago where the cannibals try to cook Rick, and since that scene is in the can, I guess there's no choice but to stick to the plan rather than discard it in favor of rewrites.

    ...

    Too soon?

    Also, I laughed a bit at the final line from Rick. It was almost a fourth wall breaker, like he just realized he's the protagonist of the series and is inlikely to be killed off.

    "...I’ll apologize in advance for the boob counter I will be implementing."

    No apologies necessary; indeed I say it's about time! Will you be counting in pairs, or singly? No wait, don't tell me -- I want to be surprised.

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  5. I promised a few days ago I'd add my theories to the mix, but really Dr Bitz has covered all the angles right now. I think Teebore's summation of the evidence for cannibalism is pretty strong, too - or at least, if they're not cannibals, work has clearly gone into making us think they might be. Since there is a storyline with cannibals in the comics (though under wildly different circumstances) that was where I thought this was obviously heading, so it's interesting to know that suspicion isn't reliant upon comic info.

    (This is one of my favourite subjects, actually; comparing the thought processes of people who have advance knowledge with those coming to a story fresh. Shameful plug: I have a blog named Who The Heck is Horus founded on that very idea, applied to the Warhammer 40K background.)

    What I was originally going to say here is that it's perfectly possible the Terminus peeps are reasonably nice and Rick fell into the trap of being a douchebag when he learns they've caught some other people who are also douchebags. Dr Bitz has ably covered this already, but I would add that this puts us in something of a bind. Either the show goes the obvious cannibal route, and we're bored with the idea before they even start, or they go with the "it was all a misunderstanding" route, and the tail end of season four ends up seeming even more flaccid and low-stakes than it did already. Not really much of a choice.

    (Of course maybe there's a third option, and these people are something completely different and unexpected. It feels churlish to say it, but I don't have enough faith in the show-runners to believe this will prove the case.)

    @Matt But they probably already shot a scene years ago where the cannibals try to cook Rick, and since that scene is in the can, I guess there's no choice but to stick to the plan rather than discard it in favor of rewrites.

    If Teebore kills you for that joke - and he might - I'd just like to note that your death was entirely worth it in the pursuit of comedy. I haven't been able to drink coffee for the last ten minutes for fear I'll think of your quip again and hose down my keyboard with nosejoe.

    Also, when Teebore rips out your lungs and garrottes you with them (which is redundant, but who's going to tell him that), would you mind if I film it? Only I have an idea for a show that ends after nine years with a guy getting strangled with his own internal organs, irrespective of what happens in the 207 episodes preceding it.

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  6. If starring in a snuff film is what it takes to finally have my genius recognized, SpaceSquid, you have my permission.

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  7. Next season on The Walking Dead...
    "Stay in the boxcar, Carl!"
    "The door's locked, Dad. We can't get out."
    "Uh... Right. Sorry. Habit."

    // amongst other and almost certainly lesser things //

    My life's highlight reel is pretty much these comments, having pizza at 1 a.m. with Livingston Taylor, and storyboarding a Sea Monkeys video for QVC.

    // This would've been a fine mid-season finale but as a season finale it wasn't a game changer and it didn't get my juices flowing as much as I wanted it to. //

    No surprise, I agree with you.

    And it's not just that relatively little happened — plot-wise, if not character-wise — besides the dun-dun-dunnnnn that most of us were at least halfway expecting. It's also that we didn't check in with everyone. So where we last left Beth, getting kidnapped, and Carol, Tyreese, and Judith, walking away from The Lovely Flower Pecan Farm and Burial Ground for Disturbed Children, is where we leave them until October, even though we probably expected otherwise at the time.

    Rick's parting line was kind-of triumphantly chilling, but I have to wonder what Glenn's new traveling companions think of this guy.

    // I feel like Rick could have gotten the information he needed while keeping himself safe for the time being by simply asking where the guy got his watch instead of immediately pulling a gun. //

    Yeah.

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  8. @Teebore: // Once you know things aren't kosher //

    And if we're right about the Terminus menu, things are really, really, really not kosher. 8^)

    Matt beat me to the boob-counter joke.

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