‘The Walking Dead’ 4.16 Recap: “Who Are We?”

The season finale of ‘The Walking Dead’ lived up to the hype. The episode provided plenty of tension, plenty of action, and perhaps the best season-ender we’ve seen from the series to date. It also provided the return of a much-beloved character (and, no, it’s not the one you think I mean).

As the episode begins, we’re back at the prison in flashback mode, and we get to see the return of Scott Wilson as Hershel in a number of different scenes. The flashbacks deal with the period of time when Hershel talks Rick into planting a farm and raising pigs on the prison grounds, and encourages him to pass the info along to his son. As poignant as these scenes are, Hershel’s brief return is not the person I was talking about in my introduction.

The character I’m referring to is none other than Rick Grimes himself, who has gone back and forth between passive and downright crazy the past few years, but finally finds himself in this episode, and it’s a joy to behold. However, the result is not the “Ricktator” that viewers were given at the end of Season 2, but rather a fully formed hero.

Rick, Carl and Michonne are still heading to Terminus when they come across an abandoned truck. They set up camp for the night, with Carl sleeping in the truck and Rick and Michonne tending to a fire outside. Rick hears a noise in the woods, but thinks it’s nothing. The next thing he knows, Joe’s gun is pointed at his neck. Another member of Joe’s group pulls his gun on Michonne, while yet another guards Carl inside the truck.

Daryl arrives on the scene and tries to talk Joe out of killing Rick. Joe doesn’t buy it, and has the remainder of the group give Daryl a beat-down. The guy at the truck pulls Carl out and holds a knife to his throat. Just as I literally yelled “Come on, Rick!” at my TV screen, the former sheriff finally springs into action, slamming Joe with a reverse headbutt. This causes Joe’s gun to go off right next to Rick’s ear, which stuns him momentarily.

Those few moments, however, are enough for Joe to regain control of the situation, grabbing Rick close to him and whispering in his ear, “What are you going to do now?” Rick’s response is to take a big bite out of Joe’s neck, killing him almost instantly. Michonne then takes care of her guy, while Rick stabs… and stabs… and stabs… the man who threatened to rape Carl. The rest of Joe’s gang is disposed of as well. The next morning, Daryl comes to talk to a still blood-covered Rick and tells him that he did the right thing. But Rick already knows it. He doesn’t feel conflicted or traumatized about it at all. Rick then calls Daryl his brother. It looks like ‘The Walking Dead’ has two badasses to deal with now.

The foursome heads off toward Terminus, agreeing not to go in the front entrance, but sneak in through the woods around back. While searching the fence line to Terminus, Carl pairs off with Michonne and has a conversation with her. Carl has been standoffish with his father since the killing of Joe’s gang, and Michonne thinks it’s because Carl is afraid of him. She tells Carl the story of how her son was killed by Walkers and how she let her boyfriend and another friend turn into Walkers after they got bitten. (These were the “pets” we saw with Michonne when she first appeared on the series.) Michonne wants to explain to Carl that even though she’d done bad things, she was still able to come back from them. It turns out, though, that Carl doesn’t see his father as a monster. Instead, he worries about what his father will think of him, since Carl has had to do some horrible things as well.

Before the group heads into Terminus, Rick buries some of their weapons just to be safe. They then head into the complex, making contact with a group inside a big warehouse facility. They’re greeted there by a man named Gareth (Andrew J. West), whose first request is for them to drop their weapons. Rick and the others comply, and seem surprised when they’re allowed to pick them right back up after being searched. Gareth takes them outside where Mary (Denise Crosby) is cooking at the grill and offers our heroes some food. Before anyone can take a bite, Rick sees Glenn’s watch (the one given to him by Herschel) sticking out of the pocket of one of the other men. He immediately pulls his gun on the man and gets him in a headlock. Suddenly, the group is surrounded by armed men.

A gun battle ensues, but the only casualty is the man Rick was holding at gunpoint. (Rick doesn’t kill him. One of the snipers does.) The four run, but are met with gunfire around almost every corner. It soon occurs to them that the Terminus guards aren’t trying to kill them, but rather herd them to a certain location. After passing through a number of rooms with the letter “A” (the title of the episode, by the way) painted on the wall, they’re eventually led into an open courtyard where a train car with “A” spray-painted on the side awaits. Surrounded by guns on all sides, Rick and the others have no choice but to lower their weapons.

One by one, the four are instructed to head over to the entry of the train car. Once they enter it, they get locked in. They find others already inside the car. It’s Glenn and Maggie’s group, with Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, Sasha and Bob all there with them. Rick looks at the others and says, “They’re going to feel pretty stupid when they find out…”. “Find out what?” asks Abraham. “They’re screwing with the wrong people,” Rick replies, as the fourth season comes to an end.

This episode is all about Rick finally finding out who he is, and it’s a tougher, grittier, yet more human Rick Grimes than we’ve seen before – a fully formed man with all the violence, but all the compassion as well. It’s as if Rick has finally figured out that he can be neither a dictator nor passive, but he must be both. He’s finally a hero that fans of the series can get behind and root for.

The season finale has no signs of Carol, Tyreese or Beth, which hopefully means at least Tyreese and Carol will help break Rick and company out of Terminus at some point next season. (Beth’s fate remains a mystery.) It will also be interesting to see how Abraham responds to Rick and Daryl, now that he has to deal with two other Alpha males.

What did you think of the finale? Did it live up to your expectations? Were you disappointed that none of the main characters were killed off? What do you think of Rick’s return to heroics? I’m anxious to see your comments… and I’ll see you again in the fall for Season 5!

14 comments

  1. I thought it was one of the worst finales the show has ever had. It was hyped up to be something it wasn’t. I kept hearing something devastating was going to happen to Rick that will change him forever. Naturally most of us probably expected Carl to die. (Unfortunately he didn’t. That kid cannot act.) While it was nice to see Rick get his bearings, it did not feel llike finale material. This show is so slow to find it’s direction, it’s frustrating. Each season is a slow trek somewhere with really not a ton of great character development mixed in. That is unless you call listening to boring characters whine about the state of things character development. Heck, Daryl and Michonne don’t really do a whole lot, but they are the stand out badasses simply because they are juxtaposed with such awful, pathetic characters. Ok, enough of my rant. 🙂

  2. In a way, it was inevitable that this episode would be anticlimactic. As much as we knew that everything was converging on Terminus, we also knew that the episode would have to end on a cliffhanger because Terminus will be the focus of next season. There was no way that anything would actually get resolved in this finale. I think that’s a flaw of the season structure, which lacked a defining story arc to resolve.

    Last year we had the Governor. He was a clear antagonist that our heroes had to overcome. That season should have ended with the defeat of the Governor. That it didn’t was a big mistake, because it meant that his storyline wouldn’t get resolved until the middle of this season, then leaving the characters with nothing much to do except wander for the last half of the season.

    With that said, I thought this was a decent episode. I’m glad to finally see Rick get his head straight. I look forward to him kicking ass and taking names next season. The Terminus people (Andrew Lincoln called them “Termites” in the Talking Dead episode after the show) are clearly a creepy cannibal cult (did you catch that fenced-in area filled with picked-clean human bones?), and that has a lot of potential for fun storylines.

    I agree with Jared, though, that we were practically promised that a major character would die, and it’s disappointing that nothing like that actually happened.

  3. If that ended the program for good I could live with the ending. It showed where Rick was and pretty much tells you that there is no mystery to solve, he is going to get them out of it. We are only left with how it will happen and from the change that we see in Rick, there will be lots of blood involved. His character learned something from the “Woodbury” and Governor losses…..kill or be killed.

    Rick has turned the corner and it’s about survival. I really enjoyed the episode.

  4. Charles M

    I loved this episode. I loved the way it ended. I don’t agree with all the people complaining about the so called “cliffhanger ending”, it didn’t end any differently from a Game of Thrones finale. In fact, it’s no different than most of WD’s finale’s either.

    Most of WD”s finales were basically cliffhangers similar to this one, no one complained. They only one that wasn’t was S3’s finale, and everyone hated that. I know I did.

    In S1, it ends with them driving away from the CDC, stuck in a what-to-do-now mode. S2, same thing, with the addition of a hint the prison storyline. And now, same thing, they’re trapped with the hope of a community dashed while stuck in another what-to-do-now mode except this time not only do we have a hint of the next season’s storyline, but also the fact the characters aren’t going to take no crap this time.

    I did have some minor problems with the show though. I didn’t like how dumb they made Daryl out when confronting Joe, laying down his weapons and such. Thought it would’ve gone down differently than that, like Daryl would’ve found a smarter way to fight them.

    • What Daryl should have done is “claimed” Rick, Michonne and Carl before anyone else in the group thought to do so. Maybe there’d be a squabble over whether the other guy’s “claim” was implied without saying it, but Daryl might have convinced Joe to side with him, giving him enough time to work another way out of the situation.

      The show made such a big deal over the “claiming” process that I’m very surprised that whole storyline was wrapped up without that amounting to anything.

    • Season 1 had no cliffhanger…just our group leaving the CDC after it blew up.

      Season 2 just ended with a shot of the prison…no character’s life was in danger there, either.

      Season 3 ended with the prison battle, but it also concluded with the survivors of Woodbury moving into the prison. No cliffhanger.

      This was in fact the FIRST cliffhanger that Walking Dead gave us…where a significant number of our lead characters are in danger. Yet, most are complaining about it. I suspect the REAL reason is because they wanted blood – they wanted to see a primary character get knocked off – but the producers didn’t give us what was expected, and now everyone’s mad because the show isn’t unfolding in a predictable way. Go figure.

      • T.J. Kats

        Well in fairness AMC did spend all week posting anywhere they could promotional photos saying Who Will Survive #Terminus so when, as far as we know, everybody survives that could be seen as a letdown.

      • Charles M

        I suppose you’re right. I guess what I’m trying to say is that most of the seasons didn’t have much of an ending. It’s not an anthology series after all. Only S3 had much of a resolution except the Governor’s plotline. And it’s not like the producers were keeping this type of ending a secret. Should’ve been obvious, it was to me. I pretty much knew that next season would deal with Terminus and this season just ends up with them getting there. The characters meeting up again is the real resolution to this plotline. And this season had 3 plotlines; the Governor, the virus and meeting up again, all of them resolved except we still need to know about Tyresse and Carol.
        And about major characters being killed off every season finale, I disagree that the writers have to be locked in that kind of formula. Killing a character off just for the sake of doing so is silly.

  5. John M

    I think Terminus if anything is going to be the opening episode maybe two of next season. A climatic battle and escape and than the trip to DC begins. That could open a up a lot more stories with them actually on the road.

    Though with AMC being cheap I do not know how they will do it.

  6. Paul A

    Honestly, I thought it was one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. It has been such a downer to see Rick slog through this entire season, to watch him finally come alive. To see him realize that the world isn’t going to return to the way it was before. The calm he showed as as he bit through Joe’s neck. Amazing. My favorite part of the whole episode, however, was something I haven’t seen mentioned hardly at all by the bloggers and reviewers. It was that point when he went to bury the cache of weapons outside of Terminus and he he decided to add the one item that has never let him down. The one true thing he has been able to rely on since the very first episode. The trusty Colt Python. I haven’t read the comics or know much about the history of how TWD came about, but I have to believe Robert Kirkman outfitted Rick with that particular weapon as an homage to the Resident Evil video game, where it was such a lethal zombie killing weapon. That gun is now practically part of Rick’s soul. It clouds his vision when it is attached to the hip. Remember how Herschel tells him he doesn’t need it earlier in the episode? It just gonna get in the way? He already knows that Terminus may not be the welcoming society everyone else is hoping. He needs to think clearly and concisely. Observe keenly. Yes, he takes a .45 1911 in with him, but it isn’t the same thing. Just another gun. Rick and his trusty Python will be reunited (I hope!). I have to think that it will be at a moment when he needs to become the dark Rick that he knows he will need to be from time to time, at this point moving forward. Very much looking forward to Season 5!

  7. Peter

    I liked the cliffhanger finale, and enjoyed it much more than most of this season’s episodes, especially the second half of the season. I am a little surprised that as soon as they get to Terminus, things go to hell and they get locked in the train car. Now, they know they are clearly enemies and next season will fight them and try to kill all of them and escape. I think they could have had them at Terminus for a while where we learn about this new place as Rick, Darryl et al do, feeling like there is something creepy about it, but not being outright sure. It immediately showed these are bad people and there is no pretense of open warfare with the main characters. Still, I am looking for to next season.

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