The Walking Dead: 416 “A” Review
Reviewed by Rich Jepson.
It’s been a long walk to Terminus over these past few months, we’ve had stops at mediocre, brilliance and redemption along the way but tonight we finally reached our destination…at least physically anyway. The season finale was carrying a lot of pressure on its shoulders given the linear direction the group has been heading in, so was it worth the wait or did it go off the tracks?
The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. Let’s recap, before “A” we knew Glenn and Maggie’s group had arrived, Tyreese and Carol were on route with baby Judith (who Rick and Carl still assume is dead), Daryl was with Joe’s pack of ‘claimers’ (who were also hunting Rick) and Beth was AWOL. That’s a heck of a lot plotlines to address in one episode so doing the maths beforehand you could anticipate that there would be a lot left over for season 5 to deal with, and of course that’s not mentioning anything about what Terminus actually is.
The first thing the episode tried to address was Joe. This came at a surprisingly early stage of events and although it showcased just how far Rick is willing to go to protect his son, it was a massive waste of Joe as a character, especially given the fact that Daryl had spent considerable time with him getting to learn his Dexter-esk code. It really was a missed opportunity and contradicted of itself – Joe ‘claims’ to have a, albeit brutal, moral order for his companions yet as soon as they come into contact with a woman and a small boy he doesn’t say a word when they suggest doing the unthinkable. Why spend so much time discussing this when it all goes out the window at the first sign of trouble? Perhaps if Joe had have turned against his group we could’ve had a hybrid of the governor and Merle join Rick’s folk.
Following on from this we yet again saw The Walking Dead’s biggest weakness – pacing. Despite its record-breaking viewership in the states, many people dislike the series precisely for this reason, it’s certainly been addressed since the dark days of season 2 but it felt really present here in the flashbacks and during the Michonne/Carl conversation. We know it’s the season finale, we’re pumped and looking forward to some real action so why try to bring the tempo down when you’re metres away from Terminus?
The flashbacks in general I didn’t see the point of, one or two would’ve made sense as a nod to Hershel and the older version of Rick, but to have half a dozen scattered throughout just got in the way at the very worst moments. Also, their intention to illustrate the change in Rick was obvious which made them patronising to boot.
On to the Terminus then and frankly it was somewhat of a let down. The hints about what these people may be are too obvious, from the endless BBQing that the woman is doing, the lack of people in their group and the bone yard, anybody can figure out they must be cannibals – so why didn’t they just show it? This is an issue that was addressed in both the game and the comics and if you haven’t seen either it’s not hard to figure out.
As for the final line, well what an anticlimax that was, Rick didn’t even swear. I sense that’s AMC’s input – it’s fine to bite a guy’s throat out and hint at paedophilia but don’t you dare drop an F-Bomb…there might be kids watching.
Season 4’s been a bit of an odd one, the first half of the season tried to set up the finale that season 3 should have had, whilst the second half wandered off and got a little lost in the woods. That said there have been some fantastic moments of storytelling, highly intense action sequences and truly disturbing subjects addressed. The slate’s now clean for a fresh start in season 5, there’s a few new faces in the group and it can really go anywhere from this point. It definitely wasn’t the finale we were hoping for but I’m sure we’ll be back for more.
Roll on Halloween…
Scene of the Episode: Rick Vs Joe – This probably would’ve worked better as a finale last week. The sight of Rick claiming Joe’s throat was not for the faint hearted and showed that his farming days are well and truly over.