Monday, March 31, 2014

Good and Bad: 'The Walking Dead' (3/30/14)

Season 4, Episode 16: “A”
 Plot: And we’re back at the prison again. The season four closer gets going back in simpler times. Glenn, Maggie and Rick are coming back from a run. Herschel has almost all of the body parts he came into the world with still attached to all the right places.
                Then we immediately cut to a present day blood-splattered Rick, and for a lack of a better phrase, the man looks like he’s seen all of the shit. Not just some. All of it.
                After the credits we time slide again to meet up with a perfectly-healthy Rick, Michonne and Carl, hanging out in the woods, trying to catch a rabbit, letting a strange dude get his eyeball torn out by a pack of zombies. The use.
                The gang high tail it the bush out of there, set up camp for the night and then are promptly ambushed by Joe’s crew. They’re still not thrilled at Rick for strangling their buddy and they’re looking to not so much even the score, but blow up the stadium and the surrounding parking lots so no one can ever play there again.
                Joe’s crew vows to rape both Michonne and Carl and then, when all is said and done, kill Rick. Because escalation? Right around that point Daryl shows up and is all “Umm … not cool, you guys.” This starts a brouhahas that climaxes with Rick tearing Joe’s throat out with his teeth because escalation!
                This understandably breaks the spirit of Joe’s remaining crew and they are all promptly and brutally killed. Escalation.
                In the aftermath of the fight (the blood-splattered Rick we saw earlier in the episode), Rick and Daryl share a tender moment, well at least as tender as a moment can be when you’re busy picking pieces of a guy’s windpipe out of your teeth.
                The Grimes gang eventually reach Terminus, and sneak in the backdoor. They meet up with some hipster-looking folks in a radio room who direct them to the welcome area we glimpsed briefly last week.
                Once there, Rick notices some familiar-looking stuff: Glenn’s pocket watch, some body armor from the prison. Everybody flips out, Rick’s gang starts running around Terminus seeing all sorts of stuff that looks like evidence of cannibalism but is definitely creepy, the locals shoot at the gang’s feet, funneling them in one direction and cornering them.
                The episode ends with the Grimes gang getting locked in a rail car with everybody else from the prison who's still alive save for Carol, Tyreese and Beth.       
                Oh yeah, and all the while, the episode cuts back to the days back at the prison where Herschel teaches Rick and Carl the fine art of being gentlemen farmers.  

Good: Flashbacks. I love me some “Walking Dead” flashbacks. Any chance we get to learn more about these characters outside of the present action is always appreciated. Rick’s farmer origin story complements his transition back into hardened survivalist nicely, adding a little melancholy to the proceedings.

Good: Herschel’s back, ya’ll. Not permanently, but still. Dropping knowledge.

Good: Joe’s crew. Governor, take heed. This man’s crew managed to come very close to out-crazying you in like three episodes. Dudes were going to rape a little kid! The one flipped him over and everything! That’s the kind of real world crazy that goes beyond eyepatches and heads in jars. That’s some hardcore, heavy psychosis. You will all be missed you maniacs. I wish we had more time together.

Good: Rick goes all Jack Bauer, pt. 1. “The Walking Dead” killed off two little blonde girls in pretty stark, brutal fashion a few weeks ago. Despite that, I think Rick ripping Joe’s throat out with his teeth might be the thing people remember most from this half season.  Lesson learned: If you threaten a dude’s kid and his samurai friend, securing his arms DOES NOT mean you’ve won the fight.

Good: Rick calls Daryl his brother. So many feels. If this scene had gone on a second longer, you would have seen me running in out of nowhere and engaging both of them in the world’s manliest, yet still super tender hug. Don’t ask how. Just enjoy the embrace.

Good: More Michonne backstory. We get another giant piece of the puzzle of Michonne’s life before zombies. We find out more about her two pets from season three and how they came to be, plus we brush on the subject of her son’s death.

Good: Terminus. I like that we got both lots of answers and no answers. What is Terminus? Seems likely its full of cannibals who also have an affinity for setting up creepy satanic ritual looking rooms. Either way, not good news. No bueno.

Bad: Rick’s final line, aka Jack Bauer, pt. 2 “They’re gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out … They’re screwing with the wrong people.” This episode was darn near perfect from my POV. It blew last season’s disappointing false start totally out of the water. But still, I could have done without Rick getting his big action hero line at the end. This man’s life is in danger. His son’s life. His friends. Four people he doesn’t know. Confidence is fine, but this is John Cena-esque. We should be scared for these guys. Instead, all Rick’s done is verbally cut the Terminus people off at the legs. They’re no threat to us. We don’t need to take them seriously. We’ll all be fine. Well if that’s the case, why watch? Call me when you get a villain worth your time, Grimes. Just kidding, I’ll be watching come October. I think there’s a place for John Cena and Jack Bauer on TV, but that place is not on “The Walking Dead” (unless you’re talking about throats getting ripped out with teeth, because as Bauery as that was, it also made total narrative sense here, this line does not). Other than this one line, fantastic episode, capping off a wonderful half season.

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