Season Four, Episode Sixteen
Season Grade: B-
As the season finale of The Walking Dead showcased two major events, which coincidentally happened to be the only two action sequences, I couldn’t help but smile at the attempt the show-runners are making. The show was always been good at action sequences from the very beginning. The Walking Dead’s strength has been when the characters aren’t talking, but when they’re doing something like killing walkers or traveling on the road. While this might seem like a compliment, it’s not. What good show is best when there isn’t any dialogue. Yes, that has always been problem number one with The Walking Dead.
But back to the season finale, we get the showdown between Joe and his men tracking down Rick with Carl and Michonne. While it was a very tense and suspenseful scene, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times are Rick and Carl going to escape death? Sure, for the first two seasons, Rick was the leader and the main character on the show and he really displayed conflicts, motives, and likability for fans to support. But for the last two seasons, it’s been the same cycle of emotions for Rick. He wants to be a leader, he doesn’t want to be a leader, he’s trying to protect Carl, he’s trying to allow Carl to grow up into a man, and again. At this point, I believe it’s best for the show to kill of Rick because I simply don’t see his character evolving anymore. Maybe I’m wrong, but I haven’t seen any signs of improvement during the last two years.
So after Joe’s men goof up their attempt to seek revenge for one of their buddy’s death, Rick, Michonne, Carl, and Daryl survive the attack. No surprise there. Then they reach Terminus and unlike Glenn and his gang of misfits, they’re a lot more cautious. They don’t enter through the front gates and follow the smell of barbecue food, they sneak through the back and confront who I assume is the leader of Terminus, Gareth. He greets them with kindness and has one of his men give them the whole routine about the sanctuary, until Rick realizes that one of the men has Hershel’s pocket watch, the same one he gave to Glenn. This was a neat sequence because you immediately know that something went wrong when Glenn and company walked into Terminus from the last episode. No, you don’t assume they’re dead because this is The Walking Dead and they wouldn’t do that. What we find out is that Glenn and company have been trapped inside a railway boxcar, and now Rick and them have been forced inside as well.
What’s in store for our group of survivors? Rick’s confident that they’re going to somehow break out of the boxcar and dominate the establishment of Terminus, with their sharpshooters on the roof and men throughout. And heck, it’s impossible not to believe him because without them, there wouldn’t be a show right? There are still plenty of issues the show has that were really exposed during the second half of the fourth season. While I admired the idea of breaking up the group for most of the second half, it revealed how many characters aren’t developed. You had Daryl (the fan favorite) with Beth, arguably the least developed character on the show. When she gets kidnapped, you care a lot more for how Daryl reacts than worrying about what’s actually happening to her. I’m sorry, but that just seems wrong to me.
Then there was Glenn and Maggie’s story-line of trying to find each other, which made you realize that all they’ve been for over a year are the two characters in love. Nothing more, nothing less. And sadly, those two were more developed than Sasha, Bob, and Tara combined. This has always been a huge issue with The Walking Dead. They’re searching for a balance between cool ways of killing zombies and a carefully developed story with rich characters. I hate to say it but I truly believe the insane success creates this obstacle even more difficult. Without the fast pace and constant killing, would most of the fans stick around? Yet they’re trying to separate itself from just been a campy horror flick to something with essence. Unfortunately, The Walking Dead is failing at that.
So where does that leave us? Well, right were we were from the beginning of the show. The Walking Dead is never going to have the great consistency. It will have the occasional brilliant episode here and there, but for the series as a whole, it’s always going to be more of the same, over and over again. It’ll be consistently inconsistent with a few strong characters, a lot of weak dialogue, and questionable acting. But hey, it gets ratings.