Season 4 of The Walking Dead is in the books, and I can’t be the only one who left last night’s episode with a feeling of disappointment. I thought it was a good episode as a whole…and admittedly better than last season’s finale, but comic series creator and show executive producer Robert Kirkman had built up the finale to be the most brutal, violent, and ambitious episode of the series. While the sequence with Joe and his group of marauders was undoubtedly brutal and violent, and probably a little shocking to viewers that aren’t also fans of the comic, the rest of the episode failed to meet those lofty expectations.
While part of me was happy to see Hershel again in the flashbacks, I had closure with his character. I was at peace with his being gone because of how much he had impacted the lives of those around him. In essence, Hershel lived on in the souls of those still alive. But to see him again just reminded me once more that he’s gone.
We got to dig a little further into the past of Michonne, which was nice. Her character is so much deeper than just the BA black woman with a kitana, so I’m always happy when they give us a glimpse into her tortured psyche. They also continued to strengthen the bond between Michonne and Carl. I can’t really tell if he views her as an older sister or as a surrogate mother. Either way, I enjoy the pairing. It was also incredibly harrowing to see that Carl is starting to question his morality. It appears that some of Carl’s childish mistakes, like shooting that unarmed kid from Woodbury, are weighing on him a lot more than we thought. I would say that the fact that they are bothering him proves he’s not a monster, but I totally understand the terrible guilt he feels.
We were also teased with the “…Who Will Survive?” posters. With no major characters dying in this episode, the answer is: apparently EVERYONE!
With all of that said, this didn’t feel like a season finale to me. But aside from Season 2, has any season ending episode of The Walking Dead felt like a finale? The “cliffhanger” that Kirkman stated would make the wait until season 5 practically unbearable, was just Rick and company finding out that Terminus isn’t what they thought it was and ending the season locked in a train car. But with the entire group minus Tyreese and Carol being reunited, and Rick’s proclamation that their captors are going to “feel pretty stupid when they realize that they just screwed with the wrong people”, they left the season with the idea that the inhabitants of Terminus are in danger from Rick’s group instead of the other way around. Not really much of a cliffhanger.
Obviously, Robert Kirkman’s job is to sell his product and build a buzz around it. He did just that. But unbeknownst to all of us was that we were being played. And we all fell for it. He tricked us all, and the ratings I’m sure will display just that. So Kirkman, I leave you with the immortal words of Michael Scott, “Fool me once, strike one. But fool me twice…strike three.”