Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Walking Dead is heading for a bloody showdown in season finale on Sunday

The Walking Dead is barreling along towards its fourth season finale on Sunday, which means it’s time to look back on this season with something of a critical eye.

What do I think? Frankly, it was a mixed bag.

When the season opened, we were introduced to farmer Rick, he of the long stares and garden cultivating. This wasn’t the Ricktator – a man bent on keeping his people safe. He wasn’t the wishy-washy coma victim that let Shane railroad him for months either. This was a man who was desperate to keep his son and daughter safe – and he wanted to remove himself from the action to do it.

When he did that, Rick left a void in the leadership at the prison – one that Daryl and Carol filled.

By the end of the episode, sickness had hit the prison and people were dying left and right and the safety that the prison dwellers were feeling was already gone.

This was, essentially, a group in transition.

We found that Carol had turned from a battered woman and shattered mother to a warrior with a cold heart
and  keen mind.

We found that loner Daryl was thriving in the group, not only helping with the day-to-day operations of his new community, but also bringing new people in and going out of his way to save them. This wasn’t the emotionally stunted man we’d watched for three previous seasons.

We found that Hershel had calmly adjusted to being the patriarch, and he was pragmatic about his future – and yet hopeful for the future of his daughters.

We found that Carl had done a lot of growing since having to put his mother down – and that he also was harboring some deep resentment where farmer Rick was concerned.

We found that Maggie and Glen were comfortable in their union, but they also had trepidation about what the future would hold for them.

We found that Michonne was a woman on a mission (one the others shouldn’t have abandoned) but she was also content returning to a home from time to time.

We found that Beth continued to waffle between singing sensation and moody teenager at the drop of a hat.

The first crack in the wall – other than the sickness ravaging the prison (which was basically a way to eliminate all the Woodbury people) – was when two of the ailing denizens were dragged outside and burned to eradicate the sickness.

Rick quickly deduced that it was Carol that had done the deed. And then, with a heavy heart, he took Carol
on a long walk that I was (slightly) worried would end in her death. Instead, Rick banished her for the good of the group.

Then, in short order, the Governor returned and everything our heroes had come to rely on was blown to smithereens.

By exploding the prison – and killing the Governor – the writers were essentially letting our survivors start over from scratch from a point of weakness. The group found their strength when they were together – so separating them was a great way to show the fractures that were endangering them all.

Rick, his body ravaged by a beating from the Governor, was dealing with the “death” of his infant daughter and the rage of a teenager that blamed him. The blame may have been irrational, but if Rick had dealt with the Governor back when Andrea died, then they wouldn’t have lost the prison and Judith wouldn’t have been lost.

Michonne, ready to give up after losing the group, saw something of herself in the walking dead and decided to live. She stumbled upon Rick and Carl and their makeshift family was stronger because of it.

Daryl was laden down with the annoying Beth but, to just about everyone’s surprise, she showed the grizzled hunter that he was more than Meryl’s brother. Of course, the loss of Beth has crippled Daryl again – although something tells me he’s going to find a new strength in the finale when his group collides with Rick’s group.

Carol had the most powerful growth of the season, not only owning up to what she did at the prison to Tyrese – with the knowledge that he very well may kill her ever present – but also  having to put a sociopathic Lizzie down like Lennie.

“Look at the flowers, Lizzie.”

Glen and Maggie already had their happy reunion – and they’ve made it to Terminus. I don’t think we’re
going to find the “scary” truth out about Terminus until next season. I’m guessing we’re going to get something of a happy ending this season, with Rick and Carl being reunited with Judith, Tyrese being reunited with Sasha and everyone else (sans Beth) just basking in the knowledge that most of them survived.

Do I think there’s going to be any big deaths? That’s a good question.

I think that the main action is going to revolve around Rick, Carl, Michonne, Daryl and all those losers Daryl is running around with. I don’t think anyone in that group is going to die -- which may be wishful thinking, but it's the conclusion I've come to.

First off, Rick is the main character. I think he will eventually die – but not until the final season. Carl is the new “heart” of the show, and he’s probably safe because of that. Daryl is the most popular character and fans would literally riot if the writers killed him off. We’ve also barely scratched the surface on Michonne.

Amongst the other characters, I think Sasha and Bob are the easy choices to kill off relatively soon – but I look for them to be fodder in Terminus next year. I also don’t think we’ll find out what happened to Beth until then (although that actress did have a gruesome ending on The Following this week). There’s too much emotion between Carol and Tyrese and Rick to ignore, so she's probably safe, too.

That leaves Glenn and Maggie. I am honestly worried about Glenn’s longevity, at this point (less so on
Maggie since there are so many men and fewer women). I think he’s probably a goner next season. I think they’ll wait until the mid-season finale or something, though, and then I think Glenn is going into the great beyond.

Of course, I stay spoiler free on The Walking Dead – so I could be completely wrong about everything. All I do know is that I’m sad the season is ending – and it’s going to be a really long spring and summer.

What do you think? How do you feel about this season of The Walking Dead?


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