‘The Walking Dead’ Season 4 Finale Review – Just Another Monster

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Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 16 The Walking Dead Season 4 Finale Review – Just Another Monster

[This is a review of The Walking Dead season 4, episode 16. There will be SPOILERS.]

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Remember when all Hershel wanted to do was plant some soy beans in the prison yard and maybe start transforming a truly dismal location into a place that people wanted to be and to stay and perhaps one day even prosper? And remember how that led to Rick becoming a farmer for about two weeks, before he had to sacrifice his pigs to get the walkers away from the fence; and it was harrowing to see a man willingly destroy something he’d worked so hard to obtain? Have you recalled that, in the end, it didn’t really matter because the pigs were the likely cause of the flu outbreak sweeping through the prison, turning the survivors’ supposed safe haven into an incubator for walkers and that was just before the Governor showed up and ruined what was turning into a pretty gloomy party anyway?

Well, if you forgot, The Walking Dead season 4 finale, ‘A’, would be happy to remember it for you, or at least give you a somewhat fresh take on a bleak situation, so as to better bridge the concept of sanctuary between the prison and now Terminus (which, as it turns out, is about as much as much of a safe haven as Darryl’s new buddies were traveling bible salesmen). At any rate, Terminus, as many had suspected, is full of well-armed, meat-loving cannibals. Yes, the people taking to the airwaves, promising shelter and plastering the train tracks with maps and signs leading right to them are – if the stacks of human bones are any indication – serving up hunks of human flesh like it’s comfort food, presumably stuffing newcomers’ stomachs and minds with the idea of plentiful fresh meat, before turning them into the next day’s lunch special.

This being the audience’s fourth go-round with The Walking Dead, the idea that a group of seemingly charitable, socially minded people would turn out to be sadistic people eaters probably didn’t come with any sense of real shock or even awe. And the same can probably be said for ‘A’ as a whole. That’s not saying the episode was a dud by any means; it’s just that serving up people when people are already on the menu – as is the conceit of the entire series – doesn’t fill one with a great sense of astonishment.

Denise Crosby in The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 16 The Walking Dead Season 4 Finale Review – Just Another Monster

But it does help make the episode’s theme feel more resonant than it has during season finales in the past. And to his credit, Scott M. Gimple managed to get the message of just another monster and all the possible variations on that theme through with remarkable clarity. At this point in the particular zombie apocalypse of The Walking Dead, immorality is as much of an all-pervading infection as the virus (or whatever it is) that’s reanimating corpses all over the place. To a certain extent, everyone is carrying the same diseased integrity, and it’s turning seemingly healthy, living people into the kinds of monsters that plan, scheme, and lure their way to getting what they want, rather than shamble around aimlessly until some hapless individuals with heartbeats inadvertently rouse the innate need to feed within a rotting brain.

Time and again, Gimple goes back to the notion that, as a result of the current situation these characters are in, everyone, either living or dead, is in some way a monster – or is incredibly close to becoming one. Rick’s flashbacks to when Hershel was teaching him the way of the farmer aren’t there just as yet another reminder of what’s been lost since the series began; they also demonstrate how the circumstances of the world – as it is for Rick and the other survivors right now – dictates the manner in which people choose to survive, and to live. Michonne’s boyfriend and his buddy were responsible for their own deaths, and the death of her child, so she came as close as possible to becoming one of the monsters plaguing the world. Daryl’s temporary pack is just a group of thieves and killers, but they had a code; they had figured out a way to make the world function in a way that worked for them. Aside from the wanton killing, and the nightmarish things they were bound to inflict on Carl and Michonne, Joe and his wannabe biker gang were essentially just like every other group in The Walking Dead since the series premiere: just people trying to make it in a world turned upside down. And as the show has often attempted to prove, the easiest way to make it is to become the monster everyone fears. Perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘A’ also points out – or, Rick, Michonne, and Daryl do, rather – that sometimes, the only way to survive is to become exactly the same thing.

Whether that is the message the series needs to be working so hard to get across at this juncture in its sure-to-be-lengthy tenure is less certain. It is, after all, just a slightly different spin on the same old theme – which became the literal writing on the wall inside the Terminus compound: “Never again. Never trust. We First, Always.” That’s a terrifically simplified take on the world the show has shown very little of, but it works; primarily because it encapsulates all of the series’ major thematic arcs into a compact phrase that describes any story The Walking Dead is likely to tell – whether Scott M. Gimple is at the helm or not.

Chandler Riggs in The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 16 The Walking Dead Season 4 Finale Review – Just Another Monster

Still, give credit to Gimple for being the showrunner to understand that the only real option the series has is to boil storylines down to the same base elements and then set them on repeat until the whole thing finally gives out. It’s the opposite of aiming for narrative intricacy, but that kind of expansion on concept isn’t really in the show’s wheelhouse. There’s even a meta moment toward the end of ‘A’ where the group’s captor, Gareth, boils down each character to a basic idea of a person, a simple identifier like “ringleader”, “archer” and “samurai” that robs them of their humanity, but at the same time, it demonstrates how easy it is for characters and situations on the show to be reduced to straightforward, simple components, and how much better off the show feels when it does precisely that.

There is a wonderful, entertaining simplicity to Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Carl running through Terminus after Rick spots the pocket watch Hershel gave to Glenn not long ago. The unambiguousness of the cannibals herding food toward a train car presents the show with a clear delineation of character and intent that sometimes gets lost when episodes try to make certain individuals feel the weight of their decisions, rather than actually acting on them.

In the end, the survivors are in quite the pickle, but hearing Rick tell his crew their captors are “screwing with the wrong people,” feels like precisely the kind of action the show needs from its central characters. As far as the cliffhanger that ‘A’ leaves the season on, it too is relatively simple, but it produces a effortless, effective, and welcome feeling of excitement and anticipation that the series hasn’t had since the end of season 2.

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The Walking Dead will return for season 5 in the fall of 2014 on AMC.

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  1. The only redeeming aspect of this episode was getting to see psychotic Rick again, but one awesome scene does not make up for half a season of practically nothing happening until the last two episodes. I honestly don’t think I’m gonna watch this show next season. I’m continuously disappointed by the pace and over indulgent character development.

  2. What pissed me off about this finale is that the marketing was all “Who will Survive?”

    Yea um.. Everyone? Not a single person got nixed. Atleast for a shock factor give us Carl getting shot. SOMETHING!

    In my opinion this was the weakest season finale of the series yet.

  3. love all the complaining about “character development” or boring episodes about the characters. obviously these cry babys don’t read the comics, because that what the whole friggin series is based on….the characters and not the zombies.

    This finale crushed it and this whole season was great. very close to the comics with the Hunters arc and next season should be fantastic. My only complaint is the lack of actual show compared to the commercials. lengthen the episodes by 30 minutes or something.

    • How does the show being about the people equal 6 of the last 8 episodes being stretched out pointless drivel?

      I’m just curious because I always hear that copout that you used. I know what character development is and, good sir, it does not have to boring in the least. The walking dead takes an episode of a girl looking for a DRINK and stretches it for an hour episode and people like applaud it for character development.

      A talented writer can make quality character development happen in 5 minutes while pushing the narrative forward. The walking dead took 16 episodes to do 10 episode season. Please don’t insult the people who are able to see that.

      • Agreed. And for the record, I’m an avid comic reader and The Walking Dead is no exception, but at least in the comics the story moves forward. I don’t need 3 episodes of Beth and Daryl walking around, running into mild danger, then her FINALLY getting kidnapped to get good character development. My complaint isn’t about the character development in itself, it’s that the writers seem incapable of developing both the characters and the plot simultaneously. It’s one or the other at any given moment. Five minutes of action, five episodes of characters dealing with the fallout, then season finale. I’m sick of it.

        • I can see that and I have the same complaints about GOT. I have read all the books and feel that the show is no where near to what the books provide. The books are at a faster pace and at times the TV show felt like they were just dragging things out. It’s all about taste and for the most part the producers are running the show based on what the majority of the people want and that’s not a fast paced zombie killing show(something many polls around the web has confirmed).

          • I couldn’t disagree more with your statement. While both shows feature a lot of scenes with just dialogue, Game of Thrones dialogue is a.) actually driving events of the story, b.) revealing aspects of character without having to be overly explicit about it (like WD where characters will always just say what they are feeling or thinking), and c.) usually pretty interesting dialogue on its own. I’m sure the Walking Dead comics are great, but the TV show has lousy writing and lousy acting.

            • It’s a matter of taste. I love GOT but to say the level of pacing and writing is as good or better than Season 1 is like saying Season 4 of TWD is as good or better than Season 1. Both are great shows and offer a completely different taste for different audiences. Yes, GOT is obviously the superior of the two but don’t think GOT is without it’s flaws because it does have some.

        • Yes, exactly. Honestly, I’ve never read the comics but I think I may pick one up and see how it goes. I hear nothing but good things.

          • Do it man! Idk if you read comics already but they have collected editions that you can buy and dont have to track down each issue. I started reading them in 2012 and I bought all the collected editions 1-17 to catch up and now I buy the monthly issues

          • I’ve been here since the beginning, watched every episode and now I’ve read every issue of the comic book. I love this show but not nearly as much as I love Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad. Anyway, because I have read the comics and because the show generally follows the major plot beats of the comics. So I knew there would be a period of separation and wandering characters. However, it really began to piss me off. I love the little character moments like Carl defeating a walker then eating pudding on the roof or Beth trying to look for some alcohol and telling Daryl more about herself. They couldve really streamlined the story lines. I didnt need to know more about Daryl, the audience already knew he came from a troubled family etc. It really began to drag for me. If they couldve cut out some of the fat there wouldve been at least 1 more episode to explore Terminus other than 20 minutes at the end of the finale. Most of the audience was probably getting very frustrated and there wasnt very much of a reward at the end of the track. We got the group herded into a train car and a creepy room with candles. I think there shouldve been more answers given after the previous 7 episodes of walking around. Rick is my main man and he is the character I most want to see on the screen so therefore I was getting tired of spending the night with Beth or spending the night with Maggie and Glen. Another thing is how much the appearance of Abe and Rosita and Eugene were hyped up and it turns out they were in like 5 scenes. Idk, I loved the finale and I wont throw a tantrum and say I am gonna stop watching cause I wont. I just feel like giving a show 16 or 18 or 22 episodes creates filler episodes that dont really drive the plot. Game of Thrones is 10 episodes and is very tight and cant afford to put filler in. Any British drama like Sherlock or Line of Duty, they get 3 and 6 episodes respectively and something is always happening and I just wish TWD would cut dont some fat and streamline things more so we can have more big moments and characters that we care about over some of the others. On the other hand, for the most par, Scott Gimple did an awsome job this season

            • Thanks, I’ll check them out.

        • having just binge watched TWD season-1-4, it’s clear that the writers are giving us clues as to what’s going to happen in future shows, but the foreshadowing is unknown to us until we go back to review the previous episodes-all those boring ones. ; ) Daryl and Beth/one of my favorite of the season, is full of clues. We just don’t have the info on this end to see how those clues play out yet. Beth was taken by a car with a cross on the back windshield. The room that Ricks group had to run through appeared to be a room of respect OR a sacrificial OR blessing room OR something that has to do with some sort of religion- or cult? Beth is there, that’s my bet. i have not read the comics though so I may be WAY off but my prediction is that Beth is there, in the process of being brainwashed by these supposed Godly people; she so wanted to believe in the goodness of people as her benevolently RELIGIOUS father did. It won’t be a stretch for her to believe these new people are her saviors- that’s how cults work, they prey on the naive. Plus she’s blond, blue eyed, young – she was saved from her damnation only to be damned to something/someone else? So, will she save or sacrifice her original group? Will Beth be the one to get Rick the cache of guns? Someone has to be left on the outside to do that. I think too that Rick will hear Judith’s cry from another train car. That will only add fuel to his fire- and Carl’s. Carl will now feel a sense of primal urgency, as did his dad, to save his baby sister. Good story arc there: Carl has crossed over to a man from a child- what is he willing to do on his own to save his own?
          TWD has torn down the illusions of moralities, governments, families, communities, death. Now their eyes appear to be on religion. Should be good.
          What is left of TWD when there’s nothing else to tear down? What is left of one when there’s nothing else to tear down?

        • The story moves forward…seriously…we had three years of Negan in the comics…a whole year just fighting a war…do you really read the books..the story moves at its own pace but it is never fast….

          • All Out War’s 12 Bi-weekly issues are hardly an entire year. If my math is right, it would be half that.

      • For me the Beth character illustrates a problem the show has sometimes. Beth has been on the show since the farm as a background player and after introducing and killing a lot of other ancillary characters they finally decide to let her speak more than four lines and she gets kidnapped. I realize it is done to set up tension, but like other things in the show the pacing just feels off. Now whatever feeling viewers might have developed for Beth will have to simmer until next fall, at which time they will have to rely on recap exposition to reintroduce what they did this season.

    • Agreed. Great season, great finale.

      • I agree, whole-heartedly, loved it :)

    • Ive been keep up with the comics and still feel the show is dragged out. Its a season finale and I just felt it wasnt much of a cliff hanger like usual in my opinion. Nothing to amp me up for next season really.

      I was just let down in the whole “who will survive” viral marketing they did but everyone survived so that felt like a let down. It doesnt need to be killing constantly but if they advertise for something then atleast take someone out. Or have someone not be in the traincar so all off season youre wondering “Where was ‘insert name’ in the train car?!”

      I Personally enjoyed the frst half of the season more than most people and felt that the 2nd half was dragged out big time. Hopefully they introduce Alexandria next season. Atleast the preacher!

    • Obviously you did just watch the comic books, not read them. You’re right, it’s not about the zombies, but about the characters. But it’s not about any characters: the comic book always follows Rick and his group. Character development always is connected to the role of the characters within the group … and on TV this is even more important … otherwise we have snoozefest stand-alone episodes like we’ve seen in the second half of this season and characters studies of The Governor … and the main group plot got totally out of focus.

      So nobody is crying for more zombie action, but for consistent group plot development and character development within the group. And an end to needless stretching of the plot and milking the show. Got it?

      The Hunters arc is very important, because for the first time the Rick and the group handles a threat pretty easy and than (sort of) bring justice to The Hunters. Later this leads into a interesting twist (at the Alexandria Safe Zone).

    • 1. When people complain about “nothing happening” it`s because literally NOTHING happens, it doesn`t mean we want zombie kills every 2 minutes, it means that the conversations are not interesting/important.
      2. Denial and high ratings will never make this show good again.
      3. Calling bad writing and no attention to detail “fantastic” really tells us why TWD is so popular right now.

  4. Count me as one who is mostly disappointed in myself that I expect too much from TWD. I realize that some scenes are basically “ripped from the comics” but still, the pace of this show at the moment is maddening slow. Far too few episodes that make me lose track of time and surprise me that I just watched 40 minutes of something interesting. Not to mention, last night, I knew with the amount of time they were taking with those action filled flashbacks, that we were headed straight for a cliffhanger to set up season 5 at Terminus, so that they can finally escape by either mid-season or, more likely, the season finale, so that we can go back on the road again to the next pit stop in the series. I liked how Rick didn’t trust Terminus enough to arrive through the back door, but when hiking to Terminus, reading all the signs, I would have expected more people or walkers to be around the place, but maybe I’m just asking for too much logic out of this show.

    Also, I think it would have been great if they got the chance to sit down to eat and after they finished half their meat, a light bulb would have turned on for one of the four and they start contemplating where all the animals are with all that meat on the grill, but no, the pocket watch apparently sufficed.

    • Totally agreed!

      This would be a great regular episode and an amazing regular cliffhanger, but its a pretty lame season finale. And the dumb flashbacks to prison were needless, just to make (a character development) clear for dummies what should be clear without flashbacks. It just stretches the episode to full length … and this is exactly what we’ve seen the whole season:
      STRETCHING half a season into a full season.

    • Re: “Also, I think it would have been great if they got the chance to sit down to eat and after they finished half their meat, a light bulb would have turned on for one of the four and they start contemplating where all the animals are with all that meat on the grill…”

      I expect that the next season opener will “flashback” to just such a moment and show us the rest of what happened from the minute when Glen, Maggie and company first entered Terminus to when they ended up in the “A” train. Then we will be treated to addtional “flashbacks” re: Beth’s kidnapping, Carol, Tyrese and Little Asskicker on the road etc. – then maybe an episode or two showing us what Joe and the Claimers were doing before Daryl joined them. A bunch of flashbacks could stretch the Terminus storyline on for quite a long time…

    • You’re right. They should have milked the drama and tension in the Terminus for a while. God, they could have had four episodes of things slowly unraveling – the group picking up clues and the meat tasting funny (not like venison or pork or beef). They could have had more about Tyreese and Carol arriving, I dunno. I just was like “Welp, there they are running past skulls and rib cages.” The Walking Dead VIDEO GAME had SO SO SO much more suspense when they encountered cannibals.

      And furthering your point about the light bulb, they could have slowly found clothing o items. I mean he sees the poncho, I understand, but why is the guy walking around in riot gear? I mean I always wear my new shoes in the house when I get them, but this guy was like “Oh man I love that riot gear, let me put it on and walk around in it because it’s so cool!” And HOW did Rick know that was Herschel’s pocket watch? All he saw was the chain! It could have been a chain to a wallet or something. They SHOULD have dragged that out more and brought the other casts’ clothes and the missing farm animals converge over two episodes and then all hell break loose.

  5. “They’re going to feel pretty stupid when they find out…they’re screwing with the wrong people” Loved that scene. Bottom line is dont mess with rick.
    Awesome finale

    • That line was a capper to a rather ho hum episode. Too many commercials, too much time spent on pne scene, so maybe a two hour would have been better, IDK. But when he said that, I was like “Yes, let the blood fly!”

  6. It makes me wonder if I would even care if this series got cancelled. I know it won’t, but I swear most of the time I feel like fast forwarding the damn thing.

    Hey, at least Game Of Thrones is on next Sunday!

    • This series will not get cancelled anytime soon and even if it did soo many other networks would be lined up to pick up the series(ABC, NBC, Fox) that it wouldn’t matter. Right now, early indications are reading that Sunday’s episode broke record ratings again so unless this series pulls an AOS type of ratings drop then it’s not going anywhere

      • Sure it will NOT be canceled as long as the ratings are this high.
        But ratings are one thing and quality is another … and this show is so going down in quality (any aspect you can imagine: story telling, character development that is connected with plot development, suspense, …). So I don’t know if I will even recognize the start of the next season in a year from now … and there are many thinking like me … so this isn’t a good development for AMC and the show, in my opinion.

        • I can see that. I won’t deny that the quality hasn’t been the same but I did see an improvement in connecting the small details this season with the rats, the radio transmission, the girls mental state. Will this series lose viewers? Yes. Will this series gain viewers? Yes. I keep seeing more and more people being introduced to this series and as a group of co-workers have said, “They’re hooked”. I think next seasons ratings will tell a lot about the loss of viewers

        • There may be MANY who are thinking like you but there are FAR MORE who aren’t. The show continues to grow in popularity not vice versa. Yes, it doesn’t mean quality as I am sure you are biting at the bit to say for the umpteenth time but it does weaken your argument regarding the show’s ultimate decline. I wish you enjoyed it more because I get the sense you really want to like it. That said, I don’t believe these stand alone episodes featuring the group of MAIN characters are fillers…I believe they all added nuances to each of the individuals that comprise Rick’s group. Again, it is what episodic TV is. I continue to enjoy it and certainly am looking forward to season 5.

      • “and even if it did soo many other networks would be lined up to pick up the series”

        The problem with this is that TWD isn’t made by some other studio with AMC holding a deal to air it like most of their other shows; TWD is a completely in-house project. When a network owns that much of a proprietary interest in a series like that and opt to cancel it for whatever reason, the tendency is to not let go of the reigns lest someone else actually make it work again and, in turn, make whoever mad the decision to axe the show look bad.

        This is something network executives are particularly conscious of.

  7. Well, it was a good season. The good is that they’ve tighten up the writing from last season in which little small details didn’t go unnoticed like the voice on the radio, the person feeding the rats, and so on but the bad still continues to be the pacing. Overall I still consider this season to be the closest to season 1 yet. I also liked the fact that Darabont gave his student, Gimple, a thumbs up for the job he did this season. If Gimple continues to improve them things are looking up for the series. I’ve never seen soo much excitement of what’s to come from soo many people this morning since Season 1. They did a great job on getting the viewers excited for the show again.

  8. Actually enjoyed the last eight episodes. I guess by enjoyed, I mean been less offended. Seems to have learned its lesson regarding ‘Oh. Look. A thousand zombies that were not there in that exact same spot three seconds ago’ moments and it is actually taking its time to breathe.

    However, the problem lies in my theory that the reason the show is so popular is because everyone knows that it is 45 minutes of nonsense that breeze by in a blur telegraphed moments and obligatory stabs in the head. Pretty much the last moment of freedom in the weekend before the five days of waiting for the next one. You want to spend that, ironically (or not), like a zombie before responsibility dictates switching on. So, when the show does not become that it runs the risk of people turning off.

    One thing I always accused this show of, especially during the utterly dreadful S3, was a lack of even trying. Well, the last eight have tried something and for the most part I felt it worked. Actually braver (and rarer) than you might think for a TV show to focus on individual characters one at a time. It presents more moments that linger personally than identikit zombie death #385. Lizzie dancing with the zombie for example in the opening shot of ‘The Grove’. For whatever reason, that has stayed with me.

    The finale itself was classic ‘TWD’. As much wrong as there was right. The cutting back and forth to emphasis character growth did not work because the range was not broad enough (we should’ve been seeing scenes, new or old, from S1 onwards). Highlighting the recognisible items to the audience before Rick noted however did work. Hit and miss. As always.

    Would not say I am completely cheering aloud for the show again (really, S3 was one of the worst I have ever seen in any TV show), but it is trying and it has some thought and some design in it now.

    • That’s what I am liking now. This season compared to S3 at least showed some thought going into the series. Yes, it still had it’s flaws but for the most part I felt this season was the closest to season 1 in some time. I liked that they focused on little details here and there which hasn’t been done since season 1. The character development though still needs some work in the way of pacing. Some of the development for these characters could have been done in 2 or 3 episodes instead of 6 or 8. It’s improvement though and I am hopeful for next season

      • I agree about the pacing issue. It is the fundamental flaw of the series. Too many episodes. Not enough content to fill those episodes. AMC have their eyes on another ten years of this show. ‘Breaking Bad’ has gone. ‘Mad Men’ coming to an end. Little new on the horizon. This is their cash flow and boy do they know it.

        • I agree. It seems like they are trying to keep it around until they find that next big hit which they haven’t found yet. Then you add in the recent failures of other channels like a Starz that hasn’t been able to find the same kind of success since Spartacus and you can see them maybe holding on to that series a little longer

        • They are clearly trying to spread their content out, but the way they used the Governor and prison attack again this season seemed redundant. The lack of any sense of time passing might also be a problem since these events seem to happen so close to each other that they lose some context. On the surface it still makes little sense (aside from pure desperation) for any of the survivors from the Woodbury/prison chaos to want to risk dealing with another unknown group of people.

        • If you know the source material, you would know that there is much content to fill the episodes … the show runners just don’t fill it with the right stuff and therefore the main group plot gets out of focus. And because of this stretching with isolated, non-group-related character development in stand-alone episodes or endless repeating, the pacing is annoyingly slow.

          But I agree: 16 episodes are too much for one season. 10 or at most 12 would be enough.

    • I agree with you. I feel like we’re in a minority of people on this page of people who were overall satisfied with this season. I liked the character episodes.

      I’m wondering is S5 will pick up in real time or if we’ll see some progression right away coupled with flashbacks to learn what transpired in the interim.

      For me the bigger cliffhanger was the absence if Carol, Tyrese and Judith. They are gonna be way behind the rest of the groups because of the few days they stopped at that house and the slower pace of traveling with kids. I think Carol will be redeemed next season, we’ve already seen a little of that with the crazy Lizzie episode.

      I just really hope they don’t drag the Terminus arc for an entire season.

  9. Very good points and I think we are in the same boat here.

  10. Rick biting out that guys throat was just amazing. One of the best moments of the show.

    Disappointed in the finale overall. I don’t feel a cliff hanger ending was earned. The season was so dragged out and useless in some parts that not having anything wrapped up leaves a bad taste in my mouth heading into next season. Season 5 will now be dragged out with the Terminus storyline.

    Drop this show to 10 episode seasons and I think we have a winner. I just don’t ever want to be on another ride like this season again.

    Oh, I dislike Carol, but the act that she (and Tyreese) wasn’t in this episode is just foolish. Why have her come back at all?

  11. Great article on Forbes examing TWD and why it’s not going anywhere for at least another 5-10 years. Here’s their breakdown of how much money this show makes compared to others

    You don’t have to work for Nielsen to understand that The Walking Dead is very popular, and Sunday night’s episode will be something of an event. But if the trends of previous seasons continue, The Walking Dead season finale should be the highest rated episode of the season and break the series’s own record as the most watched hour ever on cable. Whether Sunday’s episode breaks the record or merely challenges it, a deeper dive into numbers behind the show ratings success tells a remarkable story.

    1. A Fast Start: The October 31, 2010 premiere of The Walking Dead was seen by 5.3 million viewers. In the highly-coveted 18-49 year old demographic, the episode trailed only LeBron James’ first game with the Miami Heat, beating the World Series and 30 Rock. The show dipped below 5 million viewers only twice that first season.

    2. Was Followed by a Huge Jump: The most significant ratings jump came with the season three premiere. The season two finale “Beside The Dying Fire” drew 8.99 million viewers, which was the show’s best to that point. The season three opener? “Seed” drew a whopping 10.87 million viewers.

    3. The Ratings Broke Records: In its third season The Walking Dead established itself as the highest rated show on cable television. The season four premiere, “30 Days Without an Accident,” which aired on October 13, 2013, was the highest-rated hour of cable television ever with a whopping 16.11 million viewers. What did it top? Disney’s High School Musical

    4. While the Demographics Astounded: As phenomenal as the ratings have been, they still lag slightly behind a few of the most popular shows on network television, like CBS’s NCIS. But when you factor in demographics, The Walking Dead defeats all comers. As far back as Season 2, the show was setting records in the coveted 18-49 year old bracket. The season four premiere drew 10.4 million viewers in that demo. By comparison, the Breaking Bad series-topping finale drew 6.7 million. TWD routinely tops even prime live programming like NFL Sunday Night Football and the Winter Olympics. The one challenger that TWD couldn’t top: The Oscars.

    5. Which Means Big Money: The Walking Dead ‘s ad rates are the highest of any cable show at as much at $600,000 per spot, a number which rivals NFL broacasts, where rates for the top games are $570,000. By comparison, the highest rates in a scripted show are CBS’s Big Bang Theory at $326,000 per spot.

    6. But the Finales Set Records: In the shows three previous seasons The Walking Dead season finale has also been the highest rated episode of the season, usually by a modest margin, adding between 1.6 and 1.8 million viewers to the record set in the premier. So look for tonight’s episode to again be the highest rated hour in the history of cable, adding about 1.7 million viewers to the 16.1 million viewers from the season premiere, for a new record total of 17.8 million viewers

    • True! That’s exactly the reasons why AMC started to milk the show … this ongoing huge success in ratings. So there is some space to milk the show, even if ratings would drop a bit … would still be top rating and wouldn’t be hard to countersteer.

    • I would be worried that the day after the fourth season finale, you need all of those numbers to justify TWD. Shouldn’t last nights show and the season already done that? I don’t care if their ratings are climbing, that just means people are eating it up the lazier it gets.

      • This is completely true and proves my long-held point that whenever someone brings ratings or high critical scores into an argument, it just shows how poor the actual product is and how something can become popular, despite treading water and coasting on said ratings/scores.

        I was unfortunate enough to binge the show from season 1 until last night’s season 4 finale (the UK doesn’t get the episode until this coming Friday but meh, screw waiting, especially when the Makio episode of The Blacklist and Gogglebox are on instead at the same time) and honestly, from start to finish, season 1 opener to season 4 finale, I just haven’t enjoyed it and kept hoping it would improve so I could see why people are so fascinated and engrossed by it but nope, couldn’t find any reasons.

        It was as bad as Helix, that also had a season finale last week.

        I’m just glad that I saw the season 4 finale for TWD before I saw last Saturday’s episode (episode 6) of True Detective so I could have something good to watch before bed and not have a sour taste in my mouth that might have ruined by Captain America: The Winter Soldier viewing this morning.

        People say “15 million people tuned into TWD” and see it as a good thing but to me, it reminds me of the British headlines from 5 years ago that said “12 million people tuned in to watch The X Factor” and somehow, it shows that numbers mean nothing and that 12 million (or in this case, 15 million) people really had nothing better to do.

        • If we keep agreeing, Dazz, I’m just going to pack my survival bag ;).

          I think the reason it started off so popular in the first seasons was because of the potential of where the should could go. Sure, the first seasons had their weak points but it seemed like the overall narrative was moving forward. I’m sure you noticed the complete crawl of season 4 and to a certain extent season 3.

          I think I remember you saying you haven’t started Breaking Bad yet. Don’t let this ruin you starting that. It delivers on the hype, I guarantee it.

    • The business numbers are clearly impressive, but there comes a point where economics and creativity clash. The high rate the show is getting for commercials kind of explains why it feels like the show is 40-45 minutes long when I watch it on DVR and skip the ads. The show is very popular with casual fans right now but one big drop in viewers can change the fortunes of a show that is riding high while certain valid questions start to surface about the direction of the product.

  12. Okay … I liked the episode. My comment is for The Talking Dead. How in the heck did NO ONE ask what the heck happened to Beth? Could we at least had a shot of her blind-folded in the back of a car or SOMETHING?

  13. That’s what I wanna know. What’s happened to Beth? Was hoping this episode would show her gagged in a chair or something waiting for her turn,etc whether in Terminus or whoever has her. Aside from that I enjoyed the season finale. Liked when Rick told Daryl he was his brother & the last line before the episode ends Rick says. It’s hard waiting between seasons & mid-seasons of this show.

    • Count me as 3 because that’s the burning question I had at the end.

      I also thought Daryl’s answer to Rick about her was…..lame…”She’s gone, just….gone” What the HELL kind of response was that?!!! Daryl really needs to share a bit more like she was abducted be a car! (which is a bit out of the ordinary in this time)

      I can only assume that Carol and Tyreese haven’t quite arrived yet.

  14. where do you guys expect tyrese and carol to be? / going? and is Lori with them?

  15. Rick is back! And this is when the show is at it’s best. The future looks bright for next season… One of the best shows on tv period!

  16. I liked the episode last night. But I am a little confused as to why they asked them to drop their weapons, search them and then just turn around and let them have their weapons back.

    I guess to search for hidden weapons, maybe to later ambush them and have them drop them again after a false sense of security? But even that seems a bit of a stretch. I can only guess because the introductions obviously did not go according to plan.

    Other than that, it was a pretty well done episode.

    • I think the reason they did that was to scope out what their firepower was knowing full well they would come up against them in the end. I think they wanted them to drop their weapons so that they could make sure that was all they had before they herded them.

  17. I must be crazy, I thought the whole season and the finale were amazing and the only possible gripe I can see anyone having with writing is Maggie not asking anyone where Beth is even once. Other than that I can’t see any negative criticisms being made. The season finale was perfect, the whole episode was action packed and answered just enough questions to wrap up some of this season and keep people wondering where things are going next season. It seems like people are never happy and complain just to be negative. They wanted character development, so the show broke up the prison and gave well-written episodes of just that. Then people wanted more action, now they’ve been given that and they still complain. This is why good things always fade out, people start hating just because and it catches on.

    • Damn right! This was an outstanding season. I’m amazed how few people are able to recognise that.

      • I like the whole arguements. It’s exactly what AMC/Kirkman want. The more people arguement and keep the discussion going the more hype the show gets. They use the same scenerios that a Batman vs Superman uses when “casting rumors/plot rumors” are announced. Some are good and some are just horrible but the fact that people are talking is an epic win for the people in charge

        • No doubt. The show is a marketing masterpiece. This can go on for a while … paradox is that this success is most likely a main factor for the quality going down (the success formula described in another posting, stretching and milking the show, … ).

  18. Nomnomnomnom

  19. I thought the episode was OK. It was as good as I’ve come to expect from the show.

    There was a scene though that I think showed the biggest problem I have with the series.
    In the aftermath of The Hunters attack on Rick, Carl and Michonne why is Daryl so vague about what happened to Beth?
    All he says is something like “she’s gone.” WTF???
    Why wouldn’t he say what really happened. Especially considering that the information could be helpful when thinking about where they are headed.

    This is just one example of something like this happening but it always does. Time after time we see situations like this and it’s one of the reasons why I think TWD is a good show but never great.
    I understand the need for drama and character growth and I’m not a member of the “more action” club. Any time a herd of zombies is approaching I zone out but more often than not the characters are written like horror movie cliche`s and talk in absolute circles just because the writers need them to.

  20. I can understand people not liking the slower/character development episodes but that needed to be done. I don’t understand how you dislike the finale though. The whole rick biting the dudes neck scene was amazing and the group going into terminus was amazing as well. We finally have the rick that I think most people want back,at least I do, and then some and the cliffhanger was perfect to me as well as the last line said by rick. The season was wayyyyyyyyy better than last season so hopefully season 5 continues to impress.

  21. I have not missed a single episode of this show since it began. Although I haven’t been happy with this season since around the mid season finale, I figured that I would ride out the season and finish the finale. After this dreadful finale I won’t be watching the show anymore.

    Essentially this show has become a 1 hour gore porn reel strung together by a plot that insults anyone except the show’s most ardent supporters. I’m not opposed to brutal/gory moments in shows. It has served better shows like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Spartacus’ well. But within this show it has become laughably bad.

    What did the finale deliver? We get possibly the most incompetent survivor ever, surrounded in a clearing by zombies. Although he can easily escape, suddenly he is being devoured by zombies simply to give us a shot of one eating his eye. Never mind that this don’t serve to advance the plot in any way, it simply serves to give us a pointless zombie kill money shot.

    Next we get Rick’s group captured and held by Joe’s group in what essentially is a ‘dead to rights’ situation. Joe’s ‘hardcore’ group that had no problems killing it’s own members, raping children and doing much worse in the past, suddenly can’t execute their captive prisoners once Rick bites their leader’s neck. It’s a shining example of the formula the show has devolved to. The writers will place the heroes in a situation that they don’t know how to get them out of without some silly cartoonish act of violence taking place. Additionally, surrounding characters will behave in irrational ways that make no sense that allows the heroes to survive.

    Finally the show arrives at Terminus, or as I like to call it, Cannibal Woodberry 3.0. Firstly, if the concept of cannibalism sustaining a community during the zombie apocalypse doesn’t insult your intelligence in any way shape or form, then pat yourself on the back. There is nothing I can do to enlighten you. But here is how the writers obviously think. First they give us a Woodberry during season 3, then during season 4 midseason finale, to up the stakes a bit we get Woodberry 2.0 with a tank. Now for the season finale to up the stakes just a bit more, we get Woodberry 3.0 with cannibals. I guess in season 5, there will be a Woodberry 4.0 with cannibals, a tank, a helicopter and child rapists at some point. There aren’t any real plot developments on the show anymore, it has merely become a program that uses violent moments to shock the audience into thinking that something profound has actually occurred. Enjoy entering the territory of ‘Lost’ and ‘Heroes’, this show has not only jumped the shark, it has jumped the Megladon.

    • HAHA yes. That guy in the field was truly pathetic. There was literally a hole big enough to drive a truck through and he just keeps screaming for help, lol.

      A) How did he get to the field?

      B) How did zombies surprise him in an open field?

      C) Do the show writers think we’re that stupid?

    • So true! That’s exactly the success formula of this show.
      While the first 2 seasons did a great job in adapting the comic book to TV and character development related to the group plot, somewhen in season 3 the show lost its direction.

    • Yes – the scene with Joe’s group had two big problems:
      – How did Joe know Rick was the guy that killed his friend? Rick killed the only guy in the house that saw him then escaped unseen by the rest of Joe’s gang.

      – How did five men get close enough to Rick to put a gun at his temple before he even knew they were there? This is what Roger Ebert calls the “Rule of Chronic Tunnel Vision – In a horror movie, the character being stalked has vision limited to the camera’s field of view. Therefore, anyone coming at any angle not directly ahead will invariably scare the living daylights out of him or her”. TWD does this all the time to account for a slow-moving walker “surprising” a character. It’s a lazy, low-budget technique.

  22. Walking Dead needs to make their mid-season finales feel like the actual season finale and visceversa. I mean the assault on the prison by the governor and how it went down in the mid-season was everything everyone expected in the season 3 finale, And if they had arrived at Terminus in the mid-season of season 4, that “They are screwing with the wrong people” would have packed a thousand times more punch to it.

    • EXACTLY!!!

  23. Anybody else notice when they were running through terminus they passed by a lot of human bones I think rick saw it. its for a quick second but re-watch when they run through terminus and you’ll see it

  24. I GOT IT! the solution… to everyones #1 problem. Do YOU think this show was great and then flopped? Do YOU not get enough action but forfeit caring about it because “itll happen eventually-or next wks ep, (“where is Ving Rhames!!?we need action!)” and do YOU , Yea you!, tune in every week, expecting less commercials, and more character development… AND you seem to never get your wish…. then this is for you. Stop Watching The Walking Dead… just stop. Its a channel, that only you can turn from , in the blink of an eye. your boo hoo’s and “im done, will not be watching next season”‘s will not be missed. read the comic… its always gonna be like this (development-wise). Every show has fillers and cliffhangers, hold on or LET GO.

    • An excellent solution. I mean if people don’t like our system of government, they should just leave to, right>? We shouldn’t bother to try and improve it or anything…

      Complaining about people complaining about the show. Oh how it never gets old.

      • That’s an absolutely ridiculous comparison. Yes, if you don’t like the show, you change the channel.

        • If you don’t like reading negative things about your fav show, then don’t read comments. See we can all make useless rules up for strangers to follow. Yay!

    • Super-lame advise.
      How about staying away from a review blog, if you can’t stand criticism. Criticism doesn’t mean hating the show. The world isn’t just black and white.

      The Walking Dead is still quite good compared to many other shows (e.g Revolution, Under the Dome … similar ideas, no zombies, but so bad written, so artificial characters), but the first 2 seasons were so much better, the quality goes down steady and it could be such an amazing show in a league with GoT, Vikings, Justified, Deadwood, Sopranos and other Top-Shows.

    • @rantnrave

      No.

      Wow, your argument has been defeated by one word. This must be a sad day for you.

  25. I liked it…but I’ve liked most of the show. I didn’t like the season three finale and parts of season two were mediocre but I’ve really liked the rest. Then again I’m just some rube from Mississippi so what do I know.

  26. If you have come this far with TWD and still are complaining about the pacing of the show, then you might as well stop watching now because you are missing the whole point of the show and its going to become more and more about the people..

    SPOILER WARNING…

    If the show continues like the comics, then you got to realize that once they hit the Safe Zone..thats it…you got at least maybe three season where the group does not move, maybe even more..

    and the show becomes less about zombies and more about the people and their interaction…

    Rick even says in the comics that the zombies are now a non-issue..they are there, everyone knows how to deal with them, its the people you got to worry about…

    In the comics, Rick’s group stays at th Safe Zone…from around issue 70 to currently 124, they have beeen at the same place…thats around five years in comic stories dealing with the safe Zone and at least two dealing with Negan and the war..

    TWD is no using these episodes as filler but getting you prepared for how the show will be in the future..all about the people in the show and dealing with other people…as in this being a drama not a all out zombie-fest…

    If you stick with the show,you need to understand this..this is a drama with zombies in it… not a zombie show with drama…

    Im sorry if the show has sold you on a different image, but its been there all along and you might have sold yourself that the show was different…

    • Oh yeah, I totally forgot about the whole timeline in the safe zone. I think though that next season will be a huge factor going forward. The Hunters/Cannibal storyline is very big in the development of Rick going forward so if there was a storyline arc that they can’t mess up it’s thing one. The prison/Governor arc was a complete fail for me and I was happy that they moved on from it because although it was a big storyline it’s not as big as the hunters/cannibal storyline.

    • Nope. Sorry. The first two seasons had great writing, yeah the pacing was a little slow but at least it went somewhere. I’m sorry that you’re offended that people are clamouring for a higher quality show.

      I’m also sorry that you feel that filler = character development. Again, I understand that you’re upset but you have to realize that your arguments have already been used before.

      If I’m missing all of the character development, please let me know, but over the last eight episodes there has been a lot of bas acting, poor writing and filler. I’ll be damned if someone is going to tell me that “I sold myself a different show”. I’ve been watching since season 1, the show has dropped in quality.

    • It might be hard to accept, but comic books and comic book fans are not the same animal as television (or movies to an extent). The serial nature of comics and the collector mentality is part of the culture of comic books. Character building is all well and good, but this show is a popular fad right now because of the zombie angle. So if and when the show becomes more like the second half of this season they are going to have to write some really compelling stories to make the show different from any of the other dystopian, apocalypse shows that have come and gone.

  27. Not surprised by the anti-TWD ranting anymore but I’m a little annoyed by it.

    “The show dragged on after the mid-season break…” It did? Cuz, like, we saw plenty of zombies — some that were burned like charcoal, which I thought was pretty cool. And we saw psychotic kids, new mainstay characters, kidnappings, cannibals, and deliverance-style-SAMCRO. And again — plenty of zombies. We should be so lucky!!

    “This was a weak finale…” It was? Rick bit a dude’s jugular off and Vito-Corleoned the guy who was molesting his kid. Baller. Honestly, I preferred watching Rick go Mike Tyson on the rednecks over the Governor’s prison storm ep. Yeah, I said it…

    “There’s too much character focus…” Is there? Without it, the show becomes Resident Evil: The TV Series. A show about monotonous zombie killings? No thanks… (I mean, I’d watch it, but TWD as it is is way better).

    Let’s also look at how long it takes to read a comic book versus how long it takes to view a comic as moving pictures. The entire first compendium can be read in a couple hours… If we didn’t get the amendments that the show gives us, the repetition would just be too obvious to enjoy, and the pacing would be far too rapid. Plus, there’s no week-long break between episodes when you read a compendium, which adds to the feeling of continual momentum. Until TWD goes direct to Netflix, that kind of satisfaction isn’t happening.

    I’m with Negacrowbar on this one. Sit back and enjoy the fact that we get zombies, pyschotics, and criminals all together in one show, and be thankful we get a companion show to watch next year!

    But of course, rant all you want, as that is the blog’s purpose. ;)

    • @BlueAznMonkey – Well said.

  28. I love The Walking Dead, and I really enjoyed this season. That being said I do understand the criticism. And I can even agree with some of it, but I prefer to enjoy the greatness of TWD rather than pick it apart every week. You guys go ahead though, I have fun reading your thoughts on the show, positive and negative. :)

  29. It was a great season finale but I have two issues with the episode. First where is Beth? we could at least seen her somewhere tied up in trouble. Second how come no major character died? I was watching the episode thinking someone was going to bite it. Misleading promo from AMC still looking forward to season 5.

    • The promo just stated, “Who will survive?”. It never made any promises that a major character was going to die. With Beth…I’m somewhat in the same boat with you, but then again, that’s why it’s a cliffhanger. Hopefully they will justify her in season 5. I would have liked to have seen Tyrese and Carol either on their way or maybe near by hearing the gun firing and watching from afar?!? Maybe we will see that at the beginning of Season 5 and Tyrese is the one who saves them from being locked up in the train?!?