[NOTE: This post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 4 finale.]
While opinions on The Walking Dead's fourth season finale, entitled simply "A," have been flying fast and furious since it's debut, AMC is most assuredly laughing all the way to the bank. The broadcast didn't quite set an all-time record for the mega popular zombie drama, but it did reach new highs in both the 18-49 demo rating and total viewer count for a Dead season finale.
"A" drew in a total audience of nearly 16 million people (15.7 million to be exact), smashing the previous season finale record of 12.4 set by season three swan song "Welcome to the Tombs." Even more impressive, considering it's the group advertisers most care about, 10.2 million of those viewers belonged to the coveted 18-49 demo, vaulting past the 8.1 million 18-49 year-olds who tuned in for last spring's finale. For the record, the all-time series champ in both demos and total viewers is still the season four premiere, "30 Days Without an Accident."
With season 4 of The Walking Dead now officially in our collective rear view mirror, talk turns to the next logical topic: What do the show's writers and producers have in store for us in season 5?
Well, those details are still a ways off, but that didn't stop the cast and crew from speculating about where their favorite characters are headed this October.
For those unable to watch the footage, the video features series creator Robert Kirkman, executive producer Greg Nicotero, showrunner Scott Gimple, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer Dave Alpert, and cast members Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Guiira, Chad Coleman, and Lauren Cohan first discussing the evolution (or in some cases devolution) of Rick's group in season 4, then transitioning to speculation about what dark paths season 5 will travel down.
Included below are some choice quotes:
Andrew Lincoln: You can never be the same person you were before. Rick can't.
Danai Gurira: You can always evolve. There is constant evolution of self that happens in this world.
Greg Nicotero: I would pretty much guarantee that we're going to see a completely different Rick Grimes in season 5.
Andrew Lincoln (on season 5): It's gonna be messy, it's gonna be brutal. It's gonna be thrilling, how these guys get out of this scrape.
When October finally comes, season 5's premiere will begin with plenty of unanswered questions. For starters, where is Beth? Who took her? Why did Darryl seemingly give on up on looking for her so quickly? Where are Carol, Tyrese, and Judith?
The popular fan theory of Terminus' residents being cannibals has also yet to be disproved. While it can be argued that the people of Terminus advertise sanctuary to lure in victims and steal their supplies, there is no apparent reason why they would choose to hold, feed, etc. all these captives. Not unless you consider the possibility that they're fattening their prisoners up.
Also, what did the shocking events of "A" really do to Rick's already fragile psyche? He murdered a man with his teeth. He almost bore witness to the sexual assault of his teenage son. It became apparent after Lori's death that Rick has a tenuous grasp on reality. He'll likely continue putting up a brave front, but how long will it be until he reaches his mental breaking point? If the online conjecture is correct, and Terminus really is serving up BBQed Beth, how could Rick possibly remain sane?
However Kirkman, Nicotero, Gimple, etc. choose to answer these myriad questions, one thing remains certain: millions and millions of people will tune in to see what happens next. Even if Rick and company really are "too far gone."
The Walking Dead returns for season 5 this October.