“The Walking Dead” ended with the mother of all cliffhangers in its Season 4 finale, “A.”
Like was implied by the promos for episode 16, which only featured Rick, Carl and Michonne, this episode focused on that trio. It didn’t take long for Daryl to regroup with his former friends, though it was in the most gruesome way possible. Rick literally bit Joe’s neck — full walker style — to murder him after his men planned to kill Rick and Daryl and rape Carl and Michonne.
So Daryl was back with his allies, and all he acknowledges of Beth is that she is “gone.” That’s why it wasn’t too surprising when Rick was extremely cautious about their approach to Terminus. He wasn’t one to be duped again, and he knew that for every friendly Prison out there, there also was a Woodbury.
Which is Terminus? Viewers still don’t know, but it certainly isn’t a friendly place. Like that foreboding finale of “Us” implied, Terminus was a trap, just like the kind of one Rick was making for the rabbits earlier in “A.” Gareth, the seeming leader of Terminus, appears to be a level-headed guy, and he had a level-headed approach to his capture of Rick & Co. But as Rick says to Glenn, Maggie, Abraham and the rest when they find out they are being held in the same train car, this group has messed with the wrong people.
Though Season 4 ends with a cliffhanger, it also ends with some nice finality. Most people are back together, though Carol, Tyreese and Judith are still on the road to Terminus (and thus Rick doesn’t know his daughter is still alive) and Beth and her captor are MIA. But the rest are reunited, and not people to be messed with. Having Abraham, Rosita and Eugene as allies means that they are all the stronger for it, and Rick is no longer the man who will take his captivity lying down.
For a man who bit a man to death earlier in the finale, it’s clear how far he’s come to protect his family. And family no longer includes just Carl. Rick calls Daryl his brother, which makes Michonne and Maggie his sisters, Glenn his brother, etc. This is his family now, and it’s family that has become hardened and — as this season highlighted — changed by its circumstance.
The flashbacks, which featured a pre-Season 4 Hershel, highlighted that change. Those flashbacks showed Rick when he was just convinced to put down the gun and pick up the hoe by Hershel, and he was willing to do so because it was a different world. But, like the Prison, that world is gone. Rick has no problems killing those who need to be killed, which means Gareth, Mary and the rest of these people at Terminus need to watch out.
So where do we go from here? Terminus is a trap, but it seems to be one that Rick can get out of. But who are these people? Are they the Hunters from the books? Are they repurposed versions of Negan and the Saviors? Whatever and whoever they are, they’re very far removed from the comics, which means everyone should be excited and intrigued about what dark place “The Walking Dead” is going from here.