Warning: Full spoilers ahead!
Wow. What an epic season finale. After Glen and Maggie’s reunion last week and our first glimpse of Terminus, we knew we would be in for a treat this week as the season concludes and a large majority of the prison group gets reunited. Unfortunately they did not get reunited in the best of circumstances and we are left with one of the biggest cliffhangers in “The Walking Dead’ history. With the episode ambiguously titled “A”, I honestly did not know what to expect this week. Let’s quickly recap the episode and then discuss the repercussions of the events that unfolded.
We begin back where the season started, at the prison. Rick, Maggie, and Glen return to the prison after a supply run, and Hershel greats them inside the gates. Hershel watches Carl and Rick interact together. In the next scene, we find Rick covered in blood, sitting on the ground outside a car. It’s clear this is outside the prison and after the prison was overtaken.
Back to the present. Rick, Carl, and Michonne are sitting at their camp in the wilderness and decide to leave and see if their snares caught any animals. As they walk through the forest, Carl wants to know if they will tell the people at Terminus who they are and what they have done. Suddenly, they hear someone crying for help and immediately Carll runs to go help him. The man is outnumbered by walkers and all alone. Rick stops Carl from helping the man because they know they cannot save him, and they watch as the man gets eaten alive. They run away from the scene and come across an abandoned truck.
As Carl sleeps in the truck, Rick and Michonne sit by a fire outside the truck and talk about what Terminus might be like. Out of no where a man comes up behind Rick and points a gun to Rick’s head. Michonne gets overran by another man, and we see that Joe’s group finally caught up to Rick. A man stands outside the car door watching Carl to make sure he cannot get out, and Carl wakes up terrified.
As this is happening, we flashback again to the prison. Hershel goes into Rick’s cell and wakes him up. He tells Rick he wants to show him something, and Rick gets up and takes his weapons. Hershel tells Rick he does not need his weapons, but Rick ignores him.
Back at the truck, Joe keeps his gun pointed to Rick’s head and starts counting backwards from ten, implying he will kill Rick after his countdown ends. Daryl arrives and tells Joe to stop counting and not to kill these people. He tells the group that they are good people, and if Joe wants blood he can kill Daryl. Joe thinks Daryl is lying and has some guys beat him up. The man at the truck pulls Carl out of the car and holds a knife to his throat. Rick pleads with the men not to hurt Carl, but Joe tells Rick they will have their way with Michonne first, then Carl, and then they will kill Rick. The man shoves Carl on the ground and starts unbuckling his pants. Joe asks Rick what he can do, and Rick knocks Joe in the head and onto the ground. Joe gets up and looks at Rick, asking what he thinks he can do. Without hesitation, Rick goes straight for Joe’s neck and tears out his jugular. All hell breaks loose and Daryl and Michonne are able to free themselves. Rick goes straight for the man who was attacking Carl and stabs him multiple times, while Carl buries his head into Michonne afraid to watch.
Back at the prison, Hershel takes Rick out into the fields. He explains to Rick the war is over and that Rick needs to start growing crops and establishing a life for Carl at the prison. Hershel thinks Rick should stop taking Carl outside the fences and start teaching him survival skills. He explains everyone knows Carl can shoot a gun and kill walkers, but he needs to learn how to live off of the land and in the present. Hershel explains they are in the prison now and they need to start their lives.
We return to the scene with Rick covered in Joe’s blood and sitting outside the truck. It’s daylight now, and Michonne is sitting with Carl in the truck comforting him. Daryl sits down next to Rick and explains how he ended up with Joe’s group. Daryl said he did not know Joe’s guys were capable of doing what they said they would do, but Rick does not blame Daryl for joining their group. He understands Daryl was all alone with no where to go. Rick tells Daryl that the fact that he is back with them is everything; he is Rick’s brother. Daryl does not blame Rick for what he did to Joe, and Rick explains he would do anything to keep Carl safe.
After they rest for a bit, the four of them continue heading towards Terminus. Once they know they are close, Rick decides they should approach the facility through the woods since they don’t know who is at Terminus. When they arrive, they decide to spread out and observe before they go inside. Carl wants to go with Michonne, not his dad. As they walk, Michonne starts telling Carl how her son, Andre, died. She explains how she killed her boyfriend and brother and used them to protect herself. She says she was gone for a long time, but Andrea, Carl, and Rick brought her back. She tells Carl he does not need to be afraid of his dad. Carl says he has bad thoughts and he is not the person Rick thinks he is; he is a monster. Michonne hugs him and tells him that is not true, as Rick watches them from afar.
Once they are done observing, Rick buries a bag of weapons on the other side of the fence and tells Daryl they will keep it there just in case. The four of them jump over the fence into Terminus and enter a warehouse-like facility. They find a woman broadcasting the Terminus message along with with some people working. A man named Garrett introduces himself and asks that they make them put their weapons down before they can go meet everyone. Rick agrees and they get patted down. Garrett allows them to pick up their weapons again and takes them outside to meet Mary and the others. Mary is barbecuing and hands each of them a plate of meat. As they get their food, Rick notices one of the men has Glen’s pocket watch in his pocket and immediately puts a gun to the guy’s head, demanding where he got the watch.
Back to the prison, Carl is putting a gun together while Patrick plays with the legos Rick got for Carl. Rick approaches Carl and tries to talk to him, but he is preoccupied with his gun. Rick tells him to stop, and that he needs Carl’s help with something. Carl reaches for his gun and Rick tells Carl they are leaving their weapons behind.
Inside Terminus, Rick continues to holds the guy at gunpoint and notices another guy wearing Glen’s riot gear and someone wearing Maggie’s poncho. Rick keeps demanding where they got these supplies and Garrett lies and says off of walkers. Rick knows he is lying, and when someone shoots at Rick, chaos ensues. The four of them run towards an escape, but snipers above them keep steering them towards a certain direction. As they run, they come across piles of bones and a dark room with candles lit everywhere Messages are written on the wall, such as “Never trust again.” When they finally get to the fence they see a line of people with guns pointing at them. Garrett is on top of a building and tells them to drop their weapons. He demands that Rick go into a train car with the letter “A” written on the outside. Rick hesitantly goes, and Daryl and Michonne are told to follow, leaving Carl standing alone outside, looking very vulnerable. Finally Carl is allowed to go meet them but Rick has to go into the car first. Once the four of them are completely inside the train car, the door slams shut. Rick looks to the other side of the car and sees Glen approaching him, with Maggie and the rest of their group behind.
In the last flashback, Rick is teaching Carl how to farm. Beth and Judith are out there with Hershel. They all laugh as Rick teases Carl about his farming skills.
Inside the train car, Maggie introduces their new companions to Rick and explains they helped save their lives. Rick automatically trusts them and says they will all need to help one another. Abraham doesn’t think there is a chance they can escape, but Rick says the people at Terminus picked the wrong group to mess with.
And with that ending, we see that Rick is back! The time on the road fending for themselves make Rick realize he has to be ruthless again in this world if he is going to survive; being passive can work only in environments like the prison when one is surrounded by people you trust. The prison group was only apart for a few days, but in those few days Rick was reminded of how cruel humans can be. Hershel had the right mentally for their circumstances in the prison, but one cannot live that way forever or else they will die, like Hershel.
With the old Rick back, how will the group escape Terminus? Things are looking pretty bleak right now and I doubt everyone will get out alive. However, Carol and Tyrese are still outside and maybe they will be able to help save our group. Also, I’m thinking the Rick, Daryl, and Abraham combination will be something serious to deal with, even without weapons.
Lastly, what is the significance of “A?” We now know it is on the outside of the train car and was painting on various buildings in Terminus, but a lot of this episode was about Carl and protecting him. When Michonne starting talking about her son, Andre, I thought maybe “A” was a nod to his name and the fact that while Michonne could not save Andre, she can help save Carl. Also, Rick is adapting his personality and survival strategy to save his son’s life and innocence. While Carl is by no means innocent from violence, he is still a child and innocent in many other ways. The scene when the man was preparing to rape Carl and the look of complete horror on Carl’s face reminds us of how innocent Carl is and that he really is a child still, no matter how much he tries to be an adult. That was definitely one of the hardest scenes to watch in this series and it came full circle when Carl was left alone and completely helpless when his protectors were forced to walk to the train car first, leaving him there while Garrett basically taunted them.
We will have to wait several months before we find out how our survivors will escape Terminus. Thank you for following my recaps this second half of the season! I look forward to returning in October when we learn the fate of the survivors and whatever else the writers will throw at us in this walker filled world.