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'The Walking Dead' season finale recap, 'A'

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"Damn! We're in a tight spot ..."

That's what Rick Grimes could have said at the conclusion of the season finale of "The Walking Dead" Sunday night, locked in a train car surrounded by malevolent characters, but he instead said: "They're screwing with the wrong people."

It seemed a little out of place to me, because I prefer the "actions speak louder than words" Rick to the "action movie hero catch line" Rick, but it definitely did not spoil what was one of the strongest episodes of the series.

We finally arrived at Terminus, the farm/prison group (minus Beth, Carol, Tyreese and Judith) reunited under duress, we were treated to a fleeting but sweet reunion with saintly Hershel, a Rick Moranis look-alike died and no one really cared, and ... can we talk about the neck-biting, ear-licking scene?

That whole situation was a little much to process.

We've become accustomed to rotting, reanimated corpses; murder; squirrels, rabbits and snakes being butchered; but I'm having a hard time even trying to come up with a way of describing what happened — or far more disturbing, what might have happened, if the situation went unchecked — between Joe and the band of marauders and Rick-Carl-Michonne.

Rough Joe and his vengeful crew finally catch up to their man, Rick, whose crime was murdering one of their white-trash friends.

Apparently their code calls for them to exact murderous revenge, and ravage adolescent boys.

*Shudder*

The scene was either a direct or inferred reference to "Deliverance," which is the last time I can remember feeling so uncomfortable while watching something on television. What was great about "Deliverance" was that right when things were getting really bad for Ned "Purty Mouth" Beatty, this arrow of justice comes out of nowhere and pierces the savage's chest, and you're like "LET'S GO!!!"

The same thing happened on "The Walking Dead." When Rick bites Joe's neck, setting the fight sequence into action, you feel like YOU'RE being rescued.

When that commercial break hit, after Rick tenderized that fat pedophile's torso, the group that I was watching with all took a collective deep breath and was just like "WHAAAAAAATTTTTTT????"

It was lots of fun, and isn't that what it's all about?

It was definitely intentional — by the way — that the neck-feast maneuver made Rick look like a zombie. It's a fine line between zombie and non-zombie.

"Hunger and a lack of blood corpuscles take all the manhood from a man," H.G. Wells, "The Island of Dr. Moreau."

This whole episode, because it was a season finale, I was mentally steeling myself for Rick, or Carl, or some other essential character, to fall.

They didn't, and in some ways, I'm a little worried that the series is veering back to a more traditional set of rules.

We now pretty much know that, against all odds, "our team" is going to escape the train car, mostly intact, and either overcome or escape Terminus. Maybe a few of them will perish as collateral damage — Bob, Abraham, Rosita come to mind — but the "money" characters will live on.

One thing that makes "The Walking Dead" different is that Rick Grimes could just up and die at any moment. But now, I'm not so sure that he will. It's cool that he can eat necks like they're McDonald's Clubhouse sandwiches and kill everyone, but I think I'd rather see him crying in a corner because it would make the show scarier.

Is Rick Grimes Rambo? Is this "The A-Team"?

Like maybe Rick will be Hannibal and slip out of the traincar all sly in a disguise as one of the "termites" and save the day, and Glenn will be Templeton "Faceman" Peck and sweet-talk them, and Daryl will be Murdock and come out and do something so silly that they'll get distracted, and Abraham will be Mr. T.

Or, maybe this whole arc is lulling us into a false sense of safety, and the Season 5 premiere in October will bring much death and destruction.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Happy Opening Day!

MEET THE NEW GUYS

Smooth talking bad guy Gareth is played by Andrew J. West, who was in that show "Greek" and was an iPhone in a T-Mobile commercial. He is 5'11" but it doesn't reveal his age on his imdb profile.

Alex, the hostage, is played by 35-year-old Tate Ellington. He is from Mississippi and is known for his role in the 2010 film "Remember Me."

DID YOU KNOW?

Rick has worn the same pair of cowboy boots the entire series. I bet they smell like a sweaty bottom. ("Talking Dead")

DID YOU NOTICE?

  • Rick taught Carl how to set that trap, and later in the episode, they fall into a similar trap.
  • While fleeing the hail of bullets, the good guys ran past a caged killing floor that displays what appears to be human rib cages.
  • Rick's buried stash of weapons includes a Colt Python, a Colt Commander, two Uzis, a Remington shotgun and a Bowtech bow. (AMC Story Sync)
  • Click here to see all of the names scrawled on the floor in the candle room.
  • The wall of the candle room says "never again, never trust, we first, always."

QUOTE BOARD

Rick: "How hungry are you on a scale from 1 to 10?" Carl: "15." Michonne: "28." Andrew: "Infinity." :-D

Carl: "Who are we?"

Rick: "We can't help him."

Hershel: "I don't even know what time it is anymore, ever since I gave Glenn my watch it's always right now to me."

Joe: "Today's the day of reckoning, sir. Restitution, balancing the whole damn universe."

Joe: "You're stopping me on 8 Daryl."

Joe: "The good thing about nowadays is we got nothing but time."

Joe: "Teach him fellas, teach him all the way."

Joe: "What the hell are you gonna do now, sport?"

Hershel: "The war is over Rick."

Rick: "Things changing in here doesn't change things out there."

Daryl: "I didn't know what they were … I knew they were bad but they had a code. It was simple, it was stupid, but it was something. It was enough."

Rick (to Daryl): "You're my brother."

Rick: "I'm OK."

Michonne: "The walkers didn't see me anymore, I was just another monster. That was me. I was gone for a looong time…but then Andrea brought me back, your dad did, you did."

Carl: "I'm not what he thinks I am. I'm just another monster too."

Gareth: "Just so you know, we aren't those kind of people, but we aren't stupid either and you shouldn't be stupid enough to try anything stupid. As long as everyone's clear on that, we shouldn't have any problems, just solutions."

Alex: "The more people that join us the stronger we get."

Gareth: "What's there left to say? You don't trust us anymore."

Winner: Hershel

BEST ZOMBIE KILL

I'm going to change the rules a bit this week and make the kill of the week a human kill. It was when Rick gutted that slobbering boy-ear-licker. Though I also kind of liked when Daryl stomped on one of the other men's heads.

CREEPIEST ZOMBIE

Definitely that roadkill zombie whose back was all flat like a big piece of pizza, and whose eyes revealed intense anguish.

DEATH COUNT

Zombies: 10, for 348 this season. We should just say 350.

Humans: Seven. The Rick Moranis look-alike, the five mean men, and Alex from The Terminus welcoming committee. That's 48 this season!

LINGERING QUESTIONS

Whose shoe did they find near the train tracks that made Beth cry? What book was Carl reading in the house? What book was Rick reading before those weirdos invaded the house? Who was on the other end of that radio transmission from earlier in the season? What is new with Morgan? Who kidnapped Beth? Whose grave did Daryl and Beth come across?

A look ahead: Season 5 premiere is scheduled for October 2014.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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