The fourth midseason finale of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” left fans asking “So…What now?”
Season four returned to using walkers as a force of nature, unlike seasons two and three, which featured humans using walkers as tools and bioweapons. Many fans pointed out that walkers had become a mere background rather than a central character of the show. Season four was quite the aboutface — during the first half of season four, walker conflict was at an all-time high.
The devastation brought to Rick’s group of survivors at the prison is complete; the Governor’s tank-backed army destroyed every advantage the prison-shelter offered: food, shelter and security.
Episode nine of season four began in the aftermath of the battle; living combatants on both sides of the conflict have run away to escape the walker horde attracted by the sounds of battle.
As much as Sheriff-turned-farmer Rick Grime tried, he couldn’t recreate the life that was before apocalypse. Even more devastating, he couldn’t keep his son, Carl, from growing up in zombieland.
One of my friends frankly encapsulated episode nine, “It’s like Carl went through puberty all at once.”
Rick is truly at his weakest point in the series. He are Carl are on the run from the ruins of the prison and he is still recovering from a fierce fistfight and a bullet wound to the leg. He didn’t even have the strength to defend himself against a single walker and Carl no longer trusts his own father to be the leader of their duo.
Rick tries to reassure Carl, “Hey, We’re gonna be…” Rick can’t bring himself to sentence finish.
Carl spends most of the episode skirting around his father’s weakened authority. Carl is reckless for the sake of defiance against Rick. Carl blames Rick for the death of baby Judith and his mother, Lori, and the loss of the prison camp.
Even with all the hate welling inside Carl, he still fears his father. Carl can only bring himself to confront Rick after he slips into a coma.
“I still know how to survive, lucky for us. I don’t need you. You’re nothing. I’d be fine if you died.”
He’s trying so hard to be a real man, to be resourceful and cunning just like his father used to be. He sets off to find supplies, but settles for eating a large tin of pudding on the roof of a house, blissfully ignoring the zombie that moments before almost succeeded in killing him.
Carl can’t decide if he wants be a man or a child.
Later in the evening, Carl is confronted by the possibility that Rick died in his sleep and has turned into a zombie. Carl readies Rick’s own revolver, to put him down, but gives up. Even as a shell of a man, Rick Grimes is still daunting to Carl.
Rick wakes up and Carl breaks down sobbing. He’s ready to be the weak child his father wanted him to be. He wants his father to protect him and nurture him.
No matter. Rick, in a sudden bout of lucidity, becomes aware of his mortality.
“You’re a man. You’re a man, Carl,” said Rick. “I’m sorry.”
Rick knows he can’t be always be there for his son and makes it painfully clear.
Episode 10 of season four wasn’t nearly the tour de force of episode nine. The episode served mainly to show that most of the main cast are in fact alive, but fragmented across the Georgia wilderness.
Episode 10 did introduce three interesting elements: the hope of sanctuary at a place called Terminus; the return of the exile, Carol; and the mysterious character, Abraham Ford.
The history-savvy among us know that Terminus was a moniker used for Atlanta, which was overrun with walkers at the end of season one. Could a portion of it have been reclaimed? Nonetheless, the name is a bit ominous.
Carol was exiled for killing Karen and David, even if she did it with the intention of preventing the spread of disease. Some fans speculate that Carol took the rap for 12-year-old Lizzie. Lizzie’s on-screen actions are getting darker by the episode.
I won’t taint your viewing experience with recounts of the Walking Dead comic books, but I can say that Abraham, albeit friendly, will be a serious threat to Rick’s authority over the group of survivors.