The Walking Dead season finale recap: Wait 'Til They Get a Load of Rick Grimes

Rick, Carl, and Michonne reach Terminus, encountering faces new and old. The result is bloody.
Ep. 16 | Aired Mar 30, 2014

WHO AM I? | "Can I conceal myself for evermore?/ Pretend that I'm not the man I was before?" Lyrics to a song from Les Miserables may not seem like the most apropos reference for Rick Grimes, but in this case it fits. All season long, Rick has struggled with his identity. Riddled with guilt over his violent tendencies and then riddled with more guilt over his failure to survive as Farmer Rick, Rick Grimes has struggled to come to terms with his inner monster. After the confrontation with Joe and his gang, he now knows exactly who he is. "Who am I?/ Who am I?/ I am Jean Valjean Rick Grimes!"

Gene Page/AMC

The Grimes/Dixon/Michonne's Last Name blended family returns to the tracks towards to Terminus. Finding another sign to Terminus, Rick decides to continue the hike in the woods in order to stake out the sanctuary before entering it. Reaching Terminus' perimeter, they spread out to make sure it's safe. To be honest, I didn't really understand their reasoning for splitting up. If they wanted to ensure Terminus is safe, why didn't they stake out the grounds for an extended period? I guess hunger makes you do weird things.

Anyway, Carl tags along with Michonne instead of Rick. Thinking Carl is afraid of the violence his father is capable of, Michonne sheds light on her violent past. She explains that at the onset of the outbreak, her son Andre, Andre's father and her boyfriend Mike, their friend Terry, and she moved to a refugee camp. Despite the growing desperation of their situation, Michonne and her family stayed at the camp. One day, upon her return from a run, she found the camp's fences broken. Andre was gone, presumably killed by Walkers. Mike and Terry were high during the attack and were bit by Walkers. Rather than killing them, Michonne let them turn. She snapped, cutting off their arms and mouths. That's when she decided to drag them along with her as a reminder of “what she deserved.” It was only later that she realized that they acted as a shield to other Walkers, and she was "just another monster" to them. 

"I was gone for a long time," she says. "But then Andrea brought me back. Your dad brought me back. You did." Michonne assures Carl that he doesn’t have to be afraid of her or his father for their actions. They're not monsters even if it seems like they once were. But he isn’t afraid of them — he’s afraid of not being what his father thinks he is.  “I’m just another monster, too,” Carl confesses. Michonne hugs him as Rick looks on, out of sight. Rick has reconciled with the extremes within himself, but his next goal is to help Carl do the same for himself. Season 5 theme, perhaps?

Apparently their perimeter check goes well, and the group decides to enter Terminus. Before storming the back entrance, Rick buries a bag full of other guns and ammo “just in case.” This is The Walking Dead — there is a slim chance that there won’t be a “just in case” situation warranting the retrieval of that bag.

With their limited weapons, the group enters Terminus, discovering people making more Terminus road signs and an old woman reciting the radio announcement heard during the meds run. What do you say after you’ve dropped in on a mysterious base you’ve spent weeks journeying to? Rick sticks to the basics, offering an anti-climactic “Hullo.”

The residents of Terminus are surprised but not frightened. A young man sighs and responds, “Well, I bet Albert is out on perimeter watch.”  (Albert must be the Carl of Terminus.) Exasperated but not unfriendly, the young man welcomes them to Terminus and offers his name, Gareth. Gareth repeats Mary’s sentiments on how it looks like they’ve been on the road for some time. Actually, he follows the exact same process as Mary did in “Us.” Gareth has Alex help him check them for weapons and escort them to the Welcome Wagon.

Alex explains that Terminus has been around since almost the start of the outbreak — people followed the tracks “almost on instinct” and found it. You know what other animals follow on instinct? Funnel-like trails that lead to slipknot snares.

At the Welcome Wagon, which is now filled with some albeit few people, they meet Mary, who is grilling “meat.” As Mary fixes them a plate of “food,” Rick surveys the other Terminus residents. He notices a familiar orange backpack, riot gear, and poncho. Yet it’s Alex’s silver pocket watch that raises his suspicions to DEFCON 1. It's identical to Hershel’s watch that he gifted to Glenn — most definitely not to this Alex character. Rick grabs Alex and the pocket watch, raising his gun to Alex’s temple. The others go on alert and (thankfully) don't eat anything from Mary’s grill.

NEXT: Terminus is like Mouse Trap for cannibals

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