Walking Dead spoiler warning! If you haven't yet watched the Sunday, March 29 season four finale of AMC's Walking Dead and don't want to know what happened, don't read any further.
We mean it. We warned you. Stop reading if you don't want spoilers. Here we go.
Talk about blood on the tracks. The final stretch towards Terminus proved particularly perilous and gore-drenched (and that's saying a lot, obviously) for Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), with hordes of zombies popping up everywhere as the finale begins: One, literally just a head and shoulders snarling and grasping in his own ooze; Carl watches another mini-mob of walkers yank and bite out another poor (living) man's eye with their teeth.
But Sunday's episode, after those first 15 minutes or so, was all about human-on-human brutality. The icky moment to be GIF'd and talked about forever, in fact, is the trio's hostile encounter with Joe and the so-called "Claimers," which includes new, reluctant member Daryl (Norman Reedus). Leader Joe (Jeff Korber), wanting to avenge the death of pal Lou (who Rick strangled in self-defense earlier this season) is ready to kill all three of them when Daryl intervenes. A melee ensues (with Daryl joining in the fight against the Claimers) and one of the thugs grabs Carl, clearly intending to rape him. Seeing this, Rick bites Joe on the neck -- zombie style, literally ripping out Joe's jugular with his bare teeth. Rick's next victim is his son's would-be rapist, whom he stabs to death viciously. Carl, all the while, watches this intensely, somewhat gleefully.
Cue a cruelly brief interlude of warm and fuzzy feelings! The next day, having butchered all of the Claimers, reunited buddies Rick and Daryl (or "Rickyl," as many on Twitter have dubbed them) have a bromantic heart-to-heart. Rick tells Daryl that having him back means "everything . . . You're my brother." Shell-shocked Carl, meanwhile, finds out Michonne's heartbreaking post-apocalypse backstory (which involves an overrun refugee camp and the sad deaths of her son and longtime boyfriend); she tells him Rick and Carl brought her "back" to the land of the living. But Carl tells her that he's become something of a sociopath to survive. "I'm not what [my Dad] thinks I am," he says. "I'm just another monster too."
While Carl has admittedly always seemed a little creepy to us, we'd like to argue that the real monsters await them all at, yes, Terminus. At last, the weary foursome arrive (via back entrance) at the Terminus. They're greeted by a suspiciously friendly hipster-esque leader Gareth (Andrew J. West) and other neutrals-wearing associates. After a wary round of introductions (Gareth insists Terminus is all about "solutions" rather than problems), they head into the heart of the so-called Sanctuary, where "Mary" is working a barbecue grill of mystery meat. Eagle-eyed Rick notices that one of the Terminus inhabitants is wearing the pocket-watch owned by Hershel -- while another is wearing Maggie's poncho and another still is in Eugene's riot gear.
Another fight ensues as Rick et al run through the compound. This time, the foursome are targeted by rooftop snipers who have terrible, terrible aim -- leading all of them conveniently into one terrifying warehouse room light by candles, a floored covered with names and personal effects (of the dead?) and creepy mottos written on the wall ("Never again" "Never trust" "We first, always.) They continue running, and the camera pans past a pile of human remains. This confirms (right?) weeks of suspicion, backed up by plotpoints in the original Walking Dead comic, that the Terminus folks are cannibals.
At last, Gareth and his American Apparel-clad henchman have our friends cornered at the perimeter of the compound near a railway car. Upon threat of death, Rick ("the ringleader,") Daryl ("the bowman"), Michonne ("the samurai") and Carl march into the dark railway car where . . . they're reunited with not-dead Glenn, Maggie, Bob, Sasha, Abraham, Eugene and Rosita!
Together but trapped, the group mulls their next move. Says Rick: "They're going to feel pretty stupid when they find out . . . that they're screwing with the wrong people." And...scene!
Biggest question remaining, besides how they'll possibly escape this pickle: Where are Carol, Tyreese, baby Judith an Beth? (And please, don't tell Us they're in chunks on Mary's grill.)
Tell Us: What'd you think of the finale?