Where should we begin, now that we’re at the end (of the season that is?) Well I thought I’d take a moment and make myself feel at least a little bit closer to as intelligent as Eugene Porter, by playing with Google Translate. You see, I wondered about Terminus. Yes I know that it was the original name for Atlanta, and was where all the train lines went through, but after looking at what the word actually means, I feel both more at peace about where the season left us, and all the hungrier for season five.
Something that’s “Terminal” is going to end, or be final, and that’s a term that we hear still in every day language, especially when it comes to someone having a terminal illness. “Terminus” however, is heard not so much (except for Walking Dead readers, and now viewers though). While “Terminus” is similar to “Terminal” the Latin meaning of the word doesn’t really imply anything ending, or being final. The word means “Border”. And all the more is it appropriate. Let me show you what I mean, both specific to this episode, and for this past season, as well as what is to come.
So, let’s take a look at Rick. My only criticism of this finale was the flashbacks, even though it was nice to see the prison, as well as Herschel again. This show has always treated its viewers as smart people who can fill in the gaps. I get that Herschel talking RIck into laying down his weapon in favor of teaching his son how to live instead of survive was important to show the direction was moving in, in terms of reconciling his brutality with his sense of love and need for peace. I think Rick was already in the right place though, teaching Carl to catch rabbits shows that he realizes Carl needs to survive and live (why did this season involve a lot of dead rabbits?). But I’m getting off track. Rick understands why there has to be a balance, but I don’t think he knew it yet. He seemed to get it earlier with his “Three Questions” (especially 2 and 3). But when Carl was asking how they explain who they are, what they’ve been through and what they’ve done, Rick didn’t have a great answer. Thinking about Carl for a moment, he is still learning, it was rough for him to learn, or at least be reminded of the fact that they cannot save everyone.. like that random guy with glasses. Back to Rick though, he seemed to already be on the path to being conscious of knowing when to be brutal and when to make peace, and so the flashbacks seemed unnecessary. The point is, there’s absolutely no question in my mind, that zombie apocalypse or not, his “bite out of crime” was the best choice to make to save his life, and his son’s.
When it comes back to his son though, Carl is a fast learner, taking cues from his father every day. This is part of why, when Rick isn’t sure of himself Carl has been insecure, but by the time they got to Terminus, Carl was well aware that Joe’s gang (which will be discussed a bit more when I get to Daryl) was well deserving of the treatment they got. Now, this is not in any way to diminish what Michonne did for Carl (and herself) for opening up the way that she did, explaining the “monster” that she’d been. Out of the three of them, given the examples we’ve seen, Michonne’s actions in making and keeping her “pets” were certainly the most monstrous because they were founded in hurt and selfishness, whereas other potentially “monstrous” things we’ve seen characters do were selfless and aimed at lessening or preventing hurt (yes this includes Carol). Her confession helped Carl to see this, even if it wasn’t articulated. What was well articulated though, when Carl was asked if the “other” guys deserved what they got at Terminus and he answered with such a solid affirmation that I knew Carl was going to be just fine.
Now then, Daryl. Despite how awful things got when Joe and his guys showed up (see slideshow)…
Rick didn’t only not judge him, or his character, but told Daryl that he was his “brother”. This was a way of reminding Daryl that he knows he’s good enough and has the support of people so unlike Joe and his crew it was like last week when Maggie told Glenn he’d never need a picture of her again, but without being sappy.
On to the meaty part of the episode though, TERMINUS!!!!
Rick has already learned that things are rarely as great as they seem, and so I practically applauded his choice of hiding some weapons outside the fence before they went in, so that he wasn’t putting all of his eggs in one basket. Though I was thoroughly shocked and nearly beguiled when they were handed their weapons back.
Rick however, was not, and despite all the civility shown, was on his guard enough to notice Bob’s backpack, riot gear from the prison, Daryl’s poncho, and Herschel’s/Glenn’s watch. at that point the offered food seemed much less appetizing… as Mary’s phrase to Maggie’s group “We’ll make you a plate” seemed a tad on the nose.
While I’ll never say that the Donner party was a group of horrible people, because extreme circumstances can push people to equally extreme actions… the methodical way that Terminus has crossed the line between living and surviving is what makes this group particularly gruesome. The fact that they have protocols in place to herd frightened people to the train cars to be put in, and have the train cars organized is what sickens me (and I’m someone that loves organization, give me a project and I will plan and color code that thing till it looks like a rainbow).
What intrigues me beyond any discomfort though is the room that they’re herded through though. From the writing on the walls, to the names on the floors with the objects and chapel like candlelight, I find myself desperately wanting more time with the inhabitants of Terminus than I think I’ll get.
And here’s one other thing about these people that interests me, the same people that would appear to have some reverence or gratitude to those from which they gain their sustenance are the same people to leave bones out to rot, instead of burying those that they consume. That’s a kind of unbalanced that I love to see more of.
All of that aside, I cannot express how I am equally thrilled that Rick’s group ended up in the same car as Glenn and Maggie’s. While I don’t think that everyone will survive the next season, I cannot wait to see what happens when Terminus realizes that they’re messing with the wrong group.
Now, then, were you paying attention? Remember our little English, and/or Latin lesson before I got into the review? Everything this season has physically, and psychologically led our characters to this border. Carol had to come to terms with her loss of Sophia, and inability to save the healthy at the prison, or Lizzie and Miksa. Tyrese had to come to terms with Carol’s motivations in killing Karen. Carl had to come to terms with becoming independent and still relying on his father. Michonne had to come to terms with the acceptance of pain through emotion, because that’s what it takes to live. Glenn and Maggie had to come to terms with loss and love each being possible. Beth had to come to terms with rebellion and responsibility having their proper place in our lives. Daryl had to come terms with letting himself believe in himself. Rick had to come to terms with being both a monster and a man, and seeing the value in each.
All of this brought our characters to a place where they have found the balance between surviving and living, and are ready to decide when you must fight to do one, so that you can achieve the other. The journey has brought them to this border, that is Terminus, and after Rick’s last line, I cannot wait to see them fight their way across it next season. Somewhere between now and then though, I’ll have come to terms with the wait ahead.
What were your thoughts on the finale? Leave a comment!