The Walking Dead Season 4 Roundtable: What Did We Think?
Posted by Steve Gustafson on 04.04.2014
What did you think of The Walking Dead Season 4? What was your reaction to the finale? What's in store for the gang in Season 5? The 411mania crew answer these questions and more inside!
"Who are we?" Carl (Chandler Riggs) asks his father, Rick (Andrew Lincoln), early in The Walking Dead's fourth season finale. Men? Monsters? Survivors? That's up to the viewer to decide. The Walking Dead has captured the attention of fans all over the world. Its viewership of 16.1 million for its season four premiere made it the most-watched drama series telecast in basic cable history. The show inspires both love and hate among viewers and it's no different here at 411mania!
I asked the best and brightest to answer some questions about Season 4, the finale, and what the future holds.
What did you think of Season 4 as a whole? Terry Lewis: As a whole 16 episode season, it's been very busy and enterprising. There's been a tonne of good material with the end of the Governor storyline, the subsequent fallout of departing the Prison and the search for safety by Terminus. The second half of the season I've enjoyed alot more since it's given some character building in the mini group/individual episodes which we haven't had much of recently. I wasn't too fussed on the killer flu storyline in the first half. It did make sense but it wasn't that engaging, felt like killing time until the Gov came back and went on an episode or two too long. It served it's purpose to weakening Rick's group and Hershel's beheading was genuinely gutting in a good way. Overall, the good far outweighed the bad and there's been some awesome developments in the story. Some of my favourite scenes from the comics being remade for the small screen masterfully with the Carl vs. Zombies moments whilst Rick was sick as well as the child murdering. On par with last season and still way better than the first two. Thumbs up.
Jeremy Wilson: I'm not going to declare that Season 4 was perfect or that everything Gimple and company tried worked. And if you had asked me this before the Season 4 finale, I might have had a different answer. But it became very clear by the end that, contrary to what I (and others) were starting to think, this is, was and will continue to be Rick's show. He may not be the most popular character and some may have thought they reached a "plateau" with the character. However, the finale showed this wasn't the case (I don't read comics so I wouldn't know what's coming). It's obvious that Scott Gimple and Robert Kirkman and their writing team had a bunch of things they wanted to get done this season, not the least of which was building up "New Rick", giving him the means to relinquish the mantle of leadership, focus his own efforts on being more of a father and caretaker and attempt to do more than merely survive. The fact that they had to do this in order to break him back down and get him to the point he's at by the end is an impressive bit of patience and writing. I'll admit I thought the first half of this season was hit or miss for me; I thought much of it went by as slowly (if not more so) than when they were on the farm in Season 2 and the first episode focusing on The Governor's whereabouts concurrent with what was going on at the prison was one of the series' worst. However, the mid-season finale was epic (most shows wish they could deliver a season or series finale like that) and I absolutely loved the back half. We needed a catharsis after The Governor's attack and the focus on character development – especially on individuals who had gotten short shrift up to that point – was welcome (plus there were still some cool zombie slaughtering mixed in there). They answered questions that had been lingering (the episode focusing on Carol, Tyreese and the kids was one of the series' best) and brought up new ones that will serve as the backdrop of Season 5. But at the end of the day, the most important question answered was the one they (and Rick) started Season 4 off on and have been struggling with for 4 seasons: no matter how hard you try getting things back, as much as possible, to some sort of normalcy, the resounding answer is...you can't. And probably shouldn't try.
Wyatt Beougher: Honestly, I felt like Season 4 was a bit of a step back from the awesomeness that was Season 3. Sure, there were a few standout episodes ('The Grove' comes immediately to mind), but for the most part, it felt a little like season 2, with too much repetitiveness for its own good. There's a lot of the first half of season 4 that I don't remember really clearly, but the midseason finale really stands out in my mind, so it's got that in common with Season 2. Like season three, there was a lot of suspense building up to the season finale, with one really standout episode shortly before the finale that made the finale feel somewhat lackluster (in season three, it was the episode where the governor is stalking Andrea; in season four, the aforementioned 'The Grove'). Overall though, I'm not going to be uninterested in season five based on season four, as there were still enough character moments to keep me invested in these characters. Plus, Tyreese still has his hammer; that's good enough for me.
Josh Syvertsen: Ratings wise I'd give it a 7.5 or and 8. I was really in to the first half of the season with the Governors story arc and actually (foolishly) held out hope that he could be redeemed. But then again I'm a sucker for Vader-esque face turns, so I'm always hoping the bad guy finds redemption. After the prison fell, it felt like the show meandered a bit, there were a couple really good episodes and moments, but most of the second half of the season felt repetitive and mundane. I think they really missed the boat on what they could have done with Abraham and Co. Eugene brought some much needed levity, whether intentional or not, it's a shame that they were relegated to after thoughts by the end of the season.
Todd Vote: Overall, I thought season 4 was decent. We finally got the payoff to the Governor storyline that we all expected to end season 3. The second half of the season was a bit less compelling in some episodes, but there were a few of them that knocked it out of the park. "Grove" was easily the best episode of the second half, in my opinion. I do wish the pacing of the season was a bit better, meaning I wish they would move the story along a bit quicker. Taking 8 episodes to get everyone to Terminus was a bit long. Overall though, there were some solid episodes, and some solid character development.
Steve Gustafson: Season 4, season 4, season 4. One of my issues with the show is the excessive padding. I comment on Twitter that you can watch the first 5 minutes and the last 10 minutes of every episode and have a pretty good idea of what's going on. This season felt largely unnecessary and the pacing was slow as ever. Just because the show is about zombies doesn't mean you have to have the episodes plod along like one. "If you have so much to complain about, why do you watch?" One, I enjoy trolling Walking Dead fans on Twitter. Two, I'm a HUGE fan of the comic book. Three, the show has potential.
The purpose of season 4 was to get them to Terminus. In that respect, they accomplished it. I just think they could have done it much quicker and still achieve the same character developments. I think they backed themselves into a corner over seasons 3 and 4 by bringing The Governor back for the mid season finale in season 4. Overall, the quality of the writing in season 4 was pretty poor.
What are your thoughts on the finale? Terry Lewis: Highly enjoyable and thumbs up from me. Again I was treated to one of my favourite scenes from the comics being adapted in the jeep attack. It didn't go as graphic as the comic with the attempted rape of Carl (not that I wanted it to or knew it would) but it was more than made up for with the "Ricktality" Mortal Kombat style kill Rick performed to polish off that fat goon. Gut to neck via knife is such a sucky way to go. We did see parts of Terminus and there are some hints as to what to expect from that. The alter/memorial scene was a tad creepy. Overall, you can't fault how the second half of this season has built up to the characters getting to Terminus and what's there and you kinda had that sorted.
Jeremy Wilson: I liked the finale quiet a bit. I'm not one of these people who needs every question answered and every thread wrapped up neatly. Plus, why give us more about Terminus when they know we'll all obsess over it the next 7 months until the show returns. Frankly, through much of this season, Farmer Rick was insufferable. His attempts to give his children some sort of normalcy and to drag Carl back from the edge (with gentle pushes from Herschel) were noble, but ultimately foolish. Rick let his guard down and attempted to live a life that was gone awhile ago. The finale is the end of Farmer Rick; it doesn't mean he's going to turn into Carol or that he and the group won't continue to strive for more out of this life, but at the end of the day, he knows that Warrior Rick is what's going to keep them alive in a world full of monsters. The finale perfectly illustrated this and set the stage for the future of the show.
Wyatt Beougher: As I mentioned, it felt like a bit of a letdown after 'The Grove', but it's hard to deny the visual of Rick ripping Joe's throat out with his teeth. The flashbacks to the prison were jarring at first (I thought they were playing a repeat by mistake), but it quickly began to make sense, as we watched Herschel slowly pull Rick back from the edge of savage madness, only for the attempted rape of Carl to almost instantly revert him back to his more feral state. And honestly, the finale did a good job of wrapping up nearly all of the loose ends and getting the majority of the group back together, while still leaving us wondering where Carol, Tyreese, and baby Judith are, who took Beth, and how exactly Rick and company plan to escape from the box car and the Terminus settlement.
Josh Syvertsen: Go read the review! I kid. After watching the finale a second time I think I actually might have been a bit too kind in my initial reaction. If I had it to do all over again, I would knock the rating down a half a point or even a whole point. I was extremely impressed with how the show was able to take so many dangling participles and make it into a pretty good cohesive story. But watching it through the second time they were able to do that by skipping some of the Glenn/Abraham groups story and forgetting Tyreese/Carol and Beth all together. I did enjoy using the flashbacks as framing devices, it helped keep Ricks current thoughts juxtaposed to the beginning of the season to further accentuate the change in him. So that worked well. But I always get bothered by the pre-show hype machine. When cast members say things like "nothing you've seen will prepare you for this episode" and "it will change things forever" it damn well better. I get that they say things like that to stoke the fire (like last years finale when they promised 27 people would die, and sure, 27 did, but no one of significant consequence actually died) but it almost always makes a show anti-climatic. This seasons finale was no exception.
Todd Vote: So a ringleader, an archer, and a samurai walk into Terminus...
My problem with the finale was it was a bit boring compared to previous season finales. Other than the stuff with the "Claim Gang", the episode just felt like filler until the last five minutes when Rick and crew show up, and are herded into the train car.
It wasn't all bad, like I said I enjoyed the confrontation with the "Claim Gang". The conversation Carl had with Michonne was good. Lastly, Rick finally has his balls back. Glad to see that, even if the line at the end was just a bit to much... "They're screwing with the wrong people."
Steve Gustafson: THUD. Anti-climatic. Overreaching. Padded. The flashbacks were not needed. The absence of Tyreese and Carol felt odd. I cringed when Rick turned and said, "They're messing with the wrong people." I'm finding most of the characters more and more unlikable and unevenly written. Here's a group that's been together for a while but they didn't have a plan in case anything happened at the prison. They've been burned before and they merrily enter Terminus, blindly trusting strangers. It seems this show is always writing the characters a certain way and then have them behave uncharacteristically to further the storyline. This finale was a perfect example of this. Thumbs down.
What was the biggest lingering question you had about the finale? Terry Lewis: Apart from "What and who is Terminus?" and everything you can relate to that which EVERYONE wants to know, I can't be the only one whose curious about what happened to Beth. There's been no hints apart from she was kidnapped I guess by that car before Daryl wandered off to that group led by Joe. I hope it's not the last we see of her because I think Emily Kinney adds a lot to the show as the caring heart.
Jeremy Wilson: While we're not sure what Terminus is exactly and who this new group may be (although we certainly have our suspicions) or where Carol and Tyreese are while the events of the finale are occurring, I think the biggest unresolved issue is what happened to Beth and where she is during all of this. I have no doubt we'll find out at some point next season, but whether that occurs in the first half Terminus storyline or if it – and whoever took her – kicks off the back half of next season remains a mystery. It will also be interesting to see if the writers go further with the Beth-Daryl-Carol connection, especially since Daryl still hasn't seen Carol since Rick banished her.
Wyatt Beougher: At this point, the show is ahead of where I'm at in the comic, so I need to catch up before the season five premiere. To this point, I've had a decent idea of what was going to happen on the show, but right now, I have absolutely no idea. So while Tyreese is my favorite character and I want to know what's up with he and Carol, I'm more interested in what's going to go down in Terminus. Talk to me in a month or so, after I've caught up on the comics, and I'll probably give you a different answer.
Josh Syvertsen: There wasn't much about the finale I had questions about. I guess it would have to be the nature of Terminus, and I'm not talking about the food supply, which I think we all know, despite there being no definitive proof for us that haven"t read the graphic novels. I want to know more about how Terminus works, meaning how things are run. How did they come to be that way? That strange room that Rick and Co. ran through, what is the nature of that room? Is everyone there in on the secret? Or are their folks who just think there are a lot of deer in the suburban Atlanta area?
Todd Vote: Where was Beth, and why the hell doesn't Maggie have any concern at all about her sister? Rick is the only one of the survivors to have asked about her whereabouts. There is talk on the internets that the folks in Terminus may be cannibals, and that may have been Beth cooking on the grill. While I don't dispute the cannibal theory, I actually think the same, I'm not sure that was Beth cooking on the grill. I don't think they would kill a main character off screen like that.
That altar is something else I am curious about. What happened to the people in Terminus? I am looking forward to getting some answers next season.
Steve Gustafson: Where were Tyreese, Carol, baby Judith and Beth? What is Terminus? Who is Gareth? What was that altar? Why couldn't they have let Rick drop an F bomb instead of saying "messing"? If the intent was to capture Rick and the gang all along, why give them back their weapons when they entered Terminus?
Where do you see Season 5 going in terms of storyline? Terry Lewis: Well I can't see them being too long in Terminus without there being a resolution quickly. Whether it'll lead into the "Beware The Hunters" storyline is another matter. I won't spoil what that means but there has been enough hints if you've got a keen eye over the last two episodes. Further along, it's fairly certain that they'll pick up the "Get Eugene to Washington" plot threads and the team will be hitting the road again.
Jeremy Wilson: It's prison break time! Last season they tried to make a prison their home. This next season is the opposite. It appears this group at Terminus is certainly nasty and smart in their own right (Terminus appears to be a fantastic post-apocalypse Venus flytrap), but I doubt they can take Rick's group on in a more equal fight. I think Carol and Tyreese will have either seen what went down or will figure it out before they themselves get captured. I think they'll infiltrate the camp (it's apparently not difficult) and will free Rick and company in order to take it to their captors. Honestly, I can't really imagine it taking more than a few episodes (who wants to watch everyone stuck in a box getting picked out one by one for 7 or 8 episodes?) and I think the darker side of Rick and company we saw by the end of Season 4 will be front and center when it comes time to deal with the Terminus group...especially when Rick and co. find out about what exactly is in the BBQ. Ultimately, once they dispatch with Terminus, they'll hit the road again towards Washington D.C,, and come across Beth (and whoever took her...although I think that Season 5 teaser poster with the stained glass window gives a clue), a new Big Bad will be revealed and they may end up on the doorstep of Washington by the end of the season.
Wyatt Beougher: As I said, I don't really know, but I'm guessing the first half of the season will be trying to get out of/get to the bottom of/take over Terminus, and the second half will be the search for Beth (assuming she doesn't end up in Terminus somehow).
Josh Syvertsen: One of the things that show runner Scott Gimple said on The Talking Dead concerned me a bit when talking about the nature and structure of the show. I'm paraphrasing a bit but essentially what Gimple said is that he views the seasons of a show in terms of two shorter seasons. 8 episodes - build to crescendo. Mid-season break...and repeat. I think that hurt this particular season as it meant that the show had to basically restart the story again after the mid-season break. I can see Rick and Co. escaping Terminus/destroying Terminus in episode 8 in an episode that's "sure to change everything." I know it's a bit cynical...but I wish the narrative would progress over a full 16 episodes, rather than "two mini-seasons." I've rambled long enough...so Rick and Co. escape, a secondary or tertiary character will die. I think Rick and Carol forgive each other given Ricks new nature. Rick and Michonne become even closer and we will get yet another "big baddie."
Todd Vote: There is plenty to draw from in the comics, or they could start carving out their own deal. Maybe we will find out that the people in Terminus are not really bad people at all. Maybe they, like Rick's group, have just dealt with to much suffering to give outsiders the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Terminus will be what the spinoff series is about?
Personally, I am hoping Terminus ends up being a variation on the hunters from the comics. Also hoping we get to see Negan. It's been alluded to that we will see him on the TV show, just not necessarily next season.
Steve Gustafson: Being The Walking Dead, expect Terminus to take up the whole season. With the cast now growing uncontrollably large, expect some big deaths the beginning to renew interest and keep the "drama" high. If you've read the comic, expect them to introduce Gabriel Stokes into the mix. Also, look for Abraham to more screen time as he becomes Rick's new number 2.
Who gets killed in Season 5? Terry Lewis: Oof! Massive question. I really want Carol to get hers because apart from the flowers scene with Lizzie has contributed nothing special in my eyes since her daughter was bumped off halfway through Season 2, yet Melissa McBride will be hanging round as she's quite liked by cast and crew I guess. I'll go for Tyreese since the cast is getting quite fat at the moment and he doesn't serve any real purpose over other people.
Jeremy Wilson: Peripheral characters beware. It's pointless trying to guess what the writers will do (especially in terms of minor characters such as Bob and Tara). I will say I think Tara has served her purpose and could be a prime candidate. In terms of "bigger" characters' deaths, I think either Glenn or Maggie (not both) is in trouble as is either Carol or Tyreese and no death would shake the principal players more than Carl. The point of killing characters off isn't to create some sort of cheap shock value, but to further the story and see the reverberations of that death on the rest of the characters. We've seen the weaker among them killed off (through a plague, a military-like assault and through characters' own negligence), but that doesn't mean only the weak die. If we're getting a tougher, darker Rick and company, it stands to reason that warriors among them die too. I don't care what they say, Rick, Michonne and Daryl are untouchable; the fans would revolt (especially those last two), but that doesn't mean all of this new group is. We haven't even scratched the surface with Abraham, Rosita and Eugene so I can't see them being offed so soon, which only leaves a few viable candidate among the main cast.
Wyatt Beougher: I'm guessing either Glenn or Maggie, since couples don't generally last long on this show, Beth if she's not already dead, possibly Sasha? Basically, the only people that I know are safe are Rick and Daryl, because they're the ones the fans love the most and killing either of them would probably cause a pretty significant exodus of the audience. Of course, that didn't stop SoA from offing Opie, so it's really anyone's guess at this point.
Josh Syvertsen: I'm sure those who have read the graphic novel will have a bit more insight than I do but when I think about the question I king of separate everyone into different groups. Group One- Folks that are not going to die: Rick, Michonne, Daryl, and Carl (and maybe Carol). I am pretty certain that those four characters will survive. Out of that group, Carl is the most at risk, but it would be a huge surprise (to me at least) if he were to die. The Second group contains (maybe) Carol, Tyreese, Glenn, Maggie, Abraham, and Eugene. If I had to put a percentage on it I would say it's 50% that any one and maybe two of these characters will die. Although personally I would be pretty pissed if Carol was one of them. The third and final group is Bob, Rosita, Tara, Beth, and Sascha, and no it's not a misogynistic thing, I just think that given the way the show has treated their characters they are the most likely to go. I would be very surprised if at least two of those characters make it through the entire season.
Todd Vote: Bob. Bob either needs some meat to his character and story arc, or he has to go. And of course since we got the sweet reunion of Glen and Maggie, one of them could easily be offed in the next season.
Steve Gustafson: Like I said, expect some deaths at the start of the season. It will show viewers that the people of Terminus mean business! Out of all the characters, I loathe Glen. I'm saying he gets it at some point this season. Carol's on the table as well. She'll have some sort of "redemption" story and sacrifice herself for the greater good. I think they'll do the unthinkable at the end of season to shake things up and kill off either Michonne or Carl.