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'The Walking Dead' finale recap: The end of the line

This undated image released by AMC shows Lauren

(Credit: AP / AMC / Gene Page)

Quiz time: What were the final words uttered/muttered/sputtered by Rick in the closing seconds of last night's fourth season finale of "The Walking Dead?" 

(And I first offer here the obligatory "spoiler alert!" for those who have yet to watch, or don't even realize that Rick survived -- because of course he did, contrary to whatever chatter was going on this season.)  

 a.) "They just made a major and unfortunate mistake -- unfortunate for them!"


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b.) They don't know who they're dealing with -- maybe they should ask Joe."

c.) "I'm  hungry . . . for neck."

 d.) "Hasta la vista, baby."

e.) None of the above (though a. is a close approximation.)

Correct answer is e.), which means Armageddon approaches again, in the fifth season -- which, by the way, signals yet another major migration for our small survivor pod as they head to Washington. In other words, Terminus is quite obviously not a long-term solution.

What is one to make of Terminus, first seen a couple of episodes ago and which clearly -- to anyone who lived through Woodbury -- was one of those too good to be true places?

Clearly to me it represents some sort of railroadized version of a Nazi death camp -- with its sloganeering and soothing bromides offered by strange unbalanced people who are (were) too smooth, too unrattled, too well-fed.

You expect a sign above the entrance to read: "Arbeit Macht Frei."

 And then the railroad cars.

 A quick glance at any "Dead" affiliated Wiki indicates that "Terminus" was the original name given to Atlanta, where a railroad terminus was built; I have no idea whether that is true, but it seems compelling enough. Who are these people? Why are they here? Why the enforced enslavement, or is the spirit of the Gov'nah alive and well, in other communities of the living?

What Sunday night's fourth season indicated, or demonstrated, is that Robert Kirkman's overall vision, as delineated by Scott Gimple -- who's done a good job with this brutal franchise as new showrunner -- is like a savage hall of mirrors: The dead aren't the ones to fear, as much as the living. Communities can't form without the requisite distillation of all that is terrible and loathsome in human nature -- the need to conquer, to control, and then ultimately, destroy.

 And Rick, recognizing that, has been reduced to his most fundamental nature, too -- ripping out the carotid artery in Joe, while a geyser of blood sprayed his face.

Zounds, that was awful. But it was what this world has become, only worse.   

Next season, (apparently) Washington. Our small and brutalized group should feel right at home there.

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