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‘The Walking Dead”s Fourth Season – Was It Really That Bad?

AMC

The Walking Dead‘ wrapped its fourth season last night, and it undoubtedly left more than a few fans asking, “Is that it?” And for good reason. Season four of the hit zombie-apocalypse show was filled with lots of false starts, halting stops and moments of pure boredom.

This is nothing new. The series has been riding these bumps ever since the second season, which prompted some followers to call it ‘The Talking Dead,’ based on the absence of heart-pounding action. (I, for one, think the more meditative approach suited the story arc of that season, which led to a doom-filled finale.)

Things picked up a bit during the third season, as Rick and his crew fought something a little more menacing than oncoming walkers: psychopathic humans whose will to survive saw no moral boundaries. Then came the fourth season, which concluded last night. And it was a mixed one, to say the least.

But the finales — the mid-season one from December and last night’s — were explosive and powerful. The moment the Governor hacked off Hershel’s head midway through the season kicked off one of the series’ most fist-raising sequences. And last night’s bloody showdown with Daryl’s biker pals was almost as good.

Still, the long trek to this point — and to Terminus, the supposed salvation at the end of season four’s second half — has been slow, with the core group of survivors divided into separate stories. Some worked (Carol’s heartbreaking decision to put a bullet into the back of a little girl’s head); some didn’t (the icky, too-close-for-comfort relationship blossoming between fortysomething Daryl and how-old-is-she-supposed-to-be-anyway? Beth).

And it’s been a grueling season. But how grueling? Was it as really as bad as many fans claim? It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure. Any episode with the increasingly annoying Carl is a tough one, and he’s been the focus of way too many shows lately. And all this walking to Terminus has led to … what? Rick and the gang imprisoned in a boxcar. And our long six-plus-month wait to see how they get out of this one.

Rick’s season-ending declaration of “They’re screwing with the wrong people” came off a little too cliche, a little too righteous. It’s what we wanted him to say — you didn’t think all those flashbacks to Farmer Rick were going to lead to a peaceful resolution, did you? — but it’s also expected. Rick is the “ringleader,” as one Terminus baddie referred to him, and it’s about time he starts kicking ass again. He’s done too little of it in season four.

What do the deceptive folks of Terminus have in store for our heroes, most of whom are now back together, cowered in a boxcar, awaiting their fate? Will they be dinner? What were they serving their guests anyway? Was that pile of human bones we got a glimpse at a clue? If you’re familiar with the comics, you already know the answer to this.

This is what we’re left with at the end of season four. In the end, was it all that bad? No. Not really. Now that we have some context, that slow build makes some sense. But it could have been, and should have been, a whole lot better.

Next: Conan's 'Walking Dead' Parody

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