7:40pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Walking Dead': Will Season 4 End With Hope or Blood?
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode 415, "Us," of AMC's The Walking Dead.]
In its penultimate season-four episode, AMC's The Walking Dead delivered an hour filled with hope, leaving the door open for what could be an upbeat finale.
Sunday's installment checked in on multiple factions, as two of the mini-groups (finally!) converged and entered the so-called sanctuary for all known as Terminus.
Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) part ways with Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Tara (Alanna Masterson), who soldier on and find a fresh note from Maggie (Lauren Cohan), telling her husband to head to Terminus. The five split up as Glenn and Tara head through a dark tunnel filled with walkers, while Abraham's "army" double back and around, discovering a minivan and ultimately meeting the duo on the other end, saving Glenn and Tara, who, following a knee injury, faced death by walker after literally getting stuck between a rock and a hard place. Only Abraham, Eugene and Rosita are not alone -- they're with Maggie, Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) -- reuniting husband and wife for the first time since the fall of the prison and Hershel's death.
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Meanwhile, Daryl (Norman Reedus) is learning the new "claim" rules of the so-called marauders and is starting to find a place alongside Joe (Jeff Kober), who offers the green light for the group to give Len (Marcus Hester) a beating after the latter breaks the first rule: Do not lie. Len winds up being killed, and the group continues to follow the tracks to Terminus, passing Carl's discarded candy bar wrapper just as Daryl learns that Joe is hell-bent on seeking revenge on the man who hid in a house and killed one of their members. It sets up a ticking time bomb between Joe and Rick, who killed his friend in order to save the lives of Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carl (Chandler Riggs).
For their part, Rick, Michonne and Carl are running out of food and water as they inch closer to Terminus, traveling just ahead of Joe and Daryl's pack.
At the end of the episode, Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, Glenn, Maggie, Bob and Sasha are the first to arrive at Terminus, walking through an unlocked door with a sign that reads: "Lower your weapons, you will be met. You have arrived at Terminus." Inside, they see an almost picturesque community, with a well-maintained garden filled with flowers, laundry stations and a woman cooking. She introduces herself as Mary (Denise Crosby) and recognizes that they're weary travelers and offers to get them cleaned up, fed and settled.
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The credits roll as the hour set up next week's season-four finale, which leaves everyone on a collision course for Terminus and drama left to come between Rick and Joe, and Daryl and Rick over Carol's dismissal, as well as multiple reunions. This episode also marked The Walking Dead's first penultimate episode of its season that didn't feature the death of a major character. (Andrea's sister, Amy, died in the penultimate episode of season one; Shane was killed off in the same episode in season two; and Daryl's brother, Merle, failed to survive the next-to-last season-three episode.)
While the reunions and inner-group conflict are still likely to come, the biggest question heading into the season finale has to be Terminus: Where is everyone? What kind of rules exist within this sanctuary? Is it, as Sasha fears, too good to be true? Or could The Walking Dead instead be setting up a season finale filled with hope, which has been a frequent theme in the back half of season four?
Or will the rest of the Terminus group have more in common with The Governor (David Morrissey) and using the signs advertising peace as bait?
Also a question mark is what kind of a role Greek alum Andrew J. West will have. The actor's character, Gareth, who has yet to be seen so far this season, is poised to have what sources say is a "big presence" and play an "important character" on the series. Sources tell THR that while West might not be playing someone from the comics, he is a remix of sorts of an unidentified character from Robert Kirkman's series on which the AMC zombie drama is based.
So what do you think? Is Terminus too good to be true? Should the group feel safe? How do you think Joe and Rick will fare if they come face to face? Hit the comments below, and check back later tonight for our weekly postmortem, this week with executive producer Greg Nicotero, who directed this episode. In the meantime, check out a clip from the season finale, below.