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Darryl Woodard Headshot

The Walking Dead: Enter Terminus

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We weren't fooled. Not for a minute. I'm sure even fans who have not read the graphic novel of The Walking Dead had to have known something wasn't right from the start about Terminus. That notion had to have been there for us all. The moment the place made its first appearance near the end of episode 15, a week before last Sunday's March 30, 2014 Season Four episode 16 finale titled "A."

First there was Woodbury. Looking like some decent, gated master-planned community, with its nice houses, immaculate lawns, a community under the leadership of the Governor. Andrea was under its spell. But the veil was lifted. Michonne saw to that.

Let's go a bit further as an example. In the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining, remember the Grady girls? When the 6-year-old boy Danny rode his big wheel tri-bike throughout the inner environs of the expansive Overlook hotel, who did he surprisingly meet staring at him down the hall? Did the Grady twins look ugly? No. Did they look menacing? No. Did the girls suddenly levitate off the floor to chase after him? No. Yet although the two girls looked decent standing there side by side in their pastel blue party dresses, in a well-lit hallway at that, there was still something about the girls that was inescapably disturbing. And that image was the product of Stanley Kubrick's painstaking way of crafting, in this case, a horror film.

The moment when Glenn, Maggie, Sasha, Bob, Tara, Abraham, Eugene and Rosita all first met the woman who greeted them at Terminus in episode 15 named Mary, acted by Denise Crosby, she kind of reminds you of the same disturbing Grady girls. Yes she may have looked to be also a den mother or a kindergarten teacher. But let's face it. If she had immediately looked in any way shape or form off in some way, as well as the Terminus environs initially, together all eight would have armed up and ran just like Rick, Daryl, Carl and Michonne all did in the following Season Four finale.

Just the name Terminus itself sounds as if it could be some weaponized virus, almost like it could be a plot in a thriller film. In such a film you may have a character saying, "Did you hear about Ojai, California? There's been an outbreak of the Terminus virus." Then there would be a scene of the town of 7,000 getting a perimeter barrier by Army National Guard troops while CDC people are helicoptered in all wearing astronaut suits.

Yes we all had to have known that place was spooky from the jump, or at least suspect. And because of Woodbury, that's also why Rick took precautions. In other words he and the others didn't just walk through the front gate as if they all had thankfully arrived at Shangri-La. He first buried half their weapons and ammo for safekeeping. Then he and the others reconnoitered around the perimeter of Terminus. And then last, they all sneaked in another way. Because then he wouldn't have been able to say upon first meeting Terminus leader Gareth, acted by Andrew J. West, that when Rick said, "We wanted to see you before you saw us." Then not long after that peaceful exchange all mayhem broke loose.

Now the polls are out. It's unanimous. The Season Four finale of The Walking Dead attained the highest ratings in the cable show's four-season history. Last Sunday's March 30, 2014 finale ratings had tripled, setting a record. Most responses from the fans were happy, while some were also happy by saying that Rick is back. Yet with all due respect, and I do mean this with sincerity, with all due respect to those fans saying that about Rick, I would say this: He never left.

Rick never left. This was also explained some in the AMC follow up show Talking Dead hosted by Chris Hardwick. For after the season four finale guest Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick, along with guest Scott Gimple as executive producer and writer of the show, explains about his character of Rick having evolved into his most lethal. Lincoln also said that Rick has come to accept a balance about himself. That Rick is okay with having to be dark before meting out violence to save himself and others. Rick even says he is okay to Michonne. And Michonne was okay with that. And Daryl was always okay with Rick about that. That is the next day after the two and Daryl had killed Joe and his creepy crew while the three and Carl were walking along the train tracks before arriving at Terminus. Rick saw where things were about to lead to the night before, with not only his son Carl but also with Michonne and Daryl. And to borrow a phrase, "Failure is not an option."

There's a Star Trek episode from the first season of the original series titled, "The Enemy Within." Captain Kirk is beamed aboard the Enterprise from a planet during a geological mission leaving Lt. Sulu in charge of the landing party. He's suddenly a bit weak, as Scotty assists him off the transporter. With the room then empty, suddenly another Captain Kirk is beamed aboard. There are then two Captain Kirks, or a manifestation of two separate selves. The first Kirk is the one being good whom Scotty had met, and the later appearance of the second one being evil.

The episode was inspired by the classic novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Spock and Dr. McCoy had to find the evil Capt. Kirk fast and re-emerge both entities before the two got weaker to eventually die. Plus the transporter had to be fixed as the cause of this mishap, to rescue Lt. Sulu and the landing party before they would freeze to death on the planet. While all this was happening, the good Kirk was also losing his ability to command.

While figuring out how to go about things there was a sort of a philosophical discussion as Spock says:

And what is it that makes one man an exceptional leader? We see here indications that it's his negative side which makes him strong, that his evil side, if you will, properly controlled and disciplined, is vital to his strength.

Later after that when Spock leaves is when Dr. McCoy steps up to assure the good Kirk when he says, "We all have our darker side. We need it! It's half of what we are. It's not really ugly. It's human."

Whereas Captain Kirk was ashamed to have to see his evil side running around the Enterprise, and having other crewmen see that side, Rick had evolved to accepting his darker side which we all have. The character has grown remarkably throughout the four seasons of The Walking Dead. Rick never left, and to those fans, with sincere respect I have to say this: Must Andrew Lincoln have to be another Jason Statham (another fellow Brit) in portraying Rick Grimes in each and every episode of The Walking Dead?

In other words, the role of Rick has become more textured throughout all four seasons of The Walking Dead while portrayed by Andrew Lincoln, who is an exceptional actor. Is the character perfect? No. But then who is? But he never fails to step up. In season one, he leads to retrieve the obnoxious Merle Dixon in Atlanta. In season two, he rescues Shane as he is trapped in a school bus surrounded by walkers after the two argue about what to do about Randall, and Randall wanted him to leave Shane. In season three, he leads to retrieve Glenn and Maggie while prisoners at Woodbury. Throughout, we now know it was Hershel's idea that Rick needed to take up farming as an outlet, perhaps to prevent burnout from the burden of command. Plus they couldn't have always made supply runs while at the prison enclave. And then came season four, and now you know the rest of that story. Rick never left, never.