Where we left off: Shane broke Randall’s neck in an elaborate plan to lure Rick into the woods to murder him. Randall turned into a zombie. Rick saved himself and knifed Shane, who immediately re-animated. Carl the Kid saw it all go down and shot Zombie Shane, saving Rick.
Where we pick up: So many zombies are traipsing through Atlanta, gnawing on flesh. (I am pretty sure it’s Atlanta because I spent the last week there looking for zombies and it all looks rather familiar.) The zombies see a helicopter in the sky. (The same helicopter Rick once saw? Is this a semi-flashback?) The chopper draws their attention. They lurch onward, passing the highway filled with corpses. They keep marching, under the light of a full moon. The zombies herd together. There are so many different kinds of zombies – a surgeon zombie! A hipster zombie with a bike messenger bag! Young lady zombies and middle-aged man zombies! A zombie that looks remarkably like a Sith Lord! The walkers are thwarted by a fence with a hand-painted sign reading "Trespass its your ass." The zombies do not worry about trespassing and they surge through the wooden fence. And they must walk and walk and walk, for soon the zombies arrive in the woods outside Hershel’s farmhouse. They hear a shot. They turn towards the sound, and lo and behold, they are mere feet away from Rick and Carl walking back towards the house. The only thing standing between them and certain zombie death is a flimsy fence.
Credits! Deep breath. Oh goodness, this episode is already amazing. Zombies! So many zombies! Hooray for all of the zombies!
The womenfolk wait inside the house as Daryl and Glen return. Daryl spills his tracking deductions that Shane and Randall were together until Shane broke Randall’s neck. He also reveals that Randall turned into a zombie without being bitten. Lori panics and begs Daryl to go out and find Rick and Shane.
Carl and Rick hurry towards the farmhouse and the kid demands to know what happened. He heard a gunshot but he didn’t see any walkers nearby. Rick pauses and starts to explain, but they realize an entire army of zombies is bearing down on them. Glen and Daryl and Andrea watch from the porch as the herd lurches towards them. Rick and Carl run across the lawn and barricade themselves in the barn as the other Still Alives realize that Carl is missing from the house.
The Still Alives kill the farmhouse lights and grab their guns. They have guns and they have cars and they will take out as many zombies as they can and use the cars to lure the rest of the walkers away. Hershel takes a stand – this is his farm and it’s as good a night as any to die.
In the barn, Rick douses hay with gasoline and commands Carl to climb into the hayloft. Rick tells Carl to drop the lighter when he gives the command, and also tells him that he loves him. Rick opens the barn door and lures the zombies inside. Now, Carl, now! Drop that lighter! Incinerate those zombies!
The motorcade of Still Alives takes off. T-dog drives while Andrea shoots, and Maggie has the wheel while Glenn is on gun duty. Daryl fires from his motorcycle and tells Jimmie to drive the RV around the back of the burning barn to see if Rick and Carl are back there. The RV pulls up and Rick and his son leap onto its roof. As they clamber to safety, zombies reach into the RV and attack poor Jimmie. They tear at his flesh viciously. (And sort of sexually? Maybe?) Rick shoots at the zombies. Jimmie’s blood splatters across the windshield.
The Still Alive motorcade wheels donuts around the perimeter of the farm fence, shooting zombies as quickly (and shockingly accurately!) as possible. Rick and Carl flee into the woods. (Nooooooo!) Hershel and his shotgun defend the house. Lori refuses to leave because she can’t find her son. The womenfolk realize it’s time to go, no matter what. They holler for Hershel, who seems like he’s ready to play captain and go down with his ship.
The women take off and a zombie grabs Patricia as Beth struggles to pull her free. Lori drags Beth away as Patricia goes down. More zombies chase Carol and she runs away. Andrea and T-dog screech to a halt and Lori drags Beth into their truck. Andrea runs out to rescue Carol and shoots the zombie who’s about to eat her. T-dog and the other ladies are almost overcome by walkers and they drive off. The herd traps Glenn and Maggie so they flee with their car in reverse. Hershel keeps on shooting until he is out of ammo. The zombies won’t stop advancing. Just as Hershel is about to be eaten, Rick pops out of nowhere and saves his life. Rick tries to lead Hershel away. "It’s my farm," protests Hershel. Not anymore.
Daryl watches the barn burn. He hears a shriek and races towards the sound. He rescues Carol and they tear away from the herd of zombies. Hershel, Rick and Carl jump into a truck and drive off. The farm is lost. The barn collapses as the never-ending surge of zombies stumble towards the camera. Andrea is left all alone.
Oh, hooray! This episode is a quintessential struggle for survival with seriously high stakes! This season was sooooo slow and took soooooo long just so this finale could be so action-packed and so riveting? And maybe lost a lot of viewers along the way? Note: if you stopped watching during the Sophia search, just go back and watch this episode. It is zombie action galore and will satisfy all your zombie needs.
Daryl and Carol (they rhyme) slalom through the zombies, tearing down a dirt path. Maggie and Glenn hurdle through the woods. Dawn breaks over the Georgia countryside. Glenn wants to return to the spot on the highway where they left supplies for Sophia. Maggie melts down. Glenn tells her he loves her and takes over the driver’s seat.
Rick, Carl and Hershel arrive at the Sophia-supply car – apparently they agreed on that meet-up point or else they just all realize they could reconvene there. Carl freaks out that they need to go find Lori because she’s his MOM. Rick tries to quiet him but Carl shouts back that they have to find his MOM.
Hershel instructs Rick to get the boy to safety while the good horse doc waits for Lori and the other women to arrive. Rick appeals to him as a man of god to have some faith that everyone else is alive. "Christ promised a resurrection of the dead," Hershel replies. "I just thought he had something a little different in mind." Rick announces that they’re going to stick together.
T-Dog drives away with Lori and Beth. Lori wants to go back to the special Sophia spot on the highway. T-Dog has a plan – he wants to go east, to the coast, where they’ll have a chance to escape. He knows that turning around will be suicide. But Lori threatens to jump out of the truck and set off on foot unless he agrees to go look for the others. T-dog reluctantly turns the truck around.
On the highway, Carl and the two men stay quiet to avoid Preppy Zombie. Hershel worries that they can’t wait forever, and he urges Rick to keep Carl safe despite Carl’s pleas to wait for Lori. Rick kneels down to explain to Carl that they need to leave and suddenly – wait, what could it be? It sounds like – a motorcycle? Here come Daryl and Carol! And wait, what’s that? It’s T-dog and the ladies! And Maggie and Glenn! Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!!! Giant smiles for all the Still Alives! Except for the members of their posse who are now Newly Deads. Au revoir to Patricia and Jimmy. And Shane. (Hmmmmm.) And where’s Andrea? Oh dear.
T-dog insists that they need to keep moving, to head east away from the main road. Daryl shoots Preppy Zombie with an arrow and the remaining Still Alives drive away. Their sign urging Sophia to stay there is faded and just about washed away.
In the woods, Andrea runs and runs and runs with a flock of zombies close behind her. She’s been running all night and now it’s daylight and she pauses to catch her breath and reload her guns. She’s running out of ammo so she smashes one zombie’s head into a tree and stomps his head in. She keeps running. She shoots the zombies in her path. She runs and runs and runs and there are so very many zombies. I am sorry I called you Smugface Andrea! You are a tough lady and I am sorry they left you all alone and you’d better keep running, please!
On the road, Rick’s truck runs out of gas. The Still Alive motorcade stops to make camp for the night so they can make a run for gasoline in the morning. Maggie and Glenn offer to go scrounge for gas but Rick demands that they all stick together. Rick insists that they’ll find a place and hunker down and fortify themselves and stay alive. Glenn challenges him: the walkers are migrating, he says. Maggie adds that they can never be safe. Hershel mourns his farm.
Rick tries to make a plan for their immediate survival while Daryl reveals that they found Randall and he turned into a zombie without being bitten. He adds that Shane killed Randall. "And then the herd got Shane?" Lori asks. Rick pauses, dodging the question. "We’re all infected," he admits. That’s what Jenner at the CDC told him and he’s been keeping it a secret because he thought it was best if no one else knew. The remaining Still Alives are stunned.
Lori wraps her arms around Rick to comfort him and he explains that he killed Shane in self-defense. He describes Shane’s murderous plan and stammers that he knew what was going on and he could have stopped it but he just wanted it over. "He was dogging me every step of the way, acting like I stole you and Carl, like I was in the way," Rick announces. "I just wanted him dead.... I killed him. He turned. That’s how I knew Jenner was right." Lori crumples. Rick tries to comfort her but she jerks away and storms off. Is she angrier that he killed Shane or that he talked her into keeping that baby even though he knew they were all infected? She theoretically had a chance to end that pregnancy before she yakked up the pills, and Rick talked her into keeping it. Even though he knew that everyone was going to turn into a zombie? Hmmmm.
Andrea is still alone in the woods as dusk begins to fall. The zombies snarl all around her. She rams the butt of her gun into one zombie’s skull and takes out another walker with a knife. She trips and falls and a zombie leers above her. She struggles, until the zombie is shot from behind. A mysterious hooded figure looms over Andrea. The hooded figure leads two zombies on chains, and these zombies are armless, and if you read the comics you know who this is but let’s pretend that the television show is all that we know about this world. Mysterious hooded figure with chained zombies alert!
T-dog keeps watch at the Still Alives’ fire, as Carol and Daryl bicker about trusting Rick’s leadership. Beth hears a noise in the woods and Maggie insists that they need to leave, right now. Rick loses his shit and shouts that he is keeping this group together alive, and that he has been through hell and killed his best friend and if anyone else thinks they can do a better job as the leader, then they are welcome to try for themselves. "Send me a postcard if you can do better," he taunts, "Let’s see how far you get. Any takers?" No one volunteers. "Fine!" he continues. "We get one thing straight. If you’re staying, this isn’t a democracy anymore."
Lori looks aghast. T-dog looks menacing. Hershel looks vaguely smirky. A crane shot pulls back and goes wide, tilting up and away from the Still Alives’ campfire. The full moonlight reveals a large prison looming just over the horizon.
And so! Onwards to season three! Prisons and mysterious hooded figures and a dictatorship! (A Ricktatorship?) Oh my!
Humans: Goodbye to you, Patricia and Jimmie.
Zombies: So long, Preppy Zombie. And Incinerated Zombies. And Shot Zombies. And Bludgeoned Zombies. And Knifed Zombie. And Tree-smashed Zombie.
Extra points: Who was in the helicopter??
LAST EPISODE: Boys Becoming Men, Men Becoming Zombies