"A" is the sixteenth and final episode of the fourth season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the fifty-first episode of the series overall. It premiered on March 30, 2014. It was written by Scott Gimple & Angela Kang and directed by Michelle MacLaren.
FLASHBACK - Rick arrives back from a bloody run and starts killing walkers brutally on the fences of the prison. Hershel, however, has a plan. The scene then jumps forward in time showing a bloody Rick shaking, leaned up against the wheel of an SUV after a terrible event that has just occurred.
In the present, Rick, Carl, and Michonne are camping out in the woods, sitting by a fire before going to check one of their recently installed snare traps for animals. They ultimately find a small rabbit and, after Rick thoroughly explains how it was caught to Carl, the latter hears a cry for help and takes off running a bit further into the woods. Rick and Michonne try to stop him, but must give chase. They all find a man in a large forest clearing and he is struggling to fend off a herd of walkers. Carl quickly raises his Beretta, but Rick stops him, seeing that they are clearly outnumbered and it is too late for the man, as the walkers cave in, first ripping out his right eye. A few walkers then notice the three as they make an escape. Rick, Carl, and Michonne then pass a railway crossing and fight a few walkers in the way before continuing their retreat.
FLASHBACK - In the prison, Hershel asks Rick to leave his gun and help him outside.
Back in the present, the group eventually finds an abandoned SUV and settle on camping near it for the night. Later, Rick and Michonne are discussing matters by the campfire while Carl is sleeping in the truck. Suddenly, Joe and his group show up to ambush Rick and Michonne. Meanwhile, Carl is ambushed by Dan at the car. Tony immediately recognizes Rick and the group realizes that they have successfully found their man - he is the one who killed Lou. After Joe starts a tense countdown, Daryl appears and tries to put an end to the scene. Daryl claims that Rick and the others are good people, but Joe simply tells him that Rick was responsible for killing their friend. When Daryl offers himself up in place of Rick, Joe looks shocked. He calls Daryl a liar for saying that Rick is a good person and makes a call for the rest of his group to beat Daryl to death for lying. Joe then informs Rick that they are going to beat Daryl to death, rape Carl, then Michonne, and finally achieve closure by killing Rick.
While Dan begins trying to rape Carl, Rick launches a backwards headbutt that strikes Joe in the face, stunning him. Joe fires on reflex (and misses), but the shot is right next to Rick's head, which momentarily deafens him. Rick then punches Joe, who counters with a pistol whip of his own, knocking Rick to the ground. As Rick struggles to get back on his feet, still somewhat concussed, Joe locks Rick in place by grabbing him, pinning his arms, and holding him still. Joe then asks, "What the hell are you gonna do now, sport?" Rick answers by biting into his carotid artery, killing him. Michonne then takes advantage of the chaos to kill Tony and Harley with gunshots to the head with Tony's revolver, as they looked on in terror when they saw their leader being murdered in one of the most cruel fashions. Daryl then uses the pause to knock Billy to the ground and maliciously curb stomp him to death. With all of his group members dead, Dan is still holding Carl hostage and tells everyone to stay back or else he will not hesitate to kill Carl. Rick then grabs hold of Joe's pocket knife and marches right over to Dan, saying, "He's mine." Dan releases Carl who flees into Michonne's embrace. Rick closes quickly on a stunned Dan. Dan pleads for mercy but Rick refuses to listen, stabbing him multiple times, eviscerating him. Carl narrows his eyes as he watches.
FLASHBACK - Hershel talks Rick into pulling back himself and Carl from the violence out there and to gather animals to domesticate and grow crops in the plots of land they inherited.
Back to the dazed Rick leaning against the SUV, Daryl hands Rick a water-soaked rag for Rick to clean himself. Inside the SUV, Michonne cradles Carl's head as he sleeps. Daryl begins blaming himself for having even the slightest bit of trust and faith in his erstwhile comrades, but Rick says that it was not on him and that he is Rick's brother. Eventually, Carl wakes to hear Rick and Daryl's conversation.
Shortly after, they come upon Terminus. The group then decides to split up to investigate the facility before sneaking inside, just in case Terminus isn't exactly the sanctuary that it claims to be. Carl and Michonne head off together, where they have a bonding moment. Michonne tells Carl of how her son died, in a refugee area that was overrun by walkers while Michonne was out on a run. Her partner and friend did nothing to protect because they were high on drugs. Having been bitten themselves, she admits to letting them turn, then removing their jaws and arms and using them to protect herself from other walkers. She also confesses that what she did was sick. After this comment, Carl says that Rick is proud of him, but feels that, because of all of the terrifying thoughts in his head, he doesn't deserve anything and that he's just a "another monster".
Rick stuffs his Colt Python into a duffel bag full of guns and buries it in the woods outside Terminus as an apparent contingency. The four then sneak inside by climbing over the fence. They enter a room where a whole bunch of people are working, including the characters Gareth, Alex, and a woman repeating the "Sanctuary for All" line into a radio transmitter, as heard by Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese, and Bob while in the car on a medicine run much earlier in the season. Gareth asks the four to put down their weapons and frisks them, welcoming them to Terminus and warning them not to try anything dumb as Alex shows them around. Strangely, he doesn't take their weapons.
While meeting Mary and being offered food, Rick quickly takes notice of numerous items in the Terminus survivors' possession, such as Glenn's riot gear, Daryl's poncho that Maggie was wearing, the hitchhiker's orange backpack that Glenn took from the prison, and even Hershel's distinctive pocket watch. Realizing that something is up, he angrily slaps down a platter of food that Alex is offering to Carl, grabs Alex, and holds a .45 that he took off Joe to his face, demanding to know where their people are and why their group has the pocket watch, riot gear, and poncho. Alex lies and claims that he found the pocket watch on a dead man, and Gareth also covers for the lie, claiming that the riot gear was found on a dead policeman and the poncho on a clothesline.
FLASHBACK - At the prison, Rick talks Carl into this role and gets him to lay down his gun too.
Alex is then accidentally gunned down and killed by one of his own, which causes a large shootout, with Rick, Michonne, Carl, and Daryl fleeing. They are being forced down several alleyways that are riddled with bullets, indicating that the Terminus survivors have treated many other newcomers the same way. During the chase, the team briefly turns to their left as they are running and some bones and flesh scattered over a blue tarp can clearly be seen in the foreground. Muffled cries for help can also be heard from nearby cargo containers. The group soon make it to the back fence of Terminus, but stop, as they see many Terminus residents lined up outside the surrounding fences with guns. Once again, Gareth orders the four of them to lower their own weapons. With no other choice, Rick surrenders. After this, Gareth calls them by specific nicknames to walk into the boxcar positioned on their right: Rick (Ringleader), Daryl (Archer), Michonne (Samurai) and Carl (the Kid) in that order. After entering the car and closing the door, they end up finding Bob, Maggie, Sasha, Glenn, Tara, Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene. Rick notices Tara from the Governor's army but says nothing. Abraham remarks that they won't be there for long, to which Rick remarks "No."
FLASHBACK - In the prison yard, Rick, Carl, Beth, Judith, and Hershel are having a happy time together. Rick bonds closely with Carl as father and son showing him what Hershel taught about how to farm. Hershel says, "It can be like this all the time," to which Rick responds "It's like this now. That's enough".
Rick then walks over to an opening in the side of the train car and says, "They're gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out..." Abraham then asks Rick, "Find out what?", to which Rick responds with the very last line in this season: "...They're fucking with the wrong people."
- Keith Brooks as Dan
- JD Evermore as Harley
- Davi Jay as Tony
- Eric Mendenhall as Billy
- Irene Ziegler as Broadcasting Woman
- First appearance of Gareth.
- First (and last) appearance of Alex. (Alive)
- Last appearance of The Claimers.
- Last appearance of Joe.
- Last appearance of Tony.
- Last appearance of Harley.
- Last appearance of Billy.
- Last appearance of Dan.
- Last appearance of Patrick. (Flashback)
- Last appearance of Zach. (Flashback)
- Last appearance of Henry. (Flashback)
- Last appearance of Chloe. (Flashback)
- This is the only episode of the second half of season 4 where all of the credited main cast appear.
- The episode title, "A", refers to the train car at Terminus where Rick's group is trapped.
- This episode has the shortest title in the series, simply being the letter "A".
- The letter "A" is seen everywhere in Terminus, and is painted along doorways and on canisters found throughout the location.
- This is the first-season finale that did not receive more U.S. viewers than the season premiere.
- Scott Wilson (Hershel Greene) is listed in the opening sequence for the first time since "After". He returned to film this episode.
- This is the first time that a main cast member has been removed from the opening credits and re-added in the same season.
- This is the first episode in which we see Michonne kill a living person with a firearm.
- When Rick teaches Carl about the rabbit snare it was a foreshadowing of Terminus. Rick explains that the snare is set among a frequently used path (railroad tracks) and when the rabbit follows the path (the shoot out that forced Rick's group through a certain path through Terminus), then the snare captures the rabbit (the box car).
- People can be heard screaming for help when Rick, Daryl, Carl and Michonne are being fired upon by the Terminus residents. This is as they run past some stacked cargo containers.
- The umbrellas in the Terminus courtyard appears to be the same exact one on the picnic table as seen in "Dead Weight" with The Governor.
- Hollywood Reporter explains, "If you research how cattle are killed, the optimum approach is to have them take a series of corner turns before getting close -- if they see they’re being led to slaughter, chaos ensues. The camera follows Rick and company in a circular route through Terminus until they get out into the clearing. Cattle are also, as they near slaughter, guided in single file -- something Gareth did meticulously with each character, leading them to the railroad/cattle car in the short distance. There is also a “correct handler position for driving cattle” -- and director Michelle MacLaren set up the final scene by positioning Gareth in a perfect, textbook handler position... She also created maximum tension by showing the distance between Carl... Proper handling procedures also indicate that calves go last (or, if you will, parents go first -- reversing it causes panic and a chance the cattle will disperse)...cattle go forward in a single-file line but shouldn’t actually see livestock in front of them -- which is why Glenn and Maggie and the others were shunted to the rear of the car."
- The prison flashback was the last scene shot in Season 4. This was because the actors' hair had to be cut shorter to match the earlier period.
- The scene that involving Carl almost got raped was actually more graphic than the one that being aired. Andrew Lincoln said to Hollywood Reporter that, “That scene was supposed to be more graphic, and we played it more graphic than that, which was a justification for the throat rip and everything, because it's something any father seeing his son about to be raped would probably do.”
- The last lines said by Rick, "They're going to feel pretty stupid when they find out... They're screwing with the wrong people," is very similar to a line said by the same character in Issue 64 of the comics. Scott Gimple revealed in Comic-Con 2014 that this line was actually done with two different versions. The first one is the aired version, while the second one replaces it on DVD and Blu-ray with Rick saying "They're fucking with wrong people," a homage to the comic.
- Joe also says "You screwed up, asshole." which is a variation of a line repeated by one of the marauders in the comics with screwed replacing the word "fucked".
- According to Scott Gimple, Morgan Jones was originally planned to appear at the end of the episode, where he would be present in the train car with the rest of the group, saying, "Yeah, they are," after Rick claims the Terminus residents are "screwing with the wrong people."
- Andrew Lincoln also revealed that "It was a raw chicken he uses for filming the scene where he kills Joe by ripping his throat off, the crews offered him beef, and chicken, and he asked for what was closest to human flesh. "...It was 3:30 in the morning" he said, "...after doing probably 75 set-ups of that one scene, and there was a prosthetic gash on his neck with raw, bloody chicken. He looked more terrified than anybody I had ever worked with. I don’t remember much after “Action.” Norman kept looking at me and saying I looked crazy. It was quite a wild night."
- Carl's attempts to save an unnamed man from getting eaten alive is adapted from Issue 51.
- Rick, Michonne, and Carl being ambushed by the Claimers on the woods is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 57, where Rick, Abraham, and Carl are ambushed by Marauders on the road instead.
- Dan attempting to rape Carl is adapted from Issue 57.
- Rick savagely biting off Joe's jugular is adapted from Issue 57.
- Rick, Daryl, and Michonne brutally killing the rest of the Claimers is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 57, where Rick and Abraham kill the Marauders instead.
- Rick and Daryl strengthening their brotherhood the next morning is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 58, where Abraham talks with Rick about his past instead.
- Carl confessing to Michonne he has bad thoughts and considers himself to be a monster is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 58, where he tells this to Rick instead.
- Rick telling the group that the Terminus residents are going to feel pretty stupid when they find out that "they're screwing with the wrong people" is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 64, where he says "fucking" instead.
- Tony's leg can be seen shifting in the background as Michonne shoots Harley, even though Tony is already dead.
- When a Terminus resident begins shooting at the group, his gun is a black AK-47. However, when the group nears the box cars, it is a normal color.
- Due to the climate problems during filming of this episode, it appeared to be late autumn, despite the fact that it couldn't have been more than a few weeks after the prison was overrun.
- Right at the end of this episode when there is another flashback to the prison, the baby is seen many times. Judith is asleep, then the camera angle changes and she is awake, it moves back to another angle and she is sleeping again. This is repeated several times.
- Also, again when Hershel says "we've been here two months." However, when they show Judith she is shown to be the same age she was when the prison fell (around 9-10 months) If they had only been there two months, and Lori delivered within the first week of being there, the baby should not be very old.
- Including Carl needlessly shooting Jody in last season's finale, "Welcome to the Tombs".
- The Walking Dead Season Finale Delivers 15.67 Million Viewers
- Talking Dead, Season 4, Episode 16
- 'The Walking Dead': Did the finale satisfy?, Entertainment Weekly, Dalton Ross, Mar 30, 2014
- The Walking Dead Season Finale: 7 Cool Things You Might Not Have Noticed, comicbook.com Russ Burlingame, March 31, 2014
- 'Walking Dead': Revisiting the Final Scene, Hollywood Reporter, April 1, 2014, Tim Goodman.
- Andrew Lincoln Reveals The Most Graphic Scenes In Season 4 Finale Interview THR