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Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes on the Season 4 finale of "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page/AMC)
‘Walking Dead’ season finale recap: ‘They’re screwing with the wrong people’
First Published Mar 31 2014 09:34 am • Last Updated Mar 31 2014 09:34 am

"They’re screwing with the wrong people."

And with those words from Rick Grimes, Season 4 of "The Walking Dead" came to a gasp-inducing end. The finale, titled, "A," found our intrepid band of survivors with their backs against the wall once again — this time in a dark and gloomy railway boxcar.

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And, in the process we discovered that — as we suspected — Terminus isn’t exactly the happiest place on Earth.

Rick, Carl, Michonne and Daryl wound up imprisoned in that boxcar after being outmanned in a gunbattle with Terminus residents, including the apparent leader of the bunch, a dude named Gareth. Once in the boxcar, they were stunned to find Glenn, Maggie, Tara, Abraham and the others also holed up there like trapped mice.

How are they going to get out of this one?

Rick and his bunch arrived at Terminus after a vicious, near-death battle with Joe and his henchmen (More on that later). And they didn’t come with blinders on. Earlier, Michonne expressed skepticism about the place ("I wonder if the whole thing’s legit"). And Rick had the foursome sneak into the train station from the back door, so to speak.

After meeting the mild-mannered Gareth and some of his cohorts, things seemed to be going OK. Maybe this place would be peaceful and very Mayberry-like after all.

But then Rick spotted a guy named Alex wearing a pocket watch that belonged to Glenn (We learned through a flashback that Hershel had given Glenn the watch). Rick put the dude in a choke hold and demanded to know where he got the watch. That led to the wild shootout, during which our survivors found themselves running past frail cars from which people were crying out for help, and a pile of skeletons that appeared to have been freshly skinned. After that, they entered a room full of candles with these words painted on the wall:

"Never again. Never trust. We first, always."

OK, what exactly is this creepy "sanctuary"?

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story continues below

The whole episode was interlaced with flashbacks to the happy pre-infection, pre-battle prison days (Hershel! A sight for sore eyes), during which Rick was morphing into gentle Farmer John mode and trying to get Carl’s mind off his gun. The scenes conjured up bittersweet memories of what the prison could have been had the Governor not invaded.

"It can be like this all the time," sweet-natured Hershel tells Rick.

Well, of course it wasn’t. The world got even more brutal and Rick was forced to revert to lethal, ruthless kick-ass Sheriff Rick mode. Along the way, he choked out Joe’s friend in the house, chomped the heck out of Joe’s jugular and got very, very stabby with a chubby guy who was doing bad things to Carl.

Rick is now, more than ever, a stone-cold killer.

And that’s why, even though the odds for now seem to be overwhelmingly against him and his band mates, Rick’s face seemed to flash a slight smile in that boxcar. He knows what they’ve all been through. He knows his comrades are survivors and hardened warriors.

And he knows Gareth is in for one heck of a battle.

Some random thoughts and observances:

• The bloody fight with Joe’s men, as you would expect, was crazy intense. Rick in absolute beast mode. … His son looking on with horror in his eyes. Yes, Carl, that’s how we felt.

• The fight was followed with a very nice and tender moment: Rick telling Daryl, "You’re my brother."

• We finally learned who Michonne’s "pets" were. Her boyfriend Mike (Andre’s father) and his friend Terry. Turns out they were all members of a refugee camp at one time. One day, Michonne went for a run and came back to find the place was ravaged by walkers. Her son and friends were dead, and Mike and Terry were high when it happened.

Michonne chained them up and dragged them around as a constant reminder of what went horribly wrong. "I was just another monster," she tells Carl.

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