UPDATE: Here's a full play-by-play recap of Episode 16. Wow!
Are you ready? How could you be?!
Here are three TV synopses: 1) "Many paths collide; Rick faces sheer brutality; the group struggles to survive." 2) "Rick comes face-to-face with sheer brutality when multiple paths collide.” 3) "Factions begin to near an inevitable collision, which brings Rick face to face with a shocking form of brutality that threatens the lives of everyone he has become responsible for, so the group must find a way to survive the oncoming storm."
So we're expecting a Team Prison reunion at Terminus, “brutality” for Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), and the group struggling to survive. Let's break that down, factoring in previous spoilers and teases released from The Powers That Be. Don't forget to come back when promos and sneak peek videos are released so we can add them to the speculation mix!
1. Rick’s Brutality — Marauders?: Obviously we’re linking at least some of Rick’s “brutality” to Joe (Jeff Kober) and his band of marauders, since they are tracking Rick with the plan to exact revenge for the Episode 11 death of their friend, bathroom guy. Tony (guy who was strangled in the “Claimed” house) will recognize Rick and no good can come of that. The Marauders are bandits in the comic book series who ambush Rick, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) and Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) on the road. The TV show could do a remix of that, replacing Abe with Michonne (Danai Gurira). In the books, they try to rape Carl. Maybe they do the same on TV or try the move on Michonne. (Remember how, back in Ep 11, they called dibs on who would get first crack at the woman shacking up in the house? That woman was Michonne, and they said that when they found her shirt. Foreshadowing?)
Update: A new promo (see below) shows a Marauder guy putting a knife to Carl's throat and, later, Rick growling, "He's mine." That sounds like it's fresh out of comic book issue #57, when Rick bites and kills the guy holding him back and savagely kills the guy who tried to rape Carl.
Either way, in the books, Rick and Abraham save Carl and kill the bad guys. We wouldn’t be upset with that happening on TV, but we know Rick will be pushed to his very limit on the finale, with comic book writer/executive producer Robert Kirkman adding to Entertainment Weekly, "And if you think you’ve seen that before, you haven’t. And the Rick Grimes that comes out of this is really going to shock people." Why, because he bites and beats the Marauders (and Hunters?) to death? We’re not expecting Rick to die, but could Carl die? Michonne? Baby Judith? Other? Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus)? Daryl dying may be even less likely than Rick dying, but maybe Daryl swoops in and saves Rick, putting himself in danger with the marauders too.
2. What's With the Title?: The title “A” is interesting and could mean any number of things. An AMC exec previously teased, "We know where this season ends, which is not unlike when we got to the prison — it’s a glimpse of what Season 5 will be." They got to the prison on the Season 3 premiere, ending a long stint on the road by finally finding a safe haven. (For a while anyway.) That’s why we initially thought "A" might refer to the Alexandria Safe-Zone, a place the group does end up in the comics. Now maybe it’s Atlanta or something else, ‘cause it doesn’t seem like we’re headed to Alexandria, Virginia in the finale. Robert Kirkman told TV Guide the second half of Season 4 would start bleak but end on a “more hopeful” note so it would make sense if they did find a new safe place. Is it Terminus? Do they think Terminus is safe and it’s not?
3. Are The Hunters at Terminus? Robert Kirkman recently teased that the finale will be “SAVAGE. Honestly... people are going to be talking about this one. The cliffhanger at the end of season 4 will make the wait between seasons 4 and 5 the hardest wait we've ever had. ENJOY!” Savage could be tied to Rick’s brutality, but also potentially The Hunters, a group of cannibals whose story may be adapted for TV. What if Rick and company think Terminus is safe, except for the stalking Marauders, and it turns out The Hunters cook and eat people? Is that how we’ll leave the season, perhaps with someone’s body part missing? Don’t forget the rumor that actress Anissa Matlock was cast on Episode 16 (she is still credited on IMDb for “A”) possibly playing one of The Hunters. Or she could just be a nice lady at Terminus. Like that lady Mary. By the way, one fan shared this link to the Mary of Bethezuba Wikipedia page, which shows it's "a story of cannibalism..." Foreshadowing?
4. Meet Gareth: We’ve given up on the idea of Gareth (Andrew J. West) having a major presence this season, but he’s meant to be a remix of a comic book character. Is he a version of Father Gabriel Stokes, and he’s the one who kidnapped Beth, but not for nefarious purposes? Or is he perhaps a version of Chris, leader of The Hunters? Other? Greg Nicotero said wewill find Gareth at Terminus, and a foreign promo even showed him talking to Rick (before snipers on the roof started firing). It looks like Daryl puts a gun to someone's throat in front of Gareth and the snipers on the roof fire at Rick and company.
5. Is Morgan Coming Or Not? If you check out IMDb’s listing for Episode 16, Lennie James is still credited as appearing in “A.” Someone is probably just messing with us, but that credit has yet to budge ... and Morgan returns to the story right about now in the comics. Just saying. Showrunner Scott Gimple did recently say he was misquoted when he said Morgan Jones would return in Season 4. Maybe he meant Morgan would return at some point and it was assumed he meant this season. Or maybe Scott was just aiming to avoid spoilers. Maybe Morgan is meant to be a big surprise? Or he could not appear at all. Dammit, Lennie James, just show the hell up so we can stop speculating about you! Please?
6. The Finale Will Be "Ambitious," "Savage" and "Cool": A while back, Norman Reedus told Vulture the finale would be a "very ambitious" episode, adding "they went big with it." RK already said it would be "savage" with a torturous cliffhanger, but he also said, “There are some moments in the finale that I think are some of the coolest stuff we’ve done in the show, and that’s the stuff I’m really excited about. We’re wrapping this season up in pretty great form.” He warned that there’s a lot of “shock” coming and fans will be “startled” with what happens and we’ll be anticipating the return of Season 5 in October.
7. Rick Uses a Surprising New Weapon: Way back at Walker Stalker Con, Andrew Lincoln said Rick would use a new weapon this season, and it shocked him. Here we are at the finale, and Andy confirmed to The Walker Stalkers that it's coming this week. "You're about to get it." He laughed. "Believe me, you're gonna get it." It has to be his own teeth, right? He uses his teeth to kill the Marauder who hurt Carl?
8. Promo and Sneak Peek Intel: One AMC sneak peek shows Rick, Carl and Michonne in the woods. Rick teaches Carl how to trap an animal in the woods. They hear someone yelling and Carl runs, apparently to help. Rick breaks out his classic "Cahhrl! CAHHRLL!" call. Why doesn't Carl listen? The sneak peek on Talking Dead also shows the trio in the woods. Carl wants to know if they'll tell the people at Terminus the truth about all the stuff they've done. Rick says, "We're going to tell them who we are." Carl argues. "Who are we?" They see a walker in the woods. Michonne whips out her katana and approaches. The promo also shows Carl running, and Michonne slicing walkers on the train tracks. What's with the candles in the room, and Rick looking so beat up in the end? What happens to him? Is he shaken by what happens to him or what he does in response?
9. Are the Candles Related to Beth? We're grasping at straws when it comes to Beth stuff, but it would be nice to tie her back into the story. In the promo, there's a room with candles that seems to have almost religious significance. Could that be tied to the black car with the white cross?
10. Final Line Will Give You Chills? Greg Nicotero told The Hollywood Reporter, "Seeing where the season goes and how it ends -- the last line in the episode gave me chills when I first read it -- I think people are going to love it. People are going to feel like they went on an amazing journey and all we've done is open a new door to a new journey. The threat level is high. It's suspenseful, thrilling and exciting." Andrew Lincoln added to the New York Post, "In this episode, there’s a line that a character says, the last line of the episode, that’s probably the first time we ended [a season] on a ‘what’s gonna happen next?’ moment." Fans have been speculating that Rick might say "We are the Walking Dead," which is a line he dropped in the comic books, back in Issue #24. We're in the #57 zone now, but since he hasn't said that on screen yet, and it's an iconic line, will this be the time?
11. Timeline of What Might Happen: Based on the intel shared so far, we're guessing Rick, Carl and Michonne do their sneak peek walking/running on the tracks and in the woods early in the episode. At night, Daryl and The Marauders will ambush them. They'll have their confrontation, leaving Daryl with a black eye and Rick shaken by what he's done. When we see Daryl with that bruise in a promo, it's daytime and you can see guys with guns behind the fence in the background, so that could be when they head to Terminus. Then Rick has his confrontation with Gareth, they get shot at, enter the space and ... what? Will they meet up with the other Team Prison members?
If we had to guess, we’d say we’re staying at Terminus into Season 5, but perhaps our former Team Prison group isn’t up to date on what’s really happening there. We’re curious to see if Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) will be involved at all in the finale or if they’re saving the rest of her story for Season 5.
Any theories about the big season finale and what the cliffhanger will entail? What do you think will happen to poor Rick who can’t stop getting his arse beat down? What paths will collide and who might not make it? Will any main characters … have to look at the flowers?