Credit: AMC Photo: Hershel Greene: His Sagelike Quotes

What a pleasant surprise to have the very first scene of The Walking Dead Season 4 finale include Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson). It launched Episode 16’s series of flashbacks to just a couple of months after our group arrived at the prison, showing how Hershel almost literally planted the seeds for the peace-loving Farmer Rick we saw in the first half.

The cast and producers talked about why they decided to have Hershel return via flashbacks, after his brutal Episode 8 death.

"I think we just wanted to show Rick's whole story, Rick's entire journey. That was actually the beginning of Rick's move away from brutality," showrunner Scott Gimple said on Talking Dead. "That was a different world. They were breaking ground on that new world, but that world is over."

Scott added to Entertainment Weekly, “It was really to show that evolution of Rick. If he had wound up in that train car at any earlier in the season or in his story he would not have been prepared for what he might need to do to get out. He would not be as confident as he is at the end. And this was all about that journey to that moment and really it was to show the contrast of where he was at the beginning of the season.”

Comic book writer/producer Robert Kirkman echoed that thought to TVLine, saying the Hershel flashback was “an attempt to show that this entire season has been one story, and it’s been a story of Rick’s evolution into this new darker version of himself. [We wanted] to go back and show the influence of Hershel and how important that character has been and will continue to be. And to show how far Rick has come, and emphasize what they lost and where they’re going to have to go moving forward.”

Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) was just happy to work with Scott again, as anyone would be. “Scott Wilson is a legend,” Andy told Entertainment Weekly. “He’s the best. They broke the mold when they made that guy and just having him back for those two days you could feel the crew lift their spirits. It was right at the end of the shoot. He’s one of my favorite people on the planet. That whole flashback almost acts as a prequel to the very opening image you see of Rick as the farmer. It’s a stepping stone between Season 3 and Season 4 and we understand how Rick was able to withdraw back into the gates, renounce leadership, and we realize how instrumental Hershel was in all of that, in reclaiming the old Rick.”

Both Hershel and “Farmer Rick” may be gone, but the lessons Hershel taught everyone are still playing out. Hersh was a good, kind soul, but don’t forget — he was a “tough sonofab—” too. He’d want his Team Prison family to fight, and we’ll see them do just that when TWD returns with Season 5 in October.

Did you love seeing Hershel again? Do you hope they can find a way to bring him back again someday? Vote below!

The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October 2014 on AMC.

Sources: TVLine, Entertainment Weekly, Entertainment Weekly