walking-dead-season-4-resolution-rick-carl-family-timeAfter weeks or rumors, interviews, and speculation, “The Walking Dead” delivered one of the most shocking season finales in television history.

Rick’s savagery may leave many viewers asking the same question that Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) posed “The Walking Dead” showrunner, Scott Gimple. Did the final episode delve to deep into the darkness, or did we witness Rick’s inevitable evolution?

Carl’s question, “Who are we,” sets the tone of the episode. The grim reality of their tough choices is apparent when they do not help a stranger who  is being mauled. They are survivors.

Too bad Joe didn’t know that. When Joe catches up with Rick, he makes a fatal error, threatening Carl in the most disturbing way. Facing the threat of watching his son’s rape, Rick becomes a butcher. Rick uses his teeth to rip out Joe’s neck, which gives Michonne and Daryl the opportunity to turn the tables on the rest of Joe’s men.

The last man standing was the man who was about to rape Carl. Rick eviscerates the predator while Michonne, Daryl, and Carl watch with horror. Rick’s vengeance and Carl’s vulnerability are straight from the comic book.

The constant flashbacks to Hershel, Rick’s moral compass, highlight Rick’s evolution. Rick knows he needed to defend his family, but his vengeance was monstrous.

Michonne and Carl, too,acknowledge their inner-“monsters.” Michonne shares her tale of vengeance and Carl says he isn’t what his dad thinks he is either. They all grapple with their identities and accept the darkness that keeps them alive. They need that darkness once they are in Terminus.

Once Rick sees strangers with Hershel’s watch, Glenn’s riot gear, and Maggie’s poncho he swings into action. Their situation looks bleak once they are corralled into a dark box car, but there is light in the darkness. Glenn, Maggie, Sasha, Bob, Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, and Tara step from the box car’s shadows. United they are strong. They are a family.

Weather or not Terminus is a camp of cannibals is unclear. For the time being, Gareth spared the lives of Rick and his people, but he and his people are likely hostile.

Tonight’s cliffhanger will ignite  AMC and “The Walking Dead” forums as viewers speculate events and characters to come in “The Walking Dead’s” fifth season. Rick’s foreboding final lines, “They’re gonna feel stupid. They’re screwing with the wrong people,” show he is at peace with his actions. He has his people with him and that’s all he needs.

We have a long wait until October and a lot of questions to keep us busy.With Carol and Tyreese on the outside of Terminus, but are close enough to hear the gunfire. What role will they play in the battle against Terminus? We still don’t know who has Beth, but show writers already warned it will be a while until we do. In Rick’s flashback with Hershel, Beth wears Rick’s hat and Hershel jokes, “There’s a new sheriff in town.” Could this be affirmation of Beth’s new found strength? An indication that she is alive?

For more on what draws viewers to “The Walking Dead,” check out “The Walking Dead” Season 4 Finale Recap: The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together

Did “The Walking Dead” season four finale meet your expectations? Feel free to share your favorite finale moments in the comment section.