"A" — the title of "The Walking Dead's" fourth-season finale — is for "awesome."
"A" is also for "alpha male," a title Rick Grimes reclaimed by baring his teeth — literally and figuratively.
You know what else starts with "A"? "Arrival" — specifically, at Terminus, where Rick and the gang found anything but sanctuary.
Here's the most A-mazing of what went down. (Spoilers ahead!)
It's what's for dinner
C'mon, you didn't really think Terminus would be a post-apocalyptic summer camp, did you? Turns out that barbecue Terminus Mary hostess was cooking up when Glenn, Maggie & Co. arrived was Grade A, 100 percent human meat.
So it's fitting that our heroes — and Rick, Carl, Michonne and Daryl when they arrived later — were shepherded into one of Terminus' many cattle cars.
The first bite
We'll have to wait until season five to find out whether Terminus makes a meal out of any of our survivors, but you could say that Rick already helped himself to an appetizer ... named Joe. His gang — with Daryl trailing behind — surprised Rick, Michonne and Carl, held them at gunpoint and forced Rick to watch as one of the marauders tried to umm ... "attack" Carl as "restitution" for killing their buddy Lou in the house.
That's pretty much all it took to flip Rick's crazy switch again. Borrowing a page from the walkers' playbook, he took a huge bite out of Joe's neck and — while Michonne and Daryl took out the others — stabbed him about 47 times in a savage rage.
From where fans were sitting, it looked like Rick finally got his mojo back, but Carl was kind of frightened by his father's ferocity. That's when Michonne reassured him (or something) by sharing a little of her "insane, sick" history: She made "pets" out of her boyfriend and his pal for being high when walkers invaded their refugee camp and killed her son. "I was just another monster," she said, until Andrea, Rick and Carl brought her back.
What a coincidence! "I'm just another monster, too," Carl said, insisting that his father mistakenly believes he's a "good man."
If anyone's a good man, it's Daryl, who apologized to Rick about the group's attack. "It's not on you, Daryl," Rick said, making a half-hearted attempt to wipe about a gallon of Joe's blood off his own face. "You being back here, now, that's everything. You're my brother." Awww!
"A" was interspersed with flashbacks to the prison, when Hershel recruited Rick to be the resident farmer — and "a proper father to Carl." More foreshadowing: Hershel said he no longer measured time since giving his pocketwatch to future son-in-law Glenn. "It's always right now to me," he told Rick, later saying their pastoral life could "be like this all the time."
"It's like this now — that's enough," Rick responded.
Tell me about the rabbits
The episode started with even more foreshadowing, when Rick taught Carl how to set a snare: "Any animals going by will have to run this way, right into the trap," he explained — exactly what Terminus' creepy Gareth forced the foursome to do with the help of his snipers. They managed to snare a small rabbit, which didn't do much to assuage their hunger. "I forgot what (hunger) feels like," Rick said, adding that food was "all we talk about." Little did they know they were going to be featured on the menu at Terminus, which Michonne, to her credit, wondered whether it was "legit." "Sanctuary for all, community for all"? Ha! If the Better Business Bureau existed, this would be legit grounds for a false advertising complaint.
The 'A' train
Unlike Glenn's gang, Rick & Co. snuck into Terminus the back way — not that it did them any good. Although Gareth preached peace and harmony, Rick drew on his cohort Alex when he saw him with Glenn's hand-me-down pocketwatch from Hershel. Gareth ordered his rooftop snipers to fire, forcing the group to flee through the compound — like rabbits in a maze following "A"-marked signposts.
Along the trail of horrors, they passed a pile of human carcasses, people trapped in shipping containers and an eerie worship hall lit by dozens of candles, circling names engraved on the ground and this telling (if ungrammatical) message scrawled on the wall: "Never again, never trust, we first always."
Gareth saw to it that Rick, dubbed The Ringleader, entered the train car (labeled "A," of course) first, followed by The Archer and The Samurai. (Maybe Gareth is a Dungeons & Dragons fan?). Carl came last, the door was slammed shut, and the gang were met by Glenn, Sasha, Maggie, Bob, Tara, Eugene, Abraham and Rosita. (Guess we won't be finding a cure for the zombie outbreak anytime soon; this train definitely isn't going to Washington, D.C.)
There is a bright side: Rick Grimes got his groove back.
"They're going to feel pretty stupid when they find out," the ringleader growled before dropping the mic. "They're screwing with the wrong people."
And unless that was Carol, Tyreese and/or Judith roasting on the barbie, our heroes might have some help from the outside.
We're already salivating for season five!