You are warned: there's nothing but spoilers below.

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Again, if you haven't seen tonight's finale, go watch it and come back tomorrow.

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Seriously, Dante had something to say about this kind of threshold. Okay, that's a bit much, even for me. Let's walk that back: hope remains, but we all know this show. Hope is a seed that finds precious little soil, precious little depth.

Anyway, here goes.

While I may have some reservations about the warrior monk of this finale's cold open, I can definitely overlook it for how awesome it was to see this long awaited TWD version of Donatello (God bless his shell).

In any case, right before the commercial break I was thinking, Oh, c'mon now. Don't leave those Wolves alive. And then Donatello, for lack of a spoiler-free name, honks the horn, and takes the rabbit's foot hanging from the rearview mirror. Yes. Give me smart any day of the week. *

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So, I've thought this before, but the scene after the first commercial break just reaffirmed it: anyone riding a motorcycle with an obnoxiously loud muffler post-zombipocalypse is the exemplar of South Park's re-definition of fag to refer to those who are not male homosexuals. **

Anyway, then follows Carol calling out Rick's bullshit. And telling him each thing he is going to say like he's a child. Her next line, then, is rather telling: "Because these people are children, and children like good stories." After Glenn says the Alexandrians are guarding the armory, Carol replies: "We still have knives, and that's all we'll need against them."

For the first time this episode, I mutter, "Damn it, Carol, don't you fuckin' die tonight."

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Another exchange that had me laughing occurred when Deanna says about Rick's bloodied face rah-rah last episode: "That's the metric? He didn't pull the trigger."

Maggie: "Yes."

If only Deanna knew how solid that metric is. It lacks about as much awareness as Reg's overview of humanity's cultural evolution from "cavemen."

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And then we cut to Sasha lying on her mass grave mattress, the S.O. narrowed his eyes, "'Kay…that's a little weird?"

And, shit, there's another scene with Carol talking to the lead character while no one is else around, "You say you want to take this place, and you say you don't want to lie. Oh, sunshine, you can't have both." ***

Oh, for fuck's sake. Glenn just told Maggie he loves her after Shifty McAwful-Hair eyed him from afar.

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Seriously, Rick's bandages during his tête-à-tête with Carl made think of Rob Liefeld. I mean, that's a lot of hatching going on.

Back to Daryl and Aaron—who'd have thought that a food shipping/distributing center would be booby-trapped? I almost don't care because of the cascade that follows and because of the Spawn-level action Daryl whipped out with that long-ass chain. Anyway, they get stuck in a sensible sedan, and Aaron finds a note: "Don't stay. Bad people coming," some of which seems to have been written in blood. You'd think the Goonies trap that required their emergency carpool would have been enough, but okay.

And now we get the scene from last week's teaser, and it's still awesome:

Carol says, "I could kill you right now. I could. I will. And then who would believe I did because I didn't like you. No one," like she's swapping a recipe. "They'd believe you tried to hurt me. Definitely believe that." She scraps his throat with the knife point she'd placed under his chin. "Come at me. No? Yeah? No. The way this has played out you have a chance. You're here. Your wife's there. You're a small, weak nothing. The way the world how it is, you're even weaker. You play your cards right, you won't have to die." She shoves a casserole into his chest: "I want my dish back clean when you're done."

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Pete drops the dish and storms off-screen, shouting "This isn't my house! This isn't my house!" And now a Talking Heads song is stuck in mine. Thanks, Porch Dick. Jeez.

You know what I wasn't quite expecting? Shifty McAwful-Hair shooting Glenn. ****

How does Rick's "just wanting to check on" Jessie make me feel? Um, there's no blood on his face but it's nonetheless "creepy" is dialed up to 11.

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Aaron and Daryl are still stuck in the car, the zombirazzi teething the windows, and Daryl mentions how he was feeling trapped in ASZ. Aaron has some touching words about how they should have kept searching for the red poncho guy they saw in the field. When Daryl says he wants to have a last smoke before he leads the zombie-mob from the car, I was all, "No, no, no you don't. Put on a patch," but Aaron won't have it. They are about to go, when Donatello comes to the rescue with his staff of glory.

Daryl asks Donatello "Why?" meaning, "why bother helping us?"

And Donatello, all Zen, responds, "Because all life is precious, Daryl."

Aaron gives Donatello the spiel, but Donatello has no interest in that timeshare. Yet.

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And we're back to Father Useless, walking in the woods in a bright white shirt, whistling so poorly my step-father who can whistle with vibrato would sneer. Apparently, Father Useless is ready either for death or God's rescue, as he calls out to a zombie who was busily chowing down on a recent kill. *****

And, of course, Father Useless stands like Scott Staap, all "Arms Wide Open" pre-psychotic break. The zombie has a noose around its neck, which Father useless uses to decapitate it. ****** Then he picks up a stone and bashes in the heads of both it and its newly reanimated buffet. And he collapses, crying, and curls into the fetal position.

The S.O.: "How'd he not get any blood on his shirt?"

I can't even begin with him, but I replied, "Because his self-righteousness makes bleach seem like an acid."

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And now Abraham and Eugene are having a moment, each admitting that the other was right in other ways, and apologizing. The Mullet's "Yes, there's that" has never sounded so sincere.

Then Father Useless returns. The clueless, grief-stricken brother of Deanna's "douchey" son lets Father Useless close the gate, which he obviously doesn't. Apparently, there is not a second person covering the weakest point of the community's security, because PLOT.

Shifty McAwful-Hair, who is still tracking Glenn, shoots a zombie that gets too close, at which point Glenn attacks him from off-screen. However, Shifty McAwful-Hair overpowers Glenn and lets a Sylvia Plath-esque walker collapse on him, with several others following closely behind before the scene cuts.

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And Michonne gives some sage advice to Rick before the community meeting: "Something's going to happen. Just don't make something happen."

While Rick is permitted the protagonist's required moments of solitary introspection, he notices something through the bedroom window: the gate's still open. Upon investigation, there's zombie-dander and droplets of blood nearby. *******

Quite quickly, darkness falls. Yep. In church, Gabriel finds Sasha sitting, forlorn, who asks, "Can you help me?

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Father Useless coldly replies: "No."

At the worst Tribal Council ever, Deanna doesn't want to wait, against Maggie's insistence. Things are not looking good for Rick.

And Shifty McAwful-Hair is still trekking through the forest, but where is Glenn?

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I've never wanted to be in a church less than when Sasha says to Father Useless: "I think I want to die?" and he replies: "Why wouldn't you want to die? You don't deserve to be here."

If theology is nothing more than anthropology writ large, then Father Useless' theology would win over no one in this world. Tyreese deserves to be there, but Sasha doesn't because of what she and the others did to the Termites (ETA: see TrainWreck47's comments and my reply). After that, I really want to know what Father Useless' "canon-within-a-canon" is, because he's apparently not read, oh, I don't know Joshua. Genocide-schmenocide.

Meanwhile, Rick is trying to fend off at least three zombies, while Father Useless and Sasha wrestle over her sniper rifle, and Glenn blindsides Shifty McAwful-Hair with a chin shot.

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Back to the worst Tribal Council, Carol method acts: "People like me, people like us, need people like him." And I love her so fucking much.

TL;DR: this episode is a nice finale, with some good writing and nice pacing. I like the space it gave to characters we haven't seen much of, or seen in a long while, and I like how it re-affirms several characters' core traits. That said, I wished it'd concluded with the Wolves showing up at the front gate.

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The best bits in order of "Hell, yeah, I can't wait to see this play out next season":

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  • Rosita's "Whoops." and Mullet's dead-eye stare at Abraham. And much later, Tara waking up.
  • Deanna telling Rick, "Do it," followed by Aaron, Morgan, and Daryl, who'd just arrived, looking lost. (In my mind, Rick said, "Um…you've missed a few things.")
  • Maggie holding a prayer circle with Sasha and Father Useless.
  • From whom the fuck did one of the two Wolves who brought Red Poncho to the trap get photos of the ASV, including a shot of Rick and Carl. ETA: thanks to Falsoman el Garabatero and clowncone for setting me straight on this. Aaron dropped his bag while running from the zombies.
  • When will Deanna, et al., learn just what Carol is capable of?
  • Is Enid, who was entirely absent this episode, be revealed as a mole? ********
  • Michonne almost placing her sword back on the mantle before strapping it across her shoulder.

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End Notes:

* See Lennie James' take on this action in tonight's Talking Dead. It was a nice counterpoint to my cynicism.

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** As a gay man who grew up in the South and hunted frequently, I love me some Daryl. Still and still.

*** I'm a little hard of hearing, so I thought the S.O. was fucking with me about that bit of dialogue. Thankfully, Melissa McBride on Talking Dead confirmed this. On a side note, the soccer moms through middle school and high school called me "Sunshine," which the S.O. knows about, hence my initial disbelief.

**** Thankfully, there is no bat anywhere in sight.

***** There's something in the Bible about not testing the Lord, your God.

****** Not sure what to make about that symbolism.

******* "Oh, noes!" says Chekhov realizing he should do something with that gun.

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******** How long have I been waiting to say that?

Image pulled from:http://www.wetpaint.com/walking-dead/a…