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THE WALKING DEAD Recap: Too Far Gone (SPOILERS!!!)

(If you haven’t seen this week’s episode of The Walking Dead yet, herein, you will encounter SPOILERS!!!, so perhaps you’ll want to save this one until you see the show. Really, big SPOILERS!!! ahead. You’ve been warned…)

Holy cow, you guys. Now that was one hell of a mid-season finale. The only time The Walking Dead pulled its punches last night was so it could reload its sidearm and shoot us point blank right in our emotional core. While longtime comic readers like myself have been smiling since the Governor got his hands on a tank last episode, the show definitely took its sweet time getting to this point in the narrative – a showdown for the fate of the prison itself. Although the show perhaps unnecessarily extended the Governor’s life cycle by a half season, the payoff was definitely sweeter than season three’s meltdown that saw Ol’ Blinky gunning down his own people in cold blood. While staying faithful to the comic is a hot button issue for some, The Walking Dead has undeniably become its own creature, one which hearkens back to the source material and strikes out in bold new directions. The show continues to both meet and play with our expectations in new and exciting ways that have made season 4 noticeably more enjoyable than previous outings.

Can we have a moment of silence for the man who gave us Spaghetti Tuesdays? Hershel’s death was as quiet, elegant, and heartbreaking as having one’s head hacked off with a katana can be. Savvy fans knew that someone was going to die when the Governor showed up to negotiate, and the visual of Michonne and Hershel kneeling before the Governor’s assault force drove that point home. Killing Hershel may have seemed like the “safe” choice to some, but Scott Wilson has delivered a tour de force performance this season, particularly in the Hershel-centric “Internment,” which made his death sting just that much more.

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Not just that – it was a calculated move by the Governor, or “Don’t call me ‘Governor,'” as he prefers nowadays. Killing Michonne might have been a smarter tactical decision, but killing Hershel, who tried until his last breath to negotiate a bloodless transition of power, was a calculated, vicious move that’s indicative of just how “far gone” the Governor really is. Hershel is everything the Governor is not: a compassionate, rational, clear-headed man who can see alternate routes to resolution apart from violence. The Governor even goes so far as to tell Hershel that he’s a better man than Rick, a feat that he himself couldn’t replicate when he donned the “Brian Heriot” persona. When Rick tries to make a plea for peace, telling the Governor that they all can change, it sends him over the edge. “Liar,” the Governor whispers venemously before sinking the blade into Hershel’s neck. Following after Hershel to make sure the job was done? Brutal beyond words, and the only way it could have gone down.

Though some viewers may not like it, the standoff between Rick and the Governor was inevitable. They have been two sides of the same coin this season, each one striving to crawl back from the brink of personal abyss. Rick Grimes has been through a hell of a lot, but Andrew Lincoln spits out “I DON’T MAKE DECISIONS ANYMORE!” like a crazed toddler. “You’re making decisions today, Rick,” the Governor shoots back. Staring down the barrel of a gun – attached to a tank – was how it was always going to happen with these two. Rick may not have had any issues with exiling Carol, but he is clearly not comfortable with being in charge. Making decisions in this world comes with life or death consequences, and in this case, it meant Hershel’s life. The show’s moral compass shuffled off this mortal coil, but hopefully Rick managed to absorb Hershel’s lessons so they can live on.

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One thing is for certain: the Governor had this coming. His ascension from broken husk of a man to charismatic cult leader happened quite quickly, but his single-minded obsession with finding a safer place, his insatiable hunger for more, is what ultimately did him in. In a powerful, telling moment, Michonne stares at the Governor writhing and bloodied on the ground and decides he isn’t worth putting out of his misery; rather, it is Lilly, having carried Megan’s lifeless body from the campsite to the prison, who puts the final period at the end of the Governor’s sentence. Despite knowing how dangerous it would be, the potential for loss of life, the Governor couldn’t put aside his obsessive, quixotic drive to take what he thought was rightfully his, and the people he cared about most, especially Megan, died as a result. He was just too far gone.

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If I have a major complaint it is that, from a week-to-week viewing standpoint, the Governor’s two-episode arc was effective in building his character, but lessened the impact of other plot points and conflicts that had been brewing at the prison all season long. The confrontation between Rick and Daryl about how to address Carol with Tyreese felt flat mainly because I’d sort of forgotten that it was something that needed to be addressed. It lost some of the punch, and the urgency surrounding that whole debacle at the beginning of the season, as a result, although seeing Carol’s lessons come to fruition with Lizzie and the rest of the children was just as chilling as it was meant to be. Seeing her shoot Alisha in the freakin’ face without batting an eye was one of those “hold on to my couch for dear life” moments, the kind that makes this series such a thrill ride.

All in all, this was a highly effective, savage, and deeply compelling episode that nicely capped off this season-and-a-half-long arc, and has me genuinely excited for the show’s next chapter. The Governor’s iconic “Kill ‘em all,” the frenetic chaos and carnage of the ensuing melee, Daryl’s epic one-two dispatching of both the tank and its driver – this was a hugely satisfying midseason finale. The status quo is irreparably changed, and who knows what villain lurks on the horizon. Our survivors are scattered to the winds, our heroes are wounded, and we haven’t even had a chance to catch out breath and count our dead. If nothing else, the shock of seeing Baby Judith’s bloody crib and the mystery surrounding her fate will keep us talking about the show until it comes back into our lives this February.

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Odds and Ends

– “I’m gonna keep you alive. You’re gonna keep Megan alive. The only judgment I care about is that you two are still breathing.” Don’t write checks your ass can’t cash, Governor.
– “The two of us will never be able to live together. Michonne and I will never be able to live together.” You can’t reason with the Governor, Hershel, but I respect you for trying.
– “If you understand what it’s like to have a daughter, how can you threaten to kill someone else’s?” “Because they aren’t mine.” In case there was any doubt about the Governor’s blood type being icewater.
– Is there a Sasha/Bob Stookey love blossoming?
– Flash flood mud zombie. You just knew something awful was going to happen, especially to Megan, but you didn’t know it would be that. Stupid Chekov’s mud.
– Brutal shot of Governor over Hershel’s decapitated corpse, especially as it transitions to Lilly with Megan’s dead body.
– Kind of crazy that Carol’s kiddie kill squad were the ones who saved Tyreese.
– A little heavy handed having a zombie step on the Suicide King chess piece. What is this, the last shot of The Departed?

What did you think of The Walking Dead‘s midseason finale? Let us know in the comments below or say it with a katana to my neck on Twitter.

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16 comments

  • I haven’t been this upset over an episode since I saw Ned Stark get beheaded in GOT. There are few things more brutal than a beheading, and to see it happen to a wise and gentle soul like Hershel.

    As soon as it happened I wanted it to rain hell fire upon the governor.

    I only wish we got to see more emotion out of Hershel’s daughters. I wanted them to yell louder, I wanted spit to fly from their mouth in anger as they sprayed bullets mercilessly at the governor.

  • Thanks for the therapy session after the show Chris.
    My predictions…other may have said similar things, but I did not read them or copy these from anywhere…they are mine. So I only care about them…

    1: Carol did not kill those two sickly folks. The leader (Lizzie?) of the kidlet gang did…Carol took the blame to protect her…she was teaching them how to use knives…

    2: Lizzie is the one that was feeding the walkers, and the one performing a rat dissection.

    3: Judith is alive

    from your “big teddy bear” in Salt Lake….thanks for nicely calling me fat at your show btw…

    My thirst has been quenched (I know you don’t remember that guy saying that to you…but I still laugh thinking about it.)

  • HOLY FRAKKING SCHITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have to say i was sooooooooooooooooooooooo upset the minute he sliced into Hershels neck. One of most beloved characters brutally beheaded, out of his control, at the hand of one of the most psychotic characters on tv.I was mad, sad, excited, angry, upset,… i cried a little while also declaring “HOLY SHIT ITS EPISODE IS INSANE”. I hate to see Hershel go, but thats the Walking dead.. the nature of the beast and the reason why its AMAZING to watch. When he was bit i thought “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BASTARDSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!” but quickly realized theres a chance. I love Hershel, hes an amazing character, and portrayed by an equally amazing actor. I only hope he returns over and over in flashbacks, or words of wisdom thought by his daughters in episodes to come. Sort of like an Obi Wan, but one who is only there in their minds and memory. Simply amazing episode, one of the best ranked up there with the killing of zombie Sophia or Shane. I was also excited to see the first glimpse of hopelessness and emotion in Carl.. Ill admit ive hated his character. every episode i hope his smug power hunger bratty ass gets bit. But finally we see him breakdown and cry. Lose it while empty on bullets. Its something his character needed.

    Going forward ive denounced counting the days till christmas and instead ill be counting the days til February 9th

  • During all that discussion leading up to Hershel’s gory demise…I looked at the screen….and said out loud…”Goodbye Hershel”
    So..I was able to get my goodbyes in before it actually happened.
    The part that hit me the hardest, was that Carl actually cried!
    My says..”Finally some emotion from him.”
    and I “had something in my eye” during Talking Dead…listening to Scott W. and Lauren C. discuss it all…..
    #itsonlyaTVshow, #itsonlyaTVshow, #itsonlyaTVshow #breathe

  • So…does anyone think Darryl was bit last night? I think he’s going to go out the way Dale did in the books…sneak off in the night, meet a bunch of cannibals, have a really memorable scene, get saved triumphantly and go out with a good exit…

  • Amazing episode, and one I thought we were getting at the end of season 3. I should have known it wouldn’t have happened without the tank.

    And Daryl didn’t get bitten, he’s as unkillable on this show as Rick and Carl are. The day they kill Daryl is the day they lose 1/3 of the female audience, if not more.

  • I like your theory about Lizzie killing the two and doing the rat thing. I thought it might be Bob when Tyreese showed them that one pinned to the board. It looked like a med school dissection. And I thought there might be a rat in the box he was sitting with when Sasha found him. But having it be Lizzie would redeem Carol back into the group. Cuz ya know she ain’t dead!

  • I still think the Governor is alive. We are seeing him through her eyes when the gunshot sounds and the screen goes black – I think this really represents her death, not his. I believe that is why Herschel’s death was so definitive – with so much death in that episode, we just have to believe the Governor is dead, too. I would have been convinced had we saw a close-up of a bullet hole in the Governor’s head!

  • For every thing the show lacked in the previous seven episodes, the lack of action, the lack of compelling drama, the lack of real dread and suspense, this episode redeemed it all. It wove an intricate web that tied up the story of the first half very well and set up the latter half of the season beautifully while preserving the essence of the source material. People with less of an understanding are decrying this episode and this season as terrible, but it is not. It is amazing and this arc has blown everything wide open. We have 67 days left until the show returns from hiatus. I’m chomping at the bit for it to be back. Also, how fitting was it to have Clara resurface as a walker to reinforce the ‘You don’t get to come back’ theme. All that was missing was for her to eat The Governor.

  • It was certainly a shocker beheading one of the main characters but I’m just glad we’re finally moving on from the Prison. The show needs more variety in it’s settings- the prison was the new farm from Season 2. Keep your appetite for zombies full until the 2nd half of this season with some zombie art and the Top 10 Zombie Movies of All Time at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/05/top-10-zombie-movies-of-all-time-with.html

  • I haven’t read the graphic novels, yet, but I got the impression that Rick was more of a hero, more of a badass. I wish his fight with the Governor had been an actual fight instead of him getting his face pummeled until Michonne can gut stab him. I agree with Mr. Reynolds above, I’m not entirely convinced that the Governor is dead.

    This show seems to be responsive to its audience. Since the Governor has been built up as this huge villain, why wouldn’t they make and show his death to be incredibly brutal? I kind of thought they’d show zombies descending upon him and ripping him apart, to touch back to how Andrea almost killed him.

    I understand what the show was trying to do with Rick and the council and having the weight of the world on your shoulders. But upon seeing Hershel get decapitated that should have brought Rick back swinging and ready to fight. Instead he just seemed broken and useless. It’s like in any sports movie. The good team gets it’s ass handed to them until the final few minutes and then they rally back. This was just having Rocky get continually beat until Adrian runs up and knocks out Apollo Creed for him.

    Darryl has been in just as much shit and he just keeps going. He single-handedly took down a tank. A TANK. Before that he saves everyone in the prison by being the lead on the medicine run and he even turns around the medic/drunk. If the show is going to diverge and have Darryl and Carl (or Karl) develop into awesome leaders that have to grapple with tough decisions then I’m all for it. But I think seeing Rick sobbing and continually dealing with loss is getting played out. Every character has dealt with loss and it seems the show runners have dealt with it in more interesting ways.

    I just don’t want the show to go all Dexter-y. That last season wasn’t satisfying for anyone.

  • Ouch. This episode was emotionally exhausting. The way Herschel died was heartbreaking and I’m not ashamed to say I cried while watching it. I really loved his character. I hope future episodes will further honor his memory in some way. I was kind of hoping the Governor’s death would have been a little more brutal or that Michonne would have spit on him or kicked him in the head before she walked away.

  • My daughter and I were rehashing what happened and what might be coming, and we think Michonne
    has Judith. We don’t know where either of them went, the ONLY ones that we don’t see, Michonne’s is quite bloody, which would explain the bloody carrier and we have the strong reaction from Michonne over Judith crying, and holding her. There is definitely big back story with Michonne and a baby, this would provide an opportunity to learn more even if Michonne is never ready to tell anyone about it. (I have theories about what that might be as well.)

  • NachoKingP, I don’t want to be argumentative, but I think it’s fairly insulting to say that a third or more of the female audience is watching for reasons other than for the love of the story. Though many females AND males love watching Daryl and all that he is to the group… I infer that you are saying this, as is so often the case with things men don’t think are a female genre, because you think that 1/3 or more are watch because they have a crush on Daryl- and it’s the only reason they watch. This is the reason females more than male get interrogated about their knowledge of D&D, Doctor Who, Star Trek, and other nerd/geek/cult interests at Cons and beyond, to see if they are “REAL” fans. Rude.