Hershel: You say you want to take this prison as peacefully as possible. That means you’d be willing to hurt people to get it. My daughters would be there. That’s who you’d be hurting. If you understand what it’s like to have a daughter, then how could you threaten to kill someone else’s?
The Governor: Because they aren’t mine.
Friends! We have come to the mid-season finale of the fourth season of The Walking Dead. Instead of a scene-by-scene deconstruction of the episode, which has ratings so high I’m fairly sure everyone’s seen it, I wanted to talk about the things that worked and what didn’t. It wasn’t the world’s most consistent episode, I think we can all agree, but it made up for its shortcomings by giving us the long-delayed Rick v Gov showdown.
- Rick, Hershel, Brian, Carl, Maggie, Beth – they all killed it. This is some of the best acting the show has ever produced, especially from Team Rick. None of the actors on this show are slouches, even if they’re not always given the best material, but there were so many fantastic moments in “Too Far Gone” I’m just going to name a couple – Hershel’s expression right before Brian swings the katana, trying to tell Rick it was OK and that he was proud of him. The utter anguish on Rick’s face when Hershel is struck down. Maggie and Beth’s reaction at the interior fences. Brian shooting Meghan in his arms, which did more to encapsulate his evolution as a character than both of his backstory episodes.
- Brian letting Rick desperately try to talk him out of taking the prison. It was a different kind of cruelty, but completely in keeping with the murderous psychopath we know Brian to be. The guttural “liar” Brian utters before shit hits the fan was the cherry on top of the sundae.
- Brian totally kicking Rick’s ass. Rick just got it handed to him because Rick has spent the last several months trying to rediscover his humanity, while Brian just became a man suit hanging over a feral soul.
- Clara, the distraught woman Rick encounters in episode 1 who commits suicide, is among the walkers who storm the prison. I loved seeing that thread brought back into the story.
- The Carol Scouts completely dropping Judith in favor of picking up guns because Lizzie bullied them into it. I’m not being sarcastic in saying this seems completely true to what a bunch of little kids would do. Now, did they wisely hide Judith somewhere or just leave her hanging out in her car seat to get eaten by walkers? We won’t know until February.
- The prison actually had a “in case of danger” escape plan! Guess they learned from the catastrophe at the farm.
- Not all of the red shirts died! I expected a bigger body count on behalf of the prison populace, but it seems like most of them got out of there on the bus. Camp Martinez was not so lucky. Who’s left? Lily and Tara?
- Splitting the group up and scattering them to the wind offers a lot of potential for the second half of the season and gives us a good break without a cheap cliffhanger, like last year’s capture of Daryl. We all knew he wasn’t gonna get killed. We also have at least two ongoing story threads to continue to pursue – the mysterious radio transmission the Meds Team heard and the rat mutilator. We also know there’s at least one other survivor group roaming in the area – someone killed those campers in the woods, who might or might not be the same people who let the walkers into the Big Box store from the beginning of the season.
- The groups as I counted them: Glenn and all the extras in the school bus. Maggie, Sasha, and Bob. Daryl and Beth. Carl and Rick. Tyrese and the Carol Scouts. So five separate storylines. It’s entirely possible that they have a meet-up point already picked out, but I predict we’ll see them fractured for a while in the second part of the season.
I think that Season 4 has been solid enough that I’m willing to forgive them these ridiculous inconsistencies/plot holes/wtf moments:
- How did Carol’s Scouts get to be such crack shots without anyone know they were being trained in shooting?
- Why was there a shot of a chess piece in the grass? Are they suggesting that during the important raid on the prison, Brian packed up the chess set to bring along with him?
- How does Lily find the prison, much less show up in the middle of a shoot out to bring her dead daughter to Brian’s attention? What happened to the other kids that Lily was supposed to be watching?
- Why did Brian say that they were “safe near the river” when there’s all those woods right behind them? They weren’t sitting on an island!
- A group of people agreeing to go kill another group of people on the say so of some dude they’ve known for a couple of days when just two seconds ago they were freaking out after Pete nominated himself “decent leader type who will take a democratic vote for a replacement.”
- This same group of people continuing to advance and kill other people who have done nothing to them, while at the same time completely destroying all the assets they were nominally killing these strangers for.
- The giant herd of walkers who have persistently been pushing the fence down the entire season, which was a massive plot point and referenced during Rick’s speech are nowhere to be found during the assault. Do walkers take smoke breaks?
Well, I called four of the deaths last week, but I don’t think any of them were long shots. Hershel’s death was practically broadcast three episodes earlier. Beth was the character I was surprised to see survive and the show’s pairing her off with Daryl obviously means they’re ready to invest more in her story. I don’t know what’s going on with Glenn, who has mostly been out of action for the first part of the season and then doesn’t even participate in the big showdown. Is the actor filming a movie or something? Lily’s coupe de grace of the Gov was kind of a surprise – I would have thought she would have been long gone at that point.
Who wants to place odds on Judith still being alive? My immediate assumption was that she was gone, but I’ve seen some convincing arguments that she could have been rescued, as her car seat was in the same area the kids and Tyrese ran off in, and it could have been any of their blood.
The show actually pulled the blood car seat imagery before – during season 2. While the gang is looting the big traffic jam by Hershel’s farm, T-Dogg finds a bloody toddler seat in the back of a car. It was a chilling and heartbreaking moment – one of the perfect capsulations of the horror of the zombie wasteland that the show can be really good at when it puts its mind to it. I don’t know why Judith’s car seat didn’t pull the same weight with me, even though we had just seen her adorably chubby self a couple of scenes prior to this.
What’s with all the tanks hanging around? There was one in Atlanta, there was one in Woodbury, and then this one that actually was used. I think the Woodbury one was a fake out for comic book readers.
Look, we all know that Daryl is basically the most successful Gary Stu ever created, but we love him anyway. Still, watching him somehow kill a walker that was inches away from him when he was looking the other way, use it as a corpse shield, throw a grenade down the tank and kill Mitch almost seemed like, if you will forgive me, overkill. I mean, the man is practically a walking saint at this point. He was far more “understanding” of the Carol situation than he had a right to be – he didn’t even take a swing at Rick! He volunteered to go with him to talk to Tyrese! I’m sure in the second half to the season we’ll discover he rescued L’il Asskicker, found Carol, and adopted Beth, and his saliva cures the plague. What I’m saying is, maybe we need to back off almighty Daryl for a bit. Let’s just let him have a couple of flaws and some really great arms.