We come to the mid-season finale at last! And what began as a bit of question mark has now come full circle and ended in a way that was consistent with the source material. At least in theory. As I’m sure I’ve said a million times by now, season three ended in a way that was not only different from the comics, but WAY different. And because of that, I was really wondering what would happen this season.
At first, it looked like they were going to go with a simple route, kill off all the new people to the prison and have them abandon it. Instead, they exploited a loophole in the original text to make it so the Governor would come back, albeit with a different army and some new hardware, and attempt to take the prison by force once again.
This has brought the show back to where it left off, or rather where it stopped following the original script and began dragging things out. Granted, there were some significant differences yet again, but the theme of things is basically back to where it was by the end of Volume 8: Made to Suffer. As such, I tuned in this week with big anticipation…
Too Far Gone:
The episode opens with a quick recap of how the Governor found himself outside of the prison last episode, faced with Michonne and Hershel as they disposed of their dead. After taking them both hostage, things cut back to his camp, where he is busy explaining to his own people that they need to find a safer place to live, how the prison is being held by evil people, and how they can take it without bloodshed.
He then goes off to prepare and talks to his prisoners, Michonne and Hershel. While the former threatens him, the latter tries to talk him down and find a way to live in peace. But of course, the Governor rebuffs this, saying they can’t possibly live together in peace, and will do anything to protect his own. He meets with Lilly and Meghan one last time and says goodbye.
Over at the prison, Glenn is still recovering from the flu and Rick finally tells Daryl about how he let Carol go. Daryl is upset, but the bigger concern appears to be how Tyreese will deal with the news. They find him below, and he shows them what someone did with the remains of a rat and thinks whoever is responsible is the one luring Walkers to the fence. They are about to tell him about Carol, when they hear a loud crash and the walls shake…
They run outside and the see the Governor’s army, complete with the tank, arrayed at the gates. The Governor asks him to come down and talk. Rick replies that he is not solely in charge any more, and the Governor drags out Hershel and Michonne and puts them on their knees. Rick is then given the ultimatum: leave by sundown and no one gets hurt.
Back at the Governor’s camp, Lilly sees a Walker step into the river and begin walking across towards them, but is relieved when is is washed away. Meghan is busy digging in the mud and digs up a sign which reads “Warning Flash Flood”. An arm then reaches out of the mud and grabs her. Lilly shoots the Walker, but not before it manages to bite Meghan’s shoulder.
While Rick and the Governor parlay, Daryl talks to Sasha and Tyreese about getting their people onto a bus and out the back, quietly brings out their weapon’s stash and starts discreetly arming their people. Down at the fence, Walkers begin to converge, and the Governor tells him that the longer they wait, the harder it will be for Rick and his people to get out safely.
Daryl and Carl take aim from the fence and wait, while Lizzy and Mika bring Judith out to the bus. They are told to load up, but Lizzy suggests they get guns and try to help out. Rick suggests that they live together in peace, but the Governor once again rejects this – citing what happened at Woodbury and Andrea. Rick finally says they are not leaving, end of story, and if they start shooting, it will only draw Walkers into the prison.
The Governor responds by drawing Michonne’s sword and threatening to cut Hershel’s head off. Rick pleads with the Governor’s people to see reason, saying that no matter what they’ve done to survive, they “aren’t too far gone”. The Governor says “Liar” and slices Hershel’s neck open. Everyone opens fire, Rick draws is pistol and falls back to cover, and both he and the Governor are wounded.
Michonne rolls away and cuts her bonds, killing one man in the process, and the Governor pulls Hershel aside and finishes cutting off his head. When he looks up, he sees Lilly standing before him with Meghan’s dead body. Tara meanwhile throws her gun down and tries to reason with Alisha, telling her this is not what they signed on for. The Governor shoots Meghan’s body, and then orders everyone to drive through the fence and kill everyone.
The tank drives through the fence and begins opening fire on the buildings. The prison crew begin falling back, and Maggie and Beth begin herding people onto a bus to escape. Maggie is told Beth went to look for Judith and is caught outside as the bus leaves. She, Sasha and Bob falls back again. Rick tackles the Governor and the two begin to fight in the yard. Cornered, Daryl uses a Walker that’s been drawn by the noise as cover and takes out several of the Governor’s people with a grenade.
In the confusion, Tara runs off and Tyreese is pinned, but Lizzy and Mika intervene and shoot his attackers, which includes Alisha. Walkers begin to converge on the yard from all directions and feed off the dead bodies. In the yard, the Governor gets the upper hand on Rick and seems poised to deliver the death blow, but is impaled from behind by Michonne, who has retrieved her sword.
Daryl converges on the tank and drops a grenade down its cannon. Mitch manages to get out in time, but Daryl takes him out with an arrow to the chest. Beth finds Axel and they head off to find the survivors who didn’t make it onto the bus. Rick stumbles back into the yard and finds Carl shooting Walkers. He asks him where Judith is and the two find her bassinet sitting empty and bloody on the ground.
The Governor, still alive, looks up to see Lilly above him, and she shoots him in the face. The chess piece that Meghan made for him, with one eye blackened out, is then trampled underfoot by a herd of Walkers that are now converging on the prison. Crying and disheveled, Rick and Carl head into the woods. Rick tells Carl “don’t look back”
Overall, I was pretty damn impressed with this midseason finale. Full of action, destruction, and consequence, it was what the Season Three finale should have been but wasn’t. Not only did the Governor finally attack the prison in a way that mirrored the comic, people died – including himself – and things ended on a very sad note. I honestly didn’t think the show’s producers would have the guts to do it up like this, but they did!
Not only that, but a lot of key elements from the original comic were there. The way the governor pulled up with an militarized, mobilized force that included an armored vehicle: check! The way he executed a hostage in order to get Rick to comply: check! The way Judith died as a result of the confused, chaotic mess: check! The Governor being shot by one of his own after they realized what a monster he was: check!
Hell, they even included some of the original dialogue from the comic, almost word for word, to make this finale more genuine. The way the Governor motivated his people by claiming Rick and his followers were evil, murdering folks who had “mutilated” him was there. Of course, in the original comic, the Governor was less an arm, one eye, and his genitals, so it made more sense coming from that guy, but whatever…
The way the episode ended with Rick telling Carl, “don’t look back” was also straight from the comic. However, there too it was a bit more meaningful since Carl and him had lost both Lori AND Judith. But considering that the show’s producers actually killed off Judith was so ballsy that I didn’t care about that difference at all. Honestly, I can’t foresee how “Little Ass Kicker” could have survived under the circumstances, so I don’t imagine that was a misdirect and we’ll learn she’s just fine when the show starts up again.
But above all, I am impressed that they closed the chapter on the prison as they did. I thought for sure that season four (or at least this half of it ) would end with them willingly abandoning the prison because of disease and falling gates. Them being forced to flee because the gates were crushed and the place overrun in the wake of the Governor’s attack is in keeping with the script, something I thought they had abandoned.
And I have to admit that I’m kind of impressed with how they managed to do all this. At the end of last season and for all of this one, I’ve been complaining how they abandoned the original comic. But in truth, the show’s writers and producers were exploiting a loophole. You see, in the comic, the Governor’s assault didn’t happen all at once, but in three separate attempts. At first, he pulled up with his attack force and they were forced to withdraw.
The second time around, he tried to get in using a hostage (Tyreese, in this case), which failed when Rick would not open the gates and he decapitated the poor man for all to see. On the third occasion, he ordered his tank to crush the fence and brought the attack inside the prison grounds, which ended in his and just about everyone else’s death.
In the show, something similar has now occurred. The Governor’s first attempt took place at the midseason finale of Season Three, where him and his men shot up the front yard of the prison and let some Walkers in. The second was the abortive assault that sent his people running and made him snap and shoot them all. This third attempt, which took place months later, mirrored his last push, and ended in much the same way.
Granted, there were several scriptural differences, like how Tyreese didn’t die, or how Michonne stabbed him before he was shot, how Lori, Andrea, and Dale were already dead, and the like. But the basic tenor and tone was the same. So let me upgrade my critical stance of what they were doing from “going totally off script” to merely “dragging things out” yet again. Seriously, what should I have expected, given that this is precisely what they did with the two previous seasons?
And there were some badass bits to how they ended things. Daryl taking down that tank with a grenade down its cannon and finishing off Mitch (I hated that dumbass!), how Michonne finally impales the Governor after waiting so long to finish him, and how they actually killed off main characters like Hershel and Judith, and didn’t leave things open ended the way they’ve done so often before.
So the Governor is finally dead, and the prison story arc is finally over. And now, much like Volume 9: Here We Remain, Rick are Carl will now be wandering in the wilderness while Rick tries to get his shit together, before meeting up with the others to resume their little experiment in post-post-apocalyptic living. This time around, more people will be alive since more people got away, but the show is effectively back on the right page!
The rest, in this case at least, is properly summed up with a Walking Dead internet meme: