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Well, if it was action people were looking for from tonight’s mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, they certainly got it. Spoilers if you haven’t seen tonight’s episode (“Too Far Gone”)! Because we’re about to get specific on all the mayhem, the carnage and the casualties that played out in a fast hour that would close out the first half of the fourth season, and leave us hanging in an interesting place when the clock ran out.
The last couple of episodes took us away from the prison to catch up with the Governor and try to figure out what’s going on in his head. Has he changed or is he still as power hungry as ever? The first of the two episodes left us wondering but the second seemed to indicate that the Governor’s situation had changed but he couldn’t escape the monster within. He’s a guy who likes power. He likes control. He likes to push the chess pieces around the board. And when it comes to the value of human life, only his own pieces matter. I think there was some part of him that desperately wanted to go back to being a loving dad and husband. And he had an opportunity to do that with Meghan and Lily, but in the end, vengeance, ego and power were too hard to resist.
Last week’s episode left off with the Governor standing alone in the woods near the prison, pointing his gun at MIchonne and Hershel. Tonight’s episode picked up with him rallying his new troops, while the scene flashed back to the Governor taking Michonne and Hershel hostage. His plan, as he revealed it to his people, was to claim the prison from those murderin’ people, using two of them as hostage to supposedly take control of the prison without having to fire a shot. But they’d take the tank “just in case.” Right.
Hershel and Michonne offered the opportunity for the two groups to co-exist together at the prison, and I like to think they might have actually considered honoring that deal. Ok, after Rick sent Carol out on her own for killing two of their people, I’m not so sure he’d ever honor a deal like that, but he too was willing to put it on the table if it would avoid bloodshed. And I liked that Rick took a softer approach to trying to appeal to the more human side of the Governor’s people when they all showed up at the prison with guns. Rick seemed to zoom right in on Tara, who was looking a bit uncertain about the whole situation as the Governor threatened Hershel and Michonne's life. Rick did his absolute best to deliver a heartfelt speech about people changing, and offered all of them a place in their home. All they had to do was lay down their guns and walk through the fence.
I really don’t know what Rick would’ve done if the entire group, the Governor included, had actually done that. But it doesn’t matter. The Governor wasn’t buying it. Or maybe he was always planning to take the prison by force. He growled, “Liar” and slashed Hershel with Michonne’s sword. But not before Hershel gave Rick an approving smile. Everything Rick said did seem to be the elderly man’s influence at work, especially when we consider Hershel trying to make that same deal earlier. It seems some of Hershel's wisdom sank in, and I like that Hershel lived long enough to recognize that. He'll definitely be missed.
Hershel was of the first casualties, but he wasn’t the only one. Once he was slashed (the Governor would later finish the job) the fight was on. I’m pretty sure Rick fired the first shot and then there were bullets headed in both directions.
Here’s the list of the rest of the casualties:
Meghan — She wasn’t even at the prison. She died by the river side, after the making the mistake of digging into the mud in an area that’s prone to flash floods. I’m assuming the walker she unearthed had been buried in that dirt for quite a while. He bit her before Lily could save her. Lily later brought Meghan to the prison and presented the little girl’s body to the Governor just as the battle was getting started -- perfect timing -- and the Governor responded by promptly shooting Meghan in the head before she could reanimate. Lily would soon repay that favor.
Mitch - Mitch took an arrow to the chest after Daryl stuffed a grenade down the barrel of the tank and blew it up. Daryl, incidentally, nearly got bit by a walker earlier and we were left hanging on that until he reappeared later. Not funny, Walking Dead!
Alisha - Alisa got shot in the head by Lizzie. It was hard to feel all that sympathetic over Alisha’s death, considering Tara tried to discourage her from joining in on the fight, pointing out that the Governor just killed a guy with a sword. Tara earns major points for walking away. As for Lizzie, it’s disturbing that the little girl was able to shoot a woman square in the head, but Carol would probably approve. It was a little Carl-like. And speaking of Carl…
Judith(?) - Carl managed to avoid death tonight, but the same can’t be said for his sister. Little Judith was presumably snatched up by a walker, which is a horrible fate for anyone, but even more upsetting when it happens to a baby. We didn’t actually see this happen, which means it’s entirely possible someone grabbed her and got her onto the bus or elsewhere safe. But the bloodied baby carrier suggests otherwise, and something as disturbing as a baby being attacked by a zombie might be a bit too horrific to display, even for cable. So who knows?
The Governor - It was looking like he was going to finally defeat Rick, and then his arch-nemesis Michonne showed up and ran him through with her sword. Stabbed in the back. It’s not an honorable way to die, but then again, the Governor was never much of an honorable man. MIchonne may have sealed his fate, but she technically wasn't the one to kill him. The Governor wasn't quite dead yet when walkers slowly started to descend, but Lily arrived before he was eaten, and she put a bullet in his head. It seems she's no longer afraid to pull the trigger.
Before we wrap up, one other plot point to mention. We finally got to see Rick tell Daryl that Carol was gone. Daryl seemed to take it better than I would've expected. But there wasn't a whole lot of time for him to do much more than take it in. And Rick was about to tell Tyrese but that conversation never happened, as the Governor showed up just as Rick was on the verge of explaining about Carol. We also still don't know who's responsible for the rats that were being left for the walkers, but that's presumably the same person who left a dissected rat nailed to a board.
The episode ended with the prison in shambles, most of the Governor’s people presumably dead, and what was left of Rick’s group loaded up on the bus and headed off to parts unknown. Rick and Carl weren’t with them, which is an interesting predicament. And it’ll be exciting to see where things pick up when the series returns in February. In the meantime, there's going to be a lot of grief for these characters. Rick and Carl lost Judy. Maggie and Beth lost their father. Lily and Tara lost Meghan. Something tells me no one will be crying over Mitch or the Governor though, but they do leave the series without any proper living villains, so their loss will certainly be felt by viewers.