Too Far Gone
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.
That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.
“If you understand what it’s like to have a daughter, then how can you threaten to kill someone else’s?”
If kidnapping members of Rick’s group of survivors seems familiar, it is. In fact, it’s exactly that same action that brought the Governor and Woodbury to its knees last season and it only stands to reason that things will end exactly the same way this time around. It felt a little anti-climatic how the Governor actually abducted both Michonne and Hershel; considering Michonne’s proclivity for wielding a sword with a skilled yet reckless abandon. While the plot line feels a little bit of a retread, it did give the Governor the audience he so sorely needs. His appeal as a character comes from his ability to command a crowd and direct them accordingly, so using the prison as a galvanizing moment to rally the troops was a return to form for the sadistic man.
What’s a little confusing is how gullible everyone in the new settlement actually is. Since the Governor arrived, two leaders have mysteriously died; he abducts two strangers to them and then has a plan to take over the prison ready for review in thirty minutes. The fact that it’s not alarming to the vast majority of those in his crew is a little unsettling. Kudos to Lilly though for actually expressing some concern at the Governor’s impulsive motivations; that concern loses some of its intensity though when she fails to realize the Governor swooping in as a father to her daughter. It’s something she reconciles by the end of the episode though.
It’s never pleasant when best friends fight, but it was inevitable that there would be some sparks between Rick and Daryl regarding the decision to excommunicate Carol. Daryl was understandably upset, yet it’s implied that he understood why Rick made the decision that he did. The two of them have been through thick and thin together, so it was pretty powerful to see their conversation. It only strengthened their relationship and camaraderie, providing that there is the possibility of strong alliances being formed in such a world. Of course, such alliances are put to the test, primarily when visiting Tyreese in a dark hallway, where the three of them make a rather alarming discovery pointing to a disturbed individual within the walls.
Outside the walls, the survivors are tasked with the Governor’s grand entrance on a tank and with guns at the ready. The bombast of the exploding tower surely offered up a spectacle that would likely scare the survivors, but the absence of zombies was a little troubling. The survivors have spent every day keeping the zombies off the fences—with some of the fences even buckling under the force of the growing herds—yet when the Governor arrives and blasts a tower, there are none to be seen, even if some start slowly trickling in later. That aside, it was interesting to see the quiet dissension within the Governor’s ranks. Those with the military background were prepared, with guns trained on Rick and anyone else they could see. The civilians however were a little more leery of the situation, not quite sure who to believe or what should happen if a firefight did break out.
The level of combat knowledge on the part of the survivors was very powerful, especially when contrasted with that of the Governor’s group. Daryl especially demonstrated the calmness that viewers expect. He arrowed a zombie, used it as a meat shield and then lobbed a grenade in the tank’s barrel. All in a day’s work for a man proficient with the crossbow as his primary weapon of choice. Even Bob had the wherewithal to check his gunshot wound for a through and through, demonstrating a level of skill that many survivors in the world don’t live long enough to exhibit. The second half of the episode was sort of a do-over from last season when the Governor also unsuccessfully stormed the prison, with a great bit of action mixed in with tragedy.
Unlike Rick and Daryl, Rick and the Governor are far from best friends. The two of them had their second “formal” sit-down, with the Governor laying out his terms. Rick’s impassioned plea for peace was very powerful and started to sway some of those with the Governor, but his pride refused to allow him to concede defeat. It’s great to see that the Governor still remains the same at his core: lusting for power and craving submission from those around him. He didn’t learn when Rick bested him at Woodbury (only at the Governor’s provoking) and he still felt he could be the one to come out on top against what appeared to be an undermanned and ill prepared prison. While his invasion led to a very memorable firefight all around, it did raise quite a few questions in the choices it made in terms of who didn’t quite make it.
Hershel’s death was the symbolic one, mainly because it served as the catalyst for the fight and represented the growth Rick made as a character in the world. He acted as the show’s moral compass for most (if not all of the characters), despite not relying heavily on his religious background. All the characters sought his counsel and even he offered it to the Governor as a means of peacefully ending the potential bloodshed. It was something of a confirming moment when he silently smiled at Rick during his speech; it was almost as if both Rick and Hershel knew that Rick was really a changed man. The Governor wasn’t really a changed man, which made his death more cathartic on multiple levels, while also demonstrating that his excessive hubris only begot more violence. There was no way he would venture into the prison on blind rage alone and come out unscathed and fans would much rather see Rick than the Governor in the prison. The combination of Michonne and Lilly killing him did serve to show that it was both the past and future that ultimately killed him.
The potential death of Judith, however, really just felt like a rather pointless gut punch; almost as if it was looking to add insult to injury. The kids were manhandling her in the escape attempt, which begs the question as to why the kids were responsible for saving the kids. Maggie explains that everyone has their role, yet it seemed like no adult was tasked with taking care of the children. It made the death of Judith easier to explain, although it didn’t really feel necessary and felt more as if it was just tying up a loose end. There’s something of a misdirect in that both Hershel and the Governor were killed as well, yet killing Rick’s daughter in the chaos seemed a little cheap. It’s possible she isn’t dead, but if that’s the case, why take her out of the car seat to begin with?
As a midseason season finale (which apparently seems to be a thing now), the episode definitely offered up everything that makes it memorable. Big characters died, remaining characters are scattered and forced to face new adversity and all the stability that the show was building towards has been wiped away. Everything is gearing the remainder of the season to revisit some of the show’s older roots, where the characters are forced to rebuild from scratch in making their way through the world. Ironically enough, Carol is in the best position out of all of them, considering she was sent off with a ton of supplies and not running for her life. Where the rest of the survivors go from there is clearly the focus of the show at this point. The episode on its own felt a little too forced at times, with character choices being done to get them in place for future conflicts.
The Walking Dead started off very character driven, with their choices directly affecting everything around them. Recent episodes have become the opposite, offering up plots that require certain characters to make certain decisions for certain outcomes. The episode this week was full of bombast and some emotion through the deaths of both Hershel and the Governor, but how it follows that up remains to be seen. Season two is often viewed as the “lost” season somewhat, considering much of was spent searching for Sophia. This season doesn’t seem to be going down that road, but here’s hoping that the characters start getting a chance to shine as opposed to the story itself. The end of the first half of season four will definitely have viewers wondering where exactly things will go from here. For a while, the season looked like it had turned a corner in offering up survivor vs. zombie storylines. Now, it looks like it’s just offering up storylines that remind the viewer that Rick is the leader—regardless of any council—and things have to go through him to be interesting.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars