WARNING: midseason finale spoilers follow!
We were given a long and slow journey here, but we finally got a real battle at the prison. The Governor brought a tank and his charming personality and he even got to go duel it out with Rick. “Too Far Gone” delivered some gunfire, explosions and a few twists on the prison story line. These variations were hard decisions to make, and for the most part it all worked out, but it remains to be seen if they will keep working for the duration of the season. The episode gave us the most heart wrenching moments of the series, but definitely one of the best moments in the series to date.
The fact that the show can deviate from the comics is really what makes it special. The plot lines are kind of the same, but take two completely different ways to get there. While the Governor episodes were a little rushed at times, they served a purpose and kind of made us want to root for the psycho. It gave the guy a little bit of humanity just to throw it all away for a little revenge. The act of executing Hershel gave us a reason to despise the Governor even more. It was such a betrayal, and to see Herschel get butchered after basically saving the prison made it even more emotional.
Herschel’s death was a safe one, one that would shock but not kill the fans. It makes the Governor more of a monster and doesn’t start a fan protest over losing someone like Michonne or Daryl. Then there’s the contrast between the two: Herschel the kind grandfather of the prison, and the devil that is the Governor.
Also it seems difficult to believe that Herschel would last in a post prison environment again; the man was old and had a peg leg. Herschel needed to die in the most brutal way possible to show that the Governor didn’t change.
The action in this the last 20 minutes of this episode made the Governor development episodes worth the wait. We got to see Daryl kick some ass, and some stuff blow up. One of the better scenes was right after Daryl blows up the tank and has his signature crossbow pointed towards the scumbag tank driver.
Daryl did so much to keep the prison going: he invested so much in protecting it and keeping the supplies rolling in, that it seemed right that he would fight the hardest to defend it.
Another surprise was to see Carol’s adopted daughter Lizzie kill one of the Governor’s people. It’s the answer to Rick and Carl’s early season arguments about whether Carl should have a firearm. These kids need to be able to defend themselves because there are constant threats to their survival, and without Lizzie pulling the trigger, Tyreese wouldn’t be making it to episode nine. Even Rick was saved by Carl in this episode from being walker chow.
We lost a fair share of walker fodder, but that’s really it. Someone else should have died (Beth, Sasha, Tyreese or some more of the sick people on the bus) just to shake things up. There were basically no causalities and the other big death is still up in the air.
While Judith’s car seat was left unattended and there was a hefty amount of blood in it, it’s possible someone could have grabbed her before fleeing. It’s unlikely she lived, but not entirely impossible. While its depressing it would probably be best to have Judith meet her end here. She’s a baby and the group no longer has thick walls and fences to keep the dead and outsiders away, and it gives more of an emotional loss, as well as remaining true to the comics.
Now the group is scattered. We have Rick and Carl alone trying their best not to look back at the what they’ve lost in the prison, Glen is on the bus full of sick people; Maggie, Sasha and Bob the medic fleeing together into the unknown; Daryl and Beth making a go for it alone. Tyreese is taking care of a group of armed children, and Michonne is off doing her own thing.
The group is separated and we doubt that they’re going to rendezvous in the next episode. This gives us a cliffhanger to dwell on until February 9th, and could really work well, or ruin everything great that has been done this half of the season.
This show needed a change in scenery, as the prison was getting stale and eerily reminiscent of the farm in Season 2. While losing the prison was hard, it gives the show a fresh start. Now we can see how much the group has changed since the last time they were without a wall between them and the zombies, we get to see how they are going to deal with the loss of their moral compass and how their experiences with the Governor has changed their outlook on humanity.
The opportunity to introduce new characters and maybe even a new villain could really give us something for next season. They could have some one episode bad guys to keep a little action in and maybe motivate the group more to find one another.
That being said there’s still a lot to be wrapped up this season besides the group being separated. Tyreese still hasn’t found out about Carol killing his girlfriend Karen, and Carol is still out there. Also, who the hell left the rats by the fence earlier this season and the creepy anatomy dissection that Tyreese found? That mystery has one of the scariest unknowns behind it. Imagine how bad Shane was when he lost it, now add that to a legitimate psychopath and a horde of zombies. We could see some big names go down this next half of the season.
Overall it was a satisfying end to the first half of Season 4. We got some thrills, the prison is no more and the group is fractured. AMC has a lot of potential to make something phenomenal from this season, or completely undo the good work that “Too Far Gone” did, but as it stands right now it’s been a pretty good season.