The Walking Dead’s mid-season finale has come and gone, and it easily provided one of the best single episodes in the show’s four seasons. Main characters were killed off and major plot points from season 3 were finally put to bed, and by the end there’s a good chance your insides hurt from watching the pandemonium play out. If you thought the Governor-centric episodes were a bit slow and uneventful, then you’ll be happy to know that ‘Too Far Gone’ features one of the most intense action scenes from the entire series, if not in all of TV.
(Please note that this post contains SPOILERS)
‘Too Far Gone’ finally merges the Governor’s story line with the prison camp survivors’, so most of the main cast is present and accounted for.
The Governor works his magic tongue
The episode opens with the Governor explaining to his new camp that they must take a nearby prison in order to stay alive. The nearby prison just so happens to be the one he tried to take with his Woodbury squad from Rick and the other survivors, so now he has another chance to take what he couldn’t before. Prior to his meeting with his new camp he took Hershel and Michonne as prisoners in an attempt to make the prison raid a non-lethal affair. He pitches this plan to his new followers with a few lies sprinkled in to win them over, which he eventually does thanks to his ability to be charismatic and believable with his poisonous rhetoric. Thanks to his lies he’s convinced another group of survivors to take the prison by force if needed, which just goes to show how powerful of a man the Governor truly is.
Meanwhile back at the ranch
While the Governor is mustering up his forces, which do include a freaking tank, Rick and the prison crew continue to deal with the mysterious rat mutilations and fallout from Carol’s killing spree. Rick finally tells Daryl that he banished Carol for killing the two sick survivors, which visibly upsets the crossbow kid. In true Daryl fashion though, he rolls with it like a man and even accompanies Rick to tell Tyreese about who murdered Karen. On their way to spill the beans Tyreese shows them a mutilated rat pinned to a board like a seventh grade biology assignment, which concerns all three gentleman. Whoever has been feeding walkers rats has now taken to dissections, which leads Rick and company to believe that they still have a psycho living amongst them. Tyreese believes this person to be Karen’s murderer, but just as Rick is about to tell him about Carol a loud boom is heard, which forces the three to head outside to see what is going on.
The boom just so happens to be the Governor and his new followers who have congregated outside the prison fence with their tank and vehicles. Rick plays negotiator with the Governor who is demanding that the prison be turned over to him and his new group, and he makes it clear that the prison can be shared between both groups. The Governor reinforces his threat by revealing his two prisoners, Hershel and Michonne, which catches Rick off guard and dampens any hopes of him coming to a peaceful solution.
Let the bodies hit the floor
Rick continues to plea with the Governor and expresses over and over that they can change and let the past die. His speech slowly starts to awaken doubts in the Governor’s followers, but the boss himself isn’t having it. In a horrifying scene the Governor proceeds to hack away at poor Hershel’s neck to prove that he’s serious and doesn’t trust Rick, which effectively kicks off WWIII. The moment Hershel is brutally murdered Rick and his followers begin to open fire on the Governor’s army. A full on battle commences with both sides shooting at the other with reckless abandon.
During the early stages of the fight Lilly (Governor’s new love) surprisingly shows up with a dead Megan, who had just been bitten by a walker while the Governor and his army were away threatening the prison. The whole reason for the Governor becoming the Governor again was to protect this little girl and his new family, so when he finds out that Megan is dead he orders his followers to, “Kill’em all!”
At this point the tank is put into action and rolls over the prison fence and begins to lob shells at the cell blocks and survivors. Rick’s crew begins to evacuate amongst the chaos now that they know the prison is lost forever, but key characters get separated during the insanity. Glenn and a bunch of random survivors take off in a bus, while Rick, Daryl, Carl, Maggie, and a few other big name characters remain to fight and escape to see another day. Tyreese is also amongst the living thanks to Carol’s posse of little kids who took her lessons to heart, and were effectively able to wield guns and shoot people in the head.
During the melee Rick and the Governor meet up to duke it out, and Rick gets the piss beat out of him until Michonne stabs the Governor through the chest with her deadly katana. As the Governor lays dying in the prison yard Lilly walks up to him and coldly blows his brains out with his own handgun thanks to all of the disorder he brought to her family.
With the Governor dead and his forces lost, Rick begins to search for Carl who saves him with a perfectly timed rifle shot to a walker’s head. Rick is beaten and emotionally drained, but thankful he found his son. The two of them go in search of Judith, and they find her carseat with a pool of blood around it. The thought of their baby family member’s death is too much for them both, so they break down and cry in a very emotional scene. The episode ends with the Governor’s forces scattered and defeated, and Rick’s crew is in the same boat. They’re now split up and without a home, so it’ll be interesting to see where things pick up next February.
‘Too Far Gone’ is a perfect title for this episode in that it explains the state of the Governor’s mental well being. In the previous two episodes it looked like he may be able to turn things around and actually be a good person, but after the mid-season finale it’s perfectly clear that this dude was too far gone to ever be able to live peacefully with other bands of survivors. He only knows how to survive, and not live, which is what Rick has been trying to do since the end of season 3.
To survive in this world one must be willing to cross over to the dark side if you will, but to live in this world one must maintain some sense of morality and humanity. Rick nearly lost his mind last season when he was the boss and did everything he could to ensure the survival of his group. This is the reason why a council was created so he didn’t have to be the man in charge anymore. Being in charge took him to some dark places, but unlike the Governor, Rick was able to eventually learn how to live as well. The prison allowed him and his group to experience some sort of normalcy amongst the chaos of living in a zombie apocalypse. Rick and his followers were living, and not just surviving, so it was tough to see their prison camp get decimated by a man who only knows how to survive at all costs.
The Governor has only one setting when faced with a tough decision, which is “ultra-insane”, so he’s the opposite of Rick. Regardless of Rick’s pleas the Governor could just not let go of the past and come to a rational agreement between his group and Rick’s. He clearly is lost and broken, and has no way of dealing with life in a zombie apocalypse. If he can’t set the rules he’ll burn those in place to the ground. He makes this perfectly clear when he brutally kills Hershel – one of the show’s most endearing and moral characters – like an Al-Qaeda terrorist filming a propaganda video to get his point across to Rick. This brutal act was so terrifying that it even led to his own followers questioning his tactics, and realizing that they just sided with a sick individual.
The characters of Rick and the Governor have come full circle since their last meeting – with each man taking a different approach to surviving and living. Their epic brawl during ‘Too Far Gone’ just goes to show how much they hated each other and what the other stood for, and Andrew Lincoln’s acting during this scene was amazing. He literally looked like the Governor was choking the life out of him, which helped to heighten the already intense action taking place. Lincoln’s acting chops also shined during the scene where Rick and Carl realize that baby Judith is probably dead. Both he and Chandler Riggs really helped to sell the pain their characters felt at that moment, and helped to solidify the fact that they just lost everything they held dear once again.
Rick’s group has been ravaged, and the loss of Hershel is huge, so the last half of season 4 will definitely be a more personal tale, and possibly resemble the smaller cast years from season 1 and 2. One thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that The Walking Dead continues to push TV boundaries like no show before it, and it does so in a way that the gruesome violence doesn’t come off as overkill. Just make sure to not get too attached to a character, because like Game of Thrones, you never know when a major personality will be whacked.
[schema type=”review” name=”The Walking Dead ‘Too Far Gone’ | Review Summary” description=”The Awesome: Prison battle part 2, Rick vs. The Governor, Carol’s girls with guns | The Not so Awesome: Major character deaths” rev_name=”The Walking Dead ‘Too Far Gone'” rev_body=”‘Too Far Gone’ is hands down one of the greatest mid-season finales to ever grace TV. It is packed with emotional content that changes the landscape of The Walking Dead by the time the credits roll. Major characters die, little girls have guns, and there’s a tank. That’s what you call a recipe for TV drama success.” author=”Matt Heywood” pubdate=”2013-12-02″ user_review=”10″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”10″ ]
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Photos by Gene Page/AMC