This week’s episode marked the mid-season finale of ‘The Walking Dead’ (no new episodes until February 9), and it didn’t disappoint. However, although the episode was highly entertaining, I did have a few issues with the events that transpired. Read on for more details.
When we last left the Governor, he had his gun pointed in the direction of Michonne and Hershel, ready to fire. As this week’s episode begins, we learn that he’s taken them both hostage. He then has a meeting with his group to convince them that they need to take the prison to survive. The Governor’s plan isn’t to kill anyone, just to force everyone to leave – but he’s ready to use violence if necessary.
Back at the prison, Rick finally tells Daryl about what happened with Carol. Daryl isn’t nearly as upset as he should be. He actually seems more upset with the fact that he wasn’t part of the decision. The two go to tell Tyreese, but Tyreese has something urgent to show them – what appears to be rat’s blood smeared against a piece of wood in some kind of sick artwork. Tyreese is convinced that they have a psychopath in their midst, but Rick and Daryl already know that the person who burned the bodies isn’t the same person who did this.
Before they can discuss further, the prison is rocked by an explosion. The Governor and his people have arrived at the fence line with their tank. Calling Rick down to the fence to discuss the standoff, the Governor tells him that they need to evacuate the prison or else. He then brings out his hostages, Hershel and Michonne, and has them tied and on their knees facing the fence.
Meanwhile, both Lilly and young Meghan have been left back at the lake (yes, the same one that the Governor threw Pete’s body into). Meghan is off playing in the mud about 50 yards from where Lilly is sitting, in what is surely the worse mothering on ‘The Walking Dead’ since Lori used to let Carl sneak off all the time. Sure enough, while Lilly is distracted by a Walker attempting to cross the lake, another Walker emerges from the mud and bites a chunk out of Meghan’s shoulder before Lilly can get to her. In this episode’s worst written/plotted death, viewers are expected to buy that anyone would let Meghan play that far away from anyone (remember, she was attacked by a Walker just last week), that a Walker spent all this time under the mud trapped by a simple sign (that Meghan has no problem lifting, by the way), and – in what continues to annoy me the most – that Walkers don’t make any noise at all until a human is right up on them – even though they gurgle non-stop once they’re discovered.
Back at the prison, the Governor has taken Michonne’s sword and put it to Hershel’s neck. Rick pleads with him that there’s plenty of room in the prison for everyone, that they can give the Governor and his people their own cell block, and they would never even have to see one another. The Governor calls him a liar (more to himself than to Rick), and swings the sword at Hershel’s head, nearly decapitating him instantly. Gunfire erupts, and the battle for the prison is on.
During the fight, the Governor finishes Hershel off, Rick takes a bullet to the leg, and most of our heroes get separated in the confusion. Lilly’s sister, Tara, can’t deal with the bloodshed and looks for a place to hide, while her girlfriend Alicia is killed – taking a shot to the head fired by young Lizzie. Lilly shows up with Meghan’s lifeless body, and the Governor takes the child in his arms and finishes her off with a bullet. Inside the prison walls, Maggie and Glenn get separated when Maggie puts him on a bus, and the bus leaves the area before she can get back to him. Also during the battle, Daryl kills Mitch with an arrow to the chest.
But the real action during the battle – and something fans have been waiting to see for a long time – is a knock-down/drag-out fight between Rick and the Governor. After pummeling each other back and forth, the Governor finally gets the upper hand and starts choking Rick. Just when it seems that the series might actually kill off its lead actor, a sword impales the Governor’s body. Michonne has saved the day, but instead of finishing the Governor off, she leaves him lying there. Not to worry, however, as Lilly eventually comes along and shoots him dead.
Rick runs back to the prison entrance to find Carl, but when the two search for baby Judith, all they can find is her blood-soaked carrier seat. Assuming she’s dead, father and son head out of the prison and into the unknown future. “Don’t look back,” Rick tells his son.
By any measure, this was a very good episode, but I had some issues with it. In addition to the silliness of Meghan’s death, it feels like much of what happened in this mid-season finale could have been taken care of during the Season 3 ender. As it turns out, the Governor was never really a changed man, so those two episodes spent on his redemption seem like wasted time. In fact, other than the flu epidemic (and that great performance by Scott Wilson in episode ‘Internment’) and Rick’s dismissal of Carol, very little has occurred that couldn’t have been dealt with in the prison attack that happened last season.
Still, there’s a lot of promise heading into the second half of Season 4. Much like when the characters left the farm at the end of Season 2, our heroes are now separated into small groups with no clear direction about where to go next. However, the show has also lost both its moral compass in the character of Hershel, as well as its major baddie in the form of the Governor, so it will be a challenge for the series to recover from the loss of two of its best actors.
What did everyone else think of the mid-season finale? Share your thoughts, rants and other comments below.