Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 8: Too Far Gone

Holy. Crap.

Death, destruction and utter chaos! The Walking Dead mid-season finale had it all.

This episode played out very much like it did in the comic book. In fact it's probably the closest the show's been to the comic since the pilot. 


This is both good and bad. Good in that it's cool to occasionally see the comic book come to life. Bad in that in the comic book, once the whole brutal Prison vs. Woodbury storyline ended, they've never really been able to come up with anything to top it. I have an uneasy feeling that the same may happen on the TV series. I hope I'm wrong.  

• I'd like to nominate The Walking Dead for Most Improved TV Series of 2013. There were a lot of problems in Season 3 (like not knowing how to handle Michonne, and TV Andrea's infuriating behavior), but Season 4 has stepped things up a notch or twelve and for the most part has been a vast improvement.


Thoughts (BIG HONKIN' SPOILERS AHEAD! LAST CHANCE TO TURN BACK!)


• When they showed Carol in the "Previously..." clips, I half expected to see her pop up in this episode. I still don't think she's gone for good, especially since her name is still in the opening credits.


I'm betting Rick and Carl will run into her on the road at some point in the second half of the season. Won't that be an awkward moment?


• At the beginning of the episode the Governor makes a big impassioned speech to his new army, urging them to follow him and take over the prison from the "monsters" who occupy it.


I'd have liked to have seen at least one or two of his followers say "Nuts to that!" and bow out. Yeah, he's a charismatic leader, but he ain't that charismatic.


Yes, Tara looked like she was having second thoughts, but she didn't do anything about it until the shots started flying.

And why is Mitch being so loyal to him? Didn't the Governor kill his brother last week? Is soldiering so ingrained in him that he'll follow anyone who barks orders?

• Shortly before the Governor captures Hershel and Michonne, we see the two of them dousing a pile of brain-dead walkers with gas so they can burn them.

I get that they need to burn the bodies, but using gas to light 'em up seems awfully wasteful to me. There's a limited supply of gasoline left in this world, and I'd think they'd want to save every drop for their cars. Surely they've found alternate flammable substances on their supply runs; things like lighter fluid, kerosene or alcohol. 

And I hope for everyone's sake they dragged those bodies as far from the cell blocks as possible before they burned them! All that rotten meat roasting on an open flame? Yeesh!

• The Governor captures Hershel and Michonne and holds them hostage. Hershel's handling of the Governor was very skillful and impressive. He expertly deferred to the Gov's authority and came pretty darn close to talking him out of his plan. 

I guess we can now add diplomat to Hershel's long list of skills!

• Back at the prison, everyone's apparently been in suspended animation for the past two weeks as Rick just now tells Daryl about how he banished Carol.

Yes, I realize the series re-round time to show us what the Governor's been up to since being run out of Woodbury, and we're just now catching back up to prison time, but it was still kind of odd.

I wonder why we had to sit through two full Governor-centric episodes? Wouldn't it have been better to cut back and forth between him and the prison?

• Speaking of Daryl, he got over Carol's banishment in record time. I have to say, this season has been moving along at a breakneck pace! They've crammed a huge amount of story into these first eight episodes. 

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. If this was Season Two or Three we'd have got an entire episode (or more!) of Daryl fuming about Carol before finally coming around.

• Seeing Maggie and Glenn all giddy and talking about their anniversary made me extremely nervous. Generally on this show whenever a character experiences a happy moment they're immediately killed off by the writers.

I'm thinking new showrunner Scott Gimple knows that we know this, and he's now just playing with us.

• In a similar vein, Sasha's little moment with Bob made me think one or both of them was gonna get the axe, but they managed to survive (more or less). See, they are playing with us now!

• So who's been dissecting rabbits in the prison? The most obvious answer would be our young little psychopath Lizzie, who I'm pretty sure was the one feeding rats to the walkers. Animal cruelty is generally one of the signs of a psychopath. Is Lizzie really the one who killed Karen and David? Did Carol confess to the murders to cover for her?

And if it's not her, then that means someone else in the prison's gone a little nutty in the head.

• We have a title! When Rick's speechifying to the Governor, he says, "We’ve all done the worst kinds of things just to stay alive, but we can still come back. We’re not too far gone."

I have to say I've never been a fan of incorporating titles into dialog.

And really, Spell Check? You didn't flag "speechifying?" Thanks, George W. Bush.

• This rematch with the Governor more than made up the somewhat anticlimactic battle in last year's season finale. But the thing is, without that episode, this one wouldn't have been nearly as good. Rick and the Governor now have a past, which made their battle resonate all the more.

• Long live Hershel Greene! I'm really going to miss him. After Dale died he became the moral center of the show; the wise and centered voice of reason. 

At least he got a chance to shine a few weeks ago when he singlehandedly kept (most of) the flu patients alive.

It'll be interesting to see how the show fares without his knowledge and wisdom.

• Speaking of Hershel, why'd the Governor start with him instead of Michonne? Hershel's never done anything to him, while he has a whole list of reasons for killing Michonne.

I'm guessing he started with Hershel because he knew that would hit the Prison Team harder?

• I was getting nervous about Tyreese's chances for survival too, seeing how things turned out for him in the comic book version of this plot line. Luckily he made it through the episode.


• At one point Alisha (Tara's new girlfriend) corners Tyreese and is about to shoot him. But then Lizzy and her creepy kid squad show up, with freakin' guns, and freakin' shoot her in the freakin' head! I don't know who looked more surprised, Tyreese or Alisha. 

Seeing tiny kids shooting an adult was pretty disturbing, more so than any zombie hit so far. Look at the little Frankenstein monsters you've created, Carol!

• The Governor leaves his new main squeeze Lilly and his substitute daughter Meghan near a river for safekeeping, reasoning that the swift waters will keep them safe from walkers.

That whole sequence was masterfully shot. The scenes of the fumbling zombie getting closer and closer as Lilly nervously watched it before it was finally swept away had a subtle and understated tension about them. Then just when it seems the danger's passed, Meghan digs up a "flash flood" sign, and you just knew the mud was about the hit the fan.

• OK, the Governor planned to kill everyone in the prison so he and his army could move in. So I think if I was him I might have toned down the tank use just a bit. What good is a prison full of holes going to be? I suppose by that point he wasn't thinking very clearly.


• When the zombie came up behind Daryl and they immediately cut away-- I thought I was gonna plotz. I didn't think they'd kill off their most popular character, but on this show you never know.

• As the prison fences fall, scores of walkers slowly filter back in. At one point the camera lingers a little longer than usual on one female walker in particular.

Does she look familiar? She's Clara, the crazy woman Rick met way back in the first episode of the season. She's the one who killed herself so she'd become a zombie and could be with her dead husband's head forever.

I have to admit I missed this little cameo and didn't realize it was her until it was pointed out to me.

• As the Governor was choking the crap out of Rick, I knew Michonne was going to pop up and kill him. But that's OK. Sometimes it's good to know what's going to happen.

I liked that Michonne didn't bother to finish him off, leaving him for the walkers as if he wasn't worth the effort.

And I'm glad to see Lilly finally kill him, so he can't improbably pop up again in Season 5.

• Rick stumbles through the prison screeching for Carl. He finds him, then they look for Baby Judith, only to find her empty, bloody carrier on the ground.

I have to say, Rick and Carl's plaintive howling in this scene was heart-rending. Especially Carl, who sounded like a wounded animal moaning.

So Judith didn't make it. Or did she? I doubt even this show would kill an infant, but you never know. And of course-- SPOILER WITHIN A SPOILER-- she was killed in the comic. 

I'm subscribing to the TV Death Rule though. They ain't dead unless you see the body. And sometimes not even then. Yeah, there was blood in the carrier, but I'm betting someone from the bus grabbed her out of it.


• The episode ends pretty much the same way as the storyline in the comic-- with Rick and Carl leaving the ruins of the prison behind and scurrying off to an uncertain future. WIll they hook up with the rest of the prison crew? Where will they go now? I know where they end up next in the comic, but how closely will they follow that template? We gotta wait until February to find out!

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