The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 8 – “Too Far Gone”
Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead. Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.
Well that was an eventful way to leave things...as messy as the way we got there. It has been four seasons and I really should start to accept how dumb The Walking Dead can be, without being such a harsh judge of it. When the show is at its best, it can be incredibly successful in depicting these zombie/action/chase scenarios, where characters stop talking and start acting fast, before their time is up. When the show is at its worst, it is when it lets characters repeat the same lessons and speeches they have learned and given over and over again. The concept of character development in an ongoing zombie apocalypse is what interests me, but issues come with it, when it comes to the television version of this series. The best of both worlds are seen in this episode, “Too Far Gone”, the mid-season finale, as stubbornness and good intentions end up getting a lot of people killed and regardless of how well it was captured on film, I only cared about two of them. Still, I shouldn’t be mad, this is The Walking Dead, a show that does not quite learn from its mistakes, but tackles the same ones from different angles, which only sometimes pays off.
Picking up from where last week left off, The Governor is now making a big announcement: their group needs to take the prison. This (convincing) speech is given, while intercut with previous scenes involving The Governor taking Michonne and Hershel hostage. A key part of this speech is how The Governor will take the prison without getting anyone hurt in the process. Obviously this means that many people will get hurt in the process, but we’ll just roll with that for now. By the time the speech ends, only Lilly remains as the one expressing concern about all of this. Later on, we get a nice conversation between The Governor, Michonne, and Hershel. Michonne is all about threats of course, even as The Governor tries to explain he is not mad at her anymore, while Hershel simply tries to be rational.
For a cold open the stakes are set. It is not a bad way to get things rolling, even if the plan seems like a longshot for success, but then again, what are The Governor’s motives at this point? The reintroduction attempted to make the audience believe he was reformed. The following episode showed us it was a ruse to an extent, as he is still as violent as he can be. So now what? Does he really want to take the whole prison, with no vengeance on his mind (especially while having the chief person responsible for his agony in his possession), simply to protect his new surrogate family? This all amounts to how ineffective I have found the handling of The Governor to have been overall. No matter what surprises the rest of this episode would have in store for us and how well David Morrissey is playing the part, I simply cannot get behind this character (regardless if he’s good or bad), because the foundation is too weak. It is not a matter of changing up some dialogue or writing some of these story beats better, it comes down to digging out stuff from season 3 and 4 and condensing the material to make it flow better.
I am getting ahead of myself though. Moving back to the prison (finally), we see that Glenn is looking better, as he chats with Maggie about celebrating an anniversary (one of these days). Meanwhile, we finally get to see how Daryl reacts to the news about Carol. The answer: expectedly angry, but overall understanding. No, this was not too much of a stretch, but a whole dark comedy could have come out of the 3-person play between Rick, Daryl, and Tyreese, who is found near the original crime scene with strange evidence involving a carved up rat. That has to wait though, as an explosion sets off the next big ordeal for this episode/season/series.
Rick (and everyone else that is a recognizable cast member) head to the gates to find the Governor perched on a tank, with a decent sized army ready to act. The zombie hordes that have been plaguing the prison walls have conveniently ceased for the time being, allowing Rick and The Governor to have a heated conversation. The Governor makes it clear that he has a tank and Rick and the rest should leave the prison. Rick argues for peace between them, with little chance of holding back his emotions over all of this.
This is where the lack of really understanding The Governor throws off the nature of this plan. It is a plan that cannot succeed, that part seems clear to me. The Governor must know this, or else I am ahead of the show on this thought. There seems to be no scenario that does not involve a tank making things a whole lot worse for everyone and that is why this plan seems ridiculous with results that will no doubt be bonkers. If I knew what The Governor had in mind from the start, whether he actually is crazy enough to think he can take the prison and keep his women safe or that he has been planning to destroy everything the whole time, I would have been able to enjoy this whole scenario. As it stands, I could only accept the visceral entertainment value in the threats on display and the acting between Lincoln and Morrissey.
As this conversation becomes more and more tense, Hershel and Michonne are brought out for display, with The Governor eventually putting Michonne’s katana up to Hershel’s throat. An impassioned Rick once again makes his pleas loud and clear, with several members of The Governor’s gang seemingly warming up to him, only for all of that to go to hell, as the Governor chops into Hershel’s neck, with Beth and Maggie watching from a distance. With that, the shooting begins, and plenty of unnamed people are killed in the crossfire. Inevitability can sure be painful.
The death of Hershel is a big one. It is one that I have seen coming for a while, as Scott Wilson has been given a lot to do and is basically too good of a character to last on a show like this. That is also the problem with killing him off. The Walking Dead continues to be a show populated by mostly unlikable characters, save for Daryl and a couple others. Now we have lost the best actor on the show, because of the actions of some stubborn jerk. Hershel is definitely dead by the way, as we have a scene where The Governor continues what he started and gets the whole head detached from the body.
All the chaos going on in this scene is effective enough, as we get to see the main players all in different parts of the prison, dealing with a tank and many people with guns attacking them. A bus is filled with some of the prisoners and eventually takes off. Some of the cast is shot and left behind shooting at others. Daryl is a one-man army, of course. Even the little girls get in on the action, as they take out Tara’s girlfriend, with deadly accuracy, saving Tyreese in the process (yay!). All of this and we still get to watch two dudes punching each other.
Yes, as if I did not get enough of this in Man of Steel, Rick and The Governor punching it out, leads to the end of one of these characters. Right as The Governor is about to choke the life out of Rick, Michonne impales ol’ one-eye from behind and leaves him to die. Thankfully, this does not lead to a cliffhanger of whether or not The Governor actually did die, as a gunshot is also fired into his head by Lilly.
To back up, Lilly and her daughter Meghan were back at camp, minding their own business, only to be attacked by mud face zombie. Mud face bites and kills Meghan. Lilly decides to head to the prison (is it walking distance or did she drive?) to show The Governor this body, because I guess she thought this would have been the best time to make a point, only to have The Governor coldly shoot Meghan in the head, before she returned to life. This leads to the eventual head shot and it’s goodbye guvnah.
The end of this episode is nice and messy, as some of our heroes are scattered, some are dead or wounded, and the prison is effectively gone as a place to call home. To that effect, it leads to a decent ending. Rick and Carl reunite, with lots of concern for a missing Judith, but with enough on their plate for Rick to know to tell Carl not to look back. He is right, as looking back will just remind them of how screwed they are, but given the nature of this show, it would only be continuing to prove that they will always be screwed, no matter what.
It is not that I disliked this episode; it just did not do much for me (aside from the death of Hershel, which sucks, even if I saw it coming), which is kind of the main problem with this season. Last season had its issues, but it was much stronger (the first half especially). I may not have been a fan of certain aspects, but I at least had an understanding of where things were going and why. This season has had some very strong highlights on both the action side and the dramatic side, but it has also been ineffective in some of its conceptual ideas for episode structure and character development.
I can see that having mini-arcs for different characters was on the mind of the writers, but I found Carol’s to be clunky, Tyreese’s to be clunky, and especially The Governor’s to be clunky. A fitting end was found for some of these characters (mainly Carol’s) and I liked the idea of a plotline revolving around a disease spreading, but the way a lot of aspects of the season have been structured has just not sat right with me. The ambition is there and I can admire it, but it does not feel like we are taking steps forward. Really, it feels like we are going in circles; spirals actually, as the show keeps increasing the cast and scope of the big battles that take place, but through the means of having characters repeat the same kind of dialogue, making choices that do not feel organic, and taking out characters that have proven to be interesting over others that really have not had much to offer.
With all of that said, I can continue to be hopeful. Why? Because I like The Walking Dead. It has its issues, but it is a silly show about the serious events that come with the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. The Governor may have never been a favorite character of mine on this show and the attempt to revive him did not feel like much of a success (Martinez should have shot him at the end of season 3), but at least it led to a fiery finale, I guess. We have ended another storyline and removed a location that has gotten pretty old at this point. Good; glad to see it. Now we can move on to something else and hope that the strength of a cast separated can lead to some interesting elements, before they all come back together. Perhaps this disarray can also lead to some tighter writing, revolving around the characters separately and strengthening them individually. The show may have only proven that to work a few times in the past, but there will be a fresh start in some ways regardless. I just hope we don’t have to see a zombie Hershel head.
3 out of 5 Busters
- So I am back from Africa and had a great time (and wrote about it HERE)! Thanks to Brandon Peters for providing a write-up, while I was out. I actually agreed a lot with what he had to say about “Dead Weight.”
- Zombie Kill of the Week: Maybe not a zombie, but Daryl killed a tank!
- “Don’t call me that”… “Okay, do you have another suggestion? I don’t know you by anything else, as we just met today, after you took me hostage, thanks!”
- So the Walker Feeder/Rat Dissector is still out there? Will this amount to anything?
- Rock beats Scissors. Scissors beats Paper. Sign beats Zombie.
- I hope river zombie makes a travelogue of his journeys
- I still can’t go along with this Tara character. She’s just not very convincing to me, but it looks like she might be sticking around *sigh.
- If you didn’t know everyone was screwed, the crazy lady from the first episode of this season came back as a friendly walker reminder!
- Let it be known that The Walking Dead really hates little girls.
- Michonne’s sneaking around, while tied up, was pretty awesome.
- Plenty of comic references in this episode. Well played.
- Hey, Low Winter Sun is gone, right? Let’s get some Lennie James back on this show!
- I’ll be back in February, when the season continues, thanks for reading!