It’s the words that explain the reason I stayed up until 3am in the morning (Pacific Standard Time) writing this recap of the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead’s fourth season.
I actually wasn’t planning on doing ANY mid-season review for the show this year; that is until last night’s final episode of 2013 blew my socks off into millions of tiny atomic particles that can’t be viewed by the naked eye.
Yes, it was that wild.
WARNING: Spoilers start here. You have just lost zero excuse to revile me should you read forward past this period.
Before I get into the gory (literally) details of the mid-season cliffhanger, I just wanted to provide my metaphorical 2 cents – like I could really afford a real 2 cents – on the apocalyptic zombie show’s fourth season to date.
It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride so far with regards to the ups and downs our Atlanta-based survivors have gone through. The season started us off several months down the road from the Governor (David Morrissey) completely going off the deep end in killing all but two of his dearest henchmen.
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and crew took in what was left of the Woodbury residents and settled down into their most normal state of living since being run out from Hershel’s farm by a heard of hungry smelly dead things. Granted, the word normal is used relatively when you take into account living day-to-day out of a state penitentiary.
The proverbial feces hits the wall when a flu bug decides to infiltrate the prison, and apparently Obamacare didn’t offer enough coverage to keep everyone immune. In turn, about half the population is lost to a cough and the sniffles; not to mention an issue with bleeding out of their eye sockets.
Once a medicine run is made and temporary order is brought back to base camp, we travel a bit back in time to see what our good, though mentally insane, friend the Governor has been up to. During the course of two episodes, the one-eyed overachiever found a new family, re-connected with his pal and future murder victim Martinez, and highhandedly convinced a new militia of survivors to storm the prison to take what is rightfully his (and theirs if you can believe a word the guy says).
That brings us to the last installment of The Walking Dead’s run this year until it picks back up again on February 9th, 2014. (Even the most demented of us need a break from the undead once in full moon.) Needless to say, the midterm finale didn’t disappoint, well outside of the disappointment of losing Dr. Herschel Greene, DVM (played to perfection by Scott Wilson).
It was a moment I saw coming from a mile away. As Rick pleaded his case that both parties try to live together under one prison roof, the man with a patch paused and dropped the Katana from Herschel’s bearded Santa Claus-esque throat, looking as though he was seriously thinking over the option. I knew… hell, we all knew he wasn’t. When Herschel smiled for that brief moment, we all also knew his fate was sealed. It was time to say goodbye, because if there is something that The Walking Dead isn’t about, it’s happy endings.
It was truly a sad moment, one that even brought a rush of undead tears to the Outlaw’s face. Hell, even the bouncy fun atmosphere that is the Talking Dead seemed down right dejected. Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick, Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene) and Scott Wilson himself, looked to be fighting back tears for a full hour. Lauren seemed the most broken up, and I don’t blame her. (If you need a shoulder to cry on Lauren, the Outlaw’s is readily available… as are some other extremities.)
Nevertheless, if there is anything positive that can be extolled from losing the most recent moral center of the series, it’s that some of that ethical goodness has rubbed off on Rick. It’s a pretty safe bet that Hershel’s smile wasn’t in response to a possible truce between the two groups, but instead it was a result of Rick’s willingness to take the less violent route, even if it was the harder of the two paths to take.
Herschel knew that the survival of the human race in an undead world was about people coming together to help each other. To steal a line from another popular franchise, “remember who the real enemy is.” Understandably, the latest attack may set Rick back a few strides, but hopefully the spirit of the loveable peg-leg lives on within him. No matter what the eventual outcome to the show may bring, in my eyes, Herschel will always be the wise Dumbledore of The Walking Dead realm. Much like the mighty wizard left a hole at Hogwarts upon his death, Herschel’s calming demeanor and moral compass will be sorely missed as well.
Outside of that major loss, the proverbial fit hit the shan everywhere else this episode as well. The Governor, after beheading the fearless farmer, gave the green light to take the prison by any means possible, which meant taking down all of the fences in the process (See what happens when you don’t listen to Rick?)
Blood was spilled on both sides – more so with the Governor’s tribe – and the final battle for the Georgia prison was one for the ages. The effects and style in which the entire melee was filmed really was a site to see. It was the equivalent to see your home and family blown up after two years of building it almost from scratch.
There were also some great moments during the battle, one of them being seeing little Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) summon the bravado and training of the now-evicted Carol in order to put a few bullets into the head of some prison invaders. For the first time ever, I actually liked the character and look forward to her character kicking some more buttocks. (On a side note, will saving Tyreese’s (Chad L. Coleman) life now give Carol (Melissa McBride) a get back-into-the-group free card? Carol did train the little tykes after all, AND it looks like they may have had more to do with her girlfriend’s death then Carol led us to believe.)
Those wanting to see the Governor finally get his, weren’t disappointed. In what ended up being a three-way tag-team effort – perverts please digress – Rick, Michonne and Lilly all played a role in offing the disgruntled Woodbury politician. Fans of the comic book will appreciate Lilly basically putting the icing on the cake of the inevitable meal the Governor would become.
On that note, readers of the comic will also note that this past episode also leaves us at somewhat similar and significant turning point as was taken in the graphic novel. I’m not sure about everyone else, but should the television series follow a similar course of events, things are about to get very interesting.
Overall, this was by far the most epic episode of The Walking Dead, if not the most epic 40 minutes of TV, I’ve seen in a long time. The fast pace, edge of your seat suspense, and all-out action sequences made the show fly by in what seemed like mere minutes.
Before I pass out from exhaustion, I ask that you all take a moment of silence for Herschel Greene, who will be sorely missed. Despite losing his farm, his leg, and eventually his life, the vet-turned-doctor was a true beacon of hope for the decency of humanity in the post-apocalyptic world.
Did I mention he also has a really hot daughter?