The Walking Dead Watch: Too Far Gone

The Governor came for the prison, igniting a battle that took one of our biggest characters

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Laura Cavanaugh / Getty Images / AMC

Robert Kirkman (L) and Greg Nicotero (R) attend The Walking Dead Panel at New York Comic Con at Jacob Javits Center on Oct. 12, 2013 in New York City.

The midseason finale is an episode that presents a conundrum for television showrunners, much more so than a season’s final episode. Even in the days of Netflix and binge-watching, most readers expect that shows will come in seasons (when else will they film new episodes?) Tension and plots build to the season finale, and producers can close subplots and character arcs while throwing in everything but the kitchen sink to leave viewers saying, “Wow!”

But the midseason finale — nearly always dictated by scheduling — is a catch-22 of the highest order. Knowing that they’ll lose viewers to the holidays, bowl games and NFL playoffs, writers and producers still need to wow the audience, but in the immortal words of Hank Williams, they have to leave them also leave them wanting more.

This season’s midseason finale, “Too Far Gone,” resembled last season’s halfway episode in that there was a battle, some very important (and surprising) deaths, and plenty of questions to keep us guessing over the next two months. The two parts of this season — the prison and the plague, and the reemergence of The Governor — collided in the only way they could, with our main villain and some new characters we don’t really care about attacking the core group we can’t live without. I doubt many fans thought The Governor would win the fight, so the only questions remaining were who in our core group would die and what would be the total damage?

Let’s go with the latter first. The collateral damage was severe. The prison is now in shambles and overrun by walkers; our group is once again on the run, and some of them are wounded; and to make matters worse, they’re scattered and separated in at least three or four batches.

Did it have to be this way? In a word, yeah. The Governor is a a consummate villain — that’s what fans love about his character. We couldn’t keep tap dancing around the issue of when he would confront Rick and show his true colors as a psychopath with a leadership complex. But to their credit, the writers didn’t just ratchet straight into the fighting. They gave The Governor a chance to justify his intentions and David Morrissey a chance to show some of his incredible acting skills. In a series of rhetorical questions, some answered and some not, we got an explanation for why he wanted to go to war. When Lily asked him what Megan was going to be in this world, The Governor answered, “alive.” When he said the people in the prison were with bad people, Lily asked, “Am I?” He gave no response.

The Governor had only one goal in mind, not revenge (although he likely would have relished that), but to keep little Megan alive, and he was convinced that taking the prison was the only way to do it. The episode started out with The Governor seeming, not necessarily as pure evil, but as more of a sociopath, willing to kill or maim whoever stood in his way. In the end, though, he gave in to his nefarious rage, calmly dispatching Megan with a bullet to the head. The results of his wrath were predictably tragic. He ignited the violence by killing Hershel in a rather dramatic and brutal way. Tara put it best when she said in shock, “He cut off a guy’s head with a sword!” One final act of brutality that perfectly set up The Governor’s own demise.

Hershel is a big loss (more on him below). As for The Governor, he will be missed, both for the importance of his character and the gravitas Morrissey brought to the role. Characters enter and leave in ones and twos, strutting and fretting their hours upon the stage, but the anchor of The Walking Dead is the core group. The Governor was a huge part of the story, but in the end, his story hand simply run out. 

And now for a (figurative) hail of bullets:

Zombie Kill Report: This was another episode where the walkers played more of a peripheral role. They stumbled in to wreak some havoc, but it was the humans who were causing each other the most damage. The kill of the night would have to go to Daryl — the scene where a walker crept up behind him had a nice cut away where we didn’t know what happened to him, but of course he came out of it using the zombie as a shield. (I’m not sure that would work in real life, but it was badass.) The best pure zombie scene belonged to Megan digging on the river bank. The shot of a hand coming slowly out of the mud resembled the final scene in Carrie (not the new one, the Brian De Palma classic).

Classic weapons and gunslingers: Any military nerds out there surely noticed that while the battle featured lots of modern carbines, there were a few classic weapons in the mix. The Governor’s main threat came from a very functional M60 battle tank. According to our story, Mitch was a tank driver in the National Guard and he made off with the beast when the world ended. In reality, the M60 has long been retired and last saw action in the Gulf War. The producers said on Talking Dead that the tank was actually used in Vietnam and now belongs to a private collector. It’s too bad they couldn’t get ahold of the M60s successor, the M1 Abrams, which was featured in the Season 1 scene in Atlanta when Rick first meets Glenn (remember? — “Hey you in the tank.“) For most of the fight, Tyrese is running around with an M14, the predecessor to the M16, which was widely used early in the Vietnam War. A few infantrymen still carried those in Iraq and Afghanistan because they’re very reliable rifles.

Weapons aside, I for one was profoundly disappointed with the beginning of the gunfight. For a bunch of people who routinely pop off head shots against walkers, hundreds of rounds went in both directions and no one hit anything! It’s hard to wow us with shootout scenes because we’ve all seen thousands of them on T.V. and movies, and this one was much better than the terrible one in the last season of Breaking Bad. But before we have another gun battle in this show, or any show for that matter, the directors would do well to re-watch Heat, which features perhaps the greatest shoot out ever filmed. I’ll provide a convenient link here.

He who lives by the sword…During the Talking Dead that followed the episode, the producers showed a quote from David Morrissey where he discussed The Governor’s demise. “I always felt that Rick and The Governor had this hatred for each other,” Morrissey said, “but his real nemesis was Michonne.” It was a fitting end, and good to see Michonne back in top form.

The final lesson: Before last season’s finale, I predicted, incorrectly, that Herhsel would be killed off. I’m glad I was wrong. We wrote a bit a few weeks ago about what a fine actor Scott Wilson is and how TWD is only a small part of his remarkable career. That episode was a fantastic demonstration of Wilson’s abilities and the importance of the character, and it makes his loss more profound than that of Shane or Lori or Andrea. We never really missed any of those characters after they were killed off. Yes, Hershel’s little life talks were incredibly annoying at times, but he’s a character who greatly impacted the show. Scott Wilson and his dulcet southern drawl will be greatly missed.

And the questions: The episode left us with the obligatory dozen or so questions: Is Judith alive? And for that matter, what about Beth, Sasha, and Bob? Tyrese is still alive, thanks to Carol’s girls and the tough love they thankfully internalized, but everyone is now scattered, on the run, hurt and heartbroken. Sounds like a recipe for a heck of a beginning to the second half of the season. See you in February!

23 comments
joseph.tighe
joseph.tighe

Yeah, just to point out that Tyrese had an M1 Carbine. Which I found a bit odd as it's low cailbre and would have been a weird choice of weapon. Why didn't he just pick up one of the many M4s?

BrianClune
BrianClune

 Brian,

I ran into this the other day, its a funny take on becoming a Zombie.  We always assume that everyone else will be the Zombie, this take helps you prepare if you’re not so lucky.

Pretty funny.

okayfine
okayfine

I'm not sure why everyone is so surprised that Herschel was killed off. The Governor was a surprise because it seemed a bit premature & because David Morrissey is the most talented performer on the show, but when the show started, I said to someone, "Can't talk now. Gonna watch Herschel & Glenn snuff it." So, I was wrong on Glenn! :-)

euellgong
euellgong

I see this is a very interesting movie. Probably worth a look....hahah I'm only watched the first and second seasons... Next will be more fun. So.... fly to watch lol

lango6
lango6

While story elements such as characters and plot arcs are necessary and make for engaging discussion, I'm more interested by the larger scale events.  In fact, the show is losing me because it just plods along with these small communities of people and their almost daily individual and interpersonal struggles.  What is happening to the rest of the world?  We haven't seen anything since the first half of season 1 on whether some form of strategy has developed to either combat the virus or control the walkers.  

Human behavior is constantly shown at its worst, with big deals being made of fundamental human kindness, empathy, and social cohesiveness.  Are we really only capable of forming communities of a couple of dozen?  We have returned to tribalism, when we know so much more about developing functional social structures even in the absence of technology.  I'm feeling quite manipulated to appreciate a view of humanity that has little if any redemptive qualities, and while I may be in the minority since the world that has been created is entertaining millions, I am likely to stop watching if this formula doesn't change in the second half of the season.

Poobear
Poobear

Wow I cant even watch talking dead online because Im on directv? That bologna!

Sillysoft
Sillysoft

Don't forget about the Governor. You did not see him die, he was stabbed but then the woman came and in what looked like a gun pointed at him and shot. But they never show the Governor dead, yet everyone else who has died off in the show actually verifies their death by showing them dead. With the governor the gun goes off and the screen goes black, so I definitely believe he is still alive going into the next series.

donjudice
donjudice

not to be nit picky, but Tyrese was running around with an M1A1, not an M14.  The M1A1 is a WWII era rifle, mainly used in the Pacific campaigns.

GeneClark
GeneClark

Before they killed off the rather annoying central characters.  This time it was Hershel who  retained outstanding character to the end. Character is a rare thing, Daryl and Hershel have it, Rick is trying to cling to what is left of it.  This is a tough loss. 

jamiedunovant
jamiedunovant

The only 2 characters that brought true substance and character depth to this show were killed off.  Now we are left with a bunch a underdeveloped characters who make little more of their screen time than cliche one liners.  I hate to say it but this episode, I inevitably feel is going to be viewed as the beginning of the decline of this show.  With the 2 best written characters and the 2 best actors involved in the show now gone, there is an overwhelming feeling TWD is about to start dragging along no different than the zombies.  "Too Far Gone," i feel was a very appropriate title for this particular episode.   Good luck to The Walking Dead writers attempts to give some or any of the stories character's a little more depth than you have to this point. My optimism for the tasks very leery..

AaronC.Jones
AaronC.Jones

"Greatest shootout ever filmed"? Uh, "Heat" was awesome, but greatest shootout? In American cinema, maybe, but the greatest shootout (and action movie of all time, for that matter) is John Woo's "Hard Boiled". This film's cinematography has been ripped off by everyone from "The Replacement Killers" to "The Matrix". The film that INVENTED slo-mo gunplay in film.

Elbow
Elbow

Daryl seemed to confirm that Carol was not the killer of Karen and David. ("It sounds like her, but doesn't sound like her," or something to that effect.) Waiting for little Lizzy to reveal her true nature to the group.

Bicycle_Girl74
Bicycle_Girl74

Scott Gimple's expression is priceless. Looks like he's saying "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?"

You have to wonder what Nicotero is saying...

DonaldMaginnis
DonaldMaginnis

@Sillysoft He is dead.  That was basically how he died in the book and there was no doubt about it.

okayfine
okayfine

@jamiedunovant AGREED! With everything you said.But, I don't know why I expected more - I watch the show only because it's part of the conversation & find it helpful in business social situations to actually be able to follow the over-a-few-beers-after-work chatter.

haywood_jablowme
haywood_jablowme

bwahahahaha, Snyder's about to be indicted for felonies and other crimes by the Wayne County Prosecutor in january/ They have Snyder and his cohorts real good.

CGM
CGM

@Elbow ..totally agree with you. I think Lizzy did the killing; not Carol. Gosh, sooo many questions and now we have to wait until February...pure torture!

okayfine
okayfine

@DonaldMaginnis @Sillysoft  

Fair enough, but it wasn't very satisfying. It would have been better if Michonne had cut off his head. Fitting AND satisfying.