The Walking Dead returns February 9, 2014 (see promo video above).
The midseason finale of The Walking Dead season 4 aired this Sunday with shocking results. Fans finally got the big showdown between The Governor and Rick that they have been waiting for (half a season later than it should have been, but no matter). “Too Far Gone” presented blow after blow, sending fans away with a gut-wrenching, but engaged feeling that they will not soon forget (or forgive).
This season has done well at providing vital screen time and development to characters that have been comparatively untouched in the past. In particular, season 4 has focused a great deal of time on Hershel and his place in the group. Aside from getting his leg cut off, very little has happened with the character since he was introduced in season 2. Recently though, we have seen a great deal of development and sacrifice from the character that allowed viewers to connect with him on a deeper level. But in a manner that Game of Thrones fans should be able to sympathize with, this midseason finale saw the end of Hershel via decapitation.
While many fans may dislike this move (myself included), it was admittedly well done. After Hershel lost his leg and nearly died in season 3, it seemed as though he was un-killable (narratively speaking). In addition to the general shock value of killing such a character (and in such a gruesome way at that), this strips away the safety net that he provided. Furthermore, the move was incredibly symbolic, as The Governor (Brian?) chose to kill Hershel over Michonne, knowing that this would hurt the characters (and the fans) more. Also, Hershel is everything that The Governor is not: kind, wise, family-oriented, and collected. His choice shows contempt for this and a final act that rejects all possibility of redemption for The Governor.
“Too Far Gone” also did very well at finally ending the persistent feud between Rick and The Governor. Amidst all of the chaos of the episode, The Governor overpowers Rick, but Michonne ultimately saves him by running the former through with her katana (Shishka-Brian?). More importantly, she chose to leave The Governor to bleed out rather than kill him on the spot, effectively demonstrating her own ability to let go of anger, something of which he could not. With The Governor’s demise, the series can finally move forward once more without a lingering threat waiting for the opportunity to strike.
Unfortunately, with all this good, there was one area of weakness: Judith’s presumed death. While the death itself is tragic and effectively symbolizes that Rick will never be able to be “just a farmer” (or a father) again, the loss may have been a bit ill-conceived. Are we to really believe that in all the chaos, the baby somehow got left on the ground where anything could have happened to her? More significantly, lord knows we do not need another half a season with a depressed and crazy Rick. It wasn’t compelling the first time and it‘s doubtful that it would be now. Furthermore, the character herself received very little attention this season, so while it may have been intended as the rotten and bitter cherry on top, it didn’t quite hit the mark.
Overall, The Walking Dead midseason finale, “Too Far Gone” provided an entertaining and emotional experience that promises much for the future. Although its moves were bold (seriously, the actors on Game of Thrones have better job security than these people), the episode effectively took viewers on a tense and unpredictable rollercoaster that is certain to bring them back for more.