The Walking Dead: Too Far Gone

Governor: “Liar.”

The intense roller coaster ride that is The Walking Dead is back. We got the mid-season cliff-hanger that a quality show deserves.

After being cranky last week about poor plot devices and sloppy writing, I was impressed with the way the prison war was played out. Our group had to leave the prison. Horrible epidemics aside, it is hard to create the kind of drama this show requires while watching everyone settle down in a relatively safe place. I admired how the big question of the season was addressed yet again. Can you come back from the horrible things that you have done and witnessed? Apparently you can’t, particularly if you are a psychopath. While I actually believed that Rick would have found a way to live with the Governor, the Governor, being who he was could not believe in that possibility because he would never do it. The problem with being a stone-cold killer is that you believe that everyone is also one or if not, they should be. The irony is, that in taking the only path he thought possible to save those he loved, the Governor lost everything. It was a mercy and a necessity to put him down. I’m kind of glad that Lily got to do it although by all rights he should have become a walker.

The cost of war is always the loss of innocent lives. Even, without the apocalypse we often kill each other to get what we think we must take from others and we often justify it with keeping our loved ones safe. The end result is exactly what happened at the prison. No one won and many people died. I really felt the loss of Hershel, our group’s conscience and one of the people who had maintained his humanity. The smile on his face just before the governor swung his sword was haunting. The Governor knew that if he let Rick keep talking he would have lost his people to reason and peace. Meaghan’s death was also tragic and I wonder about the children in both camps who now have no safety. Judith’s bloody car seat is an open question. Some people I’ve talked to are convinced she is dead while others argue that they would have showed her death if it actually happened. I guess we don’t really get to find out for a while.

Our group is scattered. There is a bus full of sick and otherwise frail people. How will they survive? Glenn certainly isn’t up to the challenge. Tyreese is stuck with several children all running the wrong way. Bob, Maggie and Sasha are just trying to get out while Beth and Daryl do the same. Michonne is on her own again. We also have two new people I'm interested in. How will Lily and Tara make it? At least Rick and Carl have found each other. I’m sure we could have had an entire episode to bring them back together. If the council was smart there is a rendezvous point but really I’m not sure that would provide much dramatic fun. As it is, I imagine the remainder of the season will be following the fractured bits of our group hoping that they find each other again before the next cliff-hanger. I am more confident after this episode that even though some of the things that will happen next are predictable it will still be an enjoyable and interesting ride.

Bits and Pieces

I loved the look Michonne was giving Hershel while he was saying that they could all live together. I wonder if she could have really let the Governor live?

Daryl continues to kick ass. I love Daryl.

We still didn’t get a resolution to Carol being ostracized. I imagine we will be seeing her again but Daryl was obviously upset. I thought that maybe he thought that if they could reason with Tyreese he could go get her back.

Someone is still messing with rats in a very disturbing way. I really think it is Lizzie. I’m glad that she was there to save Tyreese but seeing those two girls with guns and the cold-blooded way she shot Alisha was more than a bit creepy to me.

Things that annoyed me – the prison has had hordes of walkers at the fence every day. Was today a walker holiday? Lily sitting on the roof of the van with her child quite far away, particularly with a walker coming. Wouldn’t you call your daughter over to you if there was imminent danger? Actually wouldn’t you keep her a lot closer if everyone had just gone off to war?

Things I could live without – poor Hershel with his throat cut gasping for breath. Creepy flood plain walkers. I would say Daryl’s walker shield but actually that was a good idea even if it seems to me in reality that the bullets would just go straight through.


Governor: “They’re with bad people.”
Lily: “Am I?” (I just yelled at the screen – hell yes!!)

Glenn: “I could use a vacation, Get Away, just for a weekend.”

Glenm: “You know our anniversary is coming up.”
Maggie: “It is?”
Glenn: “One of these days.”

Rick: “She’s a survivor.”
Daryl: “Stop saying that like you don’t believe it.”

Rick: “We get to come back. We all can change.”

Governor: “Kill them all.”


Jess Lynde said...

Yeah, Doc, I have to reverse course a bit on my crankiness from last week, too. There were a number of things that underwhelmed or just didn't work for me in this episode, but the moment that really worked surprisingly well is the one you led off with. The moment when the Governor kills Herschel. Not just because it was a terrible loss of a beloved character, but because that moment felt like the perfect culmination of all that unfolded over the previous 7 episodes. Rick fully embracing Herschel's humanity and his notion that we can come back and be decent people in spite of everything, and the Governor completely rejecting it, because he tried and wasn't able to come back. I'm not sure "Liar" and the subsequent murder would have struck me as powerfully as it did, if not for those two episodes establishing exactly why the Governor would refuse to believe in the possibility of change. The non-redemption arc really made it work. I'm very glad the Governor is dead, and remained unredeemed, but now I don't mind so much having spent that time with him in these last few eps. (And, like you, I'm still somewhat hopeful that maybe Tara and Lilly can become part of the fold, and that these moments weren't the last we see of them.)

One thing I give the Walking Dead creative team tremendous credit for: no matter what frustrations or disappointments crop up as the seasons unfold, they always manage to make me curious to see what's going to come next. With everyone scattered to the four winds and reeling from Herschel's death, the second half of Season 4 seems primed to give us some good stuff. I'm very curious to see how these fragmented groups handle this time apart, and how everyone reconverges.

I'm particularly interested in how Rick copes with the fallout from losing the prison, Herschel, and Judith all in one fell swoop. (I think the baby is actually alive --- possibly with Tyreese and the girls, or maybe Tara? --- but Rick and Carl clearly think she's dead.) It's a terrible, terrible blow for him. Herschel once told him that he wouldn't end up like Clara (who we got to see in the zombie horde there at the end) even if he lost all those things, and I guess we'll now get to see if Herschel was right. I'm hopeful we get a different grieving and adjustment process than the post-Lori breakdown.

Of course, the writers have a nasty habit of not always paying off the interesting conflicts and dilemmas they set up --- see Daryl vs. Rick re: the Carol business, or the taming of budding psychopath Carl (which apparently happened during the gap between seasons) --- so, I guess we'll see.

drnanamom said...

Jess thanks for your comments. It is hard to decide what to put in a review and you usually manage to add all the things that I want to but then don't think I have space for! I didn't pick up on the Clara bit - I think I was too overwhelmed but you're right, it's a nice little counterpoint at the end. I am a bit annoyed at the blowing the group apart just so we can put them back together in different configurations bit but it certainly does provide a lot of fodder for coming episodes.

Billie Doux said...

I was upset, even though I knew that it had to be Hershel. I didn't even like Hershel when he was introduced, but he just became such a great character. It was awful watching Maggie and Beth's reaction as it was happening.

Daryl and the grenade. Perfect.

And finally -- what sort of mother lets their child play so far away during a freaking zombie apocalypse? What was she thinking???

Thanks so much for another terrific half-season of reviews, Doc.

Jess Lynde said...

You're welcome, Doc! Clearly I can relate to the "having too much to say" problem. :)

Here's another one for the "lax parenting" column: why the hell were four little kids in charge of the baby during a crisis? I get that the writers wanted Beth outside to witness Herschel's death, but wouldn't she have asked another adult to supervise the kids if she was running out to check on the ruckus? Isn't watching the kids --- specifically Judith --- her primary "job" in the prison community? Why leave her with that crew of moppets? They could barely handle the baby carrier!

Speaking of that carrier: In support of the "Judith is alive" case --- the harness on the bloody baby carrier appeared to be unbuckled, which seems to suggest that a living person took her out of it.

Bishop said...

I think Billie's Rule of Television #10 (aka Josie's Law) applies to Judith :P

Henrik Bennetter said...

I gotta say I really, really, disliked the way this episode played out. Well, not so much what actually happened, that was good drama and all, but the fact that it happened now instead of in the last season finale. The whole wide circle dance routine thingy with the guvnor that brought him back to the exact same place with new people was stupid and frustrating.
Don't get me wrong, the raid with the tank and all had to happen only way, way, sooner.
I have been totally uninterested in seeing the guvnor come to the realization that he's an asshole.
What's more I didn't find it at all logical that Lily, the woman that he fell in love with and who fell in love with him, would just shoot him like that.
And by the way - Lily. Worst mother ever.
No one would ever, ever, let their kids play more than five feet away in a zombie-apocalypse, unless it was somewhere with very sturdy fences - such as a prison.
Therefor I don't see the point, storywise, of Meghan either. Just another kid the guvnor lost, but she didn't mean anything to him anyway - inspite of what he said.

Agh! I'm so frustrated and irritated. I'm this close to abandoning the show entirely.

Lizzie has to be the one doing the rats, which raises the question if Carol covered for her? Lizzie couldn't have dragged the bodies outdoors but she sure could have knifed them.

Anyway, sorry for being such a grouchypants. I....I dunno.

drnanamom said...

@Henrik. I hear you with the round-a-bout regarding the Governor but I guess I'm siding with Jess in that the whole story arc about the governor was focused on the big question-can you come back and if you don't - is it worth surviving anyway?. The answer really was only if you choose to (oh and you're not a psychopath). For me, the governor represents a particular form of blindness/denial that is much too evident in American and Canadian society today - that one should put the survival of you and those you love above all else and ps. it is okay to take other people's stuff to do so. In the television series the Governor is the epitome of that and his demise, as well as Meghan's illustrate how stupid that approach is. That path leads to destruction and the loss of what really matters. Rick and his group are representative of a more subversive message that really we need other people to survive. I think it really speaks to a crossroads that many modern societies are at - we can learn to share and take care of each other and survive or we can be like the governor and just take what we think we need and destroy everything. Pretty philosophical for first thing in the morning don't cha think?!

Jess Lynde said...

I've been pondering the show's philosophy, too, and I agree that it sort of feels like they are pushing "we need to take care of each other to survive" as the better way to go. At least in the sense that they give that point of view to the most sympathetic characters.

But in terms of outcomes, it starts to feel like the real message is "you should just give up," because neither the "protect what's mine" nor the "civilized/humanist" approach seem to produce better results on this show. By the end of this episode, neither Rick, the Governor, or any of the people they cared about were in better positions. Everyone was worse off.

And given the dramatic requirements of the show, and the open-ended nature of the story-telling, isn't that how it's always going to be? They'll go through hell, find some stability, and then it will all fall apart again. Rinse and repeat. The Morgan philosophy from 'Clear' is the one the show really ascribes to:

"Your boy, is he dead? [...] He will be. See, 'cuz people like you --- the good people --- they always die. And the bad people do, too. But the weak people --- the people like me --- we have inherited the Earth."

"Why do you need the guns, Rick? 'Cuz if you've got something good, that just means there's someone who wants to take it. [...] You will be torn apart by teeth or bullets. You and your boy. Your people. But not me. 'Cuz I am not gonna watch that happen again."

It makes me constantly question why I'm so into this show. Why I don't just check out like Morgan. I guess I'm either a masochist, a nihilist, or just in that same terrible relationship that Paul mentioned in his comments for 'Infected.' I know it is bleak, but I keep clinging to the slimmest possibility of hope: "This can't be it. It can't be. You've gotta be able to come back from this."

drnanamom said...

I don't think I agree with you Jess. Yes, it all went to hell but that was because of the Governor. It was possible to have a supportive community but he literally blew it to pieces. Maybe if we could learn how to stop listening to the psychopaths among us, we could stop that kind of thing from happening over and over again but as I and many others have said, that would make for very boring TV. Perhaps that is part of the problem :)

Jess Lynde said...

Well, that's the crux of the issue, isn't it? The dramatic demands of the television series require the pattern to repeat. I guess we just have to hope each cycle brings enough variation to keep it more interesting than depressing. :)

Also, I'd argue that life at the prison was starting to come apart at the seams a bit, even before the Governor even showed up with his tank. Between the superflu and assorted people starting to make decisions on their own, the community was already fraying somewhat.

It's a real Catch-22, huh? You need each other and communal good will to survive, but individual needs and desires often seem to get in the way of the greater good. Ah, life.

Tim said...

Fascinating discussion.
It's reasoned, intelligent threads like this that sets Doux Reviews apart.
Thanks for the TWD reviews, Drnanamom, and to everyone else for their contributions.


Jess Lynde said...

Funny, after our exchange, I found an article on the NPR Pop Culture blog making the argument that the mid-season finale demonstrated the show's hopeful nature, pretty much taking your side in the debate, Doc.

Some of the comments on the article are interesting and thoughtful, too.

TheShadowKnows said...

I feel nihilism and fatalism are intellectually defensible positions - particular since, in the long run, we're all dead (even without a zombie apocalypse). It IS pretty bleak for a television show, but it's arguably not an unreasonable "message".

Billie Doux said...

I don't watch The Walking Dead to see characters I've grown to like die horribly. I watch because I want to see these characters succeed in creating a new world for themselves against overwhelming odds. Which means there are always going to be casualties. If they succeeded in creating something like Woodbury and lived reasonably happily ever after, I doubt that people would watch it. Although it would make a great series finale.

Thanks for the good words, Tim. I love our site and the community here. I think it's special, too, but of course, I'm biased.

Henrik Bennetter said...

Sorry if I'm repeating myself here but my main gripe with this episode was never really what actually happened - rather that it happened now instead of in last seasons finale.
OR - they could have held out on the big shootout 'til now and done something else in last seasons finale. My point is that it's lazy and stupid to have to showdowns in a show like this - unless it's a NEW threat.

Slightly spoilery of the comic for a bit now. What the comic did very well was focus on the mental breakdown of the "survivors". When they first got to the prison they had to clear it out, there were problems and casualties, and some of the characters simply broke. Couldn't take it anymore. Commited suicide by zombie and other gory stuff. Then Woodbury and the governor came along, tried to take what was theirs, was deterred and THEN came at them full strength.
Woodbury, not a random new group of people.
So everything played out much more logically than it did here.

What the comic has done since is rinse and repeat. New town, new threat. New town, new threat and so on and the comic is now quite boring as well.

So, like it's been described in earlier comments - it's hard to keep things interesting in their world if there is no conflict.
But for the same reason I didn't watch the remake of Dallas - I don't want to watch the same old antagonists go at it yet another time.
And sure, Daguvna is dead now and that opens things up again.
The thing is, and this always irritated me with the comic as well, why not try and retake the prison? It should be easy enough and also much, much, safer now that the last remnant of Woodbury is gone.
But, again, that wouldn't make for good drama.

Look. All I'm really saying is that the writers should consider their characters and their motivations properly. Then think heavily about what Rick, Carl, Maggie, Glenn or any of them would do in the situation the now are in. Where will they go, why, and how?
Not make half-assed decisions based on what "works". Then we'll have a series that focuses on the characters rather than what gory stuff can happen to them - and that'll be interesting drama.

That can be found in a free online comic by the way. I'm not sure if I've talked about it before, if so forgive ME for repeating myself, but what this comic does is slowly but surely escalate the threat and take it in several different and very, very, well written directions.
Now, I have to tell you upfront that it is VERY gory and at times even more graphic - almost bordering on pornographic - but to me it's what an actual apocalypse would look like and how it would bring out the absolute worst in some people.
Also, it heavily explores the lengths we would go to to protect the ones we love and do "the right thing" - whatever that may be.
Again. GRAPHIC in every way possible, but if you look past that it's extremely well written, stirring and exciting.
Oh, and did I mention free?

Start here:

It'd be interesting to hear what you think of it.

Elfie said...

Interesting comment thread. It's great to read everyone's thoughts on the episode, even if I'm late since I just watched this episode. Oh well. I'm gonna comment anyway.

I often wonder why I still watch this show just as everyone else, I don't understand why I stick to it after everything that's gone down. I remember often being depressed after watching an episode like this, but now I'm not even affected by it. Sometimes when I watch a bleak movie or a depressing, disgusting show I'm just like, "It doesn't affect me. I watch TWD." It's like I've become immune to morbid television or something. On the other hand I guess the reason remains the same, the writers somehow manage to captivate the audience enough to leave them wanting more, even if they aren't on board with all the decisions they make.

I'm on the "Baby is Alive" boat because 1. This show is not beyond child monsters (Sophia, anyone?) and stuff like that, they would have shown us the body, or they would have at least shown us Judith getting killed if she truly was dead. 2. It would have been absolutely pointless to have this whole Judith arc if she's dead. Lori's death would be rendered meaningless and well, I just feel like that's just way too dismal, even for this show.

All in all, I'm going to keep watching. P.S Was it just me who flinched when the Governer killed Hershal? I was about to cry. I loved him so much, I knew he was going to die, it was inevitable, he was handicapped and old, but honestly, that one really hit where it hurts. On to better news, THE GOVERNER IS DEAD YAY OMG I AM SO HAPPY. I was like cheering when Michonne shoved the sword into his chest, and later when Lilly killed him. I kind of wish he had a more brutal death after all he's done but this was as satisfying as it gets on this show.

Anyway, wonderful review as always. I'm glad I can discuss this show with other watchers on this thread, since I don't watch the Talking Dead.

Jess Lynde said...

I've enjoyed reading your comments as you are working through the show, Elfie. Being so far ahead with the show at this point makes it difficult to respond to most of your thoughts --- I wouldn't want to spoil you! --- but I wanted you to know you aren't posting into empty space, even though you are catching up late. At least a few of us are following along with you! It's been great getting your perspective and getting to revisit what we all thought back in the day.

Billie Doux said...

Yes, Elfie. What Jess said. We read every comment posted on the site and it's never too late to post one.

Lamounier said...

Also late to the discussion, but this episode begs for a comment.

I’m with Henrik on this one. This episode was half a season late. While I enjoyed the path of the last two episodes, mostly for the new people we got to meet, I rolled my eyes so many times on the first ten minutes. There was too much of the Governor’s old crap going on, I just wanted to shut his mouth. They should’ve named this episode “Governor Attacks the Prison and Annoys the Audience 2: Now For Real”.

The Governor was a psychopath and that was it. This sort of took the complexity out of the situation for me. Yes, that moment Rick speaks about returning to your humanity, and you can see Rick has returned and the Governor hasn’t, was really good. But this was not the fight of a man willing to do the right thing no matter what versus a man willing to do anything for his people. This was a fight of a man willing to do the right thing no matter what versus a wack job. The Governor didn’t care about anything else but his own crazy mind. He ruined every life he came across, killed most of his Woodbury crew and is now directly responsible for most of the deaths of his new group. I’m so glad he’s dead.

Speaking of dead, they killed Hershel for this? I knew Hershel would die this season (note to self: don’t watch youtube videos of a TV show if you’re more than one season late, the related videos’ section will contain spoilers), and I knew the second he got kidnapped it would happen on this episode. But I was so angry it happened on this particular arc, Hershel deserved a better send off. I’ll give them this: his death scene was very powerful. But I’m still on denial. Damn it.

I was hoping either Michonne or one of Hershel’s daughters would take the Governor out. Michonne started the killing... and Lily finished it? That was fitting but it would have been better if either Maggie or Beth had done it.

Hard to believe bits: Yes for everyone saying that a mother would never let her child stay so far away from her on a zombie apocalypse. But I was totally surprised with the walker rising from the ground. Really, there’s no safe place, not even the spot you’re standing on. Jesus.

Hard to believe bits 2: The Woodbury people had second thoughts about attacking Rick’s people... I had a hard time believing the Governor’s new group would be so willing to attack the prison, mostly after Rick’s speech and the Governor killing Hershel so cruelly. Tara seemed to be the only sane person on that moment.

I miss Carol.