The Walking Dead “Too Far Gone” Review: A Step in the Right Direction
The first half of The Walking Dead
's fourth season comes to a somewhat satisfying close with the mid-season finale "Too Far Gone." As we were promised in the myriad of teaser trailers for the episode there is a fairly solid body count by the episode's end. And, unlike with the mismanaged plague storyline, some name characters do indeed bite the dust. But, as with the past several episodes, this one falls just a bit short in my eyes, particularly compared with past mid-season finales.
After two weeks spent following the Governor on his path toward redemption, followed closely by his fall off the redemption wagon, it is strangely reassuring to see him once again spewing a series of lies to his new community. The prison, according to the Governor, is full of murderers and thieves. Yes, there are a few nice people. But, mostly it's murderers and thieves. These people destroyed Woodbury! They murdered poor Penny! They must be stopped! He may be a seriously disturbed sociopath, but the Governor is certainly charismatic when he needs to be.
It turns out that the Governor has also kidnapped Hershel and Michonne. And, considering the excellent character piece Hershel received with "Internment" three weeks ago, I'm guessing most of us felt immediate dread upon seeing him in the Governor's clutches. By now, we all should know what happens once you get major screen time on The Walking Dead
. While the Governor believes his hostages will convince Rick to turn over the prison with minimal death, Lilly (showing more sense than nearly all other women who have come into contact with the Governor) doesn't believe it will be that easy. She is also not on board with the possibility the group will have to kill those in the prison to take it over. But, she's thrown her lot in with the man and she's stuck - much in the same way Andrea was stuck last year.
Unlike Andrea, her allegiance with the Governor doesn't cost her her life. Unfortunately, it costs poor young Meghan hers. Once again, the Governor is unable to protect those he professes to love. And, when faced with the dead body of Meghan, he coldly shoots her in the head and moves on to focus on his battle. Considering how much time we spent getting to know Meghan, and seeing how much the Governor cared for her (even if she was simply a stand-in for Penny), the lack of any emotional response from the Governor is odd from a character perspective. Now, he is in the midst of a battle, so some emotional distance is to be expected. But his actions are methodical and emotionless. It just rings false to me that the show would spend nearly three weeks building to this major loss for the Governor and then gloss over it so we can see the Governor and Rick punch each other a lot.
Speaking of Rick and the Governor fighting, the main point of the episode is, of course, the fight for the prison. With hostages at the ready, the Governor politely requests that Rick abandon the prison. Rick proposes they share the prison, which Tara certainly seems to think might be a great idea. You know, both Tara and Lilly show some seriously good judgment this episode. I'm hoping this isn't the last we see of them. Unfortunately, the Governor doesn't want to share, and to prove just how much he wants the prison, he beheads poor Hershel with Michonne's katana. Hershel's death is the powder keg that sets off The Great Prison Battle Part 2 (this time with an extra destructive tank!).
Now, here's where I have a few major issues with the episode. Rick, while negotiating with the Governor, points out that in a battle for the prison, driving the tank through the fence will make the prison useless. So, what does the Governor do? Drive the damn tank through the fence. And, for good measure, they start blowing holes in the prison walls. If I were in the Governor's gang, this is where I'd be peacing out and joining Rick's side. The prison (which, if you recall, is the place the Governor has decreed will be the safe haven for his group) is now destroyed and useless as protection. The fact that only
Tara drops her gun and bolts is ridiculous.
My second major complaint? The death toll of characters that actually matter is incredibly low. I know I might sound cold hearted, but when I'm promised that people won't make it out alive and only two major characters die, I feel totally gypped. Losing Hershel is a sad blow, as he was rapidly becoming a solid and interesting character. Losing the Governor is pretty much expected (since there is no way the show will kill off Rick for at least another season). Losing Meghan and Tara's girlfriend Alisha? Meh. Doesn't really matter at all. And, we might have lost Judith. Which, aside from affecting Carl and Rick, isn't all that big of a deal in terms of the story (that may sound harsh, but considering Rick has probably spent a total of 5 minutes with her on the show, she was a fairly worthless character).
One of the most common complaints regarding The Walking Dead
is that the show hasn't pulled the trigger on any major deaths this season. And, that remains true. Hershel is a major supporting player who has only hit his stride in the past few weeks. But the death of Daryl, Rick, Glenn, or even Maggie would resonate more. If the show wants to keep us guessing and not feeling any major characters are safe, it has to follow through with killing them off. Or, at least take more time to develop characters so we care when they die. So far, the only two characters (besides the Governor) with significant screen time this season have been Carol and Herschel. And, both only received this treatment before being written off (which is keeping in line with the tradition of the show giving a secondary screen time before getting rid of them).
So, while this episode is definitely a step in the right direction for the series as if moves into its second half, there are still a few things on my wish list. First, give us some more time with other secondary characters (Tyreese, Sasha, Bob, Beth, etc.) before you decide to off them. Better yet, give us time with them and then DON'T kill them! Either way, give us time with them. Second, keep the gang split up for a few episodes. This will give us a chance to see the characters in new situations and with different groupings. I miss seeing Maggie on her own without Glenn. Finally, don't give the show another "big bad" right away. Let the gang struggle to find a place. Some of the most interesting parts of the early episodes involved struggling for survival out in the wild. Taking the show back to its roots is definitely a good thing.
-- I'm sure some people wanted to see Maggie kill the Governor, but I'm glad that Michonne is the one to get in the killing blow. After what he did to Andrea, Michonne deserves to have her revenge. I love that she is willing to leave him to turn, and I'm a bit bummed Lilly shoots him in the head (although, she deserved her own revenge).
-- Poor Tara, as soon as she finds herself a girlfriend, she loses her. I guess things are tough in the zombie apocalypse. I do hope we see her and Lilly again.
-- One more thing that bugged me: How come no one from the prison gang mentioned the Governor's heinous actions in front of his group. I figured Michonne would mention that the Governor killed Andrea when he brings up her name. Yet, no one says anything. That just doesn't make any sense.
-- Considering how much of a problem those fence walkers were, they sure disappeared in a hurry when the battle was about to start. And, since we're out of the prison for good, I'm guessing we'll never find out who was baiting them?
-- Glad to see Carol's self-defense lessons paid off! Those girls are (improbably) great shots.
-- Speaking of Carol, Daryl took the news of her banishment much better than I thought he would. And Tyreese still doesn't know.
--Finally, I just want to reiterate my disappointment that we never got a chance to see the Governor's backstory. Considering how brilliantly it is handled in the comics, I hoped the show would follow suit and give us a glimpse of the man he was prior to the zombie outbreak. Alas, we will never get a chance.
See you all again when the series returns in February!