You know, for an episode that featured a tank shooting up the prison, the deaths of a handful of main characters, and the showdown between the Governor and Rick that we've all been waiting for since the Season 3 finale ripped us off by skipping, "Too Far Gone" wasn't really that great. Relative to the last two episodes—which dragged on for what seemed like four—the first two thirds of The Walking Dead's mid-season finale were more of the same: The Governor was acting all sweet and like he cared about the best interests of the group, when we all knew that he was a dick. The big hoedown at the end was fun to watch, but it was preposterous, even for a show about walking corpses eating the living. It was a sloppy hour that wrapped up plots by kicking them in the groin and pushing them off this runaway train of a show, but hey, that's The Walking Dead, television's okayest series that we all want to be great (but that probably never will be). And you know what? There's nothing wrong with that. Just kill some zombies and some characters I like, and I'll put up with a lot.
But at some point I'll probably get tired of the same old, same old, and *gasp* maybe I'll begin to start the process of thinking about maybe pondering the idea of possibly quitting the series. Me? Not watching a zombie show? The idea of that happening seems crazytownbananapants. But the last three episodes of this first half of Season 4 actually have me thinking like that, and what should have been a fun mid-season finale saw plentiful stupidity outweigh the less-frequent awesomeness. The biggest problem I had with it was all the hair I pulled out of my head during the many "Whyyyyyy????" moments that got in the way of brainless amusement. Among them:
But let's back up to that last WHY, the one just before the #FanRomance one. When Rick told the Governor that he wasn't giving up the prison and they would fight it out if the Governor turned down Rick's request to be roommates, it was exactly what the Governor wanted to hear. I don't even know if he wanted the prison at all, he just wanted to ruin Rick's day and kill a bunch of people, even if it meant he would fail. What a jerk!
"Too Far Gone" was Season 4's chance to reveal the meaning of its two Governor-centric episodes, and it failed to use any of the foundation it spent two hours laying. The Meghan thing didn't matter, the Lilly thing didn't matter, the Governor supposedly changing after losing everything didn't matter. In the end, what we always thought about the Governor was correct, and the detour about him embracing a new start and becoming Brian Hariot was a confusing and meaningless diversion. If The Walking Dead's writers had used the Governor as the insane villain we always knew he was instead of making him into a family man with a soft spot for little girls who also happens to be a power-hungry maniac who kills off great guest-stars, these last three episodes would have been a lot more fun. Instead, we got to see him have sex in the back of a truck and make chess metaphors. I just wanted him to die and get off this show. There was no point in keeping him around, and his death should have been a moment for all of us to high-five, but instead it just sorta happened.
But for all the narrative faceplants, "Too Far Gone" did have those "AHHHHHHHHHHHZOMG" moments that are still worth talking about. Deaths! We already discussed the Governor's overdue demise, and now let's never speak of it again. And Meghan was only a plot device that the writers didn't even fully use, so we can skip her, too. But Hershel! They killed Hershel! The old man had enough moxie to crawl away with half his neck severed in his final moments... and then the Governor went Theon Greyjoy on him and took several hacks to take his head completely off. The Walking Dead has never been one for ceremonious send-offs, and this will go down as Exhibit A for that. Just a few weeks ago, Hershel gave us one of the show's best episodic performances in "Internment," and his payment for that was a death completely out of his control. It's like Scott Wilson's face was the one that got pierced on the writers' room dartboard full of cast members as they decided which character would be this episode's big exit. It's The Walking Dead's prerogative how it wants to handle character deaths, and right now the show's approach appears to be "RANDOMLY," in big bright lights. In a way it makes sense, because of this crazy world the survivors live in. People would totally suddenly drop dead or get their heads cut off by eye-patched lunatics in a zombie apocalypse. But with a TV series that we tune in for each week, it's drama for shock value and nothing else.
And Judith! Little Ass Kicker got her ass kicked! Or did she? That bloody car seat certainly wanted us to believe that Rick's daughter became a zombie delicacy (mmmm... baby flesh), but I'm following Habeus Corpus rules here and saying no body means no death. The Walking Dead doesn't seem like a show that would say, "Whoa whoa whoa! We're not showing a dead baby, that's just too far." In fact, I'd bet they'd jump at the chance. If it can show Rick shooting zombie Sophia in the face and a zombie gnawing on Meghan's shoulder, it can show a severed baby leg in a bloody baby shoe. Tyreese probably picked her up or something. The Walking Dead wouldn't deny us the pleasure of seeing a zombie use a baby femur as a toothpick, would it?
"Too Far Gone" was entertaining mop-up duty with a fun and frustrating finish, but SURPRISE it wasn't top-tier television. Maybe that's the destiny of The Walking Dead. Maybe the show won't ever reach the heights it occasionally flirts with. As long as it has zombies, gore, and deaths, I'm going to watch it. But this back-and-forth game of "Is this the season where The Walking Dead gets its shit together?" is a game I think we should all stop playing. Some of you reached that point a long time ago, but I'm a sucker, and the strong start to Season 4 pulled me back in again. Now? I may just start fast-forwarding to the parts with spraying blood. Oh who am I kidding, it will pull me back in again, I know it. Damn you, show!
– I think the most nervous I was during this whole episode was watching those kids carry Judith in that car seat. She wouldn't have survived the trip to the bus the way the little'uns were flopping her around. That was Shaken Baby Syndrome waiting to happen!
– Hello, Lizzie! She rounded up her posse of short-stacks and they became the toddler cavalry and saved Tyreese's life. That was some pretty accurate shooting for a bunch of kids who just a few days ago were learning how to use a knife. I still hate you, Lizzie.
– Daryl was his usual great self, and his grenade slam-dunk into the
turret of a tank was awesome. And even though I complained about a
zombie being an effective human shield, that move was fantastic in a
– A couple things put off a little longer than they should've been this season: the rest of the group learning about Carol, and the culprit responsible for feeding rats to zombies and making freaky animal dissection displays in The Tombs.
– Don't worry, David Morrissey (who played the Governor) already has another pilot at AMC lined up.
AIRED ON 3/30/2014
Season 4 : Episode 16