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The Walking Dead – Episode 4.08 – Too Far Gone – Review and Discussion

This was the finale I was expecting last spring – even if this one was only a mid-season finale. Action-packed from start to finish, emotionally crushing, both sides 100% committed, and in The Walking Dead style – tragically ironic. In the end, the Governor’s rally to “survive” gets Meghan, himself, and most of his camp, killed. On Rick’s side, Hershel, the champion for peace – for letting people in – is beheaded by a man who just can’t come back from what he’s done.

The wait for the final showdown between Rick and the Governor was worth it. The changes the characters have undergone in the months between their battle over the prison last March and now added tenfold to the climax. At the time, they were fueled by revenge and were ready to die in a final stand to protect their home. But since then, they had found peace – not just Rick and his group, but the Governor too – and now they had reason to live.

One of the things I love about writing about this show is that I often find that elements I had focused on in previous episodes have become relevant again. As I was watching this, I was reminded of Arrow on the Doorpost, the episode last season in which Rick met with The Governor in a neutral location at an attempt at peace talks. Outside, Hershel chatted with Milton, and Daryl with Martinez, while Andrea tried in vain to bring the two leaders to some sort of mutual understanding. I made the comparison to a dance. Both Rick and the Governor were side stepping around each other and putting on a show of talking about a truce, but it never could work, and both sides knew it, because neither side trusted the other.

I was reminded of this episode as the Governor, after listening to Rick’s plea, and seeming to consider it, uttered “liar” as he swung to kill Hershel and sabotage any chance for a peaceful ending. For the first time, I was struck by the fact that Rick really had changed. While the Governor had tried to change, we’ve seen that changing when you're that far gone is very hard to do. In the end, the Governor was one of those people Martinez had said could never really come back. Rick, however, had learned something. He had been resisting the leadership mantle all season for fear that he would make the same mistakes again and lead their group to death. But forced back into a leadership role when the Governor wouldn’t negotiate with anyone else, Rick again faced the same choices, but looked at Hershel, and this time he chose peace.

Rick and Hershel

In losing Hershel, the prison group lost their elder, their counselor, and their inspiration for faith and hope. Hershel wasn’t always so stable. We know he had an alcohol problem in his youth. When Rick and his group started camping on Hershel’s farm in season 2, Hershel didn’t want them there. Maggie tried to convince Hershel to be a better person, but it was Rick who seemed to get through to him and convince him to give their group a chance. Rick was also the one to bring Hershel back from the bar when Hershel had lost faith.

Later, in season 3, when Rick started shutting too many people out, Hershel returned the favor and tried to convince Rick to start trusting people again. In the confrontation with the Governor, when Rick was proposing a peaceful solution, Hershel smiled. His influence on his friend had appeared to finally pay off, and Rick was choosing a path that was healthier for them all, because while on the surface, the Governor’s argument seems to make some sense – surviving in this world means killing first – those who choose that path, in the end become walkers – if not physically then spiritually. Unfortunately, the Governor wasn’t in the same state of mind.

The Enemy Within

While it would be easy to see this battle as the good team verses the bad team, there was a theme throughout that this darkness exists in everyone. People don’t need to look outward to see the enemy. Last week, Meghan asked the Governor if she was bad. This week Lilly echoed the same question after the Governor insisted that the prison group should be removed because they were bad people. When left behind, Lilly was looking for danger outward, across the river, but the danger was in the midst of their camp all along, under the earth that Meghan was playing in. This also underscores that there’s no such thing as a safe haven, and that the idea that the prison with its walls was the answer, was wrong.

This enemy is not only in the form of walkers, but in the darkness in people. The theme of the Jekyll and Hyde duality in people was again referenced as Lilly tells the Governor, “I don’t know who you are.” It also appeared as Daryl responds to the news that Carol had killed Karen and David and didn't appear sorry, as “That wasn’t her.” That internal struggle between Brian and the Governor appears to play out one last time as Brian considers Rick’s proposal that they all live together under one roof, but the Governor sabotages the potential for a truce by raising his sword to Hershel.

Lizzie and Carol

When the children, with Judith, were on their way to the buses to evacuate, we saw Carol’s influence on Lizzie present itself. Lizzie stops and says that Carol taught them to be strong, so they should fight. What happened next with Judith isn’t shown, but it seems that because the children got sidetracked and didn’t get on the bus, Judith went missing – and was possible eaten by a walker. Lizzie and/or Mika saves Tyreese by killing Alisha and one of the Governor’s other soldiers.

Good or bad? My initial reaction was that Carol’s message about protecting themselves paid off in the end – Lizzie became useful and killed the enemy. But we’ve met Alisha. She had her own personal story and had someone who cared about her. She was a soldier in a battle, but she wasn’t a bad person. Children, coldly killing soldiers in a battle, seems in opposition to the vision Hershel was trying to achieve.  What are your thoughts on this?

In Summary

This was an amazing episode that had so much emotional punch that I needed to stop and reflect before I could write this. What are your thoughts on Hershel’s end? How about the Governor’s?  I love Michonne’s sword and that she finally got payback.

Other Thoughts:

- It was a scary moment when it looked like a walker might get Daryl, but then I thought there’s no way he’s getting taken down by a stray zombie. That would be such an unfitting end. I loved the way Daryl turned it around by using the walker as a shield so that he could throw a grenade.

- My one nitpick for this episode is that I thought the Governor’s group, with the exception of Lilly and Tara, went along with plan to attack the prison too easily. I would be more likely to believe their actions if the group appeared frightened, but by post-apocalyptic standards, they’ve been leading a pretty idyllic life. When Rick first became leader of his group, every time he sneezed, the group questioned him.

- Are you glad to see the Governor killed off now, or would you rather he have held on longer? Although I thought these last few episodes have been fantastic and were crucial in bringing the story to where it is now, I’m glad he’s not lingering as a bad guy.  The story needs to move forward.

- The Governor when speaking with Lilly says, “This way you get to live, and I get to be ….” and then trails off. Thoughts on what he was going to say?

- Hershel:  “If you can understand what it’s like to have a daughter, then how can you threaten to kill someone else’s?” The Governor:  “Because they aren’t mine.”

- It was an ironic twist that Maggie and Glenn were fantasizing about taking a vacation, loading the station wagon, to visit the tallest waterfall in Georgia, because in the end, they’re all packing up the bus for a different type of trip. Any chance their next stop is at the tallest waterfall in Georgia?

- What was going on with the rats? I couldn’t tell what the thing was that Tyreese showed to Rick and Daryl. To me is looked like either a rat trap or dissected rat. Any help here?

- I hope Michonne put her sword through Hershel’s head before she saved Rick. I’m really disturbed at the thought of Hershel’s head lying around there undead, snapping at squirrels that pass nearby.

- What do you think happened to Judith? I’m hoping she’s not dead. The only scenario I can see where she isn’t is if the children were running in the wrong direction because they had to go back for Judith, and Judith is with Tyreese and the children now. Maybe the child seat was bloody because Tyreese was so bloody. Who else thinks that group meets up with Carol, and Carol ends up raising Rick's child after Rick said he didn't want Carol near his children?

- This is my pick for the standout quote from this episode. Rick: “We’ve all done worse types of things just to stay alive, but we can still come back. We’re not too far gone. We get to come back. And I know, we all can change.” [Hershel smiles]

- It was a nice touch to see Clara from the season premiere as one of the walkers in the end. It also fit well with the theme of coming back – and that those who can’t end up walkers.

- Rick and Carl sobbing at the end – wow. Is this the first time we’ve seen Carl cry?