Episode 8 - Too Far Gone
4 December 2013
Synopsis: The Governor makes his pitch to his people and they agree to go to war. Lily stays behind and Megan is bitten by a Walker. The Governor threatens to hurt Hershel and Michonne if Rick won't leave. Rick offers to take the Governor's people in but Hershel loses his head to make certain that won't happen. The guns begin to fire and Michonne escapes and kills the Governor. Darryl leads the defence of the prison as most of the survivors escape on a bus. Several groups are separated though as Walkers march into the prison.
The Good: Well I feel exhausted and tense so I suppose by definition "The Good" makes its return to these reviews. From when Rick began begging for peace to prevail all the way to the final shot I was gripped with anxiety. I can't deny that the apocalyptic setting still manages to evoke great emotion in me as I cringe for the imminent suffering of these people.
Once again Andrew Lincoln proved himself to be a weirdly inspired piece of casting as his desperation was quite moving. I was certain that Hershel was going to die but the moment still held weight. The theme of whether or not we get to come back really did pay off here. For a moment the Governor considers whether peace is possible. But then he remembers that he wasn't allowed to change. He is back doing all the nasty things he hoped he could leave behind. So he decides to make it impossible for compromise by killing the nicest guy on the show and one whose daughters couldn't possibly live alongside him after this.
That moment was aided by two complimentary scenes. The first was earlier in the episode when the Governor rationally explains his plan to Hershel and Michonne. By seeing him acknowledge his own past madness and stick firmly to logic we could see the change he wished for himself. I believe that he wanted to take the prison without bloodshed. It was a far more convincing moment than many we saw over the last two episodes. I thought his argument that anywhere safe would already be taken was a good one although clearly he never tested it.
The second scene was the beautifully executed sequence where Megan was bitten. I loved the long shot of the Walker trying to cross the river with Lily wide eyed and fearful, hoping the current would wash him away. It was a perfect example of how the tension created by the apocalypse should be communicated by human emotion and not gory zombie makeup. Of course as she breathed a sigh of relief as the Walker lost its battle with nature Megan dug up the sign warning of flash floods. A walker, long buried in the dirt, emerges to prove the Governor wrong. It was a horrific illustration of how nowhere is now safe and taking the prison is no panacea for anyone. The Governor didn't have to take the prison, that moment said, because safety is an illusion.
Back at the prison his death felt somewhat anticlimactic after such a strong focus on him over these last two episodes. But it was a relief to see Rick find rescue and Michonne gain final revenge. The failure of the Governor's new group to take the prison was ultimately a story which made sense. Last episode seemed to imply that the Governor's philosophy was right - that you had to screw other humans over to survive. But this battle said otherwise.
The Bad: I know in war you need to cause maximum damage to your enemy to succeed but why did Mitch blow holes in the prison wall? If they were going to live there then surely those shots were a major mistake. As exciting as the battle was at times it was not as well choreographed as it could have been. We had multiple instances of characters not getting shot when they were exposed to rapid gun fire. But more generally it wasn't clear to me how the Governor's people all met their end. We saw a few being killed but there were many more of them than the prison group and I don't remember seeing them all being taken down. Once more it felt like our survivors were magically protected from the logical consequences of such an epic shootout.
The Unknown: The escape from the prison was suitably chaotic. However you would think that Glenn or whoever was driving the bus would not feel able to drive away until the children were on board. It seems odd that with Carol gone no one felt responsible for their wellbeing.
I suppose there's a chance that baby Judith is still alive and that one of the kids is carrying her. However I could also see the producers taking this chance to free themselves from an obligation that would have made surviving on the run impossible. Â If that really is her death then it's a weird moment. It almost feels like the producers realised there was no way they wanted to spend time focussing on such a horribly tragic thought and hoped the genuine chaos would take people's minds off the reality of that moment. Surely the horror of that could break Rick? And yet the need to survive will presumably distract him long enough to keep him going. But at some point someone will need to ask whether without children there is any hope in this world at all.
It will be interesting to see where everyone ends up as they flee. Is there a rendezvous point or did they all just run for it?
Best Moment: Possibly the sequence where Megan was bitten. There was something about the simplicity of it and the utter tension I felt while watching it that really impressed me.
Conclusion: I began this season talking about how difficult it was to watch The Walking Dead after last season. I felt like I was just waiting around for characters to die, the Governor to return and the prison to be overrun. Now that most of that has happened it's possible that I will feel a little different about the next eight. Now things won't be so predictable and presumably the group will suffer constant casualties as it searches for a new home. That will probably make for tense viewing and I can't deny that my life is more vibrant with that kind of television in it.
I still think without hope the show is doomed though and we'll have to see whether life beyond the prison offers anything positive at all.
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