After spending the first half of season four dealing with betrayals, murderers, and disease, The Walking Dead finally brings all-out war to the forefront in the mid-season finale, “Too Far Gone.” In the previous two episodes, the show had focused on the misadventures of the Governor, as he banded together a new flock of followers in order to reclaim his former glory. Now, with a small army under his command, he plans to overtake Rick and the inhabitants of the prison and claim the sanctuary as their own.
“Too Far Gone” opens with the realization that the Governor is keeping Michonne and Hershel hostage in order to leverage Rick to give up the prison peacefully. However, the Gov. knows that war is inevitable, so he gives his troops a speech worthy of Patton to prepare them for the battle ahead. As his army heads off with his infamous tank in tow, he leaves Lilly and Meghan behind to keep them safe from the inevitable bloodshed.
As this is going on, the show circles back to Rick and the siutation at the prison, which had been pushed to the background for the past two weeks. As is the case when you ignore multiple important plotlines for weeks on end, the show has to speedily answer some lingering questions about Daryl’s reaction to Carol’s fate (hint: he’s pissed) and the aftermath of the flu epidemic, which seems to have been cured overnight purely for plot conveniences. This episode also desperately tries to make us care about Bob, who is still just as useful as a house plant.
In between these two major plots, the show cuts back to Meghan and Lilly in the secure area that the Governor has set up for them. It's apparent that something isn't quite right with this plan, and as Meghan is playing alone in the mud, a walker emerges from underground and bites her before Lilly can shoot it. This all gets lost in the suffle of the rest of the drama at first, but Lilly makes her wrath known before the dust settles.
The human drama unfolding is admirable, but there is a giant tank rumbling towards the prison, and, frankly, everything else just seems like filler until the upcoming battle. Fortunately, when the Governor finally does pull up, all hell breaks loose. First, he calls out for Rick to meet him at the fence to give up the prison without a fight. But when Rick refuses, he trots Hershel and Michonne out and forces them to their knees. As Rick pleads for sanity and peace, the Governor relents, pulls out Michonne’s sword, and takes a mighty hack at Hershel’s throat. The sight of blood spewing from Hershel's neck is the opening tipoff of the biggest battle the show has ever produced.
Immediately, the prison crew unleahses a hail of gunfire on the Governor's army. For those fans who whine endlessly about The Walking Dead’s lack of action, “Too Far Gone” should be the blood-soaked smorgasbord you’ve been waiting for. Carl, Tyreese, and Maggie all have their Rambo moments with an arsenal of rifles and machine guns at their disposal. But all of those heroics pale in comparison to Daryl taking out the Governor's beloved tank with a single grenade like a boss.
Even the little girls that Carol was teaching self defense to get in on the action by taking down two of the Governor’s minions with deadeye efficiency.
And then there's Bob, who again makes his worthlessness known by taking a bullet to the shoulder within seconds of entering the battle. Seriously, he is becoming the Jar Jar Binks of the Walking Dead world.
As cathartic as this destruction may be, the main event here is the brutal fisticuffs between Rick and the Governor. This fight's been brewing for more than a year, and it almost ends with Ol’ One Eye choking the life out of Rick. But just as the last breaths are about to leave Rick’s beaten body, Michonne plunges her sword right trough the Governor’s back from behind. It was as predictable as a WWE match, but great nonetheless.
Of course Walking Dead logic prevails and both of them inexplicably leave him alive, writhing in pain on the ground, as they flee. Thankfully Lilly enters the battle and, realizing that the Governor is mainly responsible for Meghan's death, puts a bullet through his head.
If all of that wasn't enough, as the characters flee in different directions, Rick and Carl desperately search for Judith, only to find an empty blood-stained car seat where she was supposed to be. You can now add babies to the list of things the writers of this show hate.
Between the major character deaths, the destruction of the prison, and the dissolution of Rick’s group, The Walking Dead is heading in a much more chaotic direction than the first half of season four. Unfortunately you’re going to have to wait two months to find out where things are heading next. Until then, go read the comics and see what you can spoil for yourself in the meantime.
GIFs via Uproxx