WARNING: If you haven’t seen the mid-season finale for “The Walking Dead”, then this post will contain all of the spoilers you’d want to avoid. If you haven’t seen the episode then DON’T READ THIS POST. Otherwise, continue on down below for the review.
“The Walking Dead” often receives criticism for having slow paced story arcs and too many quiet moments. However, when it comes to their finales, the show usually pulls it together for some explosive moments. And tonight’s mid-season finale was no different, with explosions taking place in the prison and… in my heart.
The episode kicked off with the Governor delivering an emotionally manipulative speech to another easily led mob in order to sweep them up in his grandiose plan to get revenge and take the prison belonging to Rick and the gang. Of course, this is all under the guise of being for their safety and protection.
Say what you will about the Governor’s story arc, there’s no doubt that David Morrissey did a fantastic job of conveying the cold and callous nature of the character. His ability to switch from charming manipulator to violent maniac in seconds was fantastic to watch. It isn’t hard to make a character like the Governor vile and hated by the audience, but Morrissey did it in a way that raised the tension and made it enjoyable to watch.
However, his performance aside, the biggest problem I have with this finale is the redundancy of the plot. The Governor had already tried and failed to take the prison at the end of season three. So with him being left alive, it made me wonder if they were going to try and do something unique with his character. At first, it seemed like they were. They give him a new family and a fresh start, but then he quickly returned to his violent and scheming tendencies.
From a character point of view, his return to evil makes sense. A man like the Governor just doesn’t change, he is forever tainted by blood and greed. That progression didn’t bother me, but to have him ultimately do the same thing again with a different group just felt like a waste of the character. This episode just felt like a remake of the season three finale. And while this bothered me initially, it wound up being the season three finale we should have gotten.
With the Governor heading off to war, he decided to leave his new companion and adopted daughter behind to keep them safe. This culminates in one of the dumbest moments of the episode. With Lilly (aka Lori 2.0) left to watch her daughter, she immediately sets out to watch the river they’re left next to with great intent. Meanwhile, her daughter is off in the far background playing in the mud.
Keep in mind, this kid is already the luckiest little girl in the world. While Death seems to constantly be after her, she manages to narrowly escape every time. So I would think that she’d keep a close eye on a child that’s so prone to near death experiences. However, Lori 2.0 is so busy watching a walker float down river that she doesn’t notice her daughter being bitten by an subterranean zombie.
I appreciate the karmic punishment of having the Governor lose a second daughter because he was away trying to violently take the prison for her protection. It’s a tragic and fitting way to bring the Governor’s arc full-circle. However, it’s disappointing that it came about by making a character act so incredibly stupid.
Criticisms aside, the episode manages to build up to an intense and action packed climatic end. It starts with Rick facing off against the Governor who has a tank and a fully armed group at his back, along with Herschel and Michonne as hostages. Andrew Lincoln does an excellent job of delivering a passionate plea to appeal to whatever humanity remains in the Governor, but his performance falls on deaf ears and the Governor lashes out by halfway beheading Herschel with Michonne’s katana.
Not since Dale died in season two has a death felt like such a punch to the gut, which is fitting since the two characters played the same role of wise mentor for the group. It’s a heartbreaking moment which leads to an utter bloodbath between Rick and the Governor’s groups.
And while there are plenty of deaths to be had the majority are, of course, the nameless characters in the background. Still, all of the fodder gives certain characters an opportunity to show how badass they are. Daryl, for example, uses a zombie as a meat shield and takes on a tank. Meanwhile, the girls that Carol trained to fight put that knowledge to use and kill people in a strangely creepy moment.
Of course, the most satisfying death is that of the Governor. With his hands choking the life out of Rick, Michonne delivers a stab to his back that emits a harmonious sound equivalent to that of a flight of angels. And while it’s not the blow that kills him, there’s a great deal of satisfaction in seeing Michonne lay him out again.
And while “The Walking Dead” knocked me down with Herschel’s death, it kicked me one last time by killing off baby Judith. Yes, Little Ass Kicker was among the casualties of this episode. Amid all the chaos and carnage, Judith was left in her baby car seat as zombies descended upon the prison. While we never saw the deed, we do get an idea of what happened when Rick and Carl come across her blood stained car seat. Knowing what Rick has gone through, it’s a moment that leaves you questioning how anyone could go on with life.
Of course, with no body and no eyewitness to say what happened, there’s always a chance that someone rescued baby Judith. It’s one of the many lingering questions that’ll be left for the second half of season four.
At the end of the episode, the prison is in shambles and infested with Walkers. The last shot we see is that of Rick and Carl dragging themselves away from the site with Rick meekly telling Carl to “not look back.” Meanwhile, the rest of our heroes are scattered to the wind. Glenn and a few others escaped on a bus, Tyrese ran away with some kids, Maggie was left with Bob and Sasha, and Daryl took off with Beth.
It was everything you could want out of a mid-season finale. It resolved some plot lines while leaving you with threads to follow into the second half of the season. This was everything the third season finale should have been, but like Rick says, we can’t look back now. All we can do is move on from this tragic finale and hope our group can once again reunite.
What did you think ? Let us know in the comments how you liked the finale.