‘The Walking Dead’ Season 4 Recap, Episode 8: ‘Too Far Gone’ [Spoilers]
Season four of The Walking Dead, AMC’s television adaptation of the Eisner Award-winning Image Comics series created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore and drawn by Charlie Adlard, is underway. ComicsAlliance’s John Parker will be following along all season to see who lives, who dies, and who gets to drive a tank.
Last week, The Governor surrendered to his inner psychopath and hijacked the leadership of Team Winnebago, nabbing himself a tank. In “Too Far Gone,” he used that tank to destroy all our ridiculous notions of love and hope.
As the official leader of Team Winnebago, he gets to make speeches, and he begins “Too Far Gone” with a tempered, rational explanation as to why they need to take their tank and immediately ram it the prison’s ass. As expected, The Devil mixes his lies with the truth, and “Brian Heriot” makes his argument with half-truths and obfuscations. Rick’s crew did actually take down Woodbury, but only after The Governor killed ninety percent of its citizens. He explains that the prison is filled with some good people, but mostly thieves and murderers, but just by involving his people in this attack they’d become thieves and murderers as well. The big kicker is when he says they’re responsible for killing his daughter, which isn’t true, but it’s true enough for The Governor. This is how he gets by, by having a malleable perspective on the truth.
His best reason for storming the prison, though, is that he’s already taken two of them hostage. While Hershel and Michonne are out burning bodies, The Governor shanghais the pair, planning to use them as leverage to get inside. As he explains to Team Winnebago, by having their bargaining chips, they can take the prison without a shot; nobody has to die. He’s playing the part of even-tempered leader well, but the yawning chasm of despair in his chest needs to be filled with blood, and he warns them that, even though they don’t technically want to kill anyone, they should be prepared to. He finishes his speech with “and we will win” not just out of his newly-found, tank-based confidence: it’s almost an order.
Tara, the sister of The Governor’s new love, Lilly, has a problem with it, but she’s the only one, and after only a moment’s hesitation, Team Winnebago metaphorically go hands-in and shout “Goooo, mayhem!” God bless those rascals for buying The Governor’s BS and giving The Walking Dead some hot tank action.
Lilly isn’t so convinced. Believing “Brian Heriot” to be the good man he tried to be, she challenges his sudden assertion that they need to take the prison to survive. She’s beginning to see the post-apocalyptic marauder beneath “Brian Heriot,” but The Governor manipulates her into acceptance with his promise that he will do anything to keep Lilly and Megan safe, that he’s really only doing this for them, and his assertion that this was inevitable. “It was always going to be like this,” he says, accepting that he could never stave off the darkness inside of him.
When The Governor visits Hershel and Michonne, you’d expect some of the darkness to emerge immediately with a five-minute torture porn set to the muddy tones of some alt-country, but The Governor is actually pretty cool with them. He plays of the part of leader with them, too, explaining that he doesn’t want to hurt anybody, and he wants to take the prison with everybody alive. He even tries a sort of reconciliation with Michonne, admitting that he knew Penny was already dead, even though he just told his crew that they killed his daughter. Lies and half-truths, even as he’s readying to roll a thirty-ton (that’s not an exact figure) death-machine into their home.
Michonne tries to get some smack-talk in, but Hershel cuts her off and makes an impassioned plea to The Governor, Hershel-style. He says that they can work it out, and that their two groups can live together, and you know he really believes it. Having been through the crucible of the flu outbreak, Hershel is at his most-faithful, and absolutely has to believe that there can be a peaceful resolution. But when he says he can see The Governor has changed, just as Rick has, a) that could just be Hershel trying to find some humanity in The Governor by reminding him of it, and b) feels like a too-obvious tip to one of the prevailing themes of the first half of the season: that Rick and The Governor were going through the same journey. They were, obviously – both men tried to live more peaceful lives, both tried to avoid leadership, and both eventually took it anyway. Even though Rick later says he doesn’t make decisions anymore, he banished Carol; even though The Governor tells Hershel not to call him that, he makes it clear that they can’t live together, the only family that matters is his own, and that, ultimately, he’s going to do whatever he wants. He even has to stop himself from saying something altogether evil, cutting himself off at “So you get to live and I get to be—.” What, exactly? King?
Inside the prison, the group is about as un-prepared as you can be. While Maggie and Glenn have a sweet moment – which immediately makes you think something bad is going to happen – Rick and Daryl discuss the Carol situation. Daryl is pissed off, but he ultimately accepts Rick’s decision, maybe a little too quickly. You’d expect more outrage than that. A lot more, actually. I was hoping that this would turn Daryl a little more back to his old ways, when he rebelled against everything Rick said, and their relationship was more interesting. Yes, Daryl is a strong character, but he mostly gets by on his bad-assery, and his total adherence to whatever decision Rick makes takes some of his edge away.
Nonetheless, he goes with Rick to inform Tyreese, but he was already looking for them. The mystery of the dead rats continues, with Tyreese finding a vivisected rat splayed out for anyone who happens to walk by to see. Tyreese is convinced – logically so – that whoever’s been messing with the rats had to have killed Karen. Rick starts to tell Tyreese the news, but before he can finish, The Governor begins his attack, and an explosion rattles the prison.
And then, the most tense thirty minutes in The Walking Dead’s history begin. Director Ernest Dickerson kept the suspense at a max for the last half of “Too Far Gone,” with dramatic stuff happening all over, at a pace that made it really difficult to take notes.
The group, rattled from their cages, come outside to see their biggest fear in the flesh – The Governor astride a tank. Even though Rick insists he’s not the leader anymore, and that decisions are made by the council – that’s good, keep lying – The Governor demands that Rick do the talking. While Daryl gets the group prepped and goes over the escape plan, Rick, wetter than you’ve ever seen him before, tries to reason with The Governor.
They have sick kids who won’t survive, they can live together, it doesn’t have to be like this. Rick pleads with The Governor, practically begs him not to do this, all while the prison’s best defensive position, the guard tower, is lit up like the Olympic torch behind him. The Governor doesn’t care – all he knows is that he has a tank, and tank beats prison.
Back at the campsite of Team Winnebago, Lilly watches a walker try to make it through the river toward her without trying to float his wagon, which was always the best strategy in Oregon Trail. “Brian” told her earlier to stay by the river because biters couldn’t make it across, and after a few tense moments, it turns out he was right, as the river washes them downstream. But “Brian” also told her that nowhere is safe, and he was also right in that regard. Digging up dirt for mudpies because she’s a cute little southern girl, Megan unearths a walker buried in the river bank. The walker takes a bite out of her neck, the bloodletting begins, and “Brian” breaks his promise to Lilly.
As walkers begin to make their way toward the hullaballoo – and The Governor shows off how good a shot he is with no depth perception – Carl itches to take the shot. The kids make their way toward the escape route, the bus, with Judith in tow – but Lizzie and Minka, emboldened by Carol’s harsh tutelage, want to stay and fight.
The Governor takes about as much of Rick’s arguing as he can, standing firm in his position that he has a tank, they need to go, and that’s that. But even though Rick tries to reach a compromise, he still refuses to leave the prison. Is he making another classic Rick mistake? Should they just pack up their sick babies and go? He sets his sights on the empathy of Team Winnebago, and wins over Tara (who totally used to be a cop), who tries to tell The Governor, holding Michonne’s sword to Hershel’s throat, that, just like in Rocky IV, everyone can change.
But The Governor knows that’s not true. He couldn’t change, couldn’t settle comfortably into “Brian Heriot” and live a peaceful life. With the world the way it is, nobody has the liberty to change. Whispering “liar,” he hacks Michonne’s sword into Hershel’s neck. The lovable old man tips over like a tree, and Team Prison, seeing the very best of them cut down, opens fire.
It’s fast and furious from there. Bullets fly and fighters drop. Michonne rolls away and takes out a fighter like a ninja. Hershel tries to crawl away, but The Governor catches him and hacks his head off, because everything you love is a farce. Tara and Alicia have a Last of the Mohicans moment. Lilly comes from nowhere, with Megan’s lifeless body in her arms. She looks at The Governor like she wants an explanation, a reason why he wasn’t there for them, why this had to happen to her. The Governor takes his surrogate daughter in his arms and puts a bullet in her head, and the only emotion he shows is one of disgust, that this is a nuisance he has to deal with.
The tank pushes its way into the prison and everything goes haywire. Team Prison starts splitting up and doesn’t stop, with some on the bus, but almost everyone else cut off from each other, heading in different directions. Rick and The Governor beat the living snot out of each other. The tank puts more holes in the prison, pretty much making it, as Rick said it would be, no good to anybody. Tyreese gets pinned down, but Lizzie and Minka, the two little girls who taught us that youth means nothing, save him by killing his attackers.
Yeah, it’s all kinds of ridiculous: they’ve had no gun training and wouldn’t possibly be able to make those shots, but it’s a dramatic moment, so we’ll allow it. Walkers pile inside, taking out Winnebagoans and Prisonairres alike. Daryl takes out the tank with a single grenade, because he’s a ninja too.
The Governor gets the upper hand in the fight, and beats Rick to a pulp. Hell-bent on his revenge, he chokes Rick, bringing him to the brink of asphyxiation. Before he can finish the job, Michonne’s sword bursts through his chest.
While Rick runs off to find Carl, Michonne stands over The Governor, bleeding like a stuck pig but still alive. She doesn’t even consider putting him out of his misery, and leaves him to bleed to death or be eaten by a walker.
It ends up being neither. Lilly, her perceptions of “Brian Heriot” shattered and her daughter dead, just like in the comics, puts a bullet into his head and ends The Governor’s story.
Rick and Carl find each other, but it’s a somber reunion. The only sign of Judith is her car seat, covered in blood. Despondent, they keep moving, away from the prison, away from home, lower than they’ve ever been. The walkers overrun the prison, and as Rick and Carl make their way from the smoking wreck of their old lives, Rick says to his son “Don’t look back, Carl. Just keep walking.”
Aaand exhale. Let’s take a little stock: Hershel is dead, which we all saw coming as soon as the show reminded us how amazing he is. The Governor is dead because he really was “Too Far Gone.” The group is split in all sorts of different directions, with Glenn on the bus, Tyreese with Lizzie and Minka, Maggie with Bob and Sasha, Daryl with Beth, and Rick with Carl. Nobody knows what’s going on, Judith might be dead, and we all have to wait until February to find out.
This is what The Walking Dead truly excels at. Making you suffer.