The Walking Dead holds a dear place in my heart because I’ve enjoyed it since the beginning, week by week, for the past 4 years. After my last post, obviously this is a big deal. I’m also a huge zombie film fan. One of the first posts I ever wrote for this blog was a list of my favorite zombie movies, that I pretty much live by. Never before this show has this strange passion of mine been so well represented on the small screen. The Walking Dead has really revolutionized the way audiences view the undead and the post-apocalyptic world that deals with the phenomenon. In the past 4 years, classes on zombies have popped up at respectable universities, Long Beach and other cities host annual zombie walks, and TWD has had a prominent place at San Diego Comic-Con, including a 2013 arena-wide zombie fest at Petco Park that gave fans the chance to experience getting chased by walkers, Daryl Dixon style.
Writing about this series has been intense. Diligently, if not a week or so behind the rest of the class, I have been listening to lectures in my UC Irvine course, “Society, Science and Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead” and trying to incorporate what I’m learning into my weekly discussion on the show. Writing this way has helped me process this fairly intense season, while objectively watching my beloved characters slowly spiral into a very bleak situation. Because, while this series has instilled in audiences a healthy fear of how to deal with the undead, interacting with the living has always been a truly frightening notion.
Episode: S04xE08 “Too Far Gone”
In weeks past, we have discussed the character development of many of the main players on the show. Carol shifted from the weak and abused woman of season 1 into a strong-willed and fierce mother figure who murders to protect her tribe. Rick, on the other hand, spent most of this season trying to maintain his humanity, for the sake of his own sanity and as a role model for his son, Carl. Forced to make the tough decisions, Rick is the prison-tribe leader, regardless of the democracy of the Council or the sheriff’s current preference for farming. We even saw the Governor experience a change that was noted by his lieutenant, brought on by the family he found and claimed as his own. Still, the Governor has homicidal tendencies, revenge issues and mental health problems that, as long as he lives, will prevent him from living a stable life.
Keeping these facts in mind, the episode begins with the Governor rallying the RV tribe as grandiose as Mussolini to a crowd of Black Shirts. He leaves no room for argument, and he has Michonne and Hershel as his hostages. They WILL take the prison from Rick and his group, or they will die trying. With the biggest asshole in the group manning the tank (where the fuck did they get a tank!?) the Governor rejects Rick’s touching message of unification by unceremoniously chopping Hershel’s head off with Michonne’s sword. Shit pretty much goes downhill from here–both groups are vicious and the theme of season 3, “Fear the Living,” echoes in every shotgun shell hitting the pavement, every casualty to another living being. It is telling that Kirkman kept the walkers in the background during most of this episode. They are not threatening either group, in fact, only the idea of a horde of undead flocking to the noise is unsettling. Oh, except when Daryl ALMOST got bit. That was unsettling. Mostly, audiences are confronted with an alarming truth–the living are a real threat. The only reason the RV tribe attacked the prison tribe was because they wanted what our heroes had. Simple as that. To take it, they were willing to kill whomever tried to stop them.
The collateral damage to this line of thinking was incalculable. Both sides lost focus on the real enemy, the walkers and even the killer flu. Instead, vendettas that had been formed caused innocent, decent folk who got a helluva lot further in this whole zombie apocalypse thing than I probably would have, to die. In the RV tribe, we have a group of people who are unwittingly led by a psychopath and they pay for their ignorance with the blood of the innocent. Meghan, the Governor’s newly adopted daughter, is bitten by a walker while he is chopping heads off, and the mother witnesses her new man sawing off Hershel’s head as she carries her dead child in her arms. It is a poignant scene that finally reveals the Governor’s character to the woman he’s been sleeping with, but for Lilly, the cost for working with the Governor has already been paid.
In the mayhem of the fire fight, an escaped Michonne finally get the chance to confront the Governor, and the outcome is what we would expect, because she is way more badass than he ever could be. She doesn’t chop his head off, as I hoped she would. Instead, she is much more cruel and stabs him in his stomach, leaving him an incapacitated walker treat in the grass. Lilly is merciful and shoots him in the head when she finds him, which is more than the Governor ever deserved. We also see the bus full of prison tribe members drive off and leave Beth, Daryl, Rick, Carl, Michonne, Tyreese and Sasha. But where are the children!? Well, Lizzie shows up just in time to shoot Alisha from the RV tribe in the head before Tyreese gets murdered by her. It is a moment brought to us by Carol, who wasn’t in the mid-season finale, but who basically taught Lizzie and the kids everything they know about killing. Unfortunately, while the kids were off disobeying and not getting on the bus, they lost sight of what their jobs were. We see the car seat covered in blood and little baby Judith seems to have been taken by the walkers, an act we are asked to believe but we don’t ever see anything on screen (I’m hoping she’s alive somewhere!).
At this point, we have the RV tribe mostly dead and the prison tribe split, devastated and on the run. Those in the bus have no idea what happened to their friends and those on the ground, the show darlings, are fighting the elements and the walkers on foot because the prison is wrecked. What a shitty place to end. Thank you , AMC, for consistently amazing television. I will be waiting impatiently for February 9, 2014, when season 4 of The Walking Dead starts up again.
The Collectiva Diva