The Walking Dead, S4 Ep. 8: Too Far Gone

SPOILERS GALORE! BE FOREWARNED! ABANDON HOPE OF NON-SPOILAGE, ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE!

Here’s what I’m surprised about from last night’s The Walking Dead mid-season finale.

  • I’m kind of surprised Daryl wasn’t angrier about Carol‘s banishment.
  • I’m sorry Hershel died.
  • Rick lost another shirt.
  • I didn’t expect who actually pulled the trigger and put a bullet in The Governor‘s brain.

Ummmm…

  • Oh, and I hope they’re just messing with us and somehow, someone got baby Judith to safety before a zombie (or whoever) had the bad form to bleed all over her car seat.
It's too tidily placed on the ground for her to have been ripped out of here by zombie hordes.  Li'l Ass Kicker is just fine.

Boo.  But!  It’s too tidily placed on the ground for Judith to have been ripped out of here by zombie hordes. Li’l Ass Kicker is just fine.

Here’s what I’m not surprised about:

  • Everything else.  Mostly.

The prison was getting claustrophobic and that story arc was playing itself well out, so I’m not terribly sorry or shocked to see it go.  In the episode where Rick banishes Carol, I was relieved to be in a town and see a setting that wasn’t just gridded catwalks and cement. Besides, as a storyline…what do you do with the prison now?  The superflu has passed and they’re not all spewing blood on one another in quarantined cell blocks.  As much as it pains me to say this, good TV is not made by domestic tranquility.  Not even with relentless hordes of zombies roaming the outsides.  Oh, look, the walls held them back.  Oh, look.  The walls held them back again.  Here, son, have a bean.  And?

So what have we got, now that the mid-season finale has come and gone and the prison has been blown to smithereens by The Governor?

Daryl, in one of the greatest examples of how to manipulate the available resources in the postapocalyptic world–sticks a zombie on his crossbow bolt for use as a “human” shield, fights through to the goddamn tank, and disables it with a grenade.  BOOM.  He’s out in the world with Beth, Hershel’s insipidly boring daughter.  I mean, I don’t want to see Beth die simply because people are an increasingly rare commodity in the zombie world, but damn, I have yet to figure out her point.

I'm already bored talking about Beth. Let's watch Daryl take a zombie for a crossbow bolt cruise.

I’m already bored talking about Beth. Let’s watch Daryl take a zombie for a cruise down crossbow bolt highway.

Maggie‘s stuck with Sasha, recovering from the flu and Bob Stookey, who we’ve learned from past episodes has the uncomfortable habit of being the lone survivor of the bands he’s traveled with.  Here’s hoping Maggie shanks him before his bad luck rubs off on her.

Glenn, still weak with flu, is on a school bus full of children and other sickly types, driving who knows where.  I say we put the PA from an old ice cream truck on the bus, let the music rip to draw the zombies to it and call it a day, because that thing is rolling walker bait.

There’s a pack of child soldiers that Carol created, headed by the incomparable Miss Lizzie, running around in the woods.  They pretty effectively saved Tyreese‘s bacon after he ended up diving into a spot from which he couldn’t retreat during the invasion.  And by “saved” I mean, they shot two people point-blank in their heads so he could get away.

I call you "Killer" 'cause you *slay* me.

I call you “Killer” ’cause you *slay* me.

I like that you can see my Christmas lights twinkling in the upper left hand corner of the screen.

p.s. In the five seconds of this episode that didn’t deal with The Governor’s invasion of the prison, there was a nod to the “who’s messing with the rats” story arc, which I assume will show up again in the second half of the season.  I still say it’s Lizzie.  Remember when she played toesies in Glenn’s blood and sputum?  Ew.  Girlfriend’s got issues.  Hence when Tyreese found the board with a disemboweled rat nailed to it, it begs the question: can it possibly be the work of anyone other than toesie girl?

As for Tyreese, who knows where he is?

So sorry, Hershel.  I knew he was history when they handed The Governor Michonne‘s sword, and Hershel was closest by.  Because you don’t hand a lunatic a katana and not expect him to swing for the bleachers.

Ow.

Ow.

RIP poor little Meghan Chambler/Chalmers/Whatever, who was toast as soon as The Governor, that one-eyed Master of Disaster, The Captain of Crazytown, El Jefe de Horror, the Cyclops of Chaos, promised he would take care of her.  Because everything he touched turned to shit, that’s why.  There’s no reason she should be any different.

Just wait out the raid here, he said. You'll be safe here, he said.

Just wait out the raid here, he said. You’ll be safe here, he said.

Meghan’s mom, Lilly, is off on her own (more on her in a minute), as is her aunt Tara, who drops the mic on The Governor’s militia with perhaps one of the greatest “Fuck this, I’m out” faces in the history of TV.

Yeah, that's a whole lot of nope.

Yeah, that’s a whole lot of nope.

Which was smart of her, since pretty much everyone else who was fighting on the behalf of The Cyclops of Chaos ended up as zombie food.

And so. To The Governor.

Brian Heriot didn’t last long.  The kinder-gentler, yearning for personal reform Governor from…was it only two episodes ago?… Done.  Finito.  I think it’s safe to say the title of this episode pertains directly to The Gov.  His pathos and paranoia and love of power ran too deep for him to stop before hitting absolute bottom.  Kind of like Richard III, with zombies.

Richard III The Governor arrives at Bosworth Field the gates of the prison and draws forth a final battle, where he nearly strangles Rick to death but instead, is stabbed through the chest by “ooh, he so had this coming” Michonne, who’s anti-Gov laundry list looks something like this (and is in no way complete):

  • Remember when you confiscated my sword and wouldn’t let me and Andrea leave?
  • Remember when you kept your zombie daughter in a secret closet?
  • Remember the creepy-ass walker head aquariums you kept in your office, next to your zombie daughter?
  • Remember when you assigned Merle to kill me?
  • Remember when you almost killed Glenn and Maggie?
  • Remember when you tried to make Merle and Daryl duke it out gladiator style?
  • Sorry ’bout the eye.
  • Andrea, Andrea, Andrea.

Suffice to say…

That's gonna leave a mark.

That’s gonna leave a mark.

Michonne left him to suffer in the field, though.  She didn’t finish the job, and left that to the hordes of walkers closing in on him.  Which, in its own way, has got to sting.  Michonne has taken off for parts unknown, and it’s my hope that she’s the one who got her hands on baby Judith and is off in the woods with her somewhere.  Baby tucked in a rudimentary sling strapped to her chest, katana on her back.  Dig it.  You CAN have it all–a career and a baby.

So at the end of the day, Meghan’s mother Lilly dealt The Governor his death blow.  Covered in bits of Meghan–and in rage and betrayal–she did what nobody else was able to do before and bring an end to Richard III the Captain of Crazytown.

If you're looking for Richard, you'll find him crushed under the bootheel of the ravenous masses.

Symbolism much?  If you’re looking for Richard The Governor, you’ll find him crushed under the boot heel of the ravenous masses.

And a word about Rick: of course he didn’t die in this fight with El Jefe de Horror.  Rick’s is the story arc upon which this entire series hinges.  He opened the show in the hospital, vulnerable and alone in his tacky hospital gown.  It’s his journey we’re watching, though other characters come and go along the way and divert us.  But expecting that Rick might die is like expecting Harry Potter to die.  Preposterous.  You don’t kill The Boy Who Lived.  (Note to writers: I am not issuing a challenge!)

So now Rick’s prison people are scattered to the four winds.  Rick is alive, but hurt, but has son Carl the sharpshooter with him.  At least he won’t have to worry about running into The Governor any more.  And he’ll need yet another shirt.

RIP, Rick's second shirt. We hardly knew ye.

RIP, Rick’s second shirt. We hardly knew ye.

As for what’s going to happen…I have no clue.  Since the writers have gone all metaphorically insane-regal, I’m half hoping they’ll run into mad Queen Carol, who’s become a post-apocalyptic Elizabeth Bathory and bathes in the blood of her enemies.  And Lizzie will, of course, have found her, and will be her handmaiden from hell.  Other than that…who knows?  We’ll see in February.  Just keep ’em coming, AMC.  Thanks.

Here’s a dedication to The Governor, from me.  Presenting The Wonder Stuff singing “Unbearable“.

Advertisements

The Walking Dead, S4, Ep 6: Hello, Governor!

Spoilers present here.  Read at your own peril. #consideryourselveswarned

He’s ba-a-a-a-a-a-ack.

That one-eyed Master of Disaster, The Captain of Crazytown, el Jefe de horror, the Cyclops of Chaos…Oh, my stars and garters, buckle your seatbelts, boys and girls, because The Governor is back.

Only…he’s looking decidedly worse for the wear.

This episode–season 4, episode 6, titled “Live Bait”, think about that for a while–was all Governor.  No Rick, no prison, no “what the hell is Daryl doing now that Carol’s exiled to Neverwhere?”.  Just.  The Governor.

Who is a shambling mess.

A narrative opened up last season that draws strong parallels between The Governor and the zombie.  This narrative was pretty gruesomely explored in S3 Ep 15, where he gets about as zombie-like as a human can be and literally bites off Merle‘s fingers (forward to 2:55 if’n you wanted to relive the magic) just before killing him, begging the question: what makes a monster?

So this episode picks up pretty much where season 3 left us with The Governor. The soldiers from Woodbury are freshly dead and The Governor is on the road with Woodbury henchmen Martinez and Shumpert, apparently in the process of losing his fricking mind.  Because he snaps and slaughters his allies in the street, he mentally collapses into some undefined dissociative disorder (my bet: depersonalization disorder, since he talks about “the guy in charge” who lost it–which is of course, him–as though he’s a separate and distinct person, but I digress).  He even distances himself from his own name when he finally meets the family that takes him in (though there’s some stuff about that family that I don’t like or trust, more on that later), neither calling himself The Governor nor his given name, Philip Blake.  But I’ll get to that in a minute, too.

First, Governor as zombie.

While he’s adrift on the road, he wakes to find formerly loyal henchmen Martinez and Shumpert have deserted him in the middle of the night.  In a perfect use of camera angle (psst, AMC, I hope you paid your cinematographers well in this episode, because they made it fly), we see The Governor as he truly is–one small man, friendless and alone in a vast, bleak world.

The Governor haz a sad.

The Governor has a sad.

The Governor goes back to Woodbury and burns it to the ground.  I saw one review that speculated he did that out of spite; if he can’t have it, no one can, and maybe that’s truly the motivation.  But that doesn’t ring true for me.  If he’s a man intent on distancing himself from his past, it would make more sense to burn it because it’s the scene of his greatest failing.  It’s where he stopped being human.  Torch that sucker and obliterate the past and maybe, some day, start over.

And while he’s burning his city to the ground he almost…almost breaks the fourth wall and directly faces the audience.  At least, he’s facing the audience thanks to his body and posture, turned and open toward the camera.  However,  if he had truly broken the fourth wall he would have looked directly in front and stared at the camera and thus, the audience.  Facing the audience would have implicitly asked the viewers what they would have done in his situation.  But he doesn’t (and we’re spared having to consider what it would mean to wear his ill-fitting shoes), because he barely faces anyone.

“[...] each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves”

“…each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves”
― Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate

Instead, he’s focused on the zombies in the streets of Woodbury.

Whassup?

Whassup?

Who are zombie-lurching past him like he’s a brother.  They can’t even bother to glance in a cursory, perhaps-you’re-living-flesh sort of interest.  Nope.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.

And when a horde of eternally ravenous zombies can’t even bother to send a perfunctory sniff in your direction, in some deranged sort of way…that’s gotta hurt.

Then blah blah, he stumbles into a town and blah blah, meets the Chalmers family–Lilly and Tara, sisters; Lilly’s daughter, Meghan, and the dying family patriarch, David–who takes him in.

What. Is wrong. With that family?  Because something felt entirely false.

Meghan, the little girl, hides behind chairs and her mother while dying Grandpa tells The Governor she doesn’t talk.  Yet she prattles away to The Governor and charms him with her air of insouciant youth so much that he lets his guard down and seemingly decides to rejoin the human race.  She also doesn’t make me believe that it’s hard to get words out of her.

It’s been two years (ish) since the start of the zombie apocalypse.  Who doesn’t know–two YEARS into surviving a zombie apocalypse–that you have to kill zombies in their brains?  It seems that the Chalmers clan has managed to survive for two years without knowing that tasty bit of trivia.  And I?  Don’t buy it.

One apartment, four people…I’ll give them a pass that they managed to scavenge enough food from that truck and from raiding the other apartments, but water?  Other supplies?  Enough…toilet paper?  I don’t buy it.  Not without knowing you have to kill zombies in their heads, because there’s no way one of them would survive a scavenging party out-of-doors.  It’s a forced helplessness that seems entirely facetious in the given situation.

Who lets their little kid hang out dead-center in a window for everyone to see, possibly attracting zombies looking for noms to storm their front door?

No.

No.

And I’ve watched and watched and watched the scene repeatedly; I still don’t know what Tara supposedly tripped on in the street to make her fall and wrench her ankle, slowing them down.  Why did the truck they drove out of town in–which seemed to work fine–suddenly die?  What mother thinks it’s a fine idea to bump uglies with a near-stranger while her sister and kid are asleep just inches away in the back of a panel truck?

Remember, the name of this episode is “Live Bait”.  And I think this family was assigned to catch people that cross their paths, so their group could acquire warriors, eliminate threats, whatever.  Zombies in the streets are one thing.  You know what they’re going to do.  But people?  People are quite another.  If the Chalmerses are working with Martinez (who, thanks to the preview of next week’s episode, we know is in charge of a camp) and funneling people into his camp for his judgment and/or dispatch–and I think they are–then we know he’s learned camp management from the psychotically best, if season three bears any weight.  It won’t take long for things to get bloody with Martinez back in the picture. It’s sad that The Governor has gotten hooked back in with Martinez again; running with your old pack, old habits die hard, ingrained interpersonal dynamics are a tough thing to overcome.  Because I think, right now, all The Governor wants is a second chance to not be a menace unto the world.

He just wants to be loved.

Remember when he came across the barn that had spraypainted instructions for certain people?  “Do NOT go home!”  “Went to Jim’s [something, I can’t read it]” or “Megan Cook died”

In Memoriam.

In Memoriam.

The Governor took his alias–Brian Heriot–from the side of this barn.  He didn’t choose the name of someone declared dead.  He didn’t choose the name of the mysterious Jim.  Instead, he chose Brian Heriot.  So, you’re asking?  It’s a perfectly functional first and last name, it’s male, he’s not going to be Megan, after all, right?

*sniffle*

*sniffle*

True.  But Brian’s was the only name that was accompanied by a declaration of love.  Why not choose to be a man memorialized so endearingly?  For a man completely alone in the world and already considers himself almost dead, that’s got to be a powerful lure.

And thank you, David Morrissey, for a gorgeous  bit of acting.

And thank you, David Morrissey, for a gorgeous bit of acting.

So when (not “if”, I’m that confident) he eventually realizes the Chalmerses had manipulated him from the start, his betrayal will be that much more intense.  His feral nature isn’t so far into his past that he can’t dial it up again when he needs to.  How do you torture the man who has nothing?  Give him back something he used to have, but give it back broken.  Give him the family that isn’t his, the daughter that turns on him, the lover who only sleeps with him out of a sense of duty to another man.

Then step back and watch as the Captain of Crazytown, el Jefe of horror, the Chaos Cyclops, rises.

I’m not sure yet how I think he’ll interact with Rick and crew.  On the one hand, it’s possible his fight with them came to an end with his break from reality, and he sees what Rick does as nothing more than protecting his people.  If that’s the case, then I can imagine him working behind the scenes to undermine Martinez, who deserted him on the side of the road.  Left him for dead.  Left him completely exposed and vulnerable, really, because it’s not like zombies can’t rip into the side of a pup tent, in which The Governor was sleeping when Martinez split.  On the other hand, if The Governor dips back into a crunchy batshit crazy shell, he may decide he needs to finish what he started.  I need to see a little more before I try to figure where this is going.

Don’t worry, kids.  That wacky Governor?  He’ll be back.

No more posts.