Maya Zach ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff
Though there were expectations that the midseason finale of The Walking Dead would just rehash the first war between Rick (and co.) and the Governor, these complaints were easily quashed. The stakes were higher and the audience felt a genuine connection to both sides, creating an intense, heart-racing battle.
After kidnapping Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Hershel (Scott Wilson), the Governor (David Morrissey) rallies his men to his cause: taking the prison. It’s hard to deny such a charismatic leader, especially when he paints such a vivid picture of his past and their future. Brian makes it clear that Rick and his band of survivors are thieves and murderers who are only out for themselves and don’t deserve the safety of the prison, as Brian and his people do.
Brian is insistent that he does not want to take the prison by force and it’s hard not to believe him. After he sympathizes with Hershel and promises Michonne that he does not hold a grudge, it seems as though he truly wants to take the prison peaceably. He tries incredibly hard to push down the evil within him so he can care for his new family. But the power-hungry monster has consumed him; he has done too many horrid things to come back. As much as he wants to be a normal, loving man, he is too far gone.
When The Governor arrives with the cavalry, he continues his charade of nonviolence until Rick (Andrew Lincoln) refuses to speak to him. He brings out his hostages, but Rick still refuses to vacate the prison. When the Governor puts a katana to Hershel’s throat, Rick appeals to the rest of the group. He offers them assimilation into their peaceful community. They hesitate and ponder the option, but their musings are cut short when the Governor slices Hershel’s head nearly clean off.
And with that, the battle begins. Rick bolts for cover as Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Beth (Emily Kinney) open fire upon the Governor and his troops. Along with Hershel’s daughters, Carl (Chandler Riggs), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) begin firing. As the Governor’s men drive a tank through the fences, the prisoners scatter in search of their loved ones.
Though the young kids’ only job is to gather the supplies and head to the bus that is ready to take them—and any other survivors—to safety, they can’t even do this. Lizzie ( Brighton Sharbino ) decides that they have to be strong, arm themselves, and help take out the threat. Though this is unsafe and downright stupid, Lizzie actually saves Tyreese’s life when she shoots one of the Governor’s men in the head. Congrats on your (supposed) first human kill, sweetheart!
Meanwhile, the Governor is mutilating Hershel’s corpse. This display disgusts some of his men, mainly Tara ( Alanna Masterson ), who throws down her gun and refuses to fight. But the person that finds it the vilest is his girlfriend Lilly ( Audrey Marie Anderson ), who walks in on the fight carrying the corpse of her dead daughter Meghan ( Meyrick Murphy ). Since the Governor has already exposed his vicious side, he doesn’t show any emotion; he just shoots her so she won’t turn.
The Governor takes out his aggression by pummeling Rick to oblivion. Rick manages to get a few good licks in before getting himself beaten to a pulp. When the Governor is seconds away from killing Rick, Michonne steps in and stabs him through the chest with her katana. She leaves him to bleed out, but before he has the chance, Lilly steps in and delivers the final blow. Three people that greatly deserved the honor of killing him, solely leaving out Maggie, work together to dole out his death.
During the fray, everyone gets separated; a few members of the core group leave on the bus and the rest scatter in pairs and small groups. After Glenn’s near death, he and Maggie still end up separated, as he is driven off. Maggie, Beth, Daryl, Bob, and Michonne are among those that are left behind. It is unclear who is with whom and where they plan to go.
After Rick and Carl finally locate each other, they find Judith’s car seat. Rather than finding the baby inside, they discover a whole lot of blood. The two are in tears, as they run up a hill away from the prison as Rick utters the words “don’t look back.” This is the exact end (Minus Lori’s death, since she died earlier in the show) to the Governor’s story in the comic book series. Though the Governor’s battle and his demise are nearly identical to the original story, the show extended the story and developed the character to a much deeper level.
Since the group has splintered, it is the perfect time to introduce new characters—such as Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita, characters from the comics that are soon to be introduced in the show—and bring back some familiar faces, such as Carol (Melissa McBride). Daryl might be rekindled with his sort-of-almost-not-really-girlfriend, who he is sure did not killed Karen. Or Tyreese might join up with her, since he was never informed that she is believed to have killed his girlfriend. Either way, it seems likely that Carol will be making another appearance.
This was probably the most intense, action-packed episode of The Walking Dead yet, and it was easily one of the most emotional. Expect a lot of heartache in the midseason premiere as we see the disassembled group try to find each other.
It is going to be a long wait until February 9th… If you need a Walking Dead fix sooner than that, maybe it’s time to check out the comics that the show is based on (if you haven’t already).