Too much for me. It was like the writers wanted to pack as many gut punches into the shows 44 minute run time as possible. But not in a way that serviced the story. Odd. At the end of the episode, our gang is separated, and no one got what they wanted. The governor morphed into an irrational crazy man, and all his 'people' followed him like deaf, dumb and blind sheep. To me, this development didn’t make sense, and I mostly disliked this episode. However I did feel like it was supposed to serve as a cleansing. Ultimately the episode piqued my interest for the second half of the season, even if it was a bit uneven and nonsensical.
The episode opens on the Governor talking his crew into storming the jail. He calmly explains he has “a plan to do it without anyone getting hurt”. The Governor’s ace in the hole is that he has captured Michonne and Hershel. He explains to his crew that he has them. Wide eyed innocent Tara shoots back, “you TOOK them?!?” The governor ignores her and goes on to say that he wants to take the prison peacefully, but the crew needs to be prepared to kill.
After the Governor rattles off a few unfounded claims as to why the prison gang deserves to be ousted, Tara starts off a chain reaction of agreement to the plan. Apparently all the people in the Governor’s new crew are all lemmings.
(Side note – Sometimes the WD writers introduce characters that make me think, “I wonder how these people survived all this time?” Case in point, the people living in cell block D in 'Infected'. At this point, I would say that most of the people who are left should be relatively savvy and make calculated decisions. But this group is just so openly and quickly trusting of the Governor and his moronic plan, it feels like this episode is setting up a conflict just for the sake of conflict, and not to service the story. I know that in the comic, the denizens of Woodbury were the ones to follow the Governor, not some random group of rag tag campers that had just met him. Regardless, for the sake of entertainment I’ll let this point go.)
Lilly comes out, arms crossed and chastises the Governor. She says, “You said they weren’t all bad people.” He counters, “Well, they’re with bad people.” She lamely asks, “Am I?”. The Governor tells her that he loves her, and she recoils in disgust and confusion.
(Side note - Once again, what is going on here with the character development? Why is Lilly the only one to question what the Governor is doing, and why on earth doesn’t she leave at this point? It seems as if throughout this entire episode, characters felt they needed to stubbornly stick with decisions they had made, even when they were starting to look like terribly horrible choices. Lilly sticks by the Governor simply because she had hitched her wagon to him a few weeks prior, and the Governor’s crew sticks by him even when they are offered an out by Rick. But we’ll get to that….)
Back in Mitch’s camper, the Governor tends to a hostile Michonne’s head wound, while Hershel tries to calmly reason with the Governor. He says that he can see that the Governor has changed, and that they can try to all live together in the prison. The Governor can’t accept that. He says, “There’s all kinds of ways to do this….this way you get to live and I get to be….” He trails off. I personally believe that he was about to say “I get to be a hero”, which would be a call back to the previous episode where the Governor details a childhood encounter with his brother, the ‘hero’ from his previous life. Power corrupts, and is addictive. By joining the campers, he succumbed to that addiction again. It’s not enough for him to work at a democracy inside the prison with a group of people he was once at war with. Nope. He needs to be the monarch.
Back at the prison, Glen and Maggie canoodle and talk about a vacation for their anniversary. Adorable. Maggie mentions a local waterfall, and Glenn jokes saying, ‘I’ll go load up the station wagon’. They hug, and Maggie says she’ll go get him some water. Apparently Maggie has never watched any horror movies, because she utters the four words that ensure that chaos will erupt: “Ill be right back.”
Cut to Daryl and Rick talking about Carol. Daryl is furious that he wasn’t consulted about the decision to exile her, and seems a bit worried about Carol in general. Apparently Daryl doesn’t think that Carol made the right decision either. He says, “That ain’t her.” Rick says he needs to go talk to Tyreese about the situation, and Daryl says he’ll join him.
There’s a short but sweet moment here with Bob and Sasha, where she thanks him for helping save her life. Bob has a weird creepy mystery box.
Rick and Daryl find Tyreese in the tombs, and it appears as if Tyreese has found some sort of disturbing dismembered mouse art. He goes on a rant about finding who did this. He says hes not going to sleep until they do. Well, Tyreese, stop whining like a brat and start doing something about it. (Side note - I still can’t wait for Tyreese to die. He has done nothing but be annoying from the start of this season.) Too bad the guys don’t get a chance to discuss more, because a huge boom comes from above.
Everyone runs out of the prison, into the yard. From above, they see the Governor’s men, vehicles formed into a ‘V’, with the tank at the center. The camera pans back to a nice complementary shot of our gang standing in a ‘V’, with Rick at the center, denoting that a showdown is most certainly about to occur.
The Governor calls out for Rick, and Rick counters by stating that there’s a council now. The Governor sneers, and says, “Is Hershel on the council? How about Michonne?” He reveals his two captives. Rick is taken aback, but tries to insist that he doesn’t make the decisions anymore. The Governor pushes back, and tells him that he needs to make the decisions today.
Rick looks over to Daryl who nods at him, as does his deputy Carl. He starts down towards the small army, pistol at his hip.
As Rick works his way down the hill, Daryl gives instructions to the rest of the gang and starts arming the able bodied. He lets them know to get everyone on the bus, and that the bus needs to leave if anything goes wrong.
Cut to an undisclosed location where Lilly is the only one from the camping crew not at the prison. She stares across the water at a walker struggling to make it across. Meghan calls for her help to dig in the mud, but Lilly is fixated on the walker. Lilly’s making all sorts of bad choices in this episode, including letting her daughter roll around in the mud in a world with no showers. The walker falters and falls, and Lilly puts her gun away. Meghan unearths a sign that says “Flash Flood Area”, which was conveniently washed away atop a walker. The walker grabs Meghan and takes a big munch out of her shoulder. Lilly sprints down to Meghan and shoots the walker in the face. Too late.
Back at the prison, Rick has made his way to the fence. He pleads with the Governor to reconsider. He says there are children there, and some are sick. This gives pause to a few of the Governor’s crew. The Governor says he doesn’t care, and starts firing shots at approaching walkers. And just in case Rick hasn’t been paying attention to basic walker behavior all this time, the Governor verbalizes that the noise will just draw more walkers over. No duh, Gov.
At the interior fence, Carl and Daryl aim at the Governor and his crew. Carl says he can kill the Governor from right there, and that he can end it right now. Daryl talks him out of it, saying to trust Rick and his sweet negotiating skills.
(Side note – This is the second time that someone has had a clear shot at the Governor and decided to not take it. Andrea had her chance last season, and was stopped by Milton. My question is, would Carl killing the Governor mid-standoff have changed anything? I doubt very much that the camper crew would have just decided to back down, but maybe Rick would have been able to convince them to live in harmony instead of the massacre that occurred.)
All the kids run to the bus, Judith in tow. (Side note - Why the hell are the children in charge of the baby? This reinforces my belief that Beth is basically worthless. I thought her ONE job was to take care of Judith. Major life fail, Beth.) Lizzie stops them and convinces her sister that they should help because Carol taught them to stand and fight. They interpret this to mean ‘drop the baby, leave her totally unsupervised in an open area and get the guns’.
Back at the fence, Rick tries to appeal to the Governor’s sense of humanity. He offers up the choice that Hershel already proposed to the Governor. Way to be on the same page, gang! They can all live together. Rick says it’s not going to be easy, in fact it’s going to be much harder than shooting at each other, but they can do it. The Governor sees his control slipping away, and grabs Michonne’s katana and places it at Hershel’s throat. We get a shot of Hershel, looking like Ned Stark from Game of Thrones as he’s wearing an ancient looking shirt, and has a sword at his neck.
Rick starts to address the entirety of the Governor’s crew, and asks if this is what any of them want. Mitch says that they want what the gang has got, and punctuates it with a wholly unnecessary, “time for you to leave asshole!” Rick continues to address everyone, giving them a bit more information. He lets them know that they had fought the Governor before, and that some of the Governor’s old friends had become leaders in the prison. What follows is an impassioned speech for humanity, saying, “let go of all of it, and no one dies. We can still come back, we’re not too far gone. We get to come back. I know we all can change.”
Best. Speech. Ever.
Hershel gives Rick a small smile, thinks they’ve got this. But the Governor whispers “LIAR” and violently slashes into Hershel’s neck.
Worst. Moment. Ever.
“NOOOOOOOOOOO.” Rick screams, and all hell breaks loose. Maggie and Beth lose their minds, and both sides start shooting. Michonne makes her way behind the trucks to cut herself free, and a badly injured Hershel tries to wiggle away. The Governor chooses to pursue Hershel instead of Michonne and hacks Hershel’s head from his body for no apparent reason. (Quick side note - This calls to mind the heads in tanks in Woodbury.) Just then, Lilly walks up with Megan in her arms. The Governor takes no time in shooting her head off. Seriously? This is just too much. There are just too many reasons why this scene is ridiculous and unnecessary overkill.
The tank starts to rumble towards the prison, tearing down the fences. Our gang stoically stands their ground. Lots of the Governor’s new family goes down, and the tank starts haphazardly shooting at the actual prison walls. Bad idea if you want to take it for any protective reason whatsoever. Mitch is an idiot.
Maggie instructs Beth to get everyone on the bus, invoking Hershel as she says, “we’ve all got jobs to do.” Maggie successfully gets Glenn on the bus, but doesn’t see Beth who went to go find Judith. Yeah, Beth, you were supposed to be watching her this whole time. But you just saw your dad get executed, so we’ll cut you a little slack.
Amidst the melee, the Governor and Rick start fist fighting.
Daryl starts casually tossing hand grenades into the mix, sprinkling a little smoke into this shit stew of a situation. In another corner of the yard, an unarmed Maggie finds Sasha and Bob and asks about Beth. They don’t know where she is. Bob gets shot in the shoulder. While the three of them are searching for the exit wound, the bus drives off.
Tyreese is shooting at the advancing opposition from a raised garden bed, and is almost a goner when Meeka and Lizzie appear with guns drawn. The sight of children with guns drawn is a bit shocking, and Lizzie takes the advantage to shoot down two of the Governor’s people in cold blood. Tyreese is shocked, but quickly springs out of the garden bed, telling the girls that they have to get out of there.
In the yard, the Governor starts to strangle Rick to death, when Michonne comes up from behind, and stabs him through the chest. The Governor gasps, and falls to the ground a few feet away. Michonne watches as Rick catches his breath and asks for Carl. “Where’s Carl?” Michonne replies, “I don’t know.” Michonne walks up to the Governor but for some reason doesn’t deliver the death blow.
Daryl tosses a grenade into the tank, which explodes. Mitch evacuates, only to have Daryl shoot him in the heart. (Quick side note – Is this the first live person we’ve seen Daryl kill? I believe it is.) Beth runs up and says that she was trying to find the kids. Daryl surveys the rapidly advancing walkers and says, “We gotta go Beth, we gotta go.” They run off to the fences.
Rick calls for Carl, and he comes out of nowhere. They embrace, and Rick asks about Judith. Carl says, “I don’t know”. They stagger over to a car seat, which appears to be soaked in blood. (Side note – Press pause on the car seat, and it looks like bloody fingers might have reached in to grab the baby and save her….but that’s probably just wishful thinking). Carl goes berserk on a zombie, firing round after round. Rick stumbles over to him and grabs him, saying, “We gotta go. Its over.”
Walkers start to take over the prison, as the Governor slowly bleeds out in the yard. A blood soaked Lilly calmly walks over and shoots him in the face.
Carl and Rick stumble up the hill. Rick says, “Don’t look back Carl, keep walking.”
Final thought – No one ‘killed’ Hershel’s head. That makes me very sad. I hope this is addressed in the next episode, but I doubt it.