Last time on The Walking Dead: the Governor has a new set of pawns (get it because CHESS and SYMBOLISM) to go throw at the characters we actually care about. Except Carol, of course. Miss u, boo.
“I have to talk all of you into doing something,” the Governor is saying to his camp. Specifically, he has to talk them into waging war against the prison so
he can get revenge they can take over the land. But why wouldn’t they just ask to share? Because the Governor pins that raided camp on the prison gang so all his new recruits can feel like they have the moral high ground. Except they kinda don’t, because the Governor totally already captured Michonne and Hershel. Tara is initially unimpressed, it’s worth noting.
The Governor thinks he can pull this off without actually killing anyone. Sure, that’s cute. Of course he’s only saying that to appease his people, and as the credits roll in, he all but confirms this by saying that they do need to be prepared to kill people. After all, most of them are totally horrible thieves and murderers, which the Governor would totally know — he met them at the last place he lived, and they burned his camp, poked his eye out, and killed his daughter. He neglects to mention that his daughter was already kinda dead at the time and also he was a raging psychopath, but you know how those little details sometimes get lost in the retelling. Everybody’s done that, right?
I’ll say this though: the governor is really good at making speeches. Heck, I was almost kind of rooting for this stupid non-Michonne camp for a second. Guess those last two episodes had a purpose after all — Stockholm Syndrome. At least Lily’s here to snap us all out of it, though, when she emerges from the bushes nearby and tells the Governor that she’s super not a fan of this whole killing people thing. “Killing killers,” he tries to correct her, but she points out that not two seconds ago, he said they weren’t all killers. Well, they’re with bad people, he amends. “Am I?” she retorts. “HEY SHH I LOVE YOU,” the Governor deflects. Lily allows him to walk away, but she’s still not happy about things.
Speaking of Michonne, which we should pretty much always be doing because she’s the best, the Governor has her and Hershel tied up in his trailer. Hershel is confused and scared. Michonne, on the other hand, looks as though she’s attempting to summon telekinetic powers and bend the Governor into obscene and anatomically impossible shapes.
It bothers me how they’re only minorly incapacitated, though. I mean, you can’t tell me that Michonne couldn’t still kill the Governor with her bare hands here, even if they are tied at the wrist. Possibly she’s biding her time to protect Hershel or plan the most optimal escape route, but more likely it’s that the writers just knew they needed Michonne and Hershel to be “captured” and they didn’t really bother to work out how that would manifest.
At least we’re getting some good Michonne to Governor bonding time. He admits that yeah, Penny was totally dead already and he doesn’t blame her for what she did, but all of that’s in the past because he has a new family now and they need that prison. Michonne follows this up with, “I’m going to kill you.”
“No you won’t,” the Governor rolls his eye. And then she starts trying to describe exactly how she’s going to kill him in graphic detail but Hershel makes her stop. He also calls him “Governor” and gets told off, because apparently he doesn’t like that name anymore. Too bad! That’s your name, and we’re not going to stop calling you by it. He tells Hershel that he’s a good man, “better than Rick.” I’m guessing we all agree with that sentiment. Hershel still wants to find some kind of common ground — maybe the Governor’s new family could live at the prison with them, because he can tell that the Governor’s totally changed now. Watch out Hershel, people who say that tend to get golf clubbed in the head.
Nobody’s in favor of that whole kumbaya “let’s live together” idea, so Hershel switches tactics and appeals to the Governor’s sense of family and duty. He’s got a daughter at the prison, and the Governor knows what it’s like to have a daughter. How can he threaten someone else’s daughter like that? “Because they’re not mine,” the Governor says. Duh, Hershel. It’s been four seasons, how are you only just getting this concept?
Governor’s camp has moved all their non-fighters and children near the waterfront to keep safe for now, since the walkers can’t cross water very well. I don’t know, Gov, Walker!Pete seemed like he was having a pretty decent time underwater last week. Sure would be a shame if he managed to make it out onto land in full view of the camp and everybody worked out that his wounds were inflicted by another human. Lily keeps trying to talk the Governor out of stuff. “HEY REMEMBER MEGAN AND HOW WEAK AND FRAIL SHE IS ALSO I LOVE YOU STILL,” the Governor says. Where is that weak frail little girl, anyway? Playing with mud for some reason. He hugs her even though her hands are dirty because they live in zombie apocalypse and who the heck cares about mud.
Back at the prison FINALLY, Glenn is alive and being adorable. Like, too adorable. You stop saying cute things about your anniversary and needing a vacation right now. Daryl is also around and very upset about Carol, and telling Rick that he should have waiting for them to get back from their run. It’s okay, Rick says, Carol’s a “survivor.” “Stop saying that like you don’t believe it!” Daryl responds. Now somebody has to take care of Lizzy and that other girl. Oh, and also, someone has to tell Tyreese, because of course Rick hasn’t done that yet. I’ve been complaining about these past couple of episodes, but now I kind of miss them, because I forgot how annoying Rick is.
Cut to Bob being sad. He’s got a box full of something that I’m guessing is alcohol-based and he’s about to go find somewhere else to play with it when Sasha stops him and tells him to rest. He says something about going to Cell Block C until D gets cleaned up, and I had to pause the episode here because over Thanksgiving my family made me watch the first 6 episodes of The Wire and for a second I was like, “Wait, but you are Dee, I’m so confused.” Sorry for being late to that particular party, guys. Sasha has not seen The Wire and doesn’t know what happened at the university, so she has no problems thanking Bob way too profusely. Bob feels conflicted about this.
Rick and Daryl go to find Tyreese, who has something more interesting to talk about than Carol killing his dead girlfriend. Specifically, he found a dissected frog in the basement. Yeah, there’s no way this wasn’t that creepy Lizzy kid, right?
Tyreese connects this grossness to the person who was feeding the walkers rats at the gate (who we also guessed might have been Lizzy earlier, if you’ll remember) and mistakenly thinks that whoever did both these things must have also killed Karen and David. Or… wait. Wait. Maybe he’s not mistaken. Daryl did just say that killing two people without telling anyone isn’t exactly Carol’s M.O. What if she was covering… for Lizzy?
Let’s put a pin in that theory and come back to it because OH SHIT EXPLOSIONS
The Governor and his tank are here, and they would like to “talk.”
“IT’S NOT UP TO ME,” Rick shouts back. “I DON’T MAKE DECISIONS ANYMORE.” Man, British people are not good at shouting American. It doesn’t matter how seamless their accent is when they’re projecting at a normal volume, they always start elongating their vowels too much when they shout. Always. Then the Governor brings out his captives — oh good, their hands are behind their backs this time — and says that too bad, Rick’s making the decisions now.
Rick acquiesces, and Daryl works out a backup strategy with Tyreese and Sasha to get everyone weapons. The Governor is having too much fun toying with Rick, though, and it looks like some of his followers are having second thoughts, especially when Rick throws out the magical phrase “sick children.”
Speaking of sick children, Megan is still out playing in the mud while Lily pays literally no attention to her because there’s a walker coming through the water. It succumbs to the tide, fortunately. Unfortunately, Megan’s found a “Flash flood warning” sign. Gee, you don’t think this mud could be full of walkers who were swept up in a past flood and are now buried in the river’s sediment, do you?
Lily’s too far away and Megan’s too stupid to, you know, run? So of course she gets bitten. Right in the shoulder, too. It’s not fun to watch.
Meanwhile, the Governor is straight-up just having the time of his life right now. He kills two nearby walkers with his gun and tells Rick that the longer they wait to leave, the more walkers will show up after having been attracted by all the noise. The little kids are heading for the bus, but Lizzy tells them not to because Carol told them all to be strong, so naturally they should all be armed. Hon? You have a baby with you.
Rick and Hershel are still trying to spin the whole “let’s all live together” thing, and Rick mentions when if they fight back to defend themselves, the walkers will probably overrun the fences and then nobody will get to live in the prison. The Governor maybe did not consider this, and angrily pulls Michonne’s sword out from somewhere to press it against Hershel and raise the stakes. Rick singles out Tara and asks her if this is what she wants, and then Pete’s jerk of a brother calls Rick an asshole, and Rick responds… well, kind of like an asshole. He tells them that the last time he fought the Governor, the people from the Governor’s old camp defected and are now leaders within the prison camp. That’s a dumb angle to take, isn’t it? How about instead you tell them all how the Governor murdered everyone who didn’t defect? Did Karen not tell you all that story?
Then Rick launches into this sob story of redemption and how we can all come back from the worst things we’ve ever done and change and be better. “We get to come back,” he says, mirroring what Lizzy once said about the walkers. It’s clear that this is supposed to be the central theme of the season, especially after all that talk of the Governor having “changed,” but it feels sort of hollow here, because the whole point of the scene is that Rick’s trying to convince the Governor’s people to come to a truce and it’s not very convincing to me at all. And the Governor’s not convinced, either, because he whispers “liar” and SLICES HERSHEL IN THE NECK OH NO
Everybody at the prison loses it, and understandably so because Hershel is the goddamn best. Maggie and Beth are screaming; Rick, Carl and Daryl are shooting at the Governor, and Rick gets clipped in the hip. Michonne barrel rolls out of the way and unties herself against a license plate edge, which goes unnoticed because everybody on the Governor’s side is too busy shooting back.
Tara is hiding behind the tank because she is basically done with this shit. “HE CHOPPED A GUY’S HEAD OFF WITH A SWORD,” she explains to her girlfriend, who is talking her down. Yeah, that girlfriend’s definitely not gonna make it. She’s a lesbian and she’s shooting at Rick and she’s way too capable,
Hershel is miraculously still alive, so of course the Governor finishes the job with multiple hacks to the neck, Theon Greyjoy style. And then, also like Theon Greyjoy, he suddenly realizes way too late that he’s screwed everything up when he looks up and sees Lily cradling Megan’s dying body, which she brought all the way here to show him. Oh except WAIT:
So I guess he has changed, huh.
“KILL THEM ALL,” he tells his camp. Pete’s brother’s totally fine with that, and plough through the fence like it ain’t no thing. You know, the fence? The whole reason they want to live here in the first place? Why is Tara the only person who’s still conflicted about all of this, you guys?
Maggie runs to go find Glen and leaves Beth behind to help people onto the bus, because it’s her job and they all have jobs to do. Apparently right now it is my heart’s job TO BREAK. Meanwhile, Rick and the Governor are punching each other in the face like civilized men. The camp is rapidly becoming overrun by walkers, who make for very good shields, so that actually works out. Beth’s not on the bus because she went to go find Judith because WHERE THE HELL ARE THOSE KIDS, so Maggie goes to find her, and then Bob gets shot, and the bus leaves without them because it’s already full of Glenn and the other sickies, and man a lot of stuff is happening at once. Oh and then! Speaking of the kids! They totally kill Tara’s girlfriend. Lizzy shoots her right in the head. That’s kind of awesome. Lizzy, you still need therapy, but you’re all right.
The Governor has won the punching contest and is trying to choke the life out of Rick, AND THEN
AWWWW UYEAH, YOU FORGOT ABOUT MICHONNE DIDN’T YOU. WELL MICHONNE NEVER FORGETS. EVER.
This image was actually spoiled for me before I got a chance to watch the episode, and at the time I was sort of furious, because how dare they make two long, agonizing episodes about this asshole and then kill him off immediately after? But in the larger context of this episode, I’m actually all for it. I’ll probably be mad again next week, though, because how the heck are they going to top this?
They do top the whole “Governor gets sworded in the chest” thing, surprisingly. WITH DARYL THROWING A GRENADE DOWN THE BARREL OF A TANK.
Heck, even Carl gets to be a badass, too. Rick goes feebly looking around for him and gets set upon by walkers, and Carl shoots them both, and then they hug because family and whatever. The good feelings are short-lived, though, because they can’t find Judith. All they find is her bloodied-up little carseat. GOOD JOB, LIZZY. You’re not all right anymore.
Then, as one final clincher, Lily comes across the Governor struggling for life and shoots him in the head, then tramples over the eyepatched white king chess piece that’s on the ground now for some reason because SYMBOLISM. The episode ends with Rick and Carl walking away from the zombie-overrun prison, trying not to look back.
Dang, guys. This episode did not pull any punches. First Hershel, then Megan, then the Governor, and then Judith? I want to believe that she’s probably still alive because this show was not written by George R.R. Martin and I have come to expect the level of child-death it brought this time, but if she is dead and gone for real, then I will be impressed. For the first time all season, I’m actually pretty excited for
next week the next half of the season. Hopefully now that the season has come to what will most likely be its biggest climax, the rest won’t disappoint us too greatly.
UPDATE: Of course I forgot that this is the mid-season finale and that the show won’t be back until February. I blame Thanksgiving, and also the last two episodes being boring and this one exploding my brain.
- Thank God, this episode was so much better than last week’s
- And the week before that
- Moment of silence for Hershel, guys