The Walking Dead season 4 episode 8 review: Too Far Gone

The Walking Dead arrives at its mid-season finale, and doesn't pull any punches. Here's Ron's review

This review contains spoilers.

4.8 Too Far Gone

One of the funny things about The Walking Dead as a show is that everyone gets a goodbye speech. When anyone dies, they get to make some big speech or they get some sort of character development, they are pretty quickly added to the show’s growing list of departed cast members (RIP T-Dog). It seemed, albeit briefly, that this season of The Walking Dead might be different. As it turns out, nothing changes in the world of the dead, even if it takes a little longer for the grand finale foretold by character speeches to come to pass (in spectacular fashion). As Robert Kirkman said on Talking Dead after the initial airing, the more beloved a character, the better his death should be, and the show came through on that promise tonight.

Given the fact that this is the mid-season finale for The Walking Dead, there has to be a big event in order to keep everyone tuning back in. This week, the five episodes spent at the prison and the two episodes spent following around the Governor all come to a head in a brutal, explosive capper. Boy, does it pay off in a big way. Given the fact that two episodes ago, we got the awesome reveal of Chekhov’s Tank, by the third act of this little arc, the tank gets put into play. Mostly it’s used as cover and to destroy fences, but it’s cool that it’s even there, let alone that they get to fire the big gun and blow a lot of things up.

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The prolonged action sequence results in a lot of shooting and deaths, mostly of red shirts and the Governor’s followers. However, it’s the set-up for the prison that makes it all work. The showdown between the prison and the Woodbury 2 is staged brilliantly by director Ernest R. Dickerson. Just the comparison shots between Rick’s group and the Governor’s group alone makes the scene, but the action is well-framed and well-staged, the pacing is spot-on, and it feels just hectic enough to make it thrilling, but not so hectic that you can’t follow along with what’s going on. The Mexican stand-off with Rick on one side and an M60 tank on the other just looks great, and Dickerson uses some really cool camera angles to go with the staging to keep help reinforce certain feelings—helplessness, sadness, danger—without clubbing the home viewer over the head. Rick’s group looks tired and ragged and thin; the Governor’s group has superior firepower and a whole host of off-road vehicles capable of running the prison ragged.

The focus is obviously on the action, but scripter Seth Hoffman also manages to sneak in a little emotional content, too. Granted, some things feel like they get short shrift, such as Daryl finding out about Carol’s banishment, but it seems like they’re issues that can be safely picked up when the show returns in February. After all, as Rick and Daryl are about to break the news to Tyreese, they get interrupted first by his discovery of a rat vivisection and then by the tank. Those are all important things to pay attention to, but it’s kind of sad to see the Carol thing lingering on.

Of course, the Carol storyline continues because Carol’s fate remains unknown. As cleverly brought up by Daryl during Rick’s confession about Carol, Rick keeps repeating that Carol will be okay because he’s trying to convince himself as much as he’s trying to convince Maggie or Daryl. Given the way the group scatters at the end of the episode, there’s no telling where Carol will show up and who she will get involved with, if anyone. I still really hope to see Carol return, hopefully not with Tyreese because that will make things a little too cut-and-dry for her to get back in with the group’s good graces. There’s also still the mystery rat-feeder, which everyone assumes is one of the little girls Carol took under her wing.

This is a show that, due to its large cast, has plenty of different group combinations to split off. Indeed, it works better with the mass cast split up. They can’t stay broken up forever (and hopefully it works better than the Michonne and Andrea’s Woodbury adventure), but it will help keep things from becoming monotonous and it gives the show yet another chance to highlight specific characters. That’s slowly become one of the show’s better ideas, with The Governor having a really impressive pair of starring appearances with his cast of new characters. I can only hope we get a couple of awesome Carol-centric episodes as a reward for waiting until February for new episodes.

Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Dead Weight, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is glad to see The Walking Dead is taking a holiday break, even though that means we’ll never get to see that awesome zombie Christmas episode no one really wants to see. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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