by Thom Yee
4×08: “Too Far Gone”
One of the big surprises from last season’s conclusion is that the Governor got away. He wasn’t shot, eaten, or tortured to death, and remained at large no matter what fate he seemed to have earned. That’s something we all knew was going to come up at some point, and I’m happy to see that his return has been largely fulfilling.
The first moment we see Rick and Daryl arguing over Rick’s decision to abandon Carol was a sobering one for me. Remember, Carol had been the one that killed the first two people with the virus, and… oh, who cares! Man, I was tired of that storyline, and if we hadn’t had two episodes away from the prison, I think I would’ve been pretty sick of the whole show by now. Sure, the last two Governor-centric episodes may have made the overall arc of the first half of this season a little uneven, but by now the affairs of the prison had become so overdrawn that seeing them all blown away by a tank (rather than worked through with reason or logic or “talking about our problems”) is a welcome relief.
We’ve now hit the midseason break (the show will resume early February), but the events of “Too Far Gone” could easily have served as a full-season finale. As you might imagine when an anti-social individual like the Governor rolls up on your door with guns, a small army, marauder vehicles and a tank, demanding you abandon your fortified prison dwellings, things don’t go well for anyone, and when all is said and done, a bunch of people are dead, including the Governor himself. As much traction as the show may have found in revisiting the character, he’s gone as far as he can go. He’s done, and adding anything more would just be reductive. Case closed.
Two significant character departures between the show and the comic book concern Hershel and Tyreese. By the point of Hershel’s death in the comic, most readers wanted to seem him die. He was a shell of his former self having seen so many of his family members killed, and he almost prayed for death before it came. The producers of the show went the other way with the character, and that’s one of the few changes I would point to that have made the show stronger. TV-show Hershel was allowed to grow into a strong, supportive character even after his “barn-full-of-zombies” folly, and he’s a character that will be missed (he also dies). Tyreese, on the other hand, was a huge part of the comic at this point, and his comic-book death at the hands of the Governor hit extremely hard. Hershel and Tyreese, in some ways, have switched places between the show and the comic, and I hope the producers finally give the surviving TV-show Tyreese something to do besides not want to fight and not really know what’s happening.
I don’t think there’s a lot more I can add without point-by-point spoiling the rest of the episode. Most of what makes “Too Far Gone” work is that, as the culmination of everything that’s been building this season and last, it lives up to expectations. We can quibble about minor points of execution (and I’ll argue that the Governor’s new family ended up just being useless [Meghan], annoying [Tara], or monumentally naïve [Lilly]), but the dramatic moments mostly land, and we’re left with major characters’ fates unknown and a significantly different status quo. From reading the comic, I know that most of the group ends up regathering, and things kind of go back to the way they were in new surroundings, but that only worked because the comic was (and is) so much better than the show. What we’ve got now is a chance to completely change the tone and pace of the show, and hopefully this is the chance the writers’ needed to drop what wasn’t working and find more solid stories and storytelling going forward.
The Walking Dead “Too Far Gone” final score: 8.5
Items of Note:
-“What we want is what you got. Period. Time for you to leave, asshole!” So poetic. I should have that printed on a t-shirt or somethin’.
-Thank God Michonne got her katana back. If she ever loses that sword, it would be like Captain America losing his shield.
-It’s nice to see Carol’s “kids-with-weapons” learning curriculum vindicated with this episode, even though I’m not sure that’s what the producers are going for (as it seems like something that may backfire, at least thematically, in future episodes). Just imagine the learning outcomes for that course:
By the end of the semester, children will be able to:
1) Handle, load and fire small firearms effectively in combat situations.
2) Know exactly where to stab walkers for immediate death.
3) Kick ass.
4) Take names (at least names of important characters).
5) Provide mild surprise twists in dire situations.