'The Walking Dead' S4 Ep8 Recap: The one where everybody dies
So much for The Walking Dead pulling its slow-pace punches in Season 4, eh? Egads. In a carousel of carnage, the midseason finale of AMC's gore-soaked phenom saw both Good and Evil getting snuffed out by an ominous Other, the stark looming reality of the zombie apocalypse. We're all goners, boys and girls (and babies?!); it's just a matter of how long you keep dancing through the undead. The hour was One Giant Spoiler, yowza entertainment, a body count to die for.
Cliffs Notes version: After kidnapping Hershel and Michonne, the Governor and his newbie loons try to take over Rick & Co.'s prison. Oh, and little kids either get killed or take a hankering to killing. If you haven't watched yet, stop reading now. The results are too good, too gruesome, too holy-flash-flood-warning to read about first.
Sooooo...who will you miss more? Hershel, the pacifistic wiseman who was beheaded by the Governor via Michonne's katana, or the One Eyed Gov himself, who was run through by -- cue John Lennon, because this was Instant Karma -- Michonne and her katana. Me? I'm going to miss the Gov. The show had slyly made into a twisted sex symbol, like a Psychotic Fonz in that leather jacket. Being bad is easy, but making a great, truly compelling villain is tough. Kudos to actor David Morrissey for playing him with equal parts eeevil and humanity. When he said "Michonne and I will never be able to live together," I started fantasizing about a possible rom-com sitcom spinoff. Come back, Gov! I miss you already.
But alas, nope. In a hellzapoppin about-face, showrunner Scott Gimple and his writers let chaos run rampant Sunday night, especially a blazing final 20 minutes, essentially making a midseason finale a season finale. After all, EVERYTHING changes when the show returns on Feb. 9, 2014. There have been plenty of tense, jaw-agape moments on this series. But the pause between Rick's desperate "We can all live together" speech (Rick actually believed what he was saying too, bless his heart) and the Governor hissing "Liar" was so pregnant with awesomeness, I take back (almost) all the snotty things I've said about the show this year. I had a feeling Hershel was going down, but not like THAT. Wow, tremendous television right there.
That nervous feeling of no-one-is-safe is back in a big way. ("Breaking Bad" thrived on that essential law of mortality too.) After all, last night's most shocking deaths were kid-related. The Governor's "original" daughter Penny was a zombie who was katana'd by Michonne; his new daughter Meghan was killed by a Mud Zombie -- and then really killed by the Governor, who let the final tendrils of sanity drift away. (Like I said, I'll miss him, but at this point in the narrative, he had to go.) And what about Baby Judith, Rick's daughter, Carl's sister? All we saw after the vigorously choreographed prison melee was a bloody car seat, which was bad enough. Did she get munched by a zombie? Or is she out there, somewhere? Maybe Carol took her? Maybe whomever is rat-planting took her? (And what's up with the rat-planting storyline anyway? It's almost as if the writers regret starting that one in the first place.)
And then there were the Village of the Damned kids -- Carol's kids, let call them -- who saved Tyreese thanks to the very survival skills Carol taught them!! The hour was so packed with action and plot, my notebook is a scribbled, scrambled mess. What does this say here? "Daryl pulling a Dr. J with the grenade." Oh yeah, when he blew up the tank in pure, joyful action-hero style. Let's be honest: The Walking Dead's most popular character is crossbow-toting Daryl (simmering Norman Reedus), and yet he's been mishandled, swept under the rug, this season. Still, he had some great rock-'em, sock-'em moments, even if his Carol-based confrontation with Rick was weak, especially since we waited three weeks for it. C'mon, not even a slap fight, gentlemen?
I have to say I'm pretty stoked for February, especially since that dreary prison set will soon be a thing of the past. I'm not saying I was giving up on the show, but I wasn't feeling that same juice at 9 p.m. on Sunday nights approached. And yet last night was so taut start to finish, my fanboy geek-o-meter is spiking again, especially after that poetically horrific closing shot: "Don't look back, Carl," Rick said to his son. "Just keep walking." Just keep watching, too.