It’s been a while since it’s even been worth mentioning the comic when it comes to The Walking Dead. The show has evolved past the original graphic novel in many ways over the last few seasons, and though the bones of the show are based on the source material, most major events have been altered.
But ever since the Governor returned and laid his eyes on that tank, comic readers knew the day of reckoning was coming. We knew that gates would be crashed and heads would roll, but whose?
Last night, The Walking Dead did something interesting to both astonish non-comic-reading fans of the show and keep those who had read it guessing. At this point, it’s no longer a spoiler to say that things went down differently in the comic. It was Tyreese who was captured and beheaded. He may die eventually in the series, but it won’t be like this, and the same can be said for the rest of the cast.
Now, Tyreese was a MAJOR character in the comic, and he’s only been just introduced in the series. That’s presumably why he was spared, and we were forced to guess which longtime cast member, Herschel or Michonne would die instead, as one of them had to. Show-only watchers may have assumed neither would, and they would have been sufficiently shocked when one did. Comic-readers had a coin-flip on their hands. I chose wrong.
I thought it would be Michonne. I knew the Governor wouldn’t last the episode, so I thought that perhaps her character had exhausted her usefulness as she’s been on an almost non-stop quest for revenge. Herschel on the other hand isn’t one of the supreme badasses of the group (at least not in the traditional sense) and brings a different dynamic that has proved invaluable to the show’s emotional core. And if he WAS going to die, I thought it would have been during the episode where he’s attempting to fight off the zombie flu in the prison quarantine zone, which was his finest hour.
But then, Rick gave his moving, impassioned speech about how they don’t need violence, how they can change and all live together in peace. I saw the touching look on Herschel’s face when he realized that Rick had finally become the man he had always wanted him to be.
And naturally, that was the end.
It was perhaps the most profoundly emotional moment in an episode of complete and utter chaos, as things then proceed to go to hell for the next twenty minutes during the largest firefight the show has ever seen.
It’s essentially new Woodbury versus old Woodbury, and I thought the Governor’s two lead-up episodes made this confrontation more intense than it would have been otherwise. If he simply showed up out of the blue with a tank one day, it wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact. But instead we understand his motivations, the journey he’s been on and we even know a few of the new crew of “bad guys,” though that’s a relative term.
The episode was full of moments of badassery, many of which involved Daryl, naturally. Attacked by a zombie? Turn it into a meat shield. Face to face with a tank? Roll a grenade down its barrel. Other satisfying sequences included Lizzie shooting the female soldier directly in the head when she hesitates to kill a child, and what essentially amounted to two deaths of the Governor, first at Michonne’s hand, then by his new pseudo-wife who saw him for what he really was. Had he simply stayed by the river, he probably could have rescued his new surrogate daughter. But he wanted more. He wanted revenge. And in the end, he got nothing.
The Governor is no longer a threat as we head into the second half of the season, so the biggest unresolved plotline is still the rat-Carol-Lizzie-mercy kill mystery. Before the prison goes to hell, Tyreese discovers a rat tortured to death and somehow connects that to the mercy killings in ways I can’t quite comprehend. But he’s right, and the obvious implication now appears to be that Lizzie fed the rats to the zombies, tortured this new rat, and probably killed the two infected and Carol helped cover it up. If you didn’t think she was capable of this, shooting that chick in the head like it was nothing should tell you otherwise.
What doesn’t make any sense to me is why Carol would voluntarily go into exile for what Lizzie did, and not even bother telling Rick that he was living with a potentially dangerous child. Why would Carol have concocted such an elaborate cover story that in the end would force her away from the girl she was trying to protect in the first place, or even worse, could have gotten her executed on the spot by a less gentle Rick or an unforgiving Tyreese? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but obviously we haven’t see the last of Carol.
What would be rather ironic is if Tyreese escapes the prison with the two little girls, and they meet up with Carol. He’ll be travel pals with the woman who allegedly killed his woman and the little girl who probably actually did it.
The end of the episode was complete chaos, and I have next to no idea where the hell anyone went in the aftermath of the attack. Sick Glen was on the bus. Sasha and Bob were together. Tyreese was with the girls. Daryl was with Beth. I don’t know what happened to the Governor’s lady and her combat-shy sister. I also didn’t understand why Rick and Carl just assumed Judith was dead when they found her bloody carrier. The obvious answer is that someone injured picked her up and carried her out of there, and I didn’t even think for a half second she was dead.
Everyone keeps guessing that Tyreese and the girls have the baby, or maybe Beth and Daryl, or even Michonne. But my money is on Maggie, who disappeared earlier than everyone else, and I thought her mission was to find the girls and the baby. I’d say her who saved Judith, unless I missed something and I’m forgetting where she actually is.
I have no idea what to expect for next season (this is where I stopped reading the comic), and I’m not sure which groups will be together when the show returns. If I had to guess, we’re going to see a whole bunch of episodes with everyone split up and slowly finding their way back to each other.
This was a mid-season finale that felt like a full finale for season three, and now we’re really going to see a clean slate come next year. Can’t wait to see what happens.