AMC‘s The Walking Dead Too Far Gone TV Show Review. The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 8: “Too Far Gone” served not only as the climax to the Brian/Governor arc, but as a meeting of season 4’s dual arcs. This would be a culmination of two (three, in one respect) seasons worth of subplot and character development.
Brian (David Morrissey), having secured the hearts and minds of his camp, impressed upon them the need and opportunity to seize the prison. He emphasized a preference to do this bloodlessly, but had already abducted Hershel (Scott Wilson) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) as bargaining tools. Lilly (Audrey Marie Anderson), left out of the loop, but overhearing it all anyway, was now openly concerned about the man she had entrusted her family to. Brian, still disavowing of the Governor, was as reassuring to his hostages as he was to Lilly. Michonne had every intention of killing the Governor, but Hershel appealed to Brian. Hershel’s mistake was failing to take into a account that love of one’s family can be as much a motivator, in the destruction of someone else’s, as an inhibitor. Leaving Lilly and Meghan (Meyrick Murphy) at a guaranteed safe location, and assuring that his decisions will ensure their survival, “Governor Brian” set out to serve an eviction notice.
His assurances to Lilly would prove empty; the fallout from her misplaced faith in him, dire.
At the prison, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) finally told Daryl (Norman Reedus) about Carol (Melissa McBride), but still had not worked up the nerve to tell Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman). Daryl was able to translate his own rage into that nerve, but Ty preempted their effort with what he thought to be a clue.
In his pursuit of Karen’s killer, Ty resurrected the specter of the “fence feeder.” The nature of his discovery seemed to point to one person, in particular, but it was unlikely that any of them had a suspect in mind. Both the subject of Carol and Ty’s discovery were abruptly put aside, however, when a tank shell announced the execution of Gov. Brian’s plan. Oh yes, the foresight of former tank trainee Mitch (Kirk Acevedo) meant Gov. Brian had a tank at his disposal. Why bother with peaceful seizure and hostage leveraging, then? The need to leave the prison intact and, more importantly, Rick’s irrational idealism.
With the subject of feudalism again on display, both Rick and Gov. Brian opened with negotiation – Gov. Brian from a position of strength, Rick from a position of protective responsibility. When Gov. Brian overplayed his hand, Rick’s position changed to one of scorched earth defiance. When Gov. Brian upped the stakes to directly threatening his hostages, the distinction between his and Rick’s world view was made as plainly as ever it was. Rick fell back on his responsibilities as a Sheriff, family man, team leader, homesteader, and co-councilor, to again propose co-existence. For Brian, loss of family, unreliable cohorts, and the cold, hard nature of survival itself, not only made Rick dangerously idealist, but also a liar. The Dagger of Damocles came down, and the shooting started.
By the time the shooting stopped, the prison was untenable, Walkers were swarming the battlefield, and two principal characters were dead. Each, however, brought a certain satisfaction to their ends. One died with a smile – witnessing, in Rick’s diplomacy, the flourishing of ideals they had debated since the early days at the farm. The other provided an outlet for the rage of multiple characters, over multiple sins.
Various promising characters also met their deaths, which brought chills and thrills to the episode as only a “lack of job security” can. To more morbid viewers, I would point out that a number of extras survived; so there will likely be more carnage to come. In the scrambling evacuation, key sub-groups were separated, and Carl (Chandler Riggs) once again proved himself in a fight, but the battle also provided Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) with an opportunity to put Carol’s teachings into practice. After saving Ty – earning two Human kills, in the process – she led the prison’s other children off in a separate direction.
Observant fans may have recognized Clara (from the season premiere) among the zombie herd, at the episode’s end. While not quite what I had expected to come from Rick’s run in with her, her reappearance made Clara an effective book-end to season 4.1. More than that, her story could now be seen as a summary of the prison arc’s harsh lessons, adding a certain poignancy to Rick’s closing words to Carl: “Don’t look back.”
“Too Far Gone” formally ended the prison arc for the series, and it was just as well. A degree of stagnation had set in for the series, with its characters fighting to hold on to territory and ways of life rather than survival and loved ones. This had been a principal complaint over the second season’s farm arc, so I suppose it was only fitting that the prison arc ended in much the same way. “Habits” formed over the course of the arc did not need to be changed, they had to be decisively broken. A show like The Walking Dead is built on suspense and fear of the unknown. In this context, familiarity does breed contempt, and viewers must not be allowed to take anything or anyone on the show for granted.
The fact that this was all accomplished by the midway point of the season leaves open a question of what is left for the second half. There were obvious loose ends that may prove eventful. Carol was left at large, and now her chief protoge, Lizzie, was out and about with the rest of the class. Armed and very dangerous, Lizzie at large could mean a Lord of the Flies element, for the series; an exploration of childhood development, left to its own devices, in a post-civilization setting.
Lizzie’s band was also in charge of Judith. The fate of Rick’s daughter was left open, but dire, and the presumption of her death will no doubt have a profound affect on both Rick and Carl for their pairing.
The unfinished business, regarding Ty and Carol, looms large; but the more immediate issue, for the launch of season 4.2, concerns where and how the scattered parties land. Unlike the season 2 finale, “Too Far Gone” left viewers without an aftermath to suggest what comes next. Something that should be kept in mind was the fact that both parties had scattered, which could mean further, random clashes or uneasy pairings/ alliances.
At the end of it all, season 4.1 may have closed the door on a number of key elements to the series, but left more than enough dread, danger, conflict, and uncertainty to carry season 4.2, at the very least. More importantly, it may have re-established that confronting such dread, danger, conflict, and uncertainty is what a show like The Walking Dead is all about.