November was a crazy month – for me personally, and also for those stuck in the Walking Dead universe. It’s kind of a grand blessing that I’m stepping back to review the last chunk of this half of the season at once. I haven’t updated since the point where the mid season was evenly split. There were different stakes raised, and new discoveries made. I have mixed feelings about it all – some stories felt tired (I was so happy to have that disease outbreak thing finally end – it was interesting but you had to wonder if they were going to drag it out), but some stories added intrigue and complexity to the universe. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these last few episodes.
As I said, the disease outbreak thing needed a fast end. The episodes even had a sickly hue to the color correct – it was amazing at the onset, when it turned a number of Woodburyans into zombies, and showed that truly no one is safe. But just watching a bunch of people sick and sad for longer than 2 minutes gets to be old. If the disease brought with it more drastic repercussions, maybe it would be more interesting. At the end of the day, characters we didn’t have time to care about died. So what. We had that dramatic moment of Maggie almost losing Glen, but we knew their relationship would be safe. For now, anyway.
There were also a couple really cheeseball moments with the music editing. I don’t doubt it takes a certain talent to source out or write those really dramatic, poignant songs for Hershel taking the call of duty to just kill the diseased zombies in front of everyone and the Governor in his brief spell of depression and giving up. But those moments also went on a little too long. It was cheesy and, for me, killed the power of those dramatic moments. I get it, and I know the viewers, too.
It was also kind of weird to introduce a whole new host of characters that we would quickly leave behind. That new camp the Governor stumbles into were people I immediately did not care about, or want to care about. I didn’t feel a connection that made me want to care that these people share a stance with the Governor by the time the showdown happens. I also feel like we didn’t spend enough time with the prison camp and the new people there. Like Bob. He seems to be integral, but I don’t feel enough towards him as a character. And Michonne wasn’t a huge focus at all by the end, and even when she was held captive by the Governor, there wasn’t much focus on her. A simple pitfall to such a huge and growing ensemble cast.
I also was a little disappointed in how they closed the book on the Governor (although I have a suspicion he’s going to come back somehow). The prison showdown bloodbath was everything you could’ve predicted it to be, for the most part. We knew that the Governor wouldn’t want to reason with Rick, it was fairly obvious that Hershel was gonna die, we knew that Michonne would escape and have a brief moment of release and final revenge. I wish more UNexpected things happen. When this show sacrifices its main characters to add tension and drama, it does so in quite an expected way. It differs from, say, Game of Thrones where there’s still some level of justice achieved. Yeah, Hershel died, but then Michonne got to stab the Governor again and the Governor’s camp lost anyway. You’d think the zombie apocalypse would be a little more ruthless, but people’s exits are fairly predictable. Give me a bit of a surprise every now and then!
I can’t ignore what the show did brilliantly. The Governor backstory of what he’s been up to since the fall of Woodbury was pretty well done. We got introduced to his psyche – we got to see what makes him a whole person, and what his complexes are. He clearly has certain needs that must be met – romantic needs, fatherly needs, leadership needs, violent needs. He is a man who wants control of his situation, and if he can’t have it, he feels nothing. Then he walks into that abandoned building with that family and suddenly feels filled with purpose again. He wants to be looked at as the leader, and depended upon, and then rule over the situation. When he walks back into Martinez’s camp in the woods, he is triggered by Martinez suggesting they share the leadership role. Can’t have that for the Governor. He has a careful way of manipulating and hiding his inner darkness, but is triggered by say, a bunch of bodies impaled with signs like Liar and Rapist. The Governor’s turn back into his crazy ways was so stark and dark – smashing Martinez’s head with a golf club! And anchoring that one leader guy down to the bottom of the lake so his zombie self can just float around under the surface?? It’s like he was restarting his jar collection again. Lastly, I love that the Governor adopts a different name. How many more times may he have done that in the past? It’s such a basic lie, but even a new name and new life doesn’t create any change for the Governor.
I also love that they explored different morality again with another camp. Whereas Woodbury was more about resuming and protecting a life of normalcy, this new camp was about survival and what it takes. The guy with the tank is more ruthless – if people have what you need, take it away from them because you “need it more” – while that other guy wanted to maintain a level of fairness. As Rick said when the Governor approached, they all just want to survive, can’t they do it in one space without killing one another? The fact that neither side truly wins is a signal of the complete chaos and anarchy of the zombie apocalypse – no laws make sense, really, because something will always create a level of failure for any of these camp setups.
The young girls that were under Carol’s wing also take a great turn of bravery – I was impressed that the girl finally got over the fear of doing what you had to do in a state of crisis.
Lastly, I am fairly intrigued with what the loss of the prison will bring to the show. Being confined to one space does get pretty boring after a while. Completely losing control of the prison finally allows the show to breathe a little and put these guys back in the wild, trying to survive. The separation also will be interesting to deal with – what groups can make it by themselves? How do you regroup in this situation? Will they all find new groups, like Andrea did with Michonne?
Even though the mid season ended with a lot of things I could’ve predicted, I am very curious about the state they left things in. Maybe now we can focus on the core group in February.