‘The Walking Dead’ Season 4 Mid-Season Finale Review

Published 8 months ago by

The Cast of The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 8 The Walking Dead Season 4 Mid Season Finale Review

[This is a review of The Walking Dead season 4, episode 8. There will be SPOILERS.]

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It’s amazing the kind of positive feeling The Walking Dead is able to elicit from watching its characters walk (or run) away from a location they were undoubtedly hoping would turn into something safe, secure, and permanent. But unfortunately for Rick, Carl, and the rest of the ever-dwindling survivors in their company, the needs of the story continue to outweigh what little comfort these perpetually unlucky people are ever able to achieve.

In that sense, the season 4 mid-season finale, ‘Too Far Gone,’ had many of the same elements that gave ‘Beside the Dying Fire‘ its feeling of welcome change in environment and circumstance for the characters. But the episode also served as a nice parallel to that story by the way it portrayed Rick’s handling of adversity, challenge, and someone trying to usurp what was ostensibly his.

So, on some level, the Governor and Shane wound up having a lot more in common (narratively speaking, of course) than anyone likely first thought. And while Philip/Brian and Shane probably had a whole slew of psychological issues that were at least partially to blame for their continual fixation on former Sheriff Grimes, it just makes you wonder: What is it about what Rick has that makes everybody (including the writers) want to take it away from him?

For the last two episodes, the show has been riding along with the Governor and his special brand of crazy just to show the audience how deeply affected he was by the fall of Woodbury, and the lengths to which he would go for a little vengeance. Despite all the problems with the character’s charmless and rather binary approach to good and evil in season 3, there was at least some effort made to show the Governor as some sort of parallel to Rick, and to demonstrate the kind of darkness that can manifest in someone with so much weight on his shoulders.

While that parallel managed to be clear, it wasn’t exactly layered with much meaning regarding either character. But here, credited writer Seth Hoffman manages to use that same parallel to show (and explicitly talk about) how time and a little therapeutic farming have turned Rick into a different man, while Philip retreated back into the comfort of the same.

Norman Reedus in The Walking Dead The Walking Dead Season 4 Mid Season Finale Review

It would be nice to think that Rick’s change, his willingness to welcome into his group those who would approach him with guns drawn and by driving a tank up to his front door, is an extension of how the show’s writers view the next steps the show will take.

In other words: the recognition that change is difficult, uncertain, and likely fraught with even more unexpected ugliness, but it’s also the right thing to do. After all, it’s hard to image anyone doesn’t want The Hershel Greene Knowing Smile of Approval for having finally unlocked the achievement of humanity and forgiveness. And in the case of the writers behind the show, the approval comes from knowing the show’s strengths and its weaknesses, and that leaving the prison behind was a long time coming.

That’s not to say the show hasn’t found some interesting stories to tell in the prison; the beginning of the season certainly felt lively enough, and it even mined the depths of misery when it gave way to a killer flu wreaking all kinds of havoc on the survivors. But as the show proved with ‘Too Far Gone,’ there are two things The Walking Dead does quite well: action through conflict and action through constant motion.

Perhaps its ironic that the show’s best qualities come from maintaining a steady level of liveliness and display of kinetic energy, but there’s no doubt that watching Rick and Carl walk away from the prison yields all sorts of hope about where the story will find them next, and how long it can keep the survivors moving.

The sense that some much-needed progression was on its way was obvious enough from the show’s promise that “some will fall” during the mid-season showdown. But at this point in the series, it may have brought forth more of an expectation of hope for the future than worry over who among the survivors would not be around come February.

If anything, The Walking Dead has demonstrated that big events generally shake up the status quo enough to give the show a bit of a narrative lift. Sure, sometimes that shake-up can result in a sweaty Rick yelling at ghost Lori, but that same event essentially opened the door for Tyreese to join the show (and maybe someday the show will find a way to actually use the character, so there’s hope in that as well).

David Morrissey in The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 8 The Walking Dead Season 4 Mid Season Finale Review

At any rate, for a program that basically thinks of its characters as zombie fodder first and people second, the passing of Hershel actually registered more as a signifier for the evolution of the show than it did as a truly harrowing event. One side effect of the series choosing to depict its characters becoming hardened against the constant, oppressive threat of death is that the result is mostly true for the audience as well; those watching have been programmed to see the fall of a character as the beginning of something new, not necessarily the end.

That’s not to say the death of Hershel – or the apparent death of Judith – wasn’t affecting; it was. But those events, as well as the death of the Governor, will likely be remembered more for allowing the show to open up a new chapter than for drawing out sentiment or true emotion.

The Walking Dead at least partially owes its tremendous popularity to the promise that anyone’s number could be up at a moment’s notice. And, if anything, the show has established it’s as difficult to continually illustrate the stakes of an environment that harsh as it is in one where the survival of characters is entirely implicit.

In that regard, the show can be applauded for finding what it is these deaths can mean and signify, and for demonstrating it as well as it did in ‘Too Far Gone.’

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The Walking Dead season 4 will continue in February 2014 on AMC. Check out a preview below:

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217 Comments

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  1. the thing with lily showing up at the prison, during the governor’s speech to his group, a speech in which lily herself admitted to taking in outside of the governor’s view, he had specifically stated the route and the highway to take in order to reach the prison, I believe he said north of highway I34. in addition, there was a vehicle with the front and rear doors opened right behind lily as she held Meghan’s corpse to one eyed bri. meaning lily didn’t walk, and she sure didn’t teleport.

    as for airing a gripe I had with the episode, the writers sure seem to be living vicariously though daryl. I took more issue with that Rambo act he displayed than the gripe some had over the militia’s face first bloodlust. what was the point of the others at the prison engaging if daryl would shoot down most of the gunners, blow up a tank, and kill mitch by his lonesome? and being that the b movie cliché is a theme here, what was the deal with the walker attack he brushed off? that walker had him dead to rights, as much as t-dog’s encounter and andrea with a visual of Milton and a free hand to engage.

  2. I love the zombie movie theme. But I finally pulled the plug on this series on the 7th episode of this, the 4th season. I won’t watch the finale.

    Storys that repeatly depict reasonable people doing unbelievably stupid or unlikely things push me away. Some examples in this series: 1) people coughing into the air and other peoples faces with a contagion known to be in the community, 2) menial discussion at times when time is of the essence, 3) allowing a murderous madman to kill/torture many dozens of people over at least a dozen episodes when it could have been stopped by anyone calling him out in front of others or shooting him when he was shooting others, 4) killing 2 people who had been quarantined because they might die and turn into zombies (no one was on guard watching them) or spread the flu to others before they died naturally because the disease might spread to others (they were quarantined!)

    If you like how this series is going make sure to check out the movie Prometheus, you’ll love it.

    • @Want

      Yeah, whilst I watch the show and loved this mid-season finale, I can see where you are with your points.

      For all the intensity and excitement , I just can’t get past the fact that where the world is overrun with zombies that humans would continuously turn on each other.

    • I can appreciate not wanting to watch the show… but your reasons baffle me. Either you have never met another human being or you live in an amazing Utopian sub-division of society that few of the rest of us are ever lucky enough to dream about, much less ever actually know.

      1) People coughing in each others faces. A typical day at work or the gym for me.
      2) Menial discussion when time is of the essence. I mean, wow… you’ve never met people that do this? Sometimes it seems my daily live is lived in line behind people that do nothing BUT this.
      3)Another day in the headlines of just about any city, country or internet news site. People see what they want to see. To the follow-up point, I have absolutely no problem believing in a true zombie apocalypse people would turn on each other so fast it would leave you absolutely dumbfounded. Like I said, any day’s headlines prove me out.
      4) errr, it’s not that I agree with what she did… I just don’t not agree with it either.

      I mean, honestly, I think that might be what makes watching TWD *such* an uncomfortable experience, I can very easily imagine so much of the most extremely idiotic things as being quite realistic reactions. Tell me you don’t think if some gung-ho rambo-type of soldier or cop or politician or… any type A personality became the head of the right flock of sheep the same, sad type of drama wouldn’t play out. Because I’d be amazed.

  3. 1 important question
    what was the origin of the walkers?
    What caused them to start changing from d very beginning?

  4. Now that’s how you do a finale – even if it’s a midseason one.

    Breathtaking, exciting, heartbreaking and devastating. The action was staged with terse ferocity. The music was emotional. the violence was brutal and savage.

    The misfire that was the season 3 finale has finally been atoned.

    God knows how they’ll top this with season 4 actual finale. We could be set for another disappointment like last year.

    Despite this – Spartacus War of the Damned finale still ranks as the best of the year.

  5. I can’t help but suspect half the people that post here are paid to market the product. I’ve seen it at other sights where comments are made on reviews. They’re generally vague, short, positive and attempt to spark interest – like a commercial.

    They also tend to follow negative comments to brighten things up. For example my above post was followed by “lebsta”.

    Please don’t.

    • paranoia strikes deep.

      • Q.E.D.

        … no, just kidding … too peculiar, just sugarcoating, no seeder. :-D

    • Sometimes it really seems so … it’s called “seeding” in viral marketing.

    • Here is a thought…the major networks who are getting trounced in the ratings by The Walking Dead on a cable network are using paid plants (like yourself) to bombard sights like these with negative comments to dampen the show’s popularity. Or maybe we can accept the fact that there are real people out there who actually disagree with our opinions about things and take the time to voice them through social media. I know which one I find a more rational thought process.

  6. Great Mid season ending episode.The Walking Dead has become one of the most ground breaking television shows in many years…Boundary pushing,special effects, killing of main characters “The walking Dead” puts human survival under the microscope like never before. Survival is our most basic instinct and TWD throws that right in our faces every week.. It’s continually asking the viewer…how would you survive,what hard decisions would you make…could you kill other adults or children if you had to…You really become drawn in like you’re on this journey with The Walking Dead…

    And now with the Mid season finale behind, many more questions await us in the second half…The biggest one being…where will the groups go now,one group still near the prison and the other on a bus somewhere….is the group on the bus doomed( not sure if they had many able bodies and that bus is going to run out of gas sooner or later)…if new cast members will be coming on board who will be leaving…will any “personal” relationships be formed, such as Daryl with a reunited Carol or will the “Dead” test the waters with Daryl and Beth becoming close…How about Michonne and Rick becoming a couple(Michonne is much closer to Rick and Carl now that Lori is gone and I may be wrong but there seems to be a spark between them(maybe that’s why she might have saved Judith,she cares for Rick)….and Carl…will he find a love in this dangerous Zombie filled world…Time will tell…the action, the zombies and the relationships…Feb/9 can’t come soon enough…

  7. I agree Robert O’Dell. Still, many of them are probably seeders. And if you don’t mind me asking are there any series or movies in 2014 that you thought were quite bad in some way? Any posts on this site where you express unhappyness with a shows quality such that you’d advise others to not watch it at the theaters?

    You’ll love Prometheus

  8. I am never presumptuous enough to tell people what they should or shouldn’t go see in the theater or watch or not watch on TV. I only render my opinion of the movies I see or shows I watch. One man’s treasure is another man’s junk. It’s all opinion, it’s all subjective.

  9. going by beth’s age on the show, around 16 or 17, having her hook up with daryl would be pedophile theater. I think it’s safe to assume most of us would rather avoid seeing that.

    iamgroot, I’m with you on the outlook of a collapsed world. I think if anything human behavior would be much worse than what’s on the show, which isn’t much of a stretch. regardless of where any of us stand on that call by carol, just imagine when you introduce rations and security concerns into the equation in that society.

  10. sticking with show continuity, I wouldn’t want to see daryl and beth hookup, as the beth character is portrayed as a teenager. let’s keep it clean.

  11. Amen and I thought Rick was dead and I cried but I did it for no reason

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