Even though AMC and those close to the production were unusually tight-lipped about the plot of The Walking Dead Too Far Gone mid-season finale episode fans knew it would be a game changer. Speculation that at least one major character from the prison group was going to die was rampant and there were lengthy discussions all over the Internet about which character was not going to make it.
When Episode 7 ended with The Governor coming across Michonne and Hershel outside the prison burying the bodies of those who died in the epidemic speculation turned to either Michonne or Hershel as the character who would killed. Fans anxiously waited and tweeted about the episode all week. Even Thanksgiving festivities were dampened by the anxiety of fans about Too Far Gone.
Their fears were realized Sunday night in what was one of the most ambitious and most heart-breaking episodes The Walking Dead has done. The death of Merle, which until Too Far Gone was considered the most heartbreaking moment of the series, paled in comparison to the death of the beloved spiritual center of the prison group Hershel Greene. In a horrific and bloody scene Hershel was decapitated by The Governor when Rick refused to leave the prison and hand it over to The Governor.
The death of Hershel came late in episode, and set off the bloody fight for the prison fans had expected at the end of Season 3. The intense fighting left the group scattered, bloody and broken. Fans were left wondering what is coming next for the characters they love who have lost the prison, each other, and any sense of security they had fought for over the last few seasons.
The episode began with The Governor giving one of his signature inspirational speeches to the group he had assembled convincing them that assaulting the prison was the only way to find security. In order to turn them against the prison group he told them that the prison group had assaulted Woodbury, killed his daughter and taken his eye.
He also told the group he had captured two of the prison group and brought out Michonne and Hershel. He convinced the group that he would exchange Hershel and Michonne for control of the prison. The group agrees they need the security of the prison and after stashing Lilly and Meghan in a safe location near the river the group, led by Mitch in his tank, go to attack the prison.
When The Governor’s group shows up at the prison Rick has just told Daryl about his decision to kick Carol out. Daryl is visibly upset, but seems more upset that Carol has become someone he no longer recognizes. He is angry, but before Rick and Daryl can really hash things out The Governor shows up with a tank and a group of people and Rick and Daryl have a bigger problem on their hands.
The Governor calls Rick down to the fence to talk and Rick insists that he doesn’t make decisions for the group anymore because there is a council. That’s when The Governor reveals he has taken Michonne and Hershel prisoner.
He brings them both to the fence with their hands bound and makes them kneel in front of the fence. While Rick tries to reason with The Governor and his group Daryl quietly arms everyone left in the prison capable of fighting knowing that the confrontation is probably going to go south. In a poignant moment when Rick is done he looks at Hershel and Hershel smiles at him, letting Rick know he is proud of him.
Rick gives an impassioned speech to The Governor and the rest of the group telling them that they can share the prison and that has no one has to die. Referencing the title he tells The Governor that they are not too far gone and the two groups don’t have to fight. In response The Governor takes Michonne’s katana and slices Hershel’s neck nearly halfway through.
As Hershel bleeds out Maggie and Beth scream. They had been watching with the rest of the prison crew from the prison fence. The prison group, led by Rick, open fire on The Governor and his group. The Governor goes after Hershel again and severs his head completely as Michonne uses the chaos to escape.
All hell breaks loose as Mitch and the tank start firing on the prison, taking out the towers and blowing massive holes in the prison structure. The tank advances, with the rest of the group walking behind it firing from the shelter of the massive metal body. The prison group manages to take out many of The Governor’s group. When Daryl tosses a grenade at the group behind the tank and there is a large explosion she drops her weapon and walks away.
While all hell is breaking loose at the prison Lilly is keeping an eye on walkers who are trying to get across the river and listening for Meghan who is playing nearby. Meghan, digging in the dirt, digs out an old metal sign from the mud. Then out of the mud comes a grasping hand, and a face, and a walker who had been buried in the mud emerges as Meghan screams. As Lilly arrives on the scene the walker takes a bite out of Meghan’s neck.
Lilly carries the bloody, lifeless body of Meghan to the prison where The Governor and the group are. Seeing that he has lost Meghan pushes The Governor over the edge and orders the group into an even more intense assault on the prison with the goal of killing everyone inside the prison.
Inside the prison yard everything is chaos. Maggie has gotten most of the sick and recovering people onto the bus, including Glenn, and the bus gets out of the prison before the entire prison is destroyed. But there is no real organization and many people are left behind.
Tyreese and Sasha conduct a fierce firefight and take out several of The Governor’s group as they are walking up onto the prison yard. Alisha, Tara’s girlfriend, advances quickly with her M4 on Tyreese and it looks like Tyreese is about to be killed when Alisha takes a spectacular shot to the forehead and falls. Surprisingly the fatal show was fired by Lizzie, who has taken Carol’s advice to heart and armed herself and some of the other children.
In another part of the yard the tank is advancing, taking out more of the prison. Daryl has sheltered behind a structure and is firing at the people walking behind the tank as a walker approaches. The walker gets so close to him the fans everywhere were terrified that Daryl was going to be killed as well. But, Daryl was not about to go out like that. He used the walker as a shield to get up close to the tank and dropped a grenade into the tank’s gun. As Mitch scrambles out of the tank before the grenade explodes he comes face to face with Daryl. Daryl puts an arrow directly into Mitch’s heart at close range.
While this is going on Rick and The Governor are having the knock down drag out fight fans knew was coming. Ultimately The Governor got the upper hand and was choking Rick to death. Rick started to turn blue. That’s when the tip of Michonne’s katana came through The Governor’s chest. He fell to the ground and Michonne helped Rick to his feet and they walked away. Fans knew that The Governor wasn’t going to make it out of the prison alive but Michonne didn’t kill him. The final blow for The Governor came from Lilly, who fired a bullet into his brain.
So when the carnage in The Walking Dead Too Far Gone was over the gravity of the situation became real for fans and set up the next half of the season. The prison is gone. Hershel is dead. The bus with the sick, including Glenn, has gone. Michonne seems to have been left on her own. Rick found Carl and they went off together after finding Judith’s abandoned car seat soaked in blood.
There is speculation that another member of the group has Judith because the seat was unbuckled, meaning someone had to have taken her out of the seat. Beth and Daryl escaped together. Tyreese has Lizzie and some of the other children. Sasha and Maggie went off together. It’s a safe bet to assume they have some kind of meeting place pre-arranged, perhaps Hershel’s farm. Hopefully some of the members of the prison group will find Carol as they try to find each other again.
Too Far Gone was one of the most intense episodes of a show known for intensity. Devastated fans took to Twitter and FB to grieve with one another for Hershel. Hershel’s death was heartbreaking but also served as a stark reminder that no one in Walking Dead world is safe. Robert Kirkman has warned fans repeatedly that no one is safe and in The Walking Dead Too Far Gone fans got a glimpse of the pain that is ahead as they start to lose the characters they love.