I had greatly hoped that my love for The Walking Dead would rekindle this season. As such, I willingly jumped right back into this relationship, despite all my previous disappointments. Sometimes I think I should start seeing other shows. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs, but for the time being, I’ve been giving The Walking Dead a second chance. Yet I’m not sure if it deserves it. I mean, season four has thus far been wonderful—for the most part. I’m just worried it won’t last.
Spoilers after the jump.
I think the first half of this season has been terrific. I truly do. I liked meeting all the new characters from Woodbury and seeing them interact with the Atlanta survivors, and I like that the show is now addressing other dangers that our characters will inevitably have to face. The main drama for the majority of the episodes so far has been about a contagious and deadly disease and finding medicine to cure it.
The contagion added another layer of danger to the show, because it is something the characters cannot fight off without medicine, and it’s been spreading rapidly through the prison and infecting everyone, leaving them feeling helpless and despairing. In order to combat it, Daryl, Tyreese, Michonne, and new character Bob all go off to raid a nearby college for antibiotics. Along the way, they hear a voice on their car radio proclaiming “sanctuary!” They don’t hear anything else, since the car is soon surrounded by walkers and they have to make a run for it. Eventually, they do get some medicine and make it back to the prison.
But the disease is not the only thing our characters have to worry about. The walkers trying to get into the prison have been building up and putting tremendous pressure on the fences. Rick and the others have started adding extra support to the fences with wooden beams, as well as taking shifts killing the walkers to keep their numbers down. At the fences, they discover mutilated dead rats. Someone has been feeding the walkers and purposefully drawing them to the prison. My mind immediately went straight to the Governor, but alas, it looks like it’s not him, and our mystery baiter is still at large.
But wait, there’s more drama going on as well, because we don’t have enough yet. Two members of the group—Karen and David—are found murdered, their bodies burnt to a crisp. Not only is someone trying to draw the walkers into the prison, someone else has just killed two of the survivors in cold blood. Karen and David were currently, at the time, the only two people still alive after contracting the disease. Their murderer turns out to be Carol, who, in an attempt to quarantine the illness before it could spread further, killed them both before dragging their bodies outside and setting them on fire. Her efforts were for naught, however, as the other survivors slowly start falling ill regardless, including Glenn and Sasha.
Rick figures out what Carol did and sends her away from the prison, worried that Tyreese will want revenge on Carol when he finds out that she’s responsible for Karen’s death. Rick tells Carol that he can’t have her around, and that he’s worried Tyreese will kill her. Sadly, it looks like Carol has left the show for the time being.
I greatly looked forward to seeing Daryl’s reaction to Carol’s departure, but before that could happen, the show suddenly cut over to the Governor and stayed with him for two full episodes. This decision to spend at least two episodes focusing on nothing but the Governor stuck out to me for two reasons: one, Rick is the main character and The Walking Dead first and foremost centers on his experiences in a post-apocalyptic world, so it’s odd to focus so much on another character; and two, we’ve been waiting all season for the Governor to reappear and create drama, not for him to get his own redemption arc.
I have to say that I really didn’t like the Governor’s first episode, “Live Bait,” when I first sat down to watch it. The episode grew on me as it progressed, but the first half was pretty abysmal. I don’t mind that the Governor’s started on the path to redemption. Last season, he was a giant cliché of evil, with very few character-redeeming moments. By showing his more human side and revealing that there’s still some good in him, the inevitable showdown between him and Rick will be that much more powerful. That said, I didn’t enjoy the first half of “Live Bait” because, while redeeming the Governor is all well and good, watching him walk around in a daze and be otherwise completely unresponsive to everything going on was really boring, even if it was needed for his current character arc.
The Governor hooks up with a small family, the members being Lilly, her sister Tara, and her daughter Meghan. Through his relationship with them, we start see a more human and compassionate side to the Governor, specifically through his interactions with Meghan, who reminds him of his daughter Penny. But alas, all good things cannot last. He and the family end up with another group of people, and the Governor assumes leadership. I ended up really excited to see how everything would eventually play out. We were introduced to a lot of new characters, and due to Tara and another woman, Alisha, we actually get an openly queer relationship on the show as well.
Eventually, the Governor and his new group decided to take the prison—which is the exact same plan he had in the last season, only this time, we finally get to see a showdown between the two groups that has consequences. Hershel dies, Meghan dies, Alisha dies, baby Judith might be dead as well. And of course, the Governor dies, which really upsets me, considering the previous two episodes.
Oddly enough, though I had really wanted to see a fight between Woodbury and the Atlanta survivors, I’m actually kind of sad that the midseason finale played out the way it did. For once, I wanted the Governor and Rick to sit down again and work out their differences. Rick and Hershel both tell the Governor that they would be willing to welcome him and his people into the prison, so they could learn to live together. Rick even mentions that that would be harder than just shooting each other, and I agree. I almost feel as though this battle was a cheap copout to tie up a loose plot thread while simultaneously giving us the epic battle the season three finale robbed from us. I would have really liked to see them try to get along—working through issues like Michonne killing Penny, the Governor murdering Andrea and Merle, etc. Instead, I feel as if the show robbed itself of plenty of opportunities.
So for me, the midseason finale has left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, despite everything else in the previous episodes that I loved. I can only hope the rest of the season will be an improvement.