Warning: This recap contains spoilers.
It’s been a long, decidedly slow road to the inevitable battle that happened in “The Walking Dead” mid-season finale. First, there was a brush with a super flu epidemic, followed by a Governor-centric story line that had him on the path to redemption. It was time for some dramatic action, of which this finale had plenty.
With a handful of lies to convince his new cohorts to attack (and hostages Hershel and Michonne as leverage), the Governor finally gets his prison fight. After rounding up his group, the Governor leads a troop of cars and a tank to the prison’s fence line, summoning Rick and offering him an ultimatum — leave by nightfall or Hershel and Michonne die. Sure, the Governor wants the prison’s walls and supplies to protect Lilly and Meghan, but did anyone think a festering hatred for Michonne and Rick didn’t play just a little role in his motivation to attack?
Unfortunately, he gets neither the prison nor redemption, nor a chance to kill Michonne or Rick. Just add the Governor to the list of characters lost in battle.
“We let go of all of it, and nobody died,” Rick says to the Governor. “Everyone is alive right now. Everyone has made it this far. We’ve done the worst kinds of things to survive. We can still come back. We’re not too far gone. We can all change.”
Rick is pleading for compromise. Everyone can stay, everyone can live in different prison cells and everyone can go unharmed. No one is leaving, he says.
The Governor swings a sword at Hershel’s neck and bullets fly. Commence bloodbath.
With all the focus on the battle between the survivors, don’t forget about the walkers. Not only do they invade the prison as the battle ensues, but a walker bites Meghan back at the Governor’s temporary campsite. Lilly brings Meghan’s body to the prison (which I’m sure left others skeptical about how she got so far on foot and on her own). Distraught, the Governor orders the full-scale attack on the prison. The tank takes down building walls and the prison’s fences.
It’s pandemonium at this point. Mitch gets a Daryl arrow in the chest and Alisha is shot in the head. Rick is nearly choked to death by the Governor before Michonne frees herself and stabs him. Lilly finishes the Governor off with a bullet. Walkers are roaming the prison, and as the gunfire eases, it’s unclear where most of the survivors have run off to. Pandemonium.
With the death of the prison, we also get a sad loss of life for two different characters: the Governor, one of the show’s antagonists and Hershel, a steadfast voice of reason.
Now, with groups scattered and the prison ruined, it’s a wait until February to see where Rick, Carl, Tyreese, Daryl, Sasha, Maggie and others end up.
Unanswered questions: Yes, we want to know what happens to our survivors. We want to know where the bus full of prison residents went. We want to know if Judith (who is nowhere to be found but whose little baby carrier is covered in blood) is really dead. If you’re privy to the comic books, she is, but no body to be seen leaves lingering doubt.
What else are we curious about? Tyreese came across what looked like a dissected rat nailed to a piece of wood during the beginning of the episode. It is a reminder that someone was feeding rats to walkers along the fence line earlier in the season. What’s that about?
Romance alert: Glenn and Maggie are separated but neither are dead. Tara lost Alisha. And the Governor, who professed his love to Lilly, is done. Death and romance don’t go hand in hand.