Friday, December 27, 2013

Review: The Walking Dead 118

Non Spoiler Review:
Issue 118 keeps the All Out War arc moving briskly, with Rick and Ezekiel's armies attacking Negan's outposts. Back at the Hilltop Gregory returns to find controversy over his decision to appease Negan.

All Out War continues to be a good read, and the last few issues have not lacked for action or development. Casualties begin to mount and loyalties start to fray, and I'm sure something ominous must be on the horizon despite the current state of Negan's forces.

Spoilers Now!
Gregory is alive, and returns to the hilltop exhausted with the few who abandoned Rick's campaign. He's furious when Maggie asks if the attack was successful, revealing she knew of it. Gregory declares it was him who stopped the suicide mission and smoothed things over with Negan. While Gregory doesn't even know who Maggie is, she accuses him of being a coward, but when Greg replies that Negan is the reasonable party and it's Rick who is crazy, she punches him.

Maggie proceeds to address the crowd telling them it's their time to act to take down Negan lest they be beholden to him the rest of their lives. While Gregory weekly protests, she announces she believes in Rick Grimes.

Back in Alexandria a worried Carl finds Michonne returning absent his father, but she assures him he's working on attacking Negan's outposts. He's relieved to hear the plan worked.

Later Ezekiel makes his way to Alexandria and confides how their first victory had been luck. Dwight had revealed the location of four of their outposts. While Rick led a successful attack against one (despite Eric being killed), Ezekiel's men were massacred, and he was forced to flee. Shiva managed to save him from walkers, but was overwhelmed and killed herself, allowing him to escape. Alone with Michonne, he admits he wishes he had not survived, so his men would see him as a hero and he would not have lost Shiva.

The Verdict:
118 keeps the pace of the storyline and brought some much-needed attention to Maggie so that she could rally troops at the Hilltop. I admit I was surprised that Gregory had actually survived. He's the biggest wild card right now and I can imagine him doing something desperate to retain control.

The first major losses stacked up this month—Eric and Shiva. Right now it's unclear how many men Rick has left, but no doubt the Hilltop will be able to provide some new recruits, unless Gregory somehow manages to rebuild his power base. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: American Horror Story: Coven "Head"

Non Spoiler Review:
Head addresses Hank's backstory and the true nature of his mission with Marie and marriage to Delia. The head in question is Delphine, and Queenie opts to take her under her care and teach her a lesson. Meanwhile, Myrtle schemes to bring the coven back into order, starting with the council and Delia. Nan struggles to remain at Luke's bedside despite his mother.

Who knew that a decapitated Kathy Bates would be so much fun? Her scenes were the funniest of the season so far, and provided a great contrast to the darker elements of the episode. 

Head was one of the best, culminating in what was generally expected, but promising an exciting conclusion to the season when the story resumes in the new year.

Spoilers Now!
In 1991, a young Hank is taken into the woods by his witch hunter father. They've been hunters for generations, his dad explains as they load the rifle. They proceed deeper into the trees until his father flushes out a woman who falls in front of Hank. Hank is told to put her down, and as she begs for her life he can't bring himself to kill her, allowing her time to cast fire against his father before she collapses. As he puts out his burning jacket, the older man reminds his son never to forget what they are.

Fiona visits Marie's salon with the box, asking to talk. Marie reluctantly agrees, and in the back Fiona finds the decapitated body of Delphine standing in the cage. Marie chastises Fiona for using Delphine as a bargaining chip. Fiona wants to talk terms, but Marie laughs at the prospect they can mend the truce. Delphine pipes up from inside the box that Fiona is insane. Fiona wants to stop the petty quarrelling given the witch hunters that attacked the night before. Witch hunters are white women's worry, Marie counters. She also knows Fiona has cancer and can't protect her own. Fiona tells Queenie to go burn the box with Delphine's head, so she takes it away, and Fiona leaves.

Myrtle wants to ensure Delia has no doubts that she had anything to do with the acid attack. Delia never doubted her, she assures her.

In Atlanta, Hank visits the Delphi Trust, home of the witch hunters, to see his father. They're not happy with his progress in New Orleans and especially not that he allied himself with the voodoo queen. He should not take initiative, they remind him as he's only to gather intelligence. That's why he's married to Cordelia. Hank tells him he's more capable than he thinks. But his father already knows about the fire starter he killed, which they had to clean up after, and which ended the lives of a maid and desk clerk as a result. The hunt isn't only about the kill—they only strike when the time is right, and they need Hank back in the house. The acid attack on Delia was authorized by them to ensure she needed Hank. But someday she will need to be put down.

Myrtle entertains the council, who have returned after her surprising phone call and have regrets about the misunderstanding that led to her burning. And they want to hear all about Misty Day. Myrtle explains she has power, compassion and uniqueness. As Pembrooke toasts her she begins to choke on the meal, and she and Quentin are paralyzed. Myrtle chastises them for wanting to eliminate her so they could dominate the council. But she brought them there to help Cordelia—and proceeds to remove an eye from each with the melonballer. With that and her magic, Delia can see again.

Fiona arrives home shocked to find her daughter healed, and Myrtle thanks her for sending her to the flames to bring her clarity. She also cut up the bodies of the council and disposed of them. The two trade accusations of murder and Fiona threatens her with permanent exile. Delia reminds Myrtle she needs to treat her mother as the supreme and her mother needs to stop accusing Myrtle. The real danger is outside. She also realizes that her gift has vanished with the return of her sight.

At the hospital Zoe and Madison find Nan who has been sitting outside of Luke's room. His mother won't let her see him. Luke remains in a coma with Joan at his side. She's furious when the girls enter. However Nan can hear him in her mind. Luke tells Nan information to verify that he's communicating with her so Joan acquiesces and sings to her son with Nan at her side. 

Queenie keeps Delphine's head and brings her home, giving her Roots to watch. She vows to educate her about her people. 

In his hotel room Hank suddenly feels the torture of Marie's magic while her emissary arrives to demand the heads of the white witches. She wants them dead that night or he'll die. Hank is left alone and loads up his weapons.

Delia teaches Misty about herbs, including one that banishes evil that she should use only in extreme circumstances. After Misty leaves, Delia finds Hank behind her. He's astonished to see her sight is back. She won't have any of his affection despite his desire to get back in her good graces. Misty returns, and Hank remembers her—he's the one who tried to kill her at the cabin. He refuses to leave the house but Delia advises him she's filing for divorce. Upstairs Hank leaves with a box of his stuff, but is stopped by Fiona's new menacing guard dog. She explains they needed some protection. The dog leads Fiona to Zoe's room where she finds Kyle. She tells him to leave but Kyle just breaks the dog's neck.

At the hospital Joan suddenly sees Nan as a miracle for giving her a ray of hope. Nan then explains that Luke is telling her God is judging Joan for what she did to his father. His father's death was no accident. In a flashback, he was stung by a swarm of bees, put there by Joan who knew he was allergic. She killed him because he was leaving her. Joan turns on Nan and tells her it's all been a dark trick, sending her away. 

The girls come home to find a far more cogent Kyle playing gin with Fiona. She took the liberty of sprucing him up. He's not all there but he's okay. They need a new guard dog, one who will attack on command, Fiona explains. 

After watching all of Roots, Delphine gloats she kept her eyes shut the whole time. Queenie decides to play her civil rights music instead and joins Marie downstairs as Hank walks in and begins to shooting. He shoots Queenie in the stomach and proceeds into Marie's chamber. Queenie struggles to grab a gun and crawls after. Marie comes out and Hank shoots her in the arm, and is about to finish the job when Queenie puts the gun in her own mouth and shoots. Hank's head blows off. Upstairs Delphine finds herself touched by the images of the civil rights movement.

Hank's father gets the photos of his son's body. Luke wakes up from his coma with his mother at his side. But all he can say is she murdered his father. Joan tells him to go back to sleep and puts a pillow over his face. At the school, Fiona goes to answer the door and finds Marie Laveau. She welcomes her inside and shuts the door.

The Verdict:
Head was a great episode, balancing the ominous nature of the revelation of the witch hunter threat against some hilarious Kathy Bates moments. Meanwhile, Myrtle, Delia and Fiona all shone with some great scenes.

I doubt Queenie is dead, especially with the likes of Misty Day nearby to solve the problem. If she manages not to survive this, Ryan Murphy has some 'splainin' to do given all the resurrected characters currently running around.

The approach to returning Delia's eyesight was especially novel, but I wonder just what purpose the council serves if Myrtle can off them with no all seems very much like the True Blood Authority (meaning, it lacks any authority whatsoever aside from dramatic purpose).

Again, the Luke situation is feeling very tacked on. I have no idea how this will tie into the big storyline, unless his family turns out to have some sort of association with either party. Right now it's a distraction from the main action.

Next episode—Marie and Fiona working together against the witch hunters? Yes please.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Review: The Walking Dead 117

Non Spoiler Review:
Negan and Rick deal with the fallout from the first battle of the war. Holly gets a firsthand view of Negan's state of mind.

117 was a decent follow up to an exciting few issues, and leaves us with plenty to wonder about as Rick's crew prepares for the next attack.

Spoilers Now!
Negan believes he's captured Rick's girlfriend, but Holly informs him she barely knows him and that he never succeeded in killing Andrea either. She goes on to reveal the reason she wanted to bring down their gate was revenge for killing Abraham. Vexed, Negan needs time to figure out his next move so has her taken away.

Negan and his men attempt to cut through the horde surrounding his compound but are forced back inside by shear numbers. He gets his smart people working on a solution while ordering his men to sporadically go out and attempt to trim down their numbers.

On the road, Rick struggles with Holly's decision as the others wonder what fate awaits her. Without delaying too long, Rick announces their plan to press on and take out Negan's outposts before they can be alerted.

Holly is visited by one of Negan's men, David, to check in, but he proceeds to attempt to rape her. Negan suddenly arrives and pulls him off, berating him for descending to that level. They will eventually have to work with these people once the war ends. We don't rape, he tells him, and cuts David's throat. As David dies Negan explains to a stunned Holly they're not monsters.

The Verdict:
The big question this month is how genuine Negan is with Holly, or was David's death a con? He does seem to retain his own moral code given how he kept Carl and Rick alive for so long. But pressed with the reality of the zombies outside his home, will he crack? 

How long will Rick's success last? Cut off from Negan, can the outposts survive? No doubt Rick and Jesus will run into a few surprises during their campaign.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Revew: American Horror Story: Coven "The Sacred Taking"

Non Spoiler Review:
Misty Day appears at the school, bringing a resurrected Myrtle eager to exact revenge on Fiona. With the coven in chaos, Delia decides on an ancient ritual to reveal the identity of the supreme. Meanwhile, Delphine realizes being immortal doesn't necessarily mean she's invulnerable to Marie's torture.

Sacred Taking was an enjoyable episode steeped in ritual and some further hints at the backstory of the witches. Luke and his mother remain a confusing and weak storyline, though, so hopefully this does go somewhere (and doesn't fizzle out like the aliens from last season). 

The season is speeding by, but the series continues at a brisk pace, advancing a lot of plot as far as bringing the various players together for the final act of the season.

Spoilers Now!
Queenie wanders through a sketchy area of town and dispatches with a would be attacker using her magic. Zoe and Madison arrive, wanting her back in the coven even though admitting it's a mess right now. Queenie doesn't believe their spiel, nor the idea that a new supreme is rising, and proceeds to kill the attacker and gut him. As they watch in horror, she explains he raped three girls. Marie needs a dark heart for a spell, and she plans to give it to her. She rips his heart out. Voodoo and witchcraft—war is coming, and they're going to lose, Queenie tells them.

Bedridden Fiona muses over the cancer that has infected her spine and she laments the loss of her beauty. Delia has no sympathy for her, so she's sought solace in Axeman. But she doesn't want him watching her decay. She just needs to figure out which of the girls is coming into the supreme.

Luke's dealing with his mother's outrage with the girl's next door over his wounds from Halloween. She insists he must cleanse himself and gives him an enema (!) to clean him from the inside out. At the school Nan can sense she's hurting him, but Delia orders her to sit down and lectures the girls that no one else can slip through the cracks. Queenie is now dead to her. And they have one shot to kill Fiona.

Delia remains unaware Spalding is dead and Zoe goes to answer the door to find Misty, who declares she's in danger. Myrtle had woken from her healing slumber and warned Misty an assassin was circling the cabin. Misty leaped for cover as a gunman fired inside and the two of them hid in the swamps. Delia asks who is there and takes Misty's hand, getting a vision of her burning and resurrection. She welcomes her into the coven. Misty then asks if her friend can stay and leads them to the greenhouse where they find Myrtle. Delia is elated to find her again and warns her the coven has fallen on hard times. Myrtle declares Misty Day is the next supreme.

Zoe and Madison have been sharing Kyle. Zoe wants him to relearn things so he can have a life while Maddie is not so forward thinking. They have a busy night ahead of him so she leaves him with his lesson. Myrtle and Delia are performing a ceremony called the sacred taking to learn the identity of the supreme. Myrtle is certain of Misty's credentials. Misty doesn't want to be the supreme, but Delia warns her no one gets to choose. 

They join hands, and Delia explains the ritual has been invoked three times in their history—the first was the Salem witch trials when the coven fled south. The supreme was too weak to make the journey so invoked the sacred taking. She took her own life to allow a new supreme to arise to lead them. 

Fiona is sick and delirious. She wanders out of her bathroom to find Maddie dancing there, taunting her that she'll soon be moving into her room. Fiona asks who brought her back, but Maddie says she brought herself back. And they're going to burn her at the stake. She can leave the world that way, or take an overdose of her pills and go to sleep. Maddie leaves and Fiona throws the pills away, but finds Myrtle there.

Myrtle explains she's been resurrected by Madison. Fiona plans to depart the country and wants to leave with the man she's found. Myrtle reminds her she just has two choices and Fiona's dream is just a nasty trick—she'll die alone and disappointed. 

Downstairs the girls await the results of their spell, and when Nan wonders if she could be the next supreme all of them insult her with their silence. She leaves and goes next door, breaking inside to find Luke. She hears his muffled moans and opens the door to the closet to find him tied up inside.

Myrtle continues her temptation, but Fiona won't lament over past regrets. She knows when the party's over and has accepted her fate. She asks her to look after her Delia. Then she takes the pills and asks Myrtle to ensure they hang her portrait in the place she chose and lies on the bed. Myrtle leaves her to die. 

Fiona hears Spalding telling her to wake up. He only has voice in the spirit world now, but sees everything. He offers her a medicine, but she refuses, saying she's finally doing something good for the coven. He tells her she's giving up and has been tricked. He won't permit it. Madison is not the next supreme. She was brought back by another witch. He gives her the medicine that makes her throw up the pills. 

Meanwhile, Queenie goes to see Delphine in her cage, giving her some take out. All they've been doing is bleeding her, she explains, when Queenie asks if she's been fed. She asks what she did to deserve the betrayal. Marie comes in and berates Queenie for feeding her, sending her away. Marie tells Delphine it gives her great pleasure just to know she's in a cage. Delphine taunts her—she can't kill her because she can't die. She suggests Marie throw her back in the box because she's had enough of the world. The natural order will be restored in a century. Marie warns her she has more choices than that and cuts off Delphine's hand. 

Nan leads Luke downstairs but he warns her they can't go next door. His mother finds them, and gets on the phone to the police. He tells her they're leaving and she can't stop them. That's when someone shoots both her and Luke.

The girls wait downstairs as Myrtle plays the piano. But Misty feels no signs of something changing. Fiona arrives, explaining that the signs of the supreme were a migraine for her and asks to talk to the gifted swamp witch

Alerted to the commotion next door, Misty heads over where the paramedics take Luke away. Fiona glamors the officer, explaining the mother is dead and they're waiting on the coroner. She suggests Misty use her talent on the woman. The rest of the girls watch the scene from outside. Delia senses something, finds a bullet and has a vision of Hank. Misty lays her hands on Luke's mother and raises her from the dead.

Zoe returns to her room and Kyle, and explains they're under attack. Kyle speaks—he says this road goes two ways. He loves her. She loves him too. And Maddie listens in.

In the morning Fiona joins her daughter for coffee. Delia demands they not play games. They both know she orchestrated the spell the night before. Fiona compliments her on demonstrating real grit and finally she has hope for the coven. And she's proud of her daughter. Fiona notices the silver bullet Delia found. Fiona senses it's blessed—meaning witch hunters. Delia realizes they need her mother now more than ever. Fiona goes outside and finds a large box on the porch. She brings it inside and opens it up with Delia. It's Delphine's head. Her eyes open and she mouth's help.

The Verdict:
Another action-packed episode even if Jessica Lange's fate was never in doubt. I do wonder what will happen with the Axeman, or if he's simply been left as a loose end to the storyline. Perhaps he may be of help in the coming war with the witch hunters.

The Luke storyline was the weakest and most erratic—his mother's abrupt turn into full blown crazy didn't really feel organic, nor did the sudden closet rescue and shooting. The cut from that to the paramedics seemed like a poor edit. And I won't even go into the comet enema...which surely raises the bar for most disturbing scene of the season.

All the pieces seem to be moving into place for a more unified coven to face their greater threat—Kyle, Misty and Myrtle are all under one roof now. That may mean an alliance with Marie might be close at hand, as well. I could see the series ending with a true peace and unification between the two factions.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Review: The Walking Dead "Too Far Gone"

Non Spoiler Review:
Too Far Gone brings the first half of the season to a close as the Governor rallies his people to take the prison in order to ensure their own survival. Meanwhile Rick finally addresses Carol's absence with Daryl, but there is little time for discussion as the Governor plays his hand.

After a slow moving succession of episodes, The Walking Dead delivered an epic finale in spades. This is truly the series' Red Wedding moment, and one fans have been anticipating since the beginning. While it followed as close as it currently can to the same storyline in the books, Too Far Gone also addressed this season's theme of getting to come back

I'm sure there is a different reaction between those just watching the show and the rest of us who are well-versed in the comic storyline. While feeling the impact, I definitely was not left in shock as I was during Lori's abrupt death in The Killer Within. But those not in-the-know will be left dealing with the heap of their emotions by the end of it.

Spoilers Now:
The Governor addresses his people, pitching the necessity of doing something unsavory to ensure their survival given they will eventually be overwhelmed by a herd of biters. If they stay there they die. He explains the people who destroyed his previous camp now live in a prison, with walls and plots of land for farming. They don't need to kill anyone, but must be prepared to. He has a plan to take it without bloodshed—two captives—Hershel and Michonne, taken when he snuck up and knocked out the latter, and forced Hershel to put down his weapon.

Most of the people in the prison are thieves and murderers, he goes on, adding that they mutilated him, killed his daughter and burned his camp. They have little time to delay before the others realize their people are missing and they lose the element of surprise. Tara is first to say she's in, followed by everyone else. The Governor orders them to pack up and get ready. As they disperse, Lily reminds him she was happy where they are and the idea of killing repulses her. But the only judgement he cares about is that she and Megan are still breathing.

The Governor has Michonne and Hershel in his RV, assuring no one will hurt them and it isn't personal. He tells Michonne he knows his daughter was dead now. But he needs the prison and no one else needs to die. She'll kill him, Michonne counters. Hershel attempts to reason with him, offering him a way to live in peace. The Governor suggests Hershel is a better man than Rick. Hershel sees he's changed, but the Governor counters they will never be able to live together. Hershel appeals to him as a father and the fact they both have daughters. But they aren't his daughters, the Governor replies. The Governor secures their convoy in a temporary safe place by the water, then gets a hug from Megan before he goes.

In the prison, Glen is slowly recovering from the flu. Bob sits with his unopened bottle when Sasha arrives to thank him for helping with the supply run that saved them all. Bob doesn't want anyone's thanks but advises Sasha she should be resting. Rick tells Daryl the truth about Carol. The other is understandably furious and wonders what they're to do with the girls. Rick hasn't told Tyreese yet and isn't sure how he'll take it. Daryl suggests they go find out.

They find him down in the tunnels, but Tyreese wants to show them something first—a rat skin pinned to a board. Tyreese declares they have a psychopath among them, the same one who killed Karen and fed the walkers rats through the fence. Rick begins to explain it's not the same person who killed Karen, when they hear an explosion that rattles the building. They come running outside to find a convoy of vehicles plus the tank sitting outside the gates. The Governor announces he wants to talk.

Rick explains there's a council now. The Governor asks if Hershel and Michonne are on the council, and brings them into view. He suggests Rick will be making decisions today and advises him to come out to have that talk.

Daryl nods to Rick. He speaks to his son, and then goes out across the courtyard to face his adversary through the fence. Daryl tells the others they need to get ready to flee through the back and to get the bus ready with their supplies. He begins quietly passing out weapons to Bob and Maggie, Beth and Tyreese.

Rick offers himself in exchange for Hershel and Michonne. The Governor doesn't want to blast a hole in their new home. They have until sundown to leave or his hostages die. It's not about the past. It's about right now. Rick counters that there are children inside, some still sick. The Governor is offering to let them walk away. There's nothing else to talk about. Even if they attack, the Governor still has superior fire power and will win.

From the fence, Carl wants to kill the Governor right now. Daryl says that would just start something else and to trust his father. The kids begin to load up the bus but Lizzie doesn't want to go. Carol told them to be strong. They should have guns too, she says.

Back at the Governor's camp, Lily sits on watch while Megan plays by the shore, struggling to free a sign in the mud. Lily spies a biter wander into the river and begins to come towards them. Megan calls for her to come over and help. The walker falls down and gets carried away by the water. Relieved, Lily puts down her weapon as Megan manages to lift the sign up and wipes it off. It says Warning. Flash Flood Area. Next to her a hand begins to come out of the wet mud and grabs her. Her screams draw Lily, who rushes over, but the walker bites Megan's shoulder before she can shoot it.

The Governor dispatches some walkers that begin to gather, reminding Rick the noise will only draw more over. The longer they wait, the harder it will be to leave. Rick looks to Hershel. Rick then offers that they can all live together. There's enough room. The Governor doubts they'd sleep well being under the same roof. It wouldn't work after Woodbury or Andrea. Rick knows it won't be easy, but they don't have a choice. They're not leaving and Rick promises to fight back. And gunshots will bring a herd that will take down the fence, he adds. They can all live there or none of them.

The Governor takes Michonne's sword and threatens Hershel. Rick addresses the others, explaining they've taken in some of the Governor's old friends and they're leaders in the prison now. They'll be one of them if they put down their weapons. Nobody needs to die. Rick says they can all still come back—they're not too far gone from the things they've done. They all can change. Hershel smiles at the speech. The Governor pauses. Liar, he says, and slices Hershel's neck.

Carl fires and hits the Governor in the shoulder, starting a barrage of gunfire. Michonne falls and rolls to the ground while Rick takes cover. Hershel is still alive, crawling along the ground, but the Governor finds him and cuts his head off. He looks up to find Lily standing there with Megan in her arms.

Tara hides behind the tank, shell-shocked and unable to use her weapon. Alicia tries to get her to fight but then tells her she'll find her if they get separated.

The Governor shoots Megan in the head, then orders the convoy to start up and break through the fence. Kill them all. The fence goes down under the tank with the Governor's forces following. The tank fires into the main buildings and proceeds up to the inner fence. Maggie rushes in to get Glen and tells Beth to get the bus ready.

Rick tackles the Governor as the tank rams into the last fence. As the bus gets loaded up, Maggie arrives with Glen, but Beth isn't there. She goes off to look for her. The Governor pounds Rick's face. Walkers begin to swarm towards the prison drawn to the commotion.

Maggie finds Bob and Sasha pinned down by a car as he takes a hit. The bullet passed through him. They watch the bus drive off and flee together. Tyreese gets trapped by Alicia and another man, but Lizzie shoots her cohort, then Alicia in the head. Tyreese tells Lizzie and her sister they need to make it to the bus, but they go running off in another direction and he's forced to follow.

The Governor gains the advantage and begins to strangle Rick, but Michonne stabs him through the chest. Struggling to his feet Rick asks about Carl. She doesn't know. As he runs off in search she looks down at the Governor gasping for breath and leaves him there.

The tank continues to barrage the prison but Daryl throws a grenade in the barrel. Mitch jumps out as it blows up only to find himself facing Daryl's crossbow. Daryl shoots him in the chest. Beth comes running over and he tells her they have to go.

Rick stumbles back calling for Carl, but only finding walkers. Then Carl appears, shooting them. Sobbing, Rick asks for Judith, but his son hasn't seen her, and they find the empty baby seat covered in blood. Rick tells them they have to go and they flee the prison.

The Governor lifts his head to see Lily covered in blood and walking over. She raises her gun and shoots him. The herd begins to converge inside the burning prison as Rick tells Carl not to look back.

The Verdict:
Too Far Gone was one of the best episodes to date and ended the storyline quite a bit sooner than I would have thought. Until I saw the tank in the Governor's camp I anticipated the prison arc lasting until the end of this season, but once that prop made its appearance at the fence there was no other path for Rick's group other than to say good-bye to the prison for good.

I do feel the Governor's double episode arc was essential in fleshing out his character a little more as well as the faces in his own camp. While he arrived at the same place he left, he remained more than a two-dimensional villain (with kudos going to David Morrissey for his fantastic well-rounded portrayal). Even the conversation-heavy face off between him and Rick was just as intense as the final battle itself. Having two episodes with the Governor left us with a (slim) bit of hope that he might take Rick up on his offer of rapprochement. His single word liar carried plenty of weight as he ended the life of a beloved character.

I kept thinking how valuable Carol would have been during the attack (and could not help but notice Rick maintaining he couldn't make decisions now because there was a council, despite that Carol was on that same council). My theory is that one of the groups will encounter Carol on the road, even possibly Tyreese's. With Hershel dead, only Rick and Maggie and Daryl (maybe Beth) know the truth about the murders, so her return to the fold could be based on keeping that secret. And by the time Rick is reunited with them it could all be decided upon. Just a theory.

I'm happy that the series continues to pull no punches. Hershel's death wasn't entirely unexpected, given his big climactic speech in Internment that hinted at bad things ahead. He did die during the prison attack in comic continuity anyway, but his presence here also served to fill the absence of Dale, and the series is left without the sage wisdom of either of these characters now.

The attack was especially chilling considering how sick most of the background characters are as they recover from the flu, so having that extra element figuring into the equation added to the tension. The deaths of the Governor's new people got more weight given we've gotten to know them. Some were very welcome, like Mitch, while others like Alicia were shocking, if more for the fact of how great a shot Lizzie is. I even had to go back to the comic to realize that Lily indeed killed the Governor then, as well. So that leaves Tara and Lilly as the only survivors (that we know of). The series needs to replace Andrea in some way, so I'm guessing the two of them might end up with the rest of the survivors eventually.

I did love the chaos of the final moments and the disparate groups that have run off in wildly different directions. Tyreese appears to be with Lizzie and Micah, and I'm assuming the other children made it to the bus. Beth and Daryl are an interesting pairing too, while Maggie (who is seven kinds of awesome right now), Bob and Sasha are off in their own direction. That leaves Michonne on her own again, and the rest of the group with Glen on the bus. And the final scene in the comic is matched with a beautiful shot of Rick and Carl fleeing over the hill and his urgings not to look back. Very effective.

There are lingering questions of course—who skinned the rats? I'm guessing Lizzie, but Micah is also a possibility as I'm certain the series is going to follow the twins storyline now that the group is on the road. I'm leaning towards Micah, given Lizzie has proven herself a capable killer. Also, there is the question the mysterious third group who killed the camp the Governor was spying on. There are a couple of storylines from the comics that could lead them all to cross their paths on the road, too.

As for Judith, my bet is that the series is sticking to the comic and keeping her dead. I will be very let down if they've somehow gotten her to safety on the bus. It would certainly be an odd happy twist for The Walking Dead to pull on its audience and rob Rick and Carl of the angst they earned here.

The Walking Dead closes its mid-season break refreshed, with a cathartic end to the Governor, shaking up the status quo and the potential of new characters arriving on the horizon. While it would have easily made an amazing season finale, I'm happy it wasn't. There's plenty of dark storylines to harvest and I'm excited to see the series within reach of them.
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