Incredible. Whether you are a fan of the comic book, or if you are just addicted to AMC's hit drama, The Walking Dead finally made up for the lackluster finale of the third season with a gut-wrenching, unyielding showdown with The Governor to cap the first half of its fourth season.
After a couple of hit-or-miss episodes featuring everyone's favorite psychotic narcissist, David Morrisey's Governor, it feels like things might finally be changing in big ways for Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his group of survivors. Not only did the episode deliver a big-time character death (which I won't mention here), but it also saw a major shakeup that destroyed any sense of safety or unity that the group may have felt. Rick's heartfelt plea and reaction to the death - and The Governor's subsequent beheading of a beloved character - were punches to the gut that any religious viewer will have a hard time shaking in the days to come.
The show has deviated from the comic in pretty huge ways to this point, but anyone that has ever read the floppies will notice that they are really borrowing from the source material for this episode, and it was definitely the right thing to do. The reason that the storyline worked so well in the comics was the feeling that everything that had happened up to The Governor's attack was meaningful in some way. The show has captured that exact same feeling. It truly felt like all of the character development of the first three seasons culminated in this showdown. Rick's trip to the edge of sanity and back; Hershel's infinite wisdom during Rick's - and everyone else's - horrible, downtrodden times (was the smile on Hershel's face during Rick's speech not heartwarming?); Michonne's growth from scary, semi-crazy lady with a sword to caring, scary, semi-crazy lady with a sword. It was all a fantastic way to show how the decisions made were influences by the lives that these people have lead in this new, apocalyptic world.
The finale also set up many new threads - and continued some ongoing ones - to pick up as the season continues in February. To keep this review as spoiler-free as possible the details will not be covered here, but there are definitely some big mysteries to be unraveled as soon as the show picks back up.
So, it was scary, brutal, incredibly emotional and the perfect way to end the first half of the season. Could it have been better? Of course. But it has improved so much over the course of this season so far that it almost feels like we are getting the show we deserved from the start. It took three seasons to get the big moment with The Governor, but it would be ridiculous to say that it wasn't worth the wait. The Walking Dead seems to be in top form. Check it out as soon as you can!