THE WALKING DEAD spontaneously healed all rifts it had with me with the midseason finale episode where they got back on the right track after nearly a full season’s worth of floundering. I have a feeling that the character of The Governor was so popular with fans that they wanted to extend his life span a bit to the detriment of the show’s overall narrative. Now that he is dead along with a bunch of others, where do they go from here?
The midseason break did nothing to stop my overall love for all things WALKING DEAD. I completed my collection of compendium graphic novels and read through them all in about three-days time. I will say that if the show keeps on the current trajectory, we are in for a heck of a season 4.5.
I also like the apparent ‘jabby’ nature of the newest tagline featured in the marketing materials “Don’t Look Back”. It’s double meaning is refreshing, as if the current showrunners know how much of a devolved cluster they were dealing with and are pseudo-acknowledging their mistake to fans.
So what should we expect? If all goes well, this is going to be a very Carl-centric storyline. Which is just fine by me, as Carl is one of the best characters in the show and the comic alike. Full spoilers inside:
I made this recommendation a while back while in the throes of complaining about a piss-poor third season, but let me reiterate… THE WALKING DEAD in its graphic novel form is outstanding and totally worth picking up whether you are a fan of comics in general or a fan of the show. There are certain things that the comic does phenomenally well that were wholly ignored by the show, so it is an interesting perspective on the material if nothing else. I am very happy that I picked it up and know that the books will be a treasured part of my collection for a long time.
The midseason finale was essentially a panel-by-panel mirror of the comic. The characters are a little bit different, of course seeing as Darryl does not exist in the comics, Dale is still alive, Andrea is actually cool and Carol was long dead from a depression-induced relationship with a walker. The details are largely irrelevant though, because the mechanics still remain the same.
Carl takes the spotlight for a significant amount of time as he struggles with events from the prison attack and also struggles with juggling responsibilities and still being a kid. Rick is nearly fatally wounded and they make their way to the temporary safety of a house where Rick can recover. In and out of consciousness, Carl takes up watch to make sure he does not turn into a walker. There was a great scene in the comics where Carl is yelling at his ‘dying’ father and telling him that he doesn’t need him anymore. Rick obviously makes a full recovery and they get on their way.
They quickly meet up with Michonne and the rest of the survivors from the prison attack who have since paired up with a big burly paramilitary guy named Abraham, his girlfriend and a scientist who is on his way to Washington DC because he claims there is a large group of survivors there and a potential cure for the walkers.
A few highly significant things happen that permanently shape both Rick and Carl moving forward. First, there was a group of crazy backwoods survivors that ambush the group and attempt to rape/murder Carl (have I mentioned that the comic is ALOT more graphic than the show??) Rick saves Carl in the nick of time and brutally murders the attackers, ripping one of their throats out with his teeth. This shocks Carl who finds it difficult to talk to his father afterwards. It also acts as a creepy comparison between the humans and the walkers and which one is more hideous.
Second, one of the kids in the group murders one of the other kids in the group just to see if they would come back to life as a walker. This event is being heavily foreshadowed by the random animal mutilations they have been finding over the first half of the season. The group weighs their options and decide to lock the child in the back of a truck versus killing him, even though some of the members of the group very adamantly believe that he should be killed. Carl sneaks out of his tent in the middle of the night, breaks into the truck and shoots the kid in the head because it “had to be done”. Rick finds out what happened and keeps it secret from the rest.
Third, they start being hunted by a group of cannibalistic survivors who start kidnapping random members of Rick’s group. They end up kidnapping Dale and eat his leg while he is unconscious. When Dale comes-to, he lets the cannibals know that he was recently bitten by a walker, so they just ate walker-infected meat. Rick, Michonne, Abraham and others find the cannibal’s camp and Rick literally tears them apart limb from limb.
So after all of these events, Rick is left questioning his sanity and Carl looks to be much more cold, mature and decisive although clearly in a dangerous level of denial about the deaths of his mother and sister.
Other random happenings: Maggie is in a deep depression after witnessing the Governor hack off her father’s head and tries to hang herself. Everybody thinks she was dead and Abraham almost shoots her in the head before she spontaneously wakes back up. This puts a huge strain on her and Glen’s relationship. There are also run-ins with enormous packs of thousands of walkers called “herds” which have also been teased in the first half of the season. The scientist they are with named Eugene is a fraud and is on his way to Washington DC out of delusion more than anything else. Seeing as they were all almost half-way there, they all decide to keep going anyway.
This is the spot where I can logically see this season concluding. The events that transpire after they reach DC are way too convoluted to approach at the tail-end of a season like that. Essentially, Rick and company find a secure town and settle there for quite a while and Rick takes over the role of town sheriff before it gets overrun by the walker herd and Carl gets half of his face blown off by a stray bullet (but lives). Let that be a potential teaser for season 5.
Now that we are back on track, I am very hopeful that they will continue adapting the comic rather than trying to depart as far from it as they have in the past. Does anybody else have predictions for what happens in the rest of this season??