Has The Walking Dead pioneered the mid-season finale? I can’t think of any other show I watch that does it. It’s like a season finale for slackers, in that they get to have deaths and cliffhangers, but don’t have to wrap up anything thematically or emotionally.
This mid-season finale introduced new characters for some reason. Cheered as I am to see Cutty from The Wire, he didn’t do very much except kill Oscar. What’s that you say, he didn’t even meet Oscar? No, my friend, they he Oscar in the sense that, had Tyreese never shown up, they wouldn’t have gone 100% above this show’s black guy quota. After the T-Dog to Oscar transition, it’s jarring to realise that Oscar was only a transitional black guy, there to fill the gap before Tyreese arrived. It’s even weirder to think that in the comics, the main black character from the prison was Tyreese, so there was really no reason to have Oscar there at all. Anyway, hopefully they have an actual story in mind this time.
The Governor is still hanging out with his zombie daughter. It sure does look for a second like she remembers something about being a human child, but quickly resumes growling and biting, which, come to think of it, isn’t that unlike a human child. Nonetheless, the Governor is strongly attached to his little ambulatory corpse, and this would be ambiguous and humanising if not for the rape threats and Wall O’ Heads. Back to that later.
Glenn and Maggie are still in captivity at the opening, and make an escape attempt via probably the most disgusting thing done in the show so far, which is an impressive feat. Glenn yanks an arm off the zombie corpse that was thrown at him, snaps it, digs out the human arm’s pointiest bone, the pointula (don’t look that up) and gives it to Maggie to wield as a throat-stabbing device. Their attempt isn’t all that successful, one murder aside, but it gets interrupted by the Prison Attack Squad!, as they probably don’t call themselves.
The assault on Woodbury was pretty cool. Thinking back to the opening of the season, the silent, precise raid on a house, the group have honed their attack skills well. Except instead of pointy sticks, they’ve dug up assault rifles somewhere. Throwing smoke bombs around was just about a plausible enough reason for Andrea and the PAS! to never meet or realise each other were there at all, but if it quacks like a contrivance, etc etc.
Michonne, on the other hand, knows Andrea is there, and knows that Rick and co. are her former companions, and yet says nothing. I’m struggling to come up with a reason why. I guess she wants to hold all the cards, or, now that I think of it, doesn’t care at all and just needs a backing team to get back at the Governor for sending Merle and his goons after her. She discovers zombie-child Penny, thinks she’s a real human and doesn’t immediately take off her hood, so that we, the audience, will experience the tension of knowing that if she frees the kid she may get bitten. Quack quack. The Governor discovers her, begs her to let the child go, and Michonne stabs her through the head anyway, which is the sensible thing to do, really. Michonne and the Governor fight, and it’s pretty brutal, only ending when the Gov gets a shard of glass to the eye socket. Look for him sporting the latest in villainous eyepatch fashions next year.
Then Andrea turns up. There’s talk from the writers that the latter half of the season will focus on Andrea, and the choices she has to make about her loyalties. This is an interesting move to make on their part, since (I assume) everyone watching this show now can’t stand Andrea, and hope her choices involve walking into sharp objects or under heavy ones. She pulls a gun on Michonne and it almost seems like there’s a genuine chance she’d use it until Michonne scarpers. Later in the hospital, Andrea demands an explanation for the smashed remains of our old companion, the Wall O’ Heads. In the single worst excuse anyone has ever come up with, he claims he looked at the heads to prepare himself for the horrors outside, which must look a lot like a disgusting Futurama. Andrea seems to think this is reasonable.
Back at the prison, the new bunch are being attacked, and it must be really bizarre from their perspective to be saved by am armed twelve year old boy who happens to be wandering around the facility. Tyreese seems to have some sense, and accepts being locked in since he can see it from the other side. On the other hand, how smart can they be, now nine months into a zombie apocalypse they’re still carting around friends who have been bitten, waiting for them to turn. It’s like putting a grenade into a sandwich.
In the closing scene, Daryl and Merle meet again for the first time since episode one, and are being pitted against each other in a fight to the death. They definitely won’t team up in the first couple of minutes of the next episode and make their escape, no sir.
Half season verdict: Started really good, got a bit patchy, stops making sense every so often, but a hell of a step up from the farm. See you in February.