The midseason finale of “The Walking Dead” last night continued to show that this a series which has finally hit its stride. Rick’s group of survivors and the Governor’s security force finally clashed in a thrilling showdown and two key parts of the comics were integrated here. While I’m glad to finally see Tyrese show up here, we didn’t get much more than that in this episode. I can also see Oscar’s fate in this episode leading many to speculate (not without some merit, I regret) that the show can only sustain one African American male in a recurring role. There was also the long-awaited showdown between Michonne and the Governor which was all the more effective for being toned down -- save for one key injury -- from the comic. However, the best part was the cliffhanger ending which will certainly play a key part in setting up the back half of the season.
(You probably saw this coming, but spoilers for last night’s episode after the break.)
After two seasons Darryl and Merle Dixon were finally reunited... and about to be put to death for the former’s role in the assault on Woodbury. On its face, having the Governor turn on his most trusted lieutenant like that was a great twist that I didn’t see coming. The way things were going, it felt inevitable that once they started to attack the prison, he’d be leading the charge with total bloodlust. Last night’s development put a real crimp in those plans and opened the door for Merle to hook up with Rick’s group.
At least, that’s what we’re meant to think...
Talking things over with a co-worker today, she brought up the idea that the whole thing was a setup. That the Governor turning on Merle was a plot to get him into the prison to scope out the place and its inhabitants in advance of the invasion. Once she said that, it made perfect sense. The idea of getting a man inside was brought up earlier in the episode between Merle and the Governor and it’s something that was actually tried -- unsuccessfully -- in the comic. To turn the elder Dixon into an outcast with no place else to go but with his brother and back to their people is an inspired move of a devious mind. Of course, it also makes you wonder how accepting Rick’s group will be after his treatment of Glenn and Maggie and the fact that he’s a psycho racist. I’m willing to accept that Kirkman and the other writers have a plan for that; though, if he does get in, I doubt that he won’t want to leave without taking a handy souvenir from Rick.
So I’m excited to see where things are going for the next eight episodes. I’m also hoping that they do something about Andrea’s portrayal too. While I’m not looking for as extreme a solution as was applied to Lori, the show’s creators seem to have gone out of their way to make her unlikeable this season with her acclimation to Woodbury and romance with the Governor. Fortunately, they seem to have planted the seeds for her eventual escape from these places after discovering her lover’s “secret stash.” Even if she does join Darryl and Merle in their escape, it’ll still take some work to make her likeable again. Maybe they could finally reveal her uncanny talent for sharpshooting that she has in the comics and has endeared her to so many (including my sister). I can hope, but it’s a minor annoyance compared with the momentum the show has going for it right now.