'The Walking Dead' Season 4 Episode 8 Recap: The Battle We'd Been Waiting For

The cast of the walking dead during season 4 episode 8

Spoilers ahead. 

"Kill them all." That was how the Governor initiated war with the prison group on last night's mid-season finale of The Walking Dead. It was blunt and terrifying.

The Governor and Rick definitely fought on The Walking Dead this week. The fight led to several character deaths, a location change, and a divided group. The mid-season finale, "Too Far Gone," also finally answered the question: "Can you come back from the terrible things that you have done?" The resounding answer was, no.

In the beginning of "Too Far Gone," the Governor take Michonne and Hershel captive. You may remember that Michonne was the one who forcibly removed the Governor's eye, and murdered his zombie-daughter — so things look grim for her from the outset. Yet, it is Hershel that the Governor seems to target; Hershel is the moral compass of the prison group, and the Governor knows that his death will hurt the group the most. The Governor even recognizes that Hershel is, "a better man than Rick," but the writers of The Walking Dead needed a way to show that the Governor could never become Brian and so, Hershel gets the axe. Hershel's death is inevitable, but it is still brutal. 

The war starts off with an intense stand-off between the prison group and the Governor's group (which happens to have a tank). The Governor demands that the prison group vacate the prison, and Rick futilely tries to convince the Governor's group to put down their arms and join the prison. The Governor responds to Rick's request the only way that he knows how, by using Michonne's sword to attempt to decapitate Hershel in front of the horrified group of onlookers. The subsequent scenes feature: both Rick and the Governor being shot, several extras dying, and the Governor brutally hacking off the rest of Hershel's head in sight of Maggie and Beth. Hershel's beheading may seem like an excuse for ultra-violence on a cable network show, but by having the Governor finish off the dying man we get a death worthy of The Walking Dead comics series, and one that will resonate for several seasons to come. It was by far the most graphic death that has occurred on the show, and it happened to Hershel, a character that audiences had grown to love thanks to the episode "Internment" earlier this season. Hershel isn't the only major character to die in "Too Far Gone."

Away from the battle royale at the prison, Lilly and Megan are playing by the riverbank. In a series of terrible parenting moves (that involve Lilly not watching Megan, and allowing her to be way too far away), Megan unearths a walker — buried by a flash flood — in the riverbank, and is bitten. Lilly brings Megan's body to the Governor, who callously shoots her and continues fighting. This moment marked a break in the character of the Governor/Brian, who previously swore that he would never allow anything to happen to his surrogate daughter and now seems unperturbed by her death. Lilly blames the Governor for Megan's death.

As the Governor's group marches up the prison hill, Rick and the Governor get into a fist fight. The emotionally battered and broken Rick gets thoroughly beaten by the Governor before Michonne puts a sword through the Governor's chest. It makes sense that Michonne would be the one to fatally wound the Governor. Yet she doesn't finish him off on the ground, suggesting that while Michonne is a survivor — just as the Governor is — she is a better person than he is and doesn't need to finish off a fallen foe. 

Meanwhile, up the hill at the prison, everyone is geographically divided. No one knows where anyone is, and the battle continues to rage on. However, aside from Hershel, no one in the prison group seems to actually die in the war. The same can not be said for the Governor's army, who die in droves. Mitch is killed by Daryl, the tank is also killed by Daryl ... Daryl kills most things. Lilly finishes off the wounded Governor as revenge for Megan's death. As the prison group flees, smaller groups are formed: Glenn is with the other infection survivors on the bus, Tyresse is with Lizzie and the girls, Maggie is with Bob and Sasha, Daryl is with Beth, and a battered Rick re-joins Carl. 

The Rick and Carl reunion scene is tragically cut short by the darkest moment ever on The Walking Dead. The father and son duo discover Judith's bloody baby carrier and the two quickly deduce that Judith (a.k.a. Lil' Asskicker) has been killed. It is a devastating end to the season.

The episode ends with a shot of the walker-infested prison and the re-animated body of Clara (the crazy survivor from "30 Days Without an Accident"). Clara was the first person in the season to ask "Can you come back?" and apparently, she couldn't either.

"Too Far Gone" offered character development and a location change. At times it was hectic and a few of the Lilly/Megan scenes seemed superfluous, but it was an ending worthy of Season 3.

'The Walking Dead' returns in February, 2014. During the hiatus, try out 'Turn' on AMC.