In the opening scene of this year’s mid-season finale, the governor explains to his group of survivors that he has a plan to take control of a nearby prison. He has taken two prisoners, Hershel and Michonne, and plans on using them as a bargaining chip to force the other survivors out of their home. He tells his group that his plan won’t require them to kill anyone, but they have to be prepared to.
The governor lies and tells his group that most of the people at the prison are murderers and thieves. He tells them that they mutilated him, burned his camp, and killed his daughter. He tells them they have to move fast before they realize two of their people are missing.
Lilly approaches the governor and tells him she heard everything. She doesn’t want him killing people to make them safer, but he explains that they’re not people; they’re killers.
In his camper, the governor talks to Hershel and Michonne. He tells Michonne that he doesn’t hold a grudge about her killing Penny. He understands that she was already dead. Hershel tries to reason with the man, saying they can all live together at the prison, but the governor knows that Rick would never go along with it. Also, the governor would never feel his new family was safe with them. Hershel asks how he can threaten to kill someone else’s daughter, when the governor knows what it’s like to have a child of his own. The governor simply responds, “Because they aren’t mine” as he leaves the camper.
Outside, the governor tells Lilly they’ll be safe by the water for now until he gets back, and Lilly wonders why they can’t just find a place by the water. The governor responds that all of the truly safe places are already taken. He asks her to think about Meagan. Lilly says she is and then she asks the governor what Meghan is going to be in this new world to which the governor replies, “She’s going to be alive.”
The governor says his goodbyes with Meghan and then FINALLY, we’re back to the original survivors in the prison after two and a quarter episodes of the governor.
Glen jokingly tells Maggie he could use a vacation while recovering from the killer flu of three episodes ago. Then he tells her their anniversary is coming up. After a bit of reminiscing, Maggie decides to get Glen some water. He tells her he can do it, but she insists. When she tells him she’ll be right back, Glen smiles knowing he’ll see her soon.
Next, Rick tells Daryl about how Carol killed Karen and David. Daryl isn’t happy Rick decided to exile her. He tells Rick he could have handled the situation when they got back. Rick says he didn’t know how Tyreese would react, to which Daryl responds, “Let’s go find out.”
Bob is sitting alone in a hallway when Sasha walks in. She wants to thank him for bringing back the medicine which saved her life. He doesn’t want to accept her appreciation though. He still feels like he let Daryl down, and doesn’t trust himself. However, after seeing how weak Sasha is, he decides to help her outside so she can see the sun.
When Rick and Daryl find Tyreese, they want to tell him about Carol, but he cuts them off. He has something he has to show them. After rounding a corner, Tyreese shows them a mutilated rabbit which someone had cut open and dissected. He thinks it’s the same person who had been feeding rats to the walkers by the fence.
Just then, an explosion rattles the prison. The survivors run out to the fences, and find the governor, his large group of armed survivors, and a tank.
The governor wants Rick to come down and talk to him, but Rick tells him he doesn’t make decisions anymore. There is now a council that runs things at the prison. The governor asks if Hershel and Michonne are on the council as he shows Rick that he’s taken them prisoner. Daryl nods to Rick, and he heads down to talk to the governor.
While Rick walks down to the outer fence, Daryl discusses an exit strategy with Sasha and Tyreese. He tells them that if things go bad, they should head for the bus they’ve got prepped for a safe escape.
Rick tells the governor to let Hershel and Michonne go. “You’ve got a tank. You don’t need hostages.” The governor replies that the tank is just to show he’s serious. He doesn’t want to have to blow a hole in his new home. The governor tells Rick that his people have to evacuate the prison by sundown, or he’ll kill them all.
Rick pleads that there are sick children in the prison who won’t survive on the road. The governor ignores his plea, and simply responds, “I have a tank, and I’m letting you walk away from here. What else is there to talk about?”
Daryl very discretely starts passing out assault rifles to the survivors inside the inner fences.
Back out by the water, Meghan plays in the mud while Lilly stands watch on one of the campers. She sees a walker start walking across the river, but he is quickly overcome by the water current, and swept away. Meghan digs up an old sign in the mud, and after she picks it up and moves it, a walker sits up from the spot it was covering and bites her. Lilly reaches her daughter moments later, but the damage is already done.
Back at the prison, the governor sees two walkers headed his way, and shoots them dead…er. He tells Rick that the gunshots will draw more of them out, and the longer he waits, the harder it’ll be for his people to leave the prison.
Carl and Daryl take position inside the inner fence aiming their guns at the governor. Carl thinks he can end it right now, but Daryl advises him not to try. They’re too far away to be certain their shots would land, and gunshots would only make the situation worse. He wants Carl to trust that his dad knows what he’s doing.
The kids want to head for the bus, but Lizzie tells them that Carol would want them to be strong and fight. She thinks they should find guns and help defend the prison.
Hershel looks at Rick, and immediately, Rick knows what he would want him to do. Rick tells the governor that they can all live together inside the prison. The governor replies that there’s more than enough room, but his family wouldn’t feel safe sharing the prison with Rick’s group. Rick responds that there are several cell blocks. They wouldn’t have to interact until they’re all ready. Hershel tells the governor it could work. The governor responds, “It could’a , but it can’t. Not after Woodbury. Not after Andrea.” Rick tells him it wouldn’t be easy, that it would be harder than shooting at each other, but none of them have a choice. The governor simply replies, “We don’t. You do.”
“We’re not leaving. You try to force us, we’ll fight back. Like you said, the gunshots will bring out the walkers. The walkers will bring down the fences. Without the fences, this place is worthless. Now we can all live in the prison, or none of us can.”
The governor doesn’t look very happy that his plan isn’t working the way he’d hoped. He hops down off the tank, grabs Michonne’s sword, and puts it to Hershel’s neck.
Rick asks Tara and the rest of the governor’s survivors if this is what any of them want. Mitch responds, “What we want is what you got. Period.”
Rick tells them that he’s fought the governor before, and his old people who joined Rick’s group have become leaders in their group. He tells them to lay down their weapons, walk through the gate, and they can join his group.
The governor looks at Rick with a very cold expression on his face.
“We let go of all of it,” Rick says, “and nobody dies. Everyone is alive right now. Everyone has made it this far. We’ve all done the worst kinds of things just to stay alive, but we can still come back. We’re not too far gone. We get to come back. I know… we all can change.”
Hershel looks at Rick. He is so proud at the amount Rick has grown since nearly losing his mind and giving up [last season], and believes in that moment that everything is going to be okay.
The governor removes the sword from Hershel’s neck, and looks at Rick. For a moment, it seems that the governor has changed and is willing to listen to Rick’s wise words. But then, in a whisper, the governor says, “Liar” and then swings the sword into Hershel’s neck.
Rick screams, “NOOOO!!!!” as he shoots at the governor and runs for cover. A massive gun fight ensues as Michonne seeks cover behind one of the governor’s trucks. She tries to free her bound hands.
The governor sees Hershel trying to squirm away and so he holds him down and finishes the job, severing his head from his body. Maggie and Beth see everything from inside the prison fences and are mortified and infuriated.
Tara throws down her gun. Now that she knows what kind of man the governor is, she refuses to fight for him. Alicia tells her to stay behind her, and if they get separated, she should run away.
Lilly walks out of the woods toward the governor with Meghan’s dead body in her arms. The governor takes Meghan, pulls out his gun, and shoots her in the head not showing any sympathy. Clearly, his new “family” were just pawns in his vengeful plan.
The governor tells his men they’re heading in and that they’re going to kill everyone. Mitch starts rolling his tank over the fences.
Nameless survivors fall on both sides of the fight. Maggie tells Beth to get as many people on the bus as she can while she goes into the prison to find Glen.
As the governor walks past the overturned bus Rick is hiding behind, Rick jumps him, knocks him to the ground and starts going to work on the governor’s face.
Maggie reaches Glen as the tank continues to shake the foundations of the prison.
Outside Rick’s fistfight with the governor continues. They each get in several good shots.
More survivors from each side of the fight fall as Maggie and Glen reach the bus, but now Beth is gone. Maggie tells Glen she has to find her sister and insists that Glen who’s still too weak stay on the bus. This time, he is very upset to see Maggie go not knowing if he’ll ever see her again.
The governor begins to take the upper hand in his fight with Rick.
Daryl uses a walker as a human shield, and while his attackers open fire on it, he uses a grenade to take them down. The loud bang startles Tara who takes this as her cue to run.
Maggie finds Sasha and Bob and asks if they’ve seen Beth, but they haven’t. Bob gets shot, but the bullet goes through, so they can treat it. They turn to run to the bus as it begins to leave. They decide they have to find another way to flee.
Alicia and another survivor from her group pin Tyreese down behind some planters, and just as it seems they’re going to kill him, Lizzie and the other kids come to his rescue, killing the nameless survivor and Alicia. They also run from the prison.
The governor begins choking Rick. It looks like it’s going to be the end for our fearless leader and just then, Michonne runs the governor through with her sword. She leaves him to bleed out.
Daryl tosses a grenade into the barrel of Mitch’s tank, and Mitch hops out to avoid the explosion. When he turns around, he sees Daryl and more importantly, Daryl’s crossbow. Just then, Beth runs up to him and tells him she was looking for the kids. Daryl tells her they have to go.
Rick finds Carl, but when they find Judith’s car seat, it’s empty. They fear the worst thinking a walker must have taken her. They flee the prison as well.
Out on the field, the governor lays dying. Lilly finds him, and without saying a word or showing any sympathy, shoots him in the head blaming his hubris for Meghan’s death. We see the king chess piece that Meghan had drawn the eye patch on in a previous episode. It’s lying on its side as a walker steps on it symbolizing the governor’s defeat.
As Rick and Carl flee into the woods, Rick tells his son not to look back.
The prison has fallen and the survivors have scattered.
Tune in to AMC this February for the second half of the season, and follow my continued coverage of The Walking Dead on HiddenRemote.com