Walking Dead(Warning: this post contains many, many spoilers.) Doesn't it seem like it was JUST summer and we were all lamenting about how long we still had to wait for the season 4 premiere of The Walking Dead? Well, here we are at the midseason finale, so we can move right into bitching about how long we have to wait until the second half airs in February. Damn you and your addictive shows combined with relentless marketing, AMC!

So my predictions for what would happen in tonight's "Too Far Gone" episode weren't quite correct, but for once I wasn't completely off base. The prison/Governor showdown was about as shocking as anyone could have hoped for (or dreaded), and as promised, not everyone survived the epic battle that went down.

If you're caught up to speed, let's commiserate over some of the biggest moments in tonight's Walking Dead:

During the opening sequence, the Governor's back to his group-leading tricks, informing everyone that the only way their camp can survive is by taking over the nearby prison. (Side note: I guess that road blocked by quicksand zombies is the only other travel route in the area?) He tees up the battle by explaining that the group living there is a bunch of dirty no-good thieves and murderers, and his plan is to move into their new home as peacefully as possible, with no one getting hurt in the process. Pinky swear! The gang is reluctant at first, but they're eventually convinced by this unlikely story of a friendly takeover that just so happens to involve a couple of hostages. They're all, "Brian Brian he's our man, if he can't do it no one can!" and head off to storm the castle. Errr, prison.

Inside the prison we get a super-brief confrontation between Rick and Daryl on the subject of Carol's banishment, but there's no time to hash this out or deliver the bad news to Tyreese because everyone's kind of distracted by a weird ... well, what IS that thing? A vivisected rat? Is this Lizzie's work? This a totally random theory, but is there any possible way that Lizzie was the psycho who killed Karen and David and Carol was covering up for her?

Well, never mind all that, we're got ourselves a major shitstorm brewing outside the prison. The Governor has arrived with his makeshift army, including Mitch the tank operator, and Hershel's got a katana held to his throat. The Governor and Rick reach an impasse: Rick can't give up the prison, the Governor's not willing to share, and Rick rightfully points out that once a firefight gets underway, it'll attract a herd of zombies who'll take down the fences and pee in EVERYONE's Cheerios.

Meanwhile, Lilly's back at camp where she nervously watches a walker try and make its way across the river, only to get swept aside in the water. Whew! This place really IS safe! Um, except for the flash-flood-buried zombie who claws his way free of the Georgia clay and bites Megan. Holy shit.

Speaking of holy shit, at the prison Rick throws a verbal Hail Mary to the Governor. "We can all live together,” Rick begs. “We can still come back. We can change.”

"Liar," hisses the Governor, and gruesomely hacks into Hershel's throat with Michonne's katana.

(MOMENT OF DISMAYED SILENCE.)

Beth and Maggie scream in agony. Rick opens fire. A full-blown battle commences, with Rick taking a shot to the leg and the Governor getting tagged in the arm. The tank rolls over the outer fences. The Governor finishes the job with Hershel, beheading him completely. Lilly shows up, completely shellshocked, holding her dead daughter. The Governor doesn't even hesitate before putting a bullet in the little girl's head.  
 
(This seemed horrifically coldhearted, but I think it was actually his way of showing mercy to the child, instead of letting her stay zombified like he did with Penny. Plus, that moment signified the end of his tenuous grip on humanity: he's nothing but a mad dog killer now.)

Walkers start streaming in. The tank blows giant holes in the prison walls. Things explode. Daryl makes a human shield out of a zombie like the ultra-badass he is, then shoots Mitch in the chest with a crossbow (thus ensuring Mitch's future as a soulless walker). The Governor and Rick roll around on the ground punching the crap out of each other. Lizzie and Mika appear in time to place a couple of headshots that save Tyreese, and in a flurried scene of MANY fucked-up things, seeing these young girls blowing open people's skulls is right up there. Just when it's looking like Rick's going to get choked out, Michonne drives her katana through the Governor's chest. It's a killing blow, but she leaves him to turn. However, in a nod to the comics, Lilly ends up putting a bullet in the Governor's head. And thus the Governor's storyline winds -- thankfully, if you ask me -- to a bloody end.

Prisoners pile in the getaway bus, but Bob, Sasha, Beth, Daryl, Maggie, and Tyreese and the girls (I think?) are left behind. Ditto to Rick and Carl (bee tee dubs, where WAS Carl during all this warfare? I feel like we could have used those impressive shooting skills he demonstrated during last week's episode), who go on a desperate hunt for Judith but all they find is her empty, blood-smeared carrier.

The prison is mostly destroyed and infested by zombies. Carl and Rick lurch away from their onetime home, as Rick tells him, "Don't look back."

So, did Judith survive? What's going to happen to the folks who didn't make it onto the bus? Where is everyone going to go from here? Sadly, we'll just have to wait until February to see what's in store for us.

What did you think about tonight's episode? Are you bummed about Hershel, or did you figure his time was up?


Image via AMC