The Walking Dead recap: Gunfight at the Not Okay Corral

Rick and the Governor face off for control of the Prison (again).
Ep. 08 | Aired Dec 1, 2013

WE ALL COULD CHANGE | The Governor (David Morrissey) illustrates that he cannot change — or at least refuses to — by killing Hershel (Scott Wilson) and initiating a climactic gun fight between Rick's gang and the Governor's new people.

Gene Page/AMC

With a cock of his hip and hint of a smile on his lips the Governor seems to think he's the Johnny Cash of Zombiepocalypse dictators, so slick and cool knowing that he has the upper hand on Rick.

For as much as it pains him, Rick offers to share the Prison with the Governor and his people. It's the harder choice, but it's the right choice. (Hershel is definitely Rick's Dumbledore.)

When Hershel suggests the same option, the Governor is bemused, thinking Rick would never agree to such a measure. He replies, "You're a good man, Hershel. Better man than Rick." For as much as the Governor has changed — or not — he didn't anticipate Hershel's influence on Rick to become a better man. Rick has changed. He may not be Farmer Rick as he hoped to become, but he has a keener sense of the moral right, thanks largely to Hershel's guidance.

For Rick, survival is important but not just the survival of one's own family. The survival of the living is vital for the survival of oneself. As such, Rick and the Governor may both agree that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few — or the one." But one man's utilitarianism is another man's kill-everyone-who-stands-in-our-way-ism.

Rick stands his ground, declaring that they can share the Prison or fight, resulting in the Prison's destruction. Despite their differences and their violent past, Rick maintains his hope and belief that they're "not too far gone." (Episode title!) "I know we all could change," he affirms, echoing Hershel's wisdom from earlier in the season.

A moment passes — you could cut the tension with a katana. Because the Governor is the self-centered prick that he is, he knows that he can't change. Narcissistic logic thus dictates that Rick can't change either. Therefore, the Governor literally cuts the tension with a katana — gouging Hershel's neck and igniting a full-scale battle between the factions.

We knew it was coming, but it doesn't make it any less sad. Having made a lasting impact on the Prison community and saving Glenn, Sasha, and others from succumbing to the flu virus, Hershel dies at the hands of the Governor. Adding insult to injury, the Governor hacks away at the rest of Hershel's neck, decapitating him.

Just then, Lilly appears, carrying Meghan's body in her arms. The Governor takes hold of the child and shoots her in the head before she can turn. No more Mr. Walker Aquarium Governor, this time, he has gone full-tilt bloodthirsty, focusing his attention once more towards the Prison, and ordering his people to "kill 'em all." Mitch breaks through the gates with the tank and the Governor's group advances their assault on the Prison.

Rick and the Governor engage in hand-to-hand combat as the gunfight goes on around them. it's a brutal fight , one that on his own, Rick would surely have lost. The value of friendship and compassion pulls through as Michonne swiftly stabs the Governor in the chest. She receives the retribution she yearned for herself and Andrea, closing the Governor chapter in her life.

NEXT: If you destroy it, Walkers will come.

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