After the big build up, we arrive at the mid-season finale. And to say all the stops have been pulled out would be to put it mildly as this is one of the most densely plotted and action packed episodes of the series so far.
The duty of writing the episode goes to comic book and series creator Robert Kirkman and he has delivered an episode that makes the prospect of having to wait two months for the next fix an agonising one.
There is so much to process; it is an episode that is worthy of an immediate repeat viewing to ensure everything is taken in. Rick, Daryl, Oscar and Michonne launch their rescue mission for Glenn and Maggie although Michonne quickly reveals an ulterior motive for returning to Woodbury. Andrea’s loyalty to The Governor is put to the test and a battle erupts in the streets between both opposing sets of forces. Meanwhile, back at the prison, a new threat arrives on the doorstep, Carl is forced to take responsibility to protect the facility and another fan favourite character from the comics makes their entrance.
That summary barely does justice to all that is going on as this mid-season finale truly delivers on what has been a season of high quality so far with an episode of amazing scope and spectacle.
Robert Kirkman’s script is excellent, especially when considering the fact he has a lot of plot to cover within the episode’s running time and ensure that this half season goes out with a bang. It is a script that starts to peel away the layers of certain characters and leaves a lot of intriguing questions to be asked when the season continues. Credit here must also go to the cast, particularly David Morrissey as The Governor and Danai Gurira as Michonne. It is these characters, as well as Rick, that makes the strongest impression and leaves the most room for interesting development. Amongst the carnage, Kirkman also manages to deliver one of the funniest moments of the series in an exchange at the prison between Axel and Carol.
As always, the production design and special effects are of the highest order. It is praise that has been often repeated during the course of the season but I feel it is worth mentioning again here for one stand out scene in particular.
The second season of the show was roundly criticised for its meandering pace and lack of action. This is something that in no way can be leveled at season three, which has justified the faith of fans and is rewarding those who stuck with the show while others deserted during season two.
The episode finishes on a tantalising cliffhanger that means the early February return cannot come soon enough.
Review by Jonathan Gray