Archive for December, 2013

Without going into every detail of the past three weeks, it has been more and more difficult to be a Washington fan. For weeks 12 and 13, the hype was high with two consecutive opportunities to play the night game in Washington. The first was against the 49ers and the second against the Giants. There is nothing to say about the game versus San Francisco. The defense just held RGIII and the run game in check. There was nothing the Skins offense could do to move the ball. Kaepernick and Boldin put on a clinic, while RGIII was sacked 6 times and had not touchdowns but 1 interception. The following week, the team had a chance and seemed to have a rhythm they lacked for the entire season. Getting the first opening drive touchdown of the season, they finished the 1st half with 14 points. Following the halftime break, the team could not get back into the red zone and managed only 1 field goal. The game ended on a strange set of bad calls by the refs, who could not agree on the acquisition of the 1st down. This led to confusion and eventually a loss, after Pierre Garcon had gotten his 1st down catch stripped.

dm_131208_nfl_chiefs_v_redskinsThat leads us to this week: the storm of the Chiefs. Coming off a 3-game losing streak, Washington had a chance to catch a team on the downturn. Instead, the offense looked anemic, the defense continued to fail to tackle, and the special teams gave up 2 return touchdowns. Other than an excellent touchdown catch by Paulsen and an interception by Riley, the team just slipped and slid around the field. Cousins was eventually brought into the game but also ended with only 59 yards on 7-16 passing and a sack.

There is little need to go more into the actual events of the game and only focus on what this means for the team moving forward. There has been a plague that has been feasting on DC area. RGIII looked rusty and underdeveloped coming off of the injury. The defense has been nothing but porous and pathetic. Somehow even worse than the defense has been the special teams, failing on both sides of the kick with poor returns and botched blocking. Meanwhile, the team’s identity has been under the microscope as the name continues to be a growing controversy. There has been nothing drama and failure in DC and there will be implications in the offseason.

197475-650-366Among those changes are going to be a combination of players and coaches. RGIII is the franchise at the moment, so there is no fear that he is going anywhere. He will have a chance to finally heal and develop his mechanics rather than nursing the recovery from the injury specifically. The coaches are another story. The Shanahans are in some real trouble. After their run last year, they could have weathered a mediocre season with the issues of RGIII’s recovery. With the defense giving up at least 24 points in 11 of 13 games leading into December and the offense scoring 20 or less in 7 of 13 games, there are clear questions about their decision making. Timeouts have been questionable. They have abandoned the run when they have produced the best rushing attack in the league. Snyder may decide to keep the Shanahans but they will be under the microscope the entire next season. But there is also a chance that a surprise firing or resignation could come in sometime during the next three weeks.

As for the players, there are a lot of cuts coming in all three phases of the game. The special teams could easily be completely replaced, but the coaching could actually be upgraded to work with some of what is left. The offense will drop players at every position. Kirk Cousins has some upside but has not been able to show it much outside of the WAS-BAL game last season and the 2013 preseason. He will probably be trade bait in the near future. Royster is also on the chopping block because Morris and Helu have produced fairly well. Santana may retire this season, but he has not made much of his opportunities and may be on his way out whether it is on his own power or not. The only receivers that are likely to be safe will be Garcon (who has had a career year) and Robinson, who has shown sparks from time to time. Fred Davis has dealt both with injuries and poor hands when he was touted as a receiving TE. He and Paulsen have dropped some key passes and are both likely out. The offensive line is just offensive. Trent Williams may be safe but Polumbus certainly is not. On defense, Kerrigan, Orakpo, Fletcher (unless he retires), Hall, and Riley are the only players who have been consistently solid. Everyone else, including Josh Wilson, could face serious conversations and be looking for work.

The season has long been over but the conversation about the future is just beginning…

Around the Rest of the League

NFC East

  • Philadelphia has eked out a couple of wins but seems to be the most consistent of the teams to make the playoffs.
  • The Cowboys still have some questions about their defense and Romo’s ability to transition from regular to post season. Could this be his year to put it together.
  • Eli and the Giants have been coming back from their abysmal start but have little chance of catching the other teams in the playoff race.

NFC North

  • The closest division in the league, the Lions have taken the lead but not been able to get away from the rest of the division. Stafford’s turnover woes have kept them from going to the next level.
  • Chicago has not been able to handle the loss of Cutler that well but is still not out of the playoff conversation.
  • Rodgers is clearly the heart of the Packers but his absence has not eliminated their chances to catch the Lions.
  • The Vikings just have not had the steam to compete this year. The quarterback situation will be the biggest decision for the offseason as Ponder, Cassel, and Freeman fail to appear able to lead an offense.

NFC South

  • 111813-NFL-Panthers-Qback-Cam-Newton-PI-CH_20131118225123283_660_320The Saints appeared to be the favorites to compete in a fairly competitive division but have not been able to shake the Panthers. With a primetime match and a followup two weeks following, there is a real chance that the two teams will make for a dramatic finish in the NFC seedings.
  • For Carolina, their 8-game win streak is the current best in the NFL. Their defense is the most menacing and has put Newton in a position to achieve the success he had been predicted to have experienced by now.
  • Tampa Bay started rough with Freeman and a series of losses. It was not until they dumped him and went with Glennon that they finally got to win some games. It is all just confidence at this point, as they are far away from the playoff picture.
  • Atlanta has been the fighter for the past few years but something is poisoning the team this season. Julio Jones has been out for a long time now and Ryan has failed to get the offense going.

NFC West

  • The North may be the closest division but the West is the most competitive. The Seahawks are dominating on all phases of the game. Russell Wilson has established himself as the most successful of last year’s young QBs, but their defense has been close to unstoppable.
  • The 49ers were the Super Bowl team last year but they have struggled a bit this season. Though healthy, Kaepernick had a slump to start the season as he tried to keep pace with Wilson in the West.
  • The Cardinals have been one of the surprises after showing little change since the past couple years. The run game has improved and Carson Palmer has reemerged to keep them in the playoff race.
  • The record does not show it but the Rams are in a good position for their future. Zac Stacy is their RB moving forward and they will be getting a great 1st round draft pick from the Redskins to boost their team.

AFC East

  • New England keeps finding ways to win. First it was without the Gronk, then they got him back, and then they lost him again. The running game has been a rotation that may have finally settled on Shane Vereen, but they have eked out far too many wins to feel comfortable.
  • The Dolphins were predicted for some success this season but are hanging on by a thread in the playoff hunt. A little help could push them into the 6 spot.
  • The Jets are surprisingly still in the hunt and could help themselves with a win at Miami to finish the season.
  • The Bills continue to be the Bills and show no signs of getting better in the near future.

AFC North

  • Predicted to be an early-season favorite, the Bengals have found their competitive instinct and continue to win. They are fairly safe to take the division.
  • The Super Bowl Champion Ravens are struggling their way into a wild card spot this season. The team has lost their run game and their defense is just starting to find themselves in the last few games.
  • Pittsburgh struggled to start, then got better, and then fell flat. They are on the outside of the wild card hunt and are playing more for pride now.
  • Cleveland has had glimmers of hope but to no avail this season. Their recent loss to the Patriots is an example of their inability to finish games.

AFC South

  • hi-res-451825311-quarterback-peyton-manning-of-the-denver-broncos-drops_crop_northLuck has been solid in his sophomore season but the defense has some questions to answer to make a playoff run. They are comfortably in the lead of the division though.
  • Tennessee has had sparks with Chris Johnson and Jake Locker but injuries have held the team back.
  • Jacksonville looked like they would never win a game. Now after getting 4 out of the last 5, they have something to build from to plan for their future.
  • The Houston Texans were a team that was Super Bowl or bust this season. After their first two wins, Schaub threw 3 INTs in his next few games and was eventually benched. They are now on an 11-game losing streak and questioning their future.

AFC West

  • Fighting with the surging Chiefs, Peyton and the Broncos started the season with a bang with their scoring and have not let up. They lost a couple but are the favorites to run the table in the playoffs.
  • The Chiefs are a team that is hot on the Broncos heels. They have an offense that is improving, a defense that is devastating to other teams, and a special teams that can surprise even aware teams.
  • San Diego seemed like they had a chance to compete but fell far below their counterparts in the division. They found a new great receiver in Keenan Allen and could be a challenge for teams next season.
  • Not as confident as the other teams in the division is the Raiders. They have failed to have a winning season for over the past decade, with only 2 years at 8-8 (both ranked 3rd in the division). They have a lot of work to do to catch up to the Broncos and the Chiefs now.

I have been a Legend of Zelda fan for years. Since the first game was released on the NES in 1987 (and when I was finally old enough to actually play it), I have played through almost every console version of the story. There is a great universe created around this legendary hero and his epic quest that has actually also been connected through a linear-ish history. There are so many elements to enjoy, but the total product has been wonderful to experience in every iteration.

The basic elements (for those less familiar with the story behind the games) surround the protagonist of the series. Link is a hero who typically does not realize his heroic status at the start of each game. While he is typically asleep and awoken by an event or another being, he is quickly thrusted into a quest to complete an arsenal and seek out a legendary sword that has the power to vanquish evil. In most of the games, Link seeks to aid or save the Princess Zelda (who sometimes finds herself incognito as a way of hiding from evil). Link eventually faces a monstrous evil, but mostly notably a character named Ganon/Ganondorf. With the help of a mysteriously power called the Triforce, Link overcomes the evil presence, saves the land of Hyrule (or the place he has traveled to), and wins over the affection of his princess.

25th-anniversary-legend-of-zeldaThe games have their charm for a number of different reasons. Each of them includes a combination of action and puzzles to solve in order to progress through the game. Each of the dungeons forces players to travel from room to room collecting keys, maps, compasses, and other items to eventually reach a boss and collect the special element at the end of the dungeon. The Triforce is usually involved in the games, with Link possessing (or earning) the Triforce of Courage, Zelda possessing the Triforce of Wisdom, and Ganon/Ganondorf possessing the Triforce of Power. On a more humorous note, there is a pattern of Link starting each game as more of a lazy kid who requires some outside force to awaken the hero in him. In Skyward Sword, there are direct references to his underachieving attitude up until he actually begins the quest off of Skyloft. He also seems to have a vendetta against chickens, with several of the games allowing him to attack and be attacked by chickens.

This spark to post about the game comes off of an incredible performance I experienced of the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses in Baltimore. I had seen the show previously, but they came around on their second quest and added a few great additional pieces. I was disappointed that there was a visual obstruction from my seat that blocked the middle of the screen, but I still greatly enjoyed the music. I also have been watching the developments surrounding the next console game for the Wii U. I have been disappointed by the continued delays and things are not getting any better with the poor sales figures for the console. The original Wii U game was slated for late 2013, then got delayed to 2014, and now will be 2015 with an announcement at E3 during the summer of 2014. Fans of the series are probably going to be disappointed with the wait, especially since the last console game was released in 2011. Having the Wind Waker ported to the Wii U is a placeholder but not a complete fill for fans.

With that in mind, I have started to replay some of the previous console games. I have played a few of the handheld games but never owned a Gameboy beyond the Gameboy color. So now I will post my rank-ordered console Zelda games from “worst” to best. I do leave out Four Swords Adventures¬†because it breaks away from the more traditional games and is the one console game that I never played.¬†Enjoy!

#8: Zelda II: Adventure of Link

zeldaIIGanon’s evil influence has remained over the land even after his defeat to Link at Death Mountain. His minions, feeling sore over their master’s defeat, decided to flood the land with chaos. Zelda was put into a deep sleep by a great wizard and only would awaken by the discovery of the Triforce of Courage and defeat of the hero’s evil doppelganger.

legend-of-zelda-ii-the-adventure-of-link-classic-nesThis was the most challenging of all of the Zelda games and the only one to be played almost entirely as a side-scroller. There were opportunities to save the game, but the difficulty level was shot up by one of the game’s earliest quests. Traveling through Death Mountain as the second major dungeon, the enemies were at a much higher level than a game would normally put so early on and there was no save point until after getting through the entire area. Added to that, the area was set up as a maze with no real indications of how to solve it. This created a lot of frustrations for people who played the game, struggling through the lack of direction at times and the somewhat strange feeling of the side-scrolling action.

It was still a Legend of Zelda game with all of the basic elements, so it was not a complete disaster.

#7: Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Legend_of_Zelda_Majoras_Mask_(NA)Having defeated Ganondorf and returning the Master Sword back to its place in the Temple of Time, Link has returned to a strange new challenge. Navi has disappeared and he wanders into the woods for his search. He is surprised by the Skull Kid, who has been taken over by a creature named Majora’s Mask and stolen Epona. Chasing after him, he runs into a tree, falls into a pit, and is transformed into a Deku Scrub in a new land called Termina. He finds the Happy Mask Salesman who tells Link that he can transform him back into a Hylian if he can prevent the Moon from crashing into the earth before the end of the third day. The sacred item that can save them is the Ocarina of Time, but Link must also awaken the four giants who can help keep the Moon from completing its destruction of the land, aided by the Skull Kid and Majora’s Mask.

6813.6_MajorasMask3For all of the Zelda games in existence, this is one of the weirder ones. Link is not in Hyrule for this quest, but he is also not himself for part of it either. There is not the Master Sword or the Triforce, but rather the Great Fairy Sword and a group of masks that allow Link to transform into other lifeforms. Most of the elements from previous Zelda games are still present, from dungeons to side quests, but the feel of the game is very different. The world is much smaller, with so much of the game taking place around the center town and the clock tower. There is still a lot to explore, but the world is not nearly as expansive as Hyrule. Those that played Ocarina of Time felt a little less enthused after playing Majora’s Mask, but it has developed quite a cult following and has risen in popularity years after its original release.

Though the game was very weird and broke some of the traditions of the franchise, it was still an intriguing story and entertaining play.

#6: Legend of Zelda (NES)

The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_coverIn the beginning, there were three parts Triforces (Power, Wisdom, and Courage). After getting kidnapped by the evil Ganon, Link is called to set out on a quest to collect the 8 pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom, defeat the Prince of Darkness (Ganon), and save Princess Zelda.

gfs_29025_2_6_legend_of_zelda_nes_review-s512x448-263871-580This simple story turned into quite the series of games. It set up so many elements of the franchise and should not be seen as challenge for being #6 on this list. There are only so many things that you could do with the NES at the time and the more recent games have been able to re-imagine the story and the features to broaden the landscape. Still, the game started with the collection of the basic sword and immediate travel to the first dungeon. Link collected a number of items throughout the quest, including the bow, fire rod, candle, ladder, raft, power bracelet, and boomerangs. Link got to upgrade his gear as the game went along, eventually finding the Magical Sword, which was later turned into the Master Sword in subsequent games.

The game can be beaten in an afternoon, but it did have a saving feature for those that played in pockets. There is so much to love about this game, but there are some pretty amazing games left on this list.

skyward_sword_remote_final1#5: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Long ago, the land of Hyrule was created by the Goddesses, but great evil forced the Goddess Hylia to rescue her people and send them to the sky. In Skyloft, Link is awakened on the day of his Wing Ceremony, only to find out that his great bird has disappeared. After rescuing his bird and winning the Wing Ceremony, he and Zelda go out on a ride. A cyclone emerges through the clouds and knocks Zelda off of her bird. Going down to the surface, Link discovers a great temple and an old woman who informs him of a great evil hidden at the bottom of the pit and the mission that Zelda has embarked upon. Link follows Zelda’s trail and learns about a wizard, Ghirahim, who desires to release a great evil upon the land. He is able to awaken the hero within himself and the power of the Triforce and Master Sword as he travels on his quest. He eventually learns that he has to travel back in time to defeat Ghirahim, who seeks to awaken Demise in the past and prevent the future from ever occurring.

legend-of-zelda-skyward-sword-e3-2011-1Taking some of the elements of Ocarina’s success and providing a beginning to the Legend of Zelda timeline,¬†Skyword Sword¬†set the lore of the land and introduced a little more of a love scenario between Link and Zelda, bringing more compassion to one of the games than previous ones in the series. Using the Wii remote, players could slash the sword to defeat enemies, aim the Goddess Bow, or track for items and characters. The world was divided into two areas: above the clouds and Hyrule below. Similar to the challenges of¬†Wind Waker’s expansive ocean and slowness of sailing from island to island,¬†Skyward Sword¬† has players traveling on a bird above the clouds while having to switch back and forth between Hyrule and the sky to switch between the three major areas of Hyrule. Still, the challenging puzzles, beautiful graphics, and expansive areas to explore created a wonderful gaming experience.

Many of the elements of Skyward Sword pay homage to the later generations of Link and Zelda while still introducing pieces that make for its own story to stand alone as a great feature. It also served as the tribute for the 25th anniversary of the series.

#4: Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

The-Legend-of-Zelda-Link-to-the-PastLink awakens from his sleep by a voice that seems vaguely familiar. Seeking assistance from the young blacksmith apprentice, Link sets out for the Hyrule castle to explore the origin of his dreams. Finding the Princess Zelda trapped in the dungeon, he learns that the world has been invaded by enemies of the Hyrule kingdom and an evil wizard has come to power in the Dark World. Link is able to collect the three pendants and the Master Sword before he learns that Zelda has been captured again and taken back to the castle. The wizard, Agahnim, takes Zelda to the Dark World and tries to permanently open the link between the two worlds in his attempt to take over Hyrule.

alttp3As the only game to be released on the SNES,¬†A Link to the Past greatly expanded on the world of the Hyrule compared to the NES games. Link was now being given a deeper backstory and the generations of Link and Zelda were starting to take shape. While Ganon was not the antagonist in this game, the boss fights and the dungeons were just as challenging and enjoyable as the NES games, but actually even more so by the upgrade to the graphics and the capabilities of the system. The game introduced more side quests, interactions with a wider variety of characters, and extras that increased the playability of the game. It maintained the 8 dungeons plus final dungeon element, the use of the Triforce, the claiming of the Master Sword, and the involvement of the Princess Zelda as central to the game’s story. The added Dark World expanded the game’s ability to travel into different realms and increase the engagement with the game.

While this is some players’ favorite game, there are still a few more that really expanded the story to greater lengths and added elements that other games in the series missed.

#3: Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

20130828145954!ZeldaWindWakerGCNCoverArtUSA resident of Outset Island, Link lives a comfortable life with his grandmother and little sister. When a pirate ship arrives to save a young girl in the woods, Link goes to investigate. After saving the girl, a giant bird attacks and steals his sister. Allowing Link to travel with her pirate crew, Tetra sets sail for the Forsaken Fortress. Link battles his way through the fortress but fails to save his sister and the other girls locked away. Instead, he is thrown back into the sea by the giant bird by the orders of a mysterious man. Through his travels across the sea and after the collection of three mysterious pearls, Link is able to save his sister and learns the identity of the evil man as Ganon. Link uses the pearls to travel below the seas and ends up in the land of Hyrule. Blocked by magic, Link must restore the power of the Master Sword to cut through and make his way toward the evil Ganon’s lair.

Wind-Waker-HDControversial for a different reason, this Gamecube rendition of the series introduced a cell-shaded, cartoonish look to the game that received mixed reactions from fans. When players were able to get beyond the graphic style, they discovered that the game had reinvented the story and gotten creative with the adventure Link would travel on. The game revolved around Link setting sail across a great sea, first needing to collect the pearls to open up the portal to Hyrule Castle below the seas and then collecting the power for the Master Sword and the pieces of the Triforce to rescue Zelda and defeat Ganon. The main elements of the story and lore were all there and even modified slightly by the introduction of the great flood of the land of Hyrule and the creation of the land above the seas. Zelda took on a different form for most of the game and served in a more helpful role in the final battle versus Ganon. Link was also given a tougher task with the need to guide characters around two of the dungeons to unveil their positions as descendants of the great sages of the Triforce.

The Gamecube was graced by one of the most creative versions of the central story with one of the best looking graphics packages that took several years after its release to be truly appreciated.

#2: Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincessLiving a simple life as a goat herder in Ordon, Link is called upon to save some of the children of the Ordon when an evil knight bursts into the spring and steals them away. Link is pulled into the Twilight World by a mysterious force and transforms into a wolf. Taken to the darkness-covered Hyrule Castle, Link escapes the prison he is thrown into and reaches the tower, where an imprisoned Zelda awaits. Told to guide the hero on his quest, Midna agrees to join Link back out of the Twilight World and help him uncover the Spirits of Light as they work to also collect the pieces of the Fused Shadow. With the power of the full Fused Shadow, they would have the power to defeat the evil Zant and his lord Ganondorf. Meanwhile, both villains continue to gain power while Link continues his quest to also collect the shards of the Mirror of Twilight to gain passage as a Hylian back to the Twlight World. 

zelda-twilight-princess-screenWhile this game was the one that most closely has resembled Ocarina of Time, it has its own charm with the transformation of the hero into a wolf as part of the gameplay experience. The game was the first to include the more active play of the Wii, though it could also be purchased for the Gamecube. Players finally had the chance to slash with Link on the screen and aim a variety of different items he collected throughout the game. The scale of boss fights, especially the final boss, got to an epic level. The fight with Ganondorf took place in several forms: Dark Zelda, the beast form of Ganon, the chase across Hyrule field, and the final sword battle with Ganondorf. Like A Link to the Past, the game doubled the playability of the game by introducing the Twilight World and the wolf form of Link, making searching for main elements and side quests more complex.

While the game can play a little slower than some of the others, it is such a deep experience that gamers will be enthralled for plenty of hours of enjoyment.

#1: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

OoTBoxArtAwakened by his fairy Navi, Link is summoned to the Great Deku Tree to be told of a great quest he must embark upon. Link must travel to collect three gems to open the path to the Master Sword, which transports him seven years into the future to a land that has been ravaged by the evil Ganondorf. Link learns that he must use the Master Sword’s power of time travel and the Ocarina of Time, a mystical instrument that has the power to affect the world around him, to awaken the six sages to defeat the evil power of Ganondorf. Meanwhile, Zelda initially guides him on this path, along with Kaepora Gaebora, but eventually requires Link’s help once she is discovered to be the mysterious Shiek and captured by Ganondorf.

OcarinaOfTimeBattleSeen as the highest point of the series, the game was the first to introduce 3D graphics but did more by the expansive story to enthrall its gamers into the experience. Link’s story took him through time to save the land of Hyrule and expanded the concept of expansive story and world. Death Mountain seemed much more ominous with its size and position over Kakariko Village. Lake Hylia was grand, but not as much as Gerudo Valley and Desert. The boss battles were glorious and completely fulfilling. Starting with Gohma, each battle was bigger than the last and tested your ability to use the item discovered in each dungeon. With the exception of the Water Temple (which has been seen as the most challenging and frustrating of any in the entire series), the puzzles took on a new level of difficulty and complexity. The game required an increased amount of backtracking that both moved the progress of the game and its story forward while also adding to the lore.

At the time of its release, Ocarina of Time stood alone as the greatest video game ever made. Even to this day, its impact on the gaming world has not yet been matched.

Agree with this list? Post your comments if you have some thoughts on the best of the console Legend of Zelda games.

thewalkingdead_408_3Outside of the prison, the Governor finds Hershel and Michonne disposing of the walkers from the last attack on the prison. Just before they finish up, he pops out of the bushes and overtakes both of them. Returning to the camp, he addresses his new people and tells them about the prison. He tells them that he has captured two of the prison inhabitants and tries to motivate his people to overtake the prison. While he promises that they can do it without killing anyone, he tries to prepare them for a possible war. Lily confronts him and tells him that she is concerned for his determination to take the prison. While he confesses his love of her, she remains concerned for their safety and about the possibility of killing people.

In the trailer, the Governor addresses Michonne and Hershel. While the Governor tries to claim that no one will die, Hershel tries to mediate his concerns for the violence that he projects is coming. Saying that he can sense the Governor is ready to kill for the prison, Hershel pleads with him that he should not kill someone else’s daughter if he understands what that feeling is like. Shaking off the comment, the Governor replies that the girls are not his so it is not his concern. Meanwhile, Michonne is chomping at the bit to kill the Governor and even says it multiple times to pull a reaction.¬†Continuing to claim that his intentions are to protect her and Megan, Lily continues to express her concern as well. He approaches Megan and hugs her before he heads out. Lily, watching in the distance, appears to be struggling with the situation.

Back at the prison, Glenn seems to have improved but is still bed-ridden. Talking with Maggie, they chat about the idea of taking a vacation together. Daryl and Rick are off in another part of the prison arguing about Carol’s disappearance from the prison. Noticeably upset, Rick continues to explain that he sent her away with the threat of Tyreese’s anger and Daryl thinks about the two girls she has cared after. They decide to go officially¬†tell Tyreese. Sasha and Bob talk about how Hershel helped to save them from the flu, but Bob refuses to take any credit. When Rick and Daryl find Tyreese, they find a dissected rat. Tyreese claims that he believes the same person who killed Karen was responsible for the rats, but they are interrupted by a loud explosion. Rick loses his chance to tell Tyreese about Carol.

The entire group goes out to the fence and find the Governor and his new people (including a tank) outside the prison walls. The Governor yells for Rick to come down and shows them that he has Michonne and Hershel as prisoner. While Rick keeps shouting about the council making decisions, the Governor forces him to come down or lose his people. He gives the ultimatum, but Rick continues to plea for something else. The Governor lets his know that they leave by sundown or the captives will be killed.

s4e8-too-far-gone-sneak-peek-600x300Back at the camp, Lily watches a walker walking across the river while Meghan calls for her attention. The walker ends up getting swept away. Megan pulls a sign up from the mud but also uncovers a walker, who bites Meghan on the shoulder before Lily can get her gun off.

The Governor continues his convincing of Rick to just pack up and leave, blasting away two walkers. Back in the prison, Daryl and the rest of the group are armed and ready to defend if necessary. Rick tries again to plea, saying he is willing to live together in different cell blocks. The Govenor refuses to listen and pulls Michonne’s sword on Hershel. Rick tries to invite them in to live together and plead for no one to have to die. The Governor refuses to listen and uses the sword to slash Hershel in the neck. Immediately, a huge battle ensues with both the Governor and Rick taking a bullet. While the chaos rises, Michonne rolls away and frees herself while also killing one of the Governor’s people. Hershel tries to crawl off but the Governor finds him and finishes the job. Tara drops behind the tank and refuses to pick up her gun to fight. At this point, Lily walks up to the Governor with Meghan’s dead body and he draws his gun to shoot Megan in the head. Yelling to his people, he orders a full assault on the prison.

They take down the first fence, but the prison continues to defend themselves without additional loses. The tank begins to fire on the prison. Daryl and the rest of the group run for the bus. Maggie goes to run for Glenn and leaves Beth with the bus and to protect the children. Rick surprises the Governor from behind the bus and the two find themselves in a fist fight. Daryl almost gets taken by a walker but kills it and uses it as a shield. While Maggie finds Sasha, she continues to on the search for Beth, who has gone looking for Judith. With Rick on the ground and the Governor almost stealing his last breath, Michonne shows up and stabs him from behind through the chest. Daryl gets up to the tank and tosses in a grenade, flushing out Mitch and shooting him with his crossbow. As Rick stumbles up to look for Carl, a couple of walkers come barreling down toward him. Carl pops up and shoots them both. They come across Judith’s baby carrier with only blood stains inside. Lily walks up on the still-breakthing Governor and puts a bullet in his head.

Carl and Rick limp out of the prison as Rick says to not look back.

the-walking-dead-too-far-gone-ricks-groupReaction:¬†Well, the death of Hershel did not come so quickly as the preview and the end of the previous episode seemed to project. Instead, he got his opportunity for his swan song. He took on multiple opportunities to convince the Governor to end the attack but was unable to convince someone who, as the title of the episode highlights, was too far gone. Unlike the Governor, Rick’s words before Hershel’s death struck a chord with the father of the prison group. Rick used a speech to convince the Governor to stop the war by saying that people are allowed to come back. This put a smile on his face before taking the sword to the neck. The loss of Hershel means the loss of another moral center for the group, which means that the survivors will need to regroup.

This brings us to the Governor. He was definitely too far gone from the start of his return this season. In particular, this episode was his swan song too, but more so in a blaze of glory. Capturing Hershel and Michonne was similar to the events of the comic, except that it was Tyreese instead of Hershel. Parading them out in front of Rick and the prison, he looked to make a statement regarding his intentions to take over, but there was a clear hint to the people of the prison that it would not be so easy. Even if Rick had agreed to leave, it is unclear if there would have been the type of mercy that the Governor expressed. Killing Hershel was a sign to show that he was serious and wanted to seriously kill the people of the prison, as also symbolized with no care for shooting the dead Meghan in the head. The Governor was giving up from trying to “come back” to a sense of humanity that Rick tried to persuade him with.

The death of the Governor was very satisfying, but there was a question with who was going to get to do the deed. There were plenty who had the reason to take him out. Maggie and Glenn were imprisoned by him. Michonne lost Andrea to him. Daryl lost Merle to him. Rick’s safety and security was threatened by him. Lily was worried over her safety because of him. Mitch lost his brother to him. Hershel was captured and threatened by him. The Governor’s list of enemies was truly long, but Lily was the best choice and the sequence allowed for some added enjoyment of the process. Lily shooting him in the end was very similar to the comic, where one of the women shoot the Governor in the head after she watches him kill Laurie and Judith. Rick got his licks in to start but the Governor got one more shot to kill Rick. Ultimately, Michonne thought she got her due by stabbing him in through the chest but walked away without confirming her success. Lily then walks in at the end and had come to the realization that the Governor was not going to keep them safe.

walking-dead-408_zps0fdd6afcIn the chaos of the attack, people scattered in multiple directions. Even though there was a solid group of people on the bus near the end, the only two that we knew the status of were Rick and Carl in the woods. The bus left but never confirmed who stayed on, Maggie was out chasing after Beth, Daryl had run off with Beth trailing behind him, Michonne wandered away from Rick, and Sasha, Tyreese, Bob, and the girls were not at the bus yet. There were actually still gunman from the Governor’s camp that seemed to be around, meaning that there were still others that could be in danger (besides against the walkers that had flooded into the prison). Judith was actually also never actually confirmed as dead, but Rick and Carl believed it to be true with the bloody baby carrier on the ground. Beth could have stepped in and taken her away. There will be a lot to sort out at the start of the second half of the season.

There were several characters that grew up in just this episode. While it is unclear if Lily will be back, she went from being unable to defend herself to finishing off the Governor. She initially relied on him to make decisions and protect her but had realized that he was not thinking for their best interest when he showed seeds of the maniac below his surface. When he shot Meghan without thought, that was the final straw. His group will never truly know about his deeds against Pete and Martinez, but she made sure that he would never hurt another else. Carl has gone back and forth through the show, but he showed maturity in the protection of their people and his father. Stepping in to shoot the walkers after Rick fought the Governor and helping Rick stumble away from the prison, Carl showed his protective instinct. Lizzie, who apparently listened to the training by Carol, armed the other children and actually ended up in the fight, killing Aisha without thought. She may have problems later on, but we will have to wait and see.

One other element of the episode that ended up falling behind the other major developments was the confrontation with Rick and Daryl about Carol. It was a little unsatisfying because they are in the middle of the argument when it cuts to them, but Daryl does seem to have a problem with Rick’s decision. While he was very close with Carol, it is hard to get a sense of how upset he really was about the decision. Rick explained the piece about Tyreese and how he confirmed Carol’s responsibility for the charred bodies, so Daryl may have understood the somewhat protective element of Rick’s decision. They go together to tell Tyreese but never get to the decision. That reaction will have to wait until later but it certainly will have a chance at being explosive. Others will have to finally start asking questions and Rick may not have to be the one to tell him. At this point, Maggie and Daryl know about the decision and may have to be the ones to break it to the rest of the group.

So Carol did not reemerge, the rats were reintroduced but not explained, Rick was interrupted before telling Tyreese about Carol, and the group has been scattered both in and away from the prison. Most of the favorite characters will return for the second half of the season, but we had to say goodbye to Hershel. This was a very sad but satisfying episode that will be re-watched many times before the show returns on February 9th.

In Memoriam:¬†Meghan, Mitch, Alisha, Judith?, Hershel, The Governor, and the Governor’s militia

I will return with Blogging Dead in February but may have a couple of Walking Dead-related posts leading up to the second half of the season. Stay tuned and send me your predictions.