Blood was shed in the midseason finale of "The Walking Dead" as it had been anticipated. The second showdown between Rick and the Governor claimed victims from both parties, with Rick and friends once again losing one member who had been an important part of the group.
At the beginning of the episode, [SPOILER ALERT!] the Governor took Michonne and Hershel hostage to force Rick leave the prison. The former Woodbury leader turned down Rick's offer to share the prison and killed Hershel with Michonne's sword, starting out the fight.
Michonne finally got her revenge, stabbing the Governor with the katana he used to kill Hershel, but it was Lilly who put an end to the villain by shooting him in the head. Nonetheless, the survivors could not save their prison since the fence had been torn down by the Governor. The group is now scattered and baby Judith is presumably dead after Rick found her empty and bloody carrier.
Giving a look at what will come next after the deadly episode, a promo for the midseason return has been released. It sees Tyreese on the road, Michonne in the woods, Glenn and Maggie separated, and Carl and Rick in a house. Rick is physically unfit and Carl, for an unknown reason, is shouting to his father, "Wake up! Wake up!"
Plot synopsis for the first episode in February is not available just yet, but showrunner Scott M. Gimple says they won't jump too far ahead after the events in the midseason finale. "There's a lot to tell in the aftermath of what just happened," he says, adding, "We will absolutely find out more about the rats and the person who seemed to dissect that rabbit that Tyreese found in the tombs before The Governor showed up."
Asked where the survivors head after leaving the prison, Gimple won't give the answer, but coyly says that some parts of the storyline will stick to the comic but there are also differences. "There's going to be a lot of familiar stuff, brand new stuff and remixed stuff," he teases. "There are some things where you will totally know them and hopefully be expecting them and then there will be stuff that's brand new that you have no idea if it's coming but it will circle around to moments from the comic."
Gimple also refuses to confirm whether Judith is dead. "There are a lot of walkers around there as well. It did not look good and I don't want to say one way or another but what you see tells a story," he says.
On how Hershel's death affects the group, particularly Rick, Gimple explains, "Hershel was the embodiment of a civilized and humanistic approach...Especially for Rick. Hershel was the driving force beyond - Carl and Judith - to Rick's change when we join him at the beginning of the season."
"Everything he tried to achieve had been taken away from him over the first five episodes and now he's lost the person who walked him through that. ...it isn't just shock death. We're going to see now with all these things taken away from Rick if he can come back from this. Moving into the next season and a half, the loss of Hershel will be felt and will be this driving element toward Rick's character."
Losing Hershel, Judith and the prison at the same time will affect Rick "unbelievably," but he won't react like the time when Lori died. "This is a different loss and will affect him differently," Gimple says. "When he lost Lori, he was at a place surrounded by fences with brick buildings. One could argue that he had time to mourn or deal with it -- or not [deal with it] as he did. He's messed up physically from that fight with The Governor and now he's off in the world, that's where we left him. He's in a very different situation where there's going to be some very direct demands upon him of survival."
As for Maggie and Beth, Hershel's death "helps define both of them into who they become and it affects them very deeply in this next half season and beyond. Hershel's death, the loss of the prison, civilization and everything they built up up, this has all been taken away from them and they are moving into very uncharted emotional waters."
"The Walking Dead" will return with the second half of season 4 on February 9 on AMC.