The Walking Dead season 4, episode 8 brought numerous surprise twists and a whole lot of emotion for the final new show of 2013.

The episode kicked off with the Governor talking to his people. He argues that Rick and company need to be killed. “People who destroyed the camp I was in with Martinez – they live in a prison. They’ve got walls, fences, plots of land – we could live there.”

He reveals that he captured Michonne and Hershel. The group seems hesitant about this attack but are quick to say that they’re in. The only person who isn’t interested in war is the Governor/Brian’s girlfriend, Lily.

Hershel and Michonne aren’t interested in a fight either. The former tries to convince Brian (“Don’t call me that,” he tells Hershel when addressed as Governor) that they can live together in the prison peacefully. Brian insists otherwise and doesn’t care about Hershel’s own daughters who he’d be putting in danger.

Rick and Daryl decide to tell Tyreese about Carol murdering his girlfriend Karen, but their discussion is interrupted by the arrival of Brian and his team. He asks Rick if they can have a talk and shows off his Hershel/Michonne bait. Brian’s take it or leave it deal? Give him the prison by sundown.

Back at Lily and Meghan’s campsite, a zombie emerges from the area the little girl is digging in. She appears to get bit. And to think: If Brian hadn’t gone to pick a needless fight, she would’ve been safe. Once again, he has lost a daughter.

The Governor reminds Rick that the sun is setting quick. At the fences, Carl is tempted to just kill the Governor. Rick continues talking. He suggests that they live together, but Brian resists. He asks the others in Brian’s group what they want, and they show signs of their allegiance wavering. Rick adds that things will be hard but they’ll make it work.

Under his breath Brian calls Rick a liar then slashes Hershel’s neck. Gun fire from both sides begins. Brian grabs Hershel and decapitates him. Michonne escapes. Lily brings Meghan’s body to Brian, and he shoots her in the head before she turns into a zombie. Interestingly, Brian seems so invested in his prison battle that he doesn’t care about Meghan’s death.

Brian issues the order to move in with the tanks. What happens over the next few minutes is a series of quick attacks. Chief among them: Little girls on Team Rick kill two of the enemies, and Rick and Brian have a physical brawl which ends in Michonne putting her Katana through Brian. Lily delivers the fatal blow to her love interest moments later.

Finally, Rick finds Carl but the father and son discover that Judith – their daughter/sister – is gone.

The prison is now destroyed and inhabited by zombies, so the second half of season 4 should see everyone moving to a new location. The twist will be welcomed by viewers who have grown tired of seeing the prison be the center point of the storyline. It looks like concerns about the illness that had been plaguing the prison will no longer be a factor either.

The Walking Dead season 4 returns in February 2014. What did you think of tonight’s midseason finale? And was it one of the best episodes of the series?

A promo for The Walking Dead midseason premiere shows that the prison inhabitants have definitely moved on from the prison:

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