Excuse us while we pick our jaws up off the floor. Wow! Now, that's what you call an electrifying, gasp-inducing, and very deadly midseason finale.

All hell broke loose on "The Walking Dead" Sunday night as AMC's zombie sensation stormed into its winter hibernation.

Where do we even begin? How about the body count.

-- Hershel, the beloved elder statesman of our survivor group is dead -- victim of a wicked beheading by the Governor. Lord, we miss him already.

-- Little Megan is no more, having been bitten by a walker.

-- Judith is apparently a goner. At least that's what her bloody baby carrier seems to indicate.

-- And the ruthless, evil Governor is, at last, dead. He first was felled by Michonne's Katana sword and then Lily delivered the fatal gunshot after realizing that the man she had fallen for was, indeed, a homicidal maniac.

This was one emotional wallop of an episode that began with the Governor convincing his new group of followers that they needed to take control of the prison and that they could somehow do it without anyone getting hurt.

That, of course, turned out to be a huge lie. He had already abducted Michonne and Hershel, intending to use them as bait in his negotiations with Rick. Amazingly, everyone decides to go along with the plan, with only Lily exhibiting some skepticism. (Which begs the question: Why are people so willing to follow this idiot? What kind of magic does he possess?).


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Anyway, the Governor shows up at this prison with a tank and his posse, and convinces Rick to come out and talk (After blowing away the guard tower). Basically, it's a High Noon situation with the Governor demanding that Rick's people vacate the premises by sundown.

Rick tries to persuade the intruders that they can share the prison -- that "we all can change." But the Governor is convinced that he could never live in the same facility as Rick and Michonne. He ultimately loses his patience with the peace talks (as he always does) and shockingly slashes Hershel with Michonne's blade.

That, of course, is all it takes to ignite a hellacious gunbattle, during which the Governor decapitates Hershel. Lily then shows up with Megan's corpse. The Gov takes one look at the little girl who had become his surrogate daughter, shoots her in the head and quickly gets back to the battle with a war cry of "Kill them all!"

As fate would have it, the Governor and Rick come to bloody blows while gunfire rings out all around them. The Governor gets the edge on his hated rival with a vicious head butt and is about to strangle Rick to death when Michonne -- how fitting -- shows up and plunges her sword into the Governor's back. Moments later, Lily delivers the fatal blow, bringing an end to the story line of one of TV's most vile villains.

As the gunfight continues, it's all hands on deck and even the little girls who Carol had schooled to be tough and strong make a key couple of kills.

When the dust finally begins to settle, Rick seeks out and finds his son Carl. But they're stunned to realize that their daughter/sister Judith is missing. Meanwhile, the prison is basically destroyed and hordes of zombies are descending on the place.

So what did you think of the episode and the passing of Hershel and the Governor? Are you pleased with the direction of the series so far this season? And what do you expect when "The Walking Dead" returns in February with the group apparently looking for a new place to live?

Contact Chuck Barney at Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.ChuckBarney, or Twitter.com/chuckbarney