Tonight season three of “The Walking Dead” came to its thrilling conclusion (and boy was it thrilling). There was blood, there was guts, there was heartbreak and actual, bleeding hearts. I laughed, I cried, and then I realized I have to wait half a year to see season four. Sound like fun? Then it’s time to review the season three finale of “The Walking Dead,” “Welcome to the Tombs.”
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! PROCEED AND BE SPOILED FOR ALL ETERNITY!
The overwhelming reaction to this episode was “I did not see that coming.” The way things were going, it looked like there was going to be a much higher body count among the main cast, and Rick was going to lose the prison. But at the end of the day, Rick & Co. not only remain in the prison, they get some new neighbors as well. Meanwhile, Woodbury becomes a literal ghost town.
We begin back in our horror movie starring Andrea and the Governor, with the Governor torturing both Andrea and Milton and the situation looking rather desperate. Poor, clean, nervous Milton has finally gotten on the Governor’s bad side when he burned the pit walkers, and now he has to pay the price. Milton’s no wimp (you can’t be in the zombie apocalypse), but neither is he a particularly violent person. He is not like Glenn, who can take a beating and still come up swinging. Milton gets beaten and stays beaten.
Which is why his situation with Andrea is so heartbreaking. Is it just me, or was Milton secretly a little bit in love with Andrea? There they are, locked in a room with certain death, and Andrea can’t pick up a pair of damn pliers to save her life. LITERALLY. If the dying dude who’s about to eat you tells you to hurry up, then girl, you best stop your sentimental yapping and hurry the hell up!
Meanwhile, back at the prison, the group has packed up and seemingly abandoned ship. This is how we thought the episode would go: The Governor rolls in only to find Rick & Co. gone. They destroy the prison, then chase our heroes down on the road and kill all nonessential personnel like Hershel, Carol, and Beth. But that’s not how it went at all. Instead, our heroes had a cleverly laid trap waiting for the Governor and his unfortunate pals. It was both gratifying and totally worth it to see the people of Woodbury running for their lives.
Enter Dark Carl: give him half a reason and he kills family friends and his own mother, so that poor kid from Woodbury didn’t stand a chance. But it seems Carl has come full circle in that he’s back to his reckless tricks from the beginning of season three, and the adults around him are back to being appalled at his ruthless actions without being able to keep him in check. All I’m saying is, Carl’s philosophy of “better safe than undead” has kept a prepubescent boy alive at the end of the world against all odds, so he’s got to have something right.
Surprise or jumping the shark? When the Governor guns down all the Woodbury soldiers but Martinez and Bowman, it was definitely shocking. But was it too convenient to the plot? It certainly made it easy for Rick & Co. to safely move back into the prison, and for the Woodburyans to join them. It also got rid of a whole bunch of extra characters that were really just zombie fodder anyway. It’s easy enough to explain the mass execution as the Governor finally just snapping, but the whole thing really just smacked of the writers going “You know what would totally shock our viewers? If the Governor just, like, killed everyone!”
So now the Woodbury Army is basically nil, and convenient survivor Karen is there to explain the whole thing to both Rick and Tyreese so everyone can join hands and be happy. Right?
Surprisingly… yes. But not before the Governor’s handiwork comes back to haunt them once more. Andrea fought valiantly (if slowly) for the pliers to free herself and kill Milton before he killed her. But it was all for nought. While she managed to put him down, he still go a big chomp out of her neck (which we didn’t see, thanks to some cleverly suspenseful cinematography). And this is how Rick, Daryl, Tyreese, and Michonne (poor Michonne!) find her.
Let’s take a moment for Andrea. Now that she’s dead–and what a hero’s death it was–we can get some perspective on her sometimes irritating plot this season. It was Andrea who made the wrong decision when Michonne wanted to leave Woodbury, Andrea who didn’t kill the Governor when she had the chance (thrice), and Andrea who didn’t save herself by just going back to the prison when the opportunity presented itself. But in the end, she is completely redeemed by her own words: “I didn’t want anyone to die.” She didn’t want anyone to die: not her friends, not the people of Woodbury, not Michonne, and not even the Governor for awhile. This is not necessarily the Andrea of the comic books. But she is noble, and brave, and she gave her life working for a better world.
Despite the surprising death of Andrea and half the population of Woodbury, things ended on a high note this season. The prison wasn’t abandoned as we’d expected, and only two major characters died (“only two” says a lot about this show). It wasn’t the explosively shocking season finale we expected, nor was it a season finale to leave us in suspense all summer. But after this season, it’s almost a relief to have things end as they did.
Where have the Governor and his henchmen gone? Will they return to harry the prison in season four? Will Tyreese and the other Woodbury refugees adjust to prison life or will they be at odds with Rick’s group? Now that the Ricktatorship is over, will we see a kinder, softer version of our fearless leader? Will Morgan leave his hermitage to join the prison? Who will Carl kill next?
We’ve got half a year to wait for the answers to these questions and more. See you in October, zombiephiles. I, for one, can’t wait.