It’s been a long (very, very, very long) season, but at last, the war between Woodbury and the prison is upon the audience. It’s time for the season finale of ‘The Walking Dead’… this review was written live, so expect some speculation on events that may or may not occur later in the earlier segments. Without further ado…
Welcome to the Tombs
The episode opens with the Governor (David Morrissey) torturing Milton (Dallas Roberts) for the murder of the walkers at the pits- and, he attempts to argue- the men killed by Merle at the end of the last episode. He uses the skirmish as an excuse to justify his anger and his blood lust- basically trying to shore up his troops and see where everyone’s loyalty lies before the end. To this end, he orders Milton to execute Andrea (Laurie Holden). He refuses, turning on the Governor again, who immediately murders him, opting to wait for him to turn to destroy Andrea as the undead instead. This finishes a great character arc for poor Milton, whose time was sadly drawing to a close with his betrayal. Still, he had a great turn, and the finale is off to a great start.
Back at the prison, the survivors prepare to leave- Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is still haunted by the visage of his dead wife, his ever-present conscience lingering overhead and reminding him of the mistakes they’ve made- and urging him not to make another one. His decision is vindicated when the Governor and his army arrive at the prison, only to find it deserted- perhaps Rick and the survivors have decided to launch an assault on an empty Woodbury? Regardless, the prison survivors seem supremely aware of their disadvantage and realize that waiting at the prison would only lead to a slaughter.
Meanwhile, Andrea is still trapped with Milton- but spends a great deal of time talking about how her lack of acting ability and never-changing expression could/should have saved everyone. Let’s hope that Milton dies quickly and turns so the audience can be spared Laurie Holden’s presence in season 4. Her character is utterly reprehensible- please let this be the end of her.
Rick and survivors have not gone back to Woodbury but, instead, seem poised to fight against the Woodbury survivors. They attack and drive out the Governor’s forces, only for him to turn against half of them when they grow a little skittish about returning to the prison to attack again. This marks the first actual occasion where the residents of his town have seen the actual Governor- unless he dies in this episode, bet on his presence not being welcome back in Woodbury any time soon. Here’s hoping that he actually survives and returns later as a recurring threat; he is a great villain.
Why does this show waste so much airtime on Andrea? Half of the finale episode to this point has been Andrea slowly spending time waiting to die. She saw Milton get stabbed at the start of the episode and spent nearly the entire airtime of the episode up to this point either staring at him, talking to him, or doing nothing at all- she does attempt to slowly get a pair of pliers left on the floor and then decides to hurry up when he finally turns. She’s known he would turn the entire time. So she just decides to take it easy until it’s too late? Whether she ends up dead as a result of this or not remains to be seen, but seriously, this is half of the finale. This is reminiscent of the finale of season one of ‘Heroes’- the show had forever teased a big fight between Peter and Sylar that ended up being completely anti-climactic dribble.
Rick and the remaining prison survivors arrive at Woodbury to find that the Governor hasn’t returned, and make it just in time to find Andrea- now bitten and dying after her scuffle with Milton. She has a touching series of goodbyes, especially with Michonne (Danai Gurira), who cries many, many tears since maybe now season 4 of the show can focus on some of the show’s more interesting characters, portrayed by actors that have a shred of acting talent among them. Goodbye and good riddance, Andrea.
The show ends without a whole lot of closure- the Governor disappears after he snaps and goes psycho, meaning that he will almost certainly return at some point in the future, but when remains to be seen. There is no closure to his story arc for season 3, which is a colossal disservice to the fans who have put up with dragged-out plots on this series week after week after week. Rick brings the remaining Woodbury survivors back to the prison to keep them safe, a great move, come to think of it- Woodbury isn’t very easy to defend, and everyone must expect the Governor’s return, so they’re going to go to the easier place to defend. More questions remain at the end of the season than were answered in it, and the much-hyped showdown between the two camps ended up being relegated to Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) shooting at the Woodbury group after they ambushed them with zombies in the depths of the prison’s corridors.
The only great development of season 3 that had better lead to something better is the further development of Carl (Chandler Riggs), who took a pretty huge backseat for most of the season after having to kill his mother back in the fourth episode or so. He ends up gunning down one of the Woodbury survivors who were fleeing the prison. An argument can be made for whether or not he was going to hand his gun over- he seemed to be inching toward Carl but not disarming- but the fact of the matter is, Carl sounded like Shane (Jon Bernthal) here. Back in season 2, Shane clearly had an effect on the boy, and it’ll be nice to see if this is developed into a larger character arc for Carl in season 4. Chandler Riggs does a great job in this episode.
Other than that, the finale was largely a let-down. It didn’t deliver nearly the action that it (or the trailers) promised, and the show basically led up week after week to a showdown that never ended up happening. Instead it was more of the same- it wasted half of an episode with Andrea’s attempts to escape, but instead of actually, errr, trying to do so, she just took her sweet time and it cost her, ultimately, her life. Very little airtime from Daryl (Norman Reedus) and just a throwaway line to his brother’s murder in the previous episode. Many probably expected Daryl to find some kind of revenge in this episode, but as the Governor survives, that may yet come- still, Daryl’s non-reaction to his brother’s death is profoundly out of character. Episode Rating: Three out of Five Stars.
Comments on season three overall:
The show had a phenomenal episode last week leading up to the finale- one of the best episodes the show has ever delivered. For the finale, it returned to the type of television that ‘The Walking Dead’ is sadly known for- boring plot, wasted airtime, and character development that goes nowhere. Andrea, ultimately, dies in futility, never able to make the difference she so wanted to and in attempting to prevent death, she died herself. One could try to argue some kind of martyr effect for her death, but sorry, it’s not happening. It was her love for the Governor (and the worst on-screen chemistry this side of Star Wars: Episode II) that cost her in the end. Too much time was wasted “teasing” the coming battle that never, well, came… and the show just continues to churn out episode after episode of slow, boring, zombie soap-opera. At any rate, season four will be markedly better than the first three, if in only one respect: at long last, Andrea is dead, and her permanently-confused and contorted face has hopefully died with her. Season three rating overall: Three out of Five Stars.
By Nicholas Haskins
Check out the reviews leading up to the finale: episodes 1-3, 4-6, 7-8, 9-12, and 13-15. Want to discuss the finale or any of my reviews? Leave a comment or contact me on Twitter. You can also follow me on Facebook. If you are a fan of my reviews and articles, please subscribe to them and share them with your friends; your support means the world to me! Don’t miss a single article or review- insightful reviews and thorough analysis of releases new and old.