We’ve come to it at last. Last night, after months of escalating tension and drama, the season finale of The Walking Dead finally happened. Needless to say, after taking the long road to reach this climax, and familiar with how things happened in the original, I was somewhat eager to see how it would all go down. I suppose you could even say my expectations were high…
And, to be honest, I was a bit disappointed. After all the expectations, slow build-up and plot development, the ending was fast, loose, and a bit abortive. Sure, there were lots of sad moments, tense moments, and some action, but none of it was particularly explosive, final, or end of the road-esque. And of course, the differences with the source material at this point were like night and day.
In the comic book, the assault on the prison was devastating, and cost the lives of Lori Grimes and their daughter. But more than that, the would-be conclusion to this season, which all indications would seem to suggest would be the death of the Governor, didn’t even happen. So add an openness to the abortive nature of this ending, and you’ve got the season three finale…
Welcome to the Tombs:
The finale ends with a slow, creepy expanding frame which is focused on the Governor’s eye. We quickly realize that he has Milton in one of his prison chambers and is torturing him for torching the Walkers they had captured. After beating him for awhile, Milton asks him if he thinks his daughter would approve of what he’s become. He says no, but also feels his daughter would be alive if he were the man he is today before.
He then takes Milton into the room Andrea has been kept in and orders him to gather up all the implements of torture. While collecting them, Milton drops a pair of plyers on the floor and leaves them there. The Governor hands him a knife and orders him to kill Andrea, which Milton tries to stab the Governor with, and then is stabbed himself. The Governor tells him he will soon turn, and then he will kill Andrea, for that’s how the world is now. Or as he puts it: “In this life now, you kill and you die… Or you die and you kill.”
At the prison, Rick and the others are busy packing their cars up in what appears to be preparation to leave. Carl is angry with his father for some reason, and Michonne thanks him for not handing her over. Daryl also speaks with Carol about how his brother sacrificed himself, thus giving them the time they needed to prepare. Lori looks up at a catwalk and sees Lori looking down on him again…
In Woodbury, the Governor is busy mobilizing his people. Blaming Rick’s group for the death of the eight men he lost to Merle, he has assembled an army of townpeople and commandeered their army vehicles for the assault. Tyreese and Sasha tell him they do not wish to participate and will stay behind to guard the town, and the Governor lets them.
The Governor and his army then come to the prison and begin gunning their way in, blowing up the watch towers and shooting all the Walkers in the field. Without any opposition, they make their way inside and the place appears to be deserted. However, they hear noise coming from below and begin searching, and are met with an ambush!
A series of flashbangs go off inside the tunnels and some Walkers are sent in after them, causing confusion and forcing everyone to begin running out. Maggie and Glenn begin firing at the runners from protected positions, and the retreat turns into a route. In the forest, Carl stands watch with Hershel and Beth and is met by one of the townspeople who is running for his life. After telling him to drop his gun, Carl shoots him without apparent cause.
When the dust settles and the camp is reunited, Rick and the others discuss what their next move is. They agree that they can’t simply sit idle and wait for the Governor and his people to come back. They agree to take the fight to Woodbury and form an attack party of Daryl, Rick and Michonne. Before they leave, Rick confronts his son about the boy he shot, to which he replies he “did what he had to do”. In his mind, far too many people have died due to hesitation, and he wasn’t willing to let it happen here.
Back on the road, the Governor stops the retreating convoy and demands they turn around and relaunch their attack. However, his makeshift army says it isn’t worth it and wants to go back to town. The Governor has a severe break and begins shooting people left, right and center. Only Martinez, Bowman, and a single woman are left alive, and she is left in a field to die while the rest head back to Woodbury.
Back at the prison, Milton tells Andrea about the plyers behind her seat and lets her know she has to hurry. They continue to talk for several minutes while she manages to get them off the floor and into her hand. However, no sooner does she have a grip on them that Milton begins to change. She manages to get her manacles off just as his resurrected body comes towards her, and they fight…
On the road, Rick, Daryl and Michonne find the remains of the Governor’s army, which now consists of those who have turned feeding on the bodies of the dead. After killing those turned, they find Karen – the one person who survived the massacre – and take her with them. They then proceed to town, where they run into Tyreese and Sasha manning the wall. After a quick shootout, Karen calls out to him and tells them what happened.
Rick then explains that they have come to save Andrea, who never made it to the prison. They then proceed to Andrea’s cell where they find Milton dead, and her bitten and dying. They share a tearful farewell, during which time Rick assures her that the rest of them are alive, and Andrea tells them she will take her own life while she still can. She asks Rick for his gun, which he gives her, and Michonne stays behind to be with her when it happens.
Rick and the others proceed back to the prison with a large bus in tow. The door opens, and townspeople from Woodbury begin to file out. Rick goes to Carl and tells him, “They’re going to join us”, to which his son seems a bit perturbed. Carol, Hershel and the others begin to file out and help them in. The episode ends with a close up of Lori’s and T-Dog’s graves on the front lawn.
As I said already, this episode kind of flopped. While I knew that they could not stick to the source material at this point, Lori already being dead and all, I did think they would attempt to establish some degree of finality. While it’s obvious that Woodbury is finished at this point and Andrea did die, the Governor is still alive and the final fight only lasted a few minutes.
And given the superiority the Governor had in numbers and firepower, it seemed to end awfully quick. A few flashbangs and some rifle fire, and they all went running! Not at all the honed and ruthless army that the Governor brought with him to the prison in the comics. Hell, they had a tank there and kicked the crap out of the place! Here, they just tucked tail and ran!
And of course, there was the way the Governor just snapped and shot all of his own people because of it. Here, it kind of felt like one contrivance justifying another. The humiliating loss gave the Governor his motivation for going nuts, thus demonstrating how he was the bad guy, not Rick and his people. Okay, but again, after all the build-up? As Maggie is quoted as saying below: “No! No!”
Sure, there were some interesting points, like Carl’s dangerous transformation into something akin to the Governor. His justifications, which he shared with Milton and Andrea before leaving them to die together, sounded an awful lot like what Carl says in his defense to Rick. “I did what I had to do”, “this is the way it is now”, and so forth.
The ending, where Rick extends a helping hand to their former enemies, also seemed like the perfectly fitting end to all that. And so did the way the episode opened and closed on the graves of Lori and everyone else they’ve lost since taking the prison. Its like they are saying, “this is what we’re fighting for”, and the way they return to it in the end shows that the final act of kindness honored their memory as well.
Still, the climax… not what I was looking for! If you’re going to stray, at least have an ending where they fight it out and there’s tons of blood! And I’m hardly alone in this respect. Already, there are a ton of memes out there satirizing the ending and what fans didn’t like about it.
The one’s you see here are only a few, which not only mock the ending but the numerous plot holes contained within. For example, the Governor has really good aim for someone with no depth perception, as evidenced by the way he shoots up an entire group of men and women.
And then there’s the fact that the Governor not only survived, but just seemed to take off into the night without another word. It’s like, are we done with him? Is he dead? Will he be lurking in the shadows, waiting to reappear and settle the score? No indications is given either way, but it does seem like a deliberate attempt to hedge their bets and keep his return open as a possibility.
But frankly, this seems a bit like the ending to Terminator: Salvation, where the plot wrapped up succinctly (albeit stupidly), but they felt the need to leave things open for the sake of additional milking down the road. That kind of ending not only feels anticlimactic, but can really be annoying when you know for a fact that it strays drastically from the source material.
Good news? Apparently, there’s only 183 more days until season four premiers. And season three was pretty rocking compared to the last one. I only hope that this time around, they stick to the script a little closely, try to converge with it a bit more instead of making these wild divergences. I’m all for variations, but if you’re going to make chances, you have to know the geeks will take notice and have some complaints to share!
See you in half a year, Walking Dead! I and a whole slew of fans will be waiting for you…