Welcome to the fourth and last installment in my review of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead series. Today, I will be coming volumes 7 and 8, which were adapted to create the second half of season three, for the most part anyway. Basically, everything that happens between the confrontation at Woodbury and the assault of the Governor’s people on the prison falls into these two volumes.
These included Rick and the prison people’s attempts to get ready, their procurement of weapons, and the whereabouts of the Governor after Michonne’s little revenge party with him. And whereas that conclusion was rather abortive in the show, it was both startling and bloody in the comic! But as usual, I like to save the differences between the show and the source material for the end.
Bring on the mighty conclusion!
Volume 7 – The Calm Before:
The first issue of the volume opens with Lori thinking back on her experiences with Shane. Her baby is almost due, and she decides to tell Rick that it may not even be his. He stops her and let’s her know that he already suspected, and that it doesn’t matter since he’s planning on raising the child as his own. With Hershel officiating, Glenn and Maggie have their wedding in the prison’s cafeteria and everyone attends.
Afterwards, Rick, Tyreese and Dale do an inventory of their weapons and ammo and determine they don’t have enough of either. They decide that a run will have to be made to the National Guard station where Woodbury got its weapons from. A party is formed with Tyreese, Michonne, Andrea, Axel, Glenn and Maggie and they take the RV.
Back at the prison, people continue to integrate with each other, their garden continues to produce, and people talk about all the members of their crew that have been lost. This includes Allen, Otis, Shawn, Lacy, Arnold, Rachel and Susie now. It seems that after so many deaths, people have grown numb to loss.
On the way out, they chance upon a fallen sign that tells them where to go and find the National Guard station. After grabbing all the fuel and ammo they can and commandeering a troop truck to load it up, they set fire to the place so no one else will be able to visit it later, and proceed to take off. They stop at a local Wal-Mart to stock up on food too, but are found by a bunch of armed men who were drawn by the explosion.
They discover the men are from Woodbury, and they recognize Glenn. After shooting him, Andrea opens fire and kills two of them while Michonne takes out the others with her sword. Glenn, luckily, was protected by his body armor and only suffered some cracked ribs. They load up what they can from the Wal-Mart and leave.
Lori begins to have contractions and is brought to the infirmary where Rick and Alice begin delivery. However, the generator is about to go out and Billy and Dale rush to put more gas in it to keep the power on. Realizing they are almost out, they run to the lot to siphon more from the vehicles, and Dale is bitten on the leg by a Walker hiding beneath the cars. Andrea and the others arrive and find Billy and Dale, who is still alive.
In the infirmary, Lori gives birth to their daughter, a healthy girl. But their joy is short-lived when Andrea and the others burst in carrying Dale. Holding him down, Rick takes the saw and cuts the lower half of his leg off. He survives, and Rick reflects on how screwed up their world now is. Lori tries to restore some happiness to the moment by telling Rick they should name their daughter Judith.
In the coming days, Rick and Lori tends to their new baby, they unload the supplies, begin training in how to use the weapons they procured, and continue to plant and till their fields. Carol seems to have recovered from Lori turning down her offer for a poly-amorous relationship, and Andrea gives Dale some crutches and he is able to get out of his bed.
Everything seems to be getting back to normal, though Dale now feels useless and worries Andrea and Tyreese are sleeping together. However, his fears prove baseless, as Andrea reveals that they were working together to make him a prosthetic leg. While leading a shooting party outside the fence, Andrea is asked by Alice to procure her a living Walker for study.
When Rick learns about it, he grabs a gun and prepares to shoot it. However, Alice talks him down by saying that this having one could help them immensely, both in fighting them and perhaps finding a cure. Carol meets with Lori again and asks that she take care of Sophia if anything happens to her. After Lori agrees, she goes off and has sex with Billy. After that, she goes to the chained Walker and lets it kill her.
When they find her, Andrea shoots the Walker and then Carol. In the coming days, people try to come to grips with her death. Tyreese is mainly angry at her for killing herself, and finds comfort in the arms of Michonne. Slowly, everyone begins to recover again. And after several months of preparing, they begin to think that the feared confrontation with the Governor isn’t coming.
Suddenly, a large convoy of trucks and an armored vehicle pulls up at the fence line. A one-armed, one-eyed Governor emerges from the armored vehicle and declares “KILL THEM ALL!”
Volume 8 – Made to Suffer:
The volume opens with a recount of what happened to the Governor after Rick, Michonne and the others escaped from Woodbury. After finding him mutilated, but still alive, his men brought him to the infirmary. Realizing that doc Stevens and Alice were gone, they pulled Bob – a former medic and alcoholic that they had been keeping in a cell – out and told him to save the Governor’s life.
Though he was not able to save the Governor’s eye, reattach his arm, or his manhood, he was able to stop the bleeding and keep him alive. Of course, much of the work had already been done by Michonne, who cauterized his arm with a blowtorch after severing it. In any case, the Governor woke up even crazier than before.
After his men find Martinez’s remains, he orders the head removed and presents it to his people, claiming Rick’s party murdered Martinez and left it on their doorstep as a message. After whooping them into a frenzy, he went about the task of sending his people out to find the prison.
This proved easy after they found the National Guard post destroyed and followed their tracks. However, having found it, the Governor ordered his people to wait and so as to give Rick and his people a false sense of security. After a few months had passed, he ordered his people to load up and prepare for war.
In addition to guns, two troops trucks, and about half a dozen pickups, they also deployed an Infantry Fighting Vehicle they snagged from the Nati0n Guard base. When they arrive, fifty some odd men come behind the Governor, and he orders them to open fire and kill everyone inside. They oblige him, and the bullets begin to fly.Luckily for the prison camp, a slew of Walkers are standing outside the gate and are poised between the Governor’s army and them. Rick orders everybody to find cover and tells Andrea to get up in the guard tower and start sniping. Running inside, he alerts Lori and tells her to get Patricia and the, and load up a truck with supplies and go without him.
He returns outside where the Governor orders his people to stop firing and issues an ultimatum – for their weapons, he will let them live. When no answer comes, he orders his men to resume firing, but Andrea starts shooting them. She manages to get a shot on the Governor but since he’s armored, he survives. She takes off her helmet to get a better shot and then takes out several of his men.
Unfortunately, a bullet grazes her now unarmored head. The Governor’s men suggest taking down the fence, but the Governor knows the prison will be useless without fences. He orders the armored vehicle to start plowing down the Walkers to clear a path for their shots. They then open fire again and hit Axel. Andrea recovers and starts sniping multiple targets, and the Governor’s forces retreat.
With their attackers pulling back, the prison crew begin to come out of cover and take stock of their wounded. Axel’s arm is hit, but he’s otherwise unharmed. Andrea suffered a graze to the head and falls unconscious. Worse though, is Rick, who was hit in the stomach and collapses. All three are brought to the infirmary, and Rick’s condition doesn’t appear too good. Alice tells them Rick needs blood, and Patricia tells her she’s a universal donor, so she volunteers.
Dale speaks to Andrea and tells her they need to start thinking about getting out of dodge before they die. He asks Lori to come too; she refuses, but Dale insists that they take Sophia, Ben and Billy with them. Maggie and Glenn agree to go with them, and pack in the RV and drive off. Rick wakes up from his coma and takes stock of their situation. Having learned that people have left, he begins to think they won’t be able to deal with another attack.
Meanwhile, Michonne discusses a reprisal attack with Tyreese, hitting the Governor and his crew before they can make it back to Woodbury. He agrees, they put on riot gear and head out. Up the road, they find the Governor’s convoy and take out his sentries. However, things get sticky when more show up and start shooting. Tyreese is eventually captured and brought before the Governor, who’s men tell him that Michonne is dead and they present her sword as evidence.
Back at the prison, Rick overlooks their defenses and decides to reposition their cars and trucks to offer barriers. They also load up an escape truck with supplies, and bring out all the grenades they have to use in a hurry. He also gives Carl his gun and tells him to keep it on him at all times, and tells the watch to wear their remains riot suits at all times. They hear a gunshot and run to the front yard.
One of the governor’s trucks has come back. The back opens to reveal the Governor standing over Tyreese, and holding Michonne’s sword. He once again demands they open the gates, and threatens to execute Tyreese and Michonne, who he claims he’s got stashed away in the cabin. Rick won’t oblige, and the Governor proceeds to cut Tyreese’s head off. Billy opens fire, but the truck makes it away.
Back at his camp, the Governor is angered that his plan didn’t work, but he’s interrupted when Michonne shows up pointing a gun at his head. She is shot at and has to slip away, but manages to wound the Governor and grab her sword. The Governor, extremely pissed, orders his men to turn around and head back to the prison to finish their assault.
The shooting begins again, and Axel is hit in the head and killed. Rick’s people take cover beneath their trucks. Billy is pinned in his tower and begins lobbing grenades. Andrea and Dale show up again, with her sniping from the roof, and one of the Governor’s trucks slams into it, sending her to the ground. Still, the Governor’s people are dying faster than they can stand, and he commandeers the armored vehicle and drives it over the fence.
Rick runs back to find Lori, and sees her on her knees with a gun to her head. However, he’s relieved to see its Alice, and they were staging it since they thought Rick was one of the Governor’s men. They run to the front yard and prepare to load up and leave, but the front yard is now being overrun by the Governor’s people and Walkers. As they run out, they are hit by a hail of bullets and Patricia is killed.
Billy is killed and Hershel falls to his knees, crying over his body. Alice tells Rick, Lori and Carl to run and covers them from a doorway. She takes out a few men, but is shot and then finished off by the Governor. Rick, Lori and Carl are near the edge of the fence now, but Lori is hit by a bullet that kills her. She falls over and lands on Judith, killing her too. Rick is traumatized, but tells Carl to keep moving…
The Governor puts a gun to Hershel’s head and kills him. The woman who shot Lori sees her body and that of her baby and loses it. She slams her gun into the Governor’s face and sticks the barrel in his mouth. The group manages to stop her from shooting him, but is then overrun by Walkers. The Governor frees himself and tries to rally them, but the woman who shot Lori pulls her pistol and shoots the Governor in the back of the head.
His body crumples to the ground and is eaten by Walkers. The rest of their group is surrounded by Walkers and they are either consumed or run off into the wilderness. On the nearby hillside, Rick and Carl finally make it to safety. Carl realizes that his mother and little sister didn’t make it and tries to run back. Rick holds him and they both begin to cry.
Differences with AMC’s The Walking Dead:
We find ourselves at last at the ending of season three of the Walking Dead, and with all the cumulative changes they made from the original story. And it was by this time that the biggest change in the show’s history took place, one which has made season four likely to be very different from any of the volumes that follow. But first, I want to cover the small stuff and things they didn’t change.
First off, the show did contain some commitment to the spirit of the comics in how the Governor and his men assaulted the prison on two separate occasions. In the first, they shot up the yard, killed Axel, and unleashed some zombies into it. The second was where the decisive battle happened, with the Governor and his people crashing through the gates and attempting to storm the prison in force.
And Axel and Lori did die in this general area of the story, but in different ways. Whereas Axel was killed during the Governor’s raid in the show, he didn’t die until the end when the final battle took place. Also, Lori’s death wasn’t due to an emergency C-section performed in a boiler room that saw her die and her baby live. Both she and the baby died in the final fight, terribly!
Also, the intervening period between these two battles took so much longer in the show, which I find annoying in hindsight. Much like with everything else in seasons two and three, the producers were determined to drag the confrontation out, what with Andrea trying to pick a side and brokering peace talks between Rick and the Governor. No such process ever took place in the comics. After Rick, Michonne and the rest escaped Woodbury, the Governor simply took his time in attacking, and then did!
What’s more, the buildup happened differently. Rather than show how the first assault had split the camp and people began to leave, the writers used this time to reintroduce Morgan and explain how his son died. A good episode, but once again, a case of shuffling. Morgan did not get reintroduced until after the prison assault, and he chose to join Rick and the others since Duane was now dead and he had no reason to stay behind. Also, they didn’t get their stocks of weapons from him.
Also, I should take this opportunity to point out that at no point in the original comics did Rick and his people assault Woodbury. Their initial confrontation didn’t involve an attack to rescue their own people who’d been taken captive (Glenn and Maggie), it involved Rick, Michonne and Glenn being taken captive and tortured. There was no ambiguity about the Governor’s motives or the fact that he was an evil, malicious bastard.
In the show, they presented things in a more ambiguous way. While they certainly kept to the script by showing the Governor to be a psycho who treated all foreign groups as a threat and killed them, the way they had Rick and his crew attacking his town first kind of made it look like he was a sort of victim. Psycho or not, hitting him and his people where they lived was a lot like poking an already angry bear.
At this point in season three, Milton also begins to turn against the Governor and sabotages his plans. This might be a good opportunity for me to point out that in the comics – as Doctor Stevens – he was never a friend of the Governor in the first place. What’s more, he died a long time ago. Having yet another character struggle with their loyalties – a la Andrea and Dale – seemed like they were harping on an overly-familiar theme.
Ah, and another weird case of plot shuffling – at this point in season three we are FINALLY introduced to Tyreese, a character that was supposed to be with the show from the beginning. And in addition to his late arrival, his companions were completely different from the comic. Instead of his daughter Judie and Chris her boyfriend, he came with his sister Sasha and father and son duo who didn’t exist in the original.
On top of that, there was no case of him experiencing a crossover with the Governor and Woodbury or a conflicted sense of loyalties. Also, I couldn’t see why it was necessary to have Rick chase them off and then have them learn that the Governor’s camp were the actual bad guys. Wasn’t Andrea, Milton and Merle enough on that front? All of this seemed like a very weird case of late introductions followed by an inexplicable plot mashup.
And, most importantly, he was supposed to die at this point in the story. Not only is he being introduced late, he’s being introduced at a point in the story when his original was killed off. Seems weird. And I should also point out that Carol was also dead at this point, the victim of tragic circumstance after her attempted suicide left her feeling without friends or respect. But as usual, she’s still alive in the show despite not having much to do.
But alas, the biggest and most disappointing change came in the final battle and its outcome. In the comic, it was a devastating event, resulting in the deaths of Hershel, his son Billy, Alison, Patricia, Lori, Judith, and Axel. Rick and a handful of others managed to make it out, but only by the skin of their teeth, and the Governor himself died in the assault. The only other people who could be alive at this point were the ones who’d already left.
It was not the abortive event they made it out to be in the show, with the Governor’s people fleeing at the first sign of trouble, him gunning them all down, and then leaving with his henchmen to be heard from at some later date. That I found pretty lame, and I was hardly alone in that. He shot twenty-some odd of his own people and his henchmen – who were supposed to be dead at this point – had nothing to say about it. Then they simply drove off… weak!
And of course, after the battle Rick and the others traveled to Woodbury, collected all the people there and brought them back to the prison. This was so far off script that I wasn’t sure how to respond. So now, instead of Rick and Carl wandering around in the wilderness looking for other survivors, battling hunger, Walkers, and their own grief, they are back at the prison with more people than before and trying to integrate them. Night and day, man. Night and day!
All in all, season three was a watered-down, convoluted version of the original comics. It took its time and tried real hard to get its audience emotionally involved, but instead turned into a big build-up towards and ending that was a big letdown. Not only did the whole thing fizzle at the end, the way they left it open-ended seemed a bit trite and commercial too. But of course, its television. What can you do?
If it wasn’t clear from all of that, reading the comics really had a dire impact of my view on the show. But then again, after the season three closer, I was already kind of disenchanted. Season two was not my favorite by any stretch due to the slow pace and the way the conflicts dragged out. And after what I thought was a good first half to the third season, the second half began to feel like more of the same.
And perhaps I’m being unfair, but being able to see how they changed things has only made that worse. It’s not the fact that they made changes, mind you. To fault for them just for doing that would be a terrible act of geek-inspired snobbery! No, it was how they made these changes and why. Between leaving some people out, pushing others in, and shuffling plot elements around, I really can’t see the logic here.
Why did they choose not to introduce Tyreese until this late juncture? Why did they choose to make the Governor’s assault on the prison so incompetent? Why did they feel the need to humanize this evil man so very much? Why did Andrea have such a hard time accepting he was evil when all the evidence was there? Why did they choose to replace well-developed characters from the comics with some of the “highest paid extras” and then just proceed kill them off?
Who knows? Who cares? At this point in the show, they can do what they like. And from the trailers, it seems like they might be veering back towards the original plot anyway, having Rick and his people abandon the prison and head off in search of a new home. Doesn’t really make sense, when you consider the hell they went through to find the place and hold it.
But whatever, more changes aren’t going to hurt at this point. And frankly, I am curious to see what happens next. And you can bet I’ll be doing comparative reviews, since I’ll be doing them anyway in my mind and will probably want to share my observations. Consider yourself warned people!
Until next time, thanks for reading and remember…