Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 16 (Welcome to the Tombs)

Warning: this is as much of a recap as it is a review, so here there be SPOILERS.

The third season of The Walking Dead is a wrap.  In recent weeks, the show had been on fire, and the momentum and hype this strong run generated served to create lofty expectations for the last episode.  Yes, the big finale sought to place an exclamation point on the season, and in many ways it succeeded.  Yet it must be noted that in many ways it was also very disappointing.  Now, I felt that "Welcome to the Tombs" was a solid episode, and were this week 14 or 15, I think I would be more lenient.  However, I think most everyone was expecting much more from the season finale, and despite several important deaths and some extremely intense material, this one failed to close out Season 3 with a bang.  It didn't really come close, truth be told.

Now, the beginning was great.  In fact, I thought this might have been one of The Walking Dead's strongest opening reels.  The Governor worked Milton over and gave him an ultimatum: kill Andrea or die.  I knew Milton was a goner back in Week 14--and, as I recall, in addition to noting that I didn't see him making it to Season 4, I also noted that I couldn't decide if I liked his odds of seeing Season 4 more than those of that sucker who was traveling with Tyreese--but I didn't expect to see Woodbury's resident scientist/idiot make such a ballsy exit.  Anyway, instead of offing Andrea, Milt made a lunge at The Governor and got stabbed for his efforts.  To make matters worse, The Governor coolly advised Milton that he was going to turn and kill Andrea in spite of his heroics.  This was also some of the best stuff we've seen yet courtesy of David Morrissey as The Governor, and the "Kill or die . . . or . . . die and kill" line was sweet. 

Yes, we were off and running, and I was thinking that we were in for quite a show.  Now, so far as Andrea, Milton, and The Governor were concerned, I was right.  Most everything else seemed to be a bit lacking, especially when you consider that this was the end of the road for what has thus far proven to be a damn good season of a terrific program.  Unfortunately, while a killer episode may have established this as the finest season thus far, the end result was a decisive third-place finish for Season 3.  No doubt about it.

Back at the prison, our merry band of survivors were getting ready to bolt.  Carl was ticked off, Glenn was concerned, and Rick and Michonne had a bizarre "I almost handed you to The Governor on a silver platter, but you're one of us" talk that was more than a little odd.  To their credit, Andrew Lincoln and Danai Guriri somehow managed to get the job done, but it was just a strange little chat that I didn't really dig.

In Woodbury, The Governor rallied his troops and led the charge toward the prison, minus Tyreese.  The big dude who can't shoot for shit spoke up during The Governor's Patton impersonation and declared that he wasn't there to fight other people.  After stating that he was going to sit this one out, he offered to stay behind to protect the women and children.    I liked this development, but I thought this scene was also a bit clumsy.  Much of the finale seemed rushed to me, as though AMC was hastily advancing the plot.  At this point, the episode was clearly losing steam, but a worthy finale was still within reach.  After all, the inevitable confrontation we've been waiting for was on the horizon.  Or was it?

Let's talk about what happened at the prison.  Why?  I guess I have to, that's why.  This review/recap wouldn't be complete without it.  Basically, The Governor's troops (I should probably put an asterisk beside troops, but more on that later) hit the scene and blasted the shit out of the prison and all the walkers gathered around the entrance.  In truth, this assault was fairly badass, aside from the fact that Rick and his people were nowhere to be seen.  Growing more and more agitated with every second that passed, The Governor led his troops deeper and deeper into the prison, chasing shadows and rushing toward the distant moans of the undead.  This is probably the point where most of his troops started to realize that The Governor didn't really know what the fuck he was doing.

This fool's army came across a trap, setting off a couple of flash-bombs and attracting walkers.  They escaped the prison and came under fire from Glenn and Maggie, who were clad in body armor.  They sprayed a hell of a lot of lead, but I'm not sure that they hit anyone.  Regardless, The Governor's troops took off, running toward their vehicles.  It was as if the commanding arsenal that they had attacked the prison with mere moments ago was utterly forgotten, and it was patently obvious that The Governor's attempt to play general was bound to end in failure.  Yes, AMC butchered the big confrontation, totally marring both the finale and the season itself in the process.  The bad guys blew a bunch of walkers up, two of Rick's people took a few shots at them, and the bad guys jumped in their vehicles and drove off.  It was a lesson in how NOT to present a thrilling conclusion to a story.

Rick and the rest of the gang emerged and celebrated.  Yay for them.  Oh, and Carl iced some kid who was trying to surrender, much to Hershel's dismay, and then told his dad he killed a soldier who "drew" on him.  Hershel told Rick otherwise and now we have some drama to carry over into Season 4.  Meanwhile, The Governor made his people stop in the middle of the road.  They tell him it's over, they're not soldiers, and he loses it.  This was a very effective scene, and both the music and Morrissey were excellent here.  He gunned all of the troops down aside from Martinez and that one guy that some people thought was Tyreese back at the beginning of the season.  Oh, and the victims here included that sucker who was traveling with Tyreese.  Milton, we'll miss.  That sucker?  Well, we didn't really give a damn about him, now did we?

The Governor and his remaining troops, both of whom were doing an admirable job of playing it cool, got in a truck and drove off.  I bet no one was telling jokes during that ride.  Where did they go?  Well, I thought they were going back to Woodbury, but either I was wrong or they got lost.  What's next for The Governor?  Who knows?  I don't.  Nor does anyone who was relying on the big season finale for information.  That was the last we would see of David Morrissey in Season 3.

Finally, we made our way back to Andrea and Milton.  He had dropped a pair of pliers behind her when The Governor made him gather up all the instruments of torture just lying around earlier in the show.  Milton told Andrea about the pliers, and told her to hurry.  She told him she was going to get out of the chair and save them both, and he told her she was going to get out of the chair and finish him off.  He knew he wasn't going to make it, and he kept telling Andrea to hurry.  She didn't do a great job of listening to him, and by the time she was finally making some progress, Milton was dead.  Soon he turned and began to make his way toward her.  The camera cut away and we heard Andrea scream.

Rick, Michonne, and Daryl decided to go to Woodbury.  I don't know what they were thinking.  I think the writers of the show were thinking for them at that point, and they had loose ends to tie off and the clock was ticking.  Anyway, they picked up this one chick who survived The Governor's massacre so she could join the crew and tell them what happened.   Later, they reached Woodbury and found Andrea.  We thought she was in the clear, because we weren't going to be fooled by that scream after the cutaway, right?  But we were wrong.  She had freed herself and finished Milton off, but not before he took a little bite out of her chest.  Next, we got some emotional stuff that felt rushed on Rick's behalf, but genuine coming from Michonne.  Andrea shot herself and our trio wound up taking Tyreese and all of Woodbury's remaining residents, namely the women and children, back to the prison.

How do I feel about Andrea's exit?  I'm pretty sure I hate it.  This season now stands as a complete and total waste of one of the better performers on the show and one of the comic's most beloved characters.  Andrea was a solid component of AMC's The Walking Dead in the first two seasons, but Season 3 served as a tremendous disappointment in regards to her character.  Maybe the show will find a way to make this up to me, but that's a tall order.

I guess that just about sums it up.  In truth, this episode probably wasn't as bad as it sounds, and I do believe that it would have been perfectly acceptable if it wasn't the season finale.  Yet there was so much to accomplish and the audience's hopes were so high that it's really hard to give this show a good grade in light of the circumstances.  This season warranted a gripping finale with a big showdown, and in truth it needed such an outcome to warrant all the hype and drama that brought us here.  Yet it was a letdown and it cheapened much of what transpired in Season 3.  As bizarre as it sounds, I would have to close this blog out by saying that I enjoyed the episode, particularly the stuff with Andrea, Milton, and The Governor, but I was very disappointed at the same time.  This was a solid episode, but it wasn't a worthy season finale.  Not by a long shot.

Am I being too hard on "Welcome to the Tombs"?

Am I being too hard on Season 3?

When will Rick and The Governor finally come to blows?

Is Carl fucked up?
I'll answer that one for you: Yes, but it's to be expected.

If I'm right, can AMC's The Walking Dead redeem itself in Season 4?

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