The season finale of The Walking Dead opens with a close-up of The Governor’s one good eye as he demonstrates to Milton how he came to be king. One of the show’s most predictable casualties has gained a lot of pathos in recent weeks, and his decision to open his eyes and do something about the madness around him carries a heavy price. Milton’s only ever had good intentions, and in stabbing him The Governor robs him of his reason: the faculty that has defined him. Commanded to execute Andrea, Milton refuses, and The Governor makes damn sure he’s going to do it anyway, as a Walker. “You kill or you die.” The Governor says, “Or you die and you kill.”
Composer Bear McCreary lays on the somber piano as the prison group packs their bags. The show would have us think that they are in retreat. Carl stares at the photo he retrieved with Michonne’s help. Rick sees Lori again, and it is worth noting that she still has the baby bump. Rick remembers her as she was just before her death. Daryl tells Carol that his brother “never did anything like that in his whole life,” referring to Merle’s suicide mission. “He gave us a chance,” Carol replies.
The Governor, not too pleased himself with this turn of events, has to enlist all able-bodied citizens of Woodbury to storm the prison. Merle must have killed quite a few experienced men, men which could have counted for ten of the flaky militia The Governor leads to the climactic battle. Tyreese and his girl back out, volunteering to protect those too old or sick to fight. The Governor even thanks them, with an eye of ice.
While Andrea explains her motive for all of her poor decisions to a dying Milton (she wanted to save everybody in both camps, which is just a no-go in a zombie apocalypse), The Governor pulls up outside the prison throwing some heavy artillery. Andrea could have avoided the ensuing slaughter had she trusted her gut and stabbed the Governor while he was sleeping. She admits as much to Milton, who seems to really appreciate Andrea’s desire to “save” The Governor too.
The Governor’s group gets inside of the prison, smoke bombs go off, and all of a sudden there’s Glenn and Maggie in riot gear raining death and destruction from the walkway. As an admitted fan of video games, Glenn gets to enact the ultimate wish fulfillment. Striking from the higher ground, the smaller, better-trained group causes the Woodbury militia to panic and retreat. A young Woodbury citizen runs into Hershel and Carl in the woods. He surrenders, and as he lays his weapon down Carl remorselessly shoots him anyway.
The prison group immediately resolves to strike back at Woodbury, and Carl wants to go, insisting that he has proven himself in shooting an enemy. Hershel calls Carl on his lie, telling Rick what really happened with the young man. There’s a moment when Rick says “did you do that Carl?” and looks like he’s about to send him to bed without supper.
When his people refuse to mount another assault, The Governor shoots them down in a rage. The only survivor, a woman, hides beneath the bodies of the townsfolk (a preferred method of eluding bad guys in apocalyptic stories) and meets Rick, Daryl, and Michonne, who comprise the Woodbury hit squad. They go to Woodbury and she tells Tyreese about The Governor’s homicidal rampage. Just like that, the model of power totally shifts as Tyreese surrenders and joins Rick.
They find where Andrea was imprisoned, but it’s too late for her. Michonne cries as she tries to make Andrea’s last moments as peaceful as she can. There is a long pause as Daryl and Rick wait outside the cell before the gunshot rings out. The Governor and his two remaining goons are long gone, so Rick brings all of the surviving Woodbury citizens back to the prison.
Will they live happily ever after? Not if you consider that being in Rick’s position is what drove the Governor crazy. Still haunted by the memory of Lori, as The Governor was haunted by Penny, Rick has a lot more mouths to feed. Most of the many new additions to the prison are infirm, though Hershel has proven just how useful seniors can be despite missing a leg. Hopefully the prison might become a more pleasant place to live as a result of the collected knowledge of the non-combatants. The first order of business would be the sowing of crops, now that Rick and the gang have time for something other than battling The Governor. The tribe has now expanded into a village, and food will likely be a growing concern.
It is yet to be revealed how much bad blood there will be with the new tenants and their one time enemies. Given that The Governor owns most of the blame for all the bloodshed, it is worth remembering that Rick’s team has killed dozens of Woodbury’s citizens. How many were sons, daughters, spouses or friends of the surviving populace? There will be disputes, and many members of Rick’s team have developed itchy trigger fingers — I’m looking at you, Carl.
There is also the Governor, having disappeared for now, with nothing to live for but revenge. Following Merle’s return and demise, The Governor has stepped into the position of the villain you know will resurface. As unlikely as it seemed that Merle would join Rick’s side, the chances of something similar happening with The Governor are just about nil.
The biggest event ending the season — the one that ensures the most dramatic changes in the lives of the characters — was the fall of Woodbury. Lori’s death affected everyone as well, as well as the finding of the prison at the season’s start. We started following these people again after a long winter taking place between seasons two and three, and we got to see how they have been hardened by the trial of survival. When medieval warfare breaks out between Rick and the Governor, no one has enough time to ponder just how far they, and the world at large, have fallen.
In the season finale before this, Rick’s group had lost its home and had to begin searching for another. Now, Rick has gained more responsibility, and it’s unclear as to what the motive will be next season, aside from the ongoing quest for survival, and finding something in life that makes it worth holding on to.
Apologies to everyone for taking so long on this post. April brought a killer head cold just as I was in the middle of moving. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next season on The Walking Dead.
Latest posts by Tom Gibbons (see all)
- Review: Star Trek – Into Darkness – Hip and Trippy - June 9, 2013
- The Walking Dead Third Season, Episode Sixteen “Welcome to the Tombs” - April 14, 2013
- The Walking Dead Third Season Episode Fifteen, “This Sorrowful Life” - March 30, 2013