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The Walking Dead Season Finale Review: The Last Stand

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The Walking Dead Season 3 exploded out of the gate a few months ago, offering up fast-paced, tense and shocking moments that really defined the direction this season was headed.

And yet, after the hiatus, it felt as if the episodes stumbled a bit, providing some great moments like the shocking first attack on the prison, but also ones where Andrea was still making up her mind on what to do. Really, a lot of it felt like the waiting around for the big confrontation between the prison and Woodbury.

"Welcome to the Tombs" delivered a solid ending to the season, wrapping up character arcs, providing the battle between good and evil, shifting the story and those involved in a new direction, and of course, showering us in a variety of exploding guts, head shots and gruesome deaths the show seems to relish.

The Walking Dead Season Finale Pic

A lot of the episode, as was much of the season, focused on the two opposite paths taken for the almost mirror image characters of the Governor and Rick.

The Governor - who may have been a good person in the past, according to Milton - had descended into a twisted and sadistic evil with no real hope of returning from. He may have been a little unstable with his heads in fishtanks or keeping his zombified girl alive, but it's become so obvious now what type of man The Governor has become.

He beat the crap out of Milton before stabbing him violently, and then locked him in the room so he might turn into a walker to rip Andrea apart. He even led an all out assault to finish off every survivor at the prison.

But it was slaughtering his own innocent army of Woodbury citizens without so much as a blink that really tipped him over to full dark side. I felt bad for Martinez and the other guy for having to get back in the truck with him.

I think his words, "You kill or you die. Or you die and you kill" do hold a certain truth, but not the ultimate truth. And certainly not the way in which the Governor chose to make his decisions.

But it's that same thought process that had slowly seeped into Carl's mind. This is a boy who has grown up in this apocalyptic time, experiencing the harshness of the world including the deaths around him, so it does make sense for him to come to a similar conclusion.

It was a shocking moment when he shot the Woodbury guy who was handing over the gun. You want Carl to turn into that good hero, but taking such an action has him headed down a path that could turn him into the next Governor.

He is still a kid, after all, so his mind is impressionable. Which I think is something Rick realized after Carl explained what he had done, and really, without remorse.

Rick himself has been conflicted on the course of actions to take, but ultimately, he chose the right one in not giving Michonne up and trying to take out the bad guy Governor instead.

More so, he's really turned a corner in illuminating that chance for hope and the reality that there is still a sense of good and humanity among people. Now, why he chose to bring them to the prison instead of all going to Woodbury is beyond me, but I understood what the resolution meant.

It was a great moment watching him proudly stand in the sun, as the Woodbury survivors joined the prison group. At the same time, where Rick had seen his ghost wife at the start of the hour, she was no where to be found, as if he had turned a positive corner.

You hope the move is the right influence on Carl, but the little Grimes wasn't at all happy about Rick's decision. Could it mean negative consequences down the line? Sure, but keeping hope alive and showing that it's not all about killing was the right move to make.

In a lot of ways, that idealistic notion of good was what Andrea had been preaching the whole time. She was so stuck on the concept of not killing and saving everyone that it cost her dearly.

I was bummed that she had to die, even if watching her make poor decisions has frustrated me to no end this season. Certainly, down to the last moment, she stuck to her terms and was essentially that extra catalyst for pushing Rick towards bringing the two groups together.

Similarly, I wished Milton didn't have to die. He was such a quiet good guy, but his last moments were standing up to the Governor and trying to save Andrea. I was really hoping we might have gotten to see what he would have been like with the prison.

That said, his moments with Andrea were riddled with tension. I never knew if he was dead or if he had finally turned, at the same time I was cringing in anticipation as Andrea took forever in trying to free herself.

Even the attack on the prison, the walk-through in the dark recesses of the jail, Rick and the group making moves, were laced with pulse pounding moments that really drove the characters and story to the next level.

It felt like things were happening, the characters all getting their moments to shine (I mean, Beth was even killing walkers!), and the story wasn't dragging it's feet anymore.

I even appreciated the quiet, hopeful end of the hour, rather than some wild cliffhanger. Sure, the Governor's still out there, but for the time being, amongst all the carnage, conflict and consternation, rose a sense of peace. The sun rising was like a new beginning.

Overall, an engrossing finale to a rather entertaining season, although it really does make me wonder where The Walking Dead will be headed next.

What did you all think? Did you love it or hate it? Shocked at the deaths? Surprised by Rick's final decision or Carl's thoughts?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.5 / 5.0 (528 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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    49 Comments New Comment Subscribe

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    Walking Dead has consistently lost its momentum since its Season One success. The Season One success derived from the constant flow of the story and lately they seem to have changed that formula something similar to CAMPING. One location with no flow. I stopped watching after season two. All the same crap different seasons. This show has become stagnant with a few biters to keep unsuspecting mobs from losing interests. My two cents...

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    - I think I sided with Carl for shooting the teenager. They asked the teen to put the gun down but he kept coming close to Carl asking him to take it from him. You know the teen is trying to get close to hurt Carl. Totally self defence and good move by Carl.
    - Andrea was frustrating as usual in the season. Wasting all that time chatting with Milton instead of concentrating on escaping.
    - Why didn't a single armed Woodbury person shoot back at the Gov before he killed them all. They were trained in using those guns and hard to believe not one of them got a shot through ? Is he so invincible now that you can't shoot back at it...
    - I think the complain that Glen and Maggie didn't kill any one of the invading party was by design. Agree that it was stupid decision but they had planned not to kill any of the town folk. But they could have at least taken down the henchmen, those firing big machine guns at their prison.

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    I'm loving the story line with Carl. All of the following we've come to understand and accept:

    1) Rick struggles with crossing the line of killing the living to keep the group safe. Not self-defense killings where life is in immediate danger. That's hasn't been a problem for Rick. But killing to prevent future danger, that's what he's struggled with.
    2) Shane didn't struggle with this notion, but he really believed he always with the best interest of the group in mind.
    3) The Governor never seemed to struggle or care. This has become so easy for him, all life is expendable at the whim of his will, using the safety of others as his justification.

    But Carl, the what...11-year old, dropping a guy to stop a future threat, that's pretty hard for all of us to rationalize and accept. For those that consider Carl's explanation for actions as a step toward future-governorhood, do you think those were his father's ideas coming out, his mother's, or Shane's? Sure sounded like Shane to me.

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    I thought it was very good. andrea died in a very good way but M really sold that scene. The govenor should have known in one on one close range fighting in the prison his people were no match for ricks battle tested group, his arrogance was his own undoing and am i the only one who got flashbacks to the slaughter of congressman leo ryan on the airstrip in jonestown when the reverend jim jones govenor opened up on his own people? I think M and rick will hook up, they have chemistry, rick is attracted to her but as he has been loyal to Lori all those years he has to remember what he forgot about being single. They shared common goals, they both had a chance to kill the govenor, they did not and it cost them the lives of people they care about, even merle. Plus carl does respect M. remember when they went to town and she said NO MORE BULLSHIT CARL?! I thought it touching when the people got off the bus and hershel was there to greet them and with rick no longer seeing lori, he can move forward

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    Everybody has their opionins about the finale and i wrote a comment saying that it was a satisfying ending. Although i do feel like it wasn't what i expected to be like the gov. is gonna die blah blah. the finale is so-so there were some moments i liked and some i didn't like.

    Anyways i love this show it's one of my must watch. can't wait for season 4 to begin. i think there might be a rick and michonne hook up or maybe better a daryl and michonne to me it sounds ALOT better than daryl and carol. not big on 2 'possibly' hooking up she looks more like his MOTHER! AND I CAN HEAR HIM SAYING THIS:''MOM WHEERE'S MY CROSSBOW"!

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    What I didn't like
    - I get the fact this show's about character development, but to announce a war and then almost nothing happend was just a bad move of the writers.
    - Milton died. Especially after his interaction with Hershel I wanted him to join Rick's group.
    - it just didn't feel like a finale to me. I can't even say why, maybe I'm just not used to not having some kind of cliffhanger.

    I don't think it was a weak or boring finale. Quite the contrary. But I also think there were better episodes - much better ones - this season.

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    What I loved about this finale
    - how the Governor's inhumanity fully came to bloom. In the very beginning, he seemed to be quite a nice guy and now THIS. Milton. Andrea. His own people. Wow.
    - parallel to that Carl's development. It's not far from I did what had to be done. to You kill or you die. - so I'm curious what will happen to the boy who was SO annoying in the last season.
    - Rick found peace, at least a bit of it.
    - my two favourites survived ;-)
    - Andrea died. I'm sorry, but that character was a waste of time every episode, always making poor decisions!

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    Honestly, I totally get why they went to the prison - the Governer could go back to Woodberry, with his two minions, and he probably knows every nook and crane of the place, including places where he could infiltrate. It is also much too big of a place to protect with basically only 8-9 fighters in the group - seeing as most of the people in the bus were old and children. The prison is THEIR territory. It is a place they've already successfully defended against the Governor and they know it better than anyone. It is much easier to defend, especially with the addition of at least 3 new fighters from the Woodberry gang. So if you think about it, it would've been extremely stupid to stay in Woodberry.

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    Initially, I was bored by Carl (and all the child characters), but his devolution through the series is nothing less than breathtaking. He reminds me less of the governor than of Merle and Daryl - all children of abuse. Speaking of which... Daryl might be the only character who can reach Carl since he can relate to Carl's emotional scars and the fact that Carl had to murder a close family member. Kudos to this young actor!

    As to Andrea's death, well... The writers tried too hard to turn her into a faux hero with that "I just didn't want any one else to die" line. Andrea? When did that character arc take place? When she was under Shane's tutelage? When she was taking aim at the governor? When she abandoned Michonne for the material and sexual comforts that Woodbury seemed to provide?

    But, sigh, I'll miss Milton. I know the actor wanted to know what it was like to be a zombie, if even only or a few seconds, but a science nerd in the midst of a zombie apocalypse is a rare person indeed, and there would've been a ton of scope to develop his everyman persona.

    I'm glad that Rick, Michonne, and Daryl brought the remnants of Woodbury back to the prison, but I can't help but think that those cast members will function primarily as zombie-fodder for the next round of Walking Dead episodes. Can't keep 'em all, especially those pesky children... unless there's some kid around Carl's age who could act as a foil.

    Great season, all in all. I await the return of the walkers in the Fall with baited breath. Looking forward to Lori and Carl's "wedding," a potential relationship between Rick and Michonne (way to peek down her wife-beater while walking down the prison stairwell, Rick!), Hershel's sermonizing, and maybe, finally, maybe a hook-up between Daryl and Carol!

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    Why take the folks to the prison rather than stay in Woodbury? There might be good reasons but it would be nice if they told us about them.

    Like I said, I love the series but I would give the finale a B-.




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