In the season three finale of The Walking Dead airing Easter Sunday, March 31st 2013, the walkers told Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and The Governor (David Morrissey) “Welcome to the Tombs” as both groups begin war with each other. Is the prison worth defending? As the Governor’s attack looms on the prison and the loss of Merle (Michael Rooker) in the previous episode, that is the more pressing question. What will Rick do? What will happen to The Governor and those at Woodbury?
*** Note: HEAVY Spoilers Beyond This Point ***
So. Much. Carnage.
To state that again would truly be an understatement. “Welcome to the Tombs” opens with a callback to the season 3 opener zooming out of the eye of The Governor as he brutually tortures Milton Mamet (Dallas Roberts), fatally wounding him leaving him to turn to a walker to finish Andrea (Laurie Holden).
Meanwhile, back at the prison camp, the group is starting to pack up, preparing to leave the prison. Rick’s son Carl (Chandler Riggs), evidently is furious. Rick’s people are leaving the prison, making sense of what will come and what had come before. Michonne (Danai Gurira) makes peace with Rick for what he thought about doing. Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) guestimate Merle’s final stand and also comes to grips with his final moments.
Meanwhile as Milton though in what we thought was fearful clumsiness, actually left an out for Andrea to save herself and escape, Tyrese decides to stay behind in Woodbury as The Governor goes back to the prison to finish Rick and his group. The Governor arrives to the prison, deserted, making a spectacular entrance.
The Governor makes his men split up and continue further, deeper into the prison which Rick’s group nicknamed the tombs. As The Governor’s men continue into the tombs, Milton and Andrea fight for a way for Andrea’s survival, as Milton slowly dies, Andrea still has a chance to escape.
We find out that only Herschel (Scott Wilson), Carl and Beth (Emily Kinney) left the prison as Rick, Michonne, Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) get the jump on The Governor’s group. The victory is a small one though. Carl kills by someone passing through the woods where they are hiding not in what is a clear sense of self-defense: the man was putting down his rifle, but Carl kills him anyway. The logic could be valid or sound as it could be a trap. But Herschel was right: the boy was scared and was turning over his gun and Carl killed him not in self-dense but in blood.
The Governor stops his convey mid-retreat and demands they turn around. When they declare they are not all soldiers or battle-trained and that Rick’s people are ‘crazy’ and ‘they can keep the prison’ and begin to turn around, that is when The Governor unleashes his full anger and sociopathic nature upon his people: he slaughters them all except Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and another man. What I really liked though was that despite the true evilness of The Governor in his act, there is a moment, a human moment for even this type of villain, where he sits in the truck/SUV and truly accepts and seems shocked at what he has done. It is something that is not seen even at this stage of a series with a bad guy or villain: a sense of humanity despite what horrible things they may do. It was refreshing for The Walking Dead to really give us this. Or perhaps there are too many shows that clog my sense of what shows do and do not do this kind of development for a character but usually when a character ‘turns heel’ in the fashion that The Governor has, unless this is the World Wrestling Entertainment series, rarely do they come back from such a heel turn. Instead, he is staying the villain he is but is given a chance to grasp that he has harmed people who truly did nothing to him but admit it was not their fight.
The last few moments were truly spectacular. As Rick, Michonne, Daryl and ‘Karen’ a survivor of The Governor’s massacre, Tyrese allows them into Woodbury and here we see that Andrea escaped but was bitten, in the neck, by Milton. She has hours before the virus overtakes her. Her concern is obviously for her people, her true people, Rick, Carl, Maggie, and the others. And in the end, Rick grants her request, to end her own life as Michonne is by her side.
What is also equally shocking than the death of Andrea, was the fact that The Governor survived and they did NOT leave the prison as a location. Personally, if you follow the comic books, I was surprised they did not take Woodbury and use that location for the ‘new town’ Rick’s group travels to.
Compared to the season two finale, The Walking Dead ended more on a solemn note with a hint of hope. And that, almost, is what season three has been for the characters: a sense of renewed hope despite the true dark and horrible things that transpire. Despite everything, Andrea wanted to save everyone, and that is an extreme sense of hope. During season two she was a bit off the mark going with Shane, but she sincerely was wanting what was best for the group.
I theorized with fellow reviewer Jerome Wetzel (http://www.jeromewetzel.com ) that they might keep The Governor alive for another day, and a lively discussion continued. I will admit, my theory coming true was a surprise no doubt, as even I felt that for television purposes, they’d stick with the comic book to television show ratio.
Another nice development was Carl and Rick’s relationship as Carl iterates a bit of what The Governor said at the beginning of the episode.
“Welcome to the Tombs” was shocking, touching, heartbreaking… but with Executive Producer Glen Mazzara leaving (or being fired) from the series, it makes one question if
that answer is yes. Overall, The Walking Dead ended season three on an amazing creative high note as the zombie series heads towards it’s fourth season.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC and can be found on channels 16 for Insight Communications Customers and channel 54 for Time Warner Customers . For HD channel versions, check your local cable or satellite provider for more information.
But what do YOU think?
You can read Nick’s additional reviews on The TV King.