Original air date: March 31, 2013

The Review (with SPOILERS):

1. You forgot to flush – What a failure!  They completely failed to close the Governor’s story by killing him.  Now his character is just running around in a pickup truck like a turd that someone didn’t have the decency to dispose of properly.

This show really wants to be something that it is not.  I kinda get it. The point of last night’s episode was to demonstrate how two different leaders have ended up in different places.  The Governor has lost his mind as he has killed most of “his people.”  Rick saves those people and thereby regains his sanity and stops seeing visions of his dead wife.  On a better written or better acted show, that might be a good story.  But on TWD with David Morrissey and Andrew Lincoln, this episode really fell flat.  This show needed to close this story.Not save it for later.

All of the Governor’s typical problems were on full display again.  It comes down to charisma.  David Morrissey’s Governor just doesn’t have “it.” I just don’t believe that he has the charisma to rally a bunch of frightened zombie survivors to go outside the walls and engage in a gunfight at the prison.  General Patton could probably do it. The Governor cannot.  He could probably get them to double the number of guards on the walls, but not to clear out the basement of the Prison.  Then, after the failure at the Prison, why in the world doesn’t Martinez just kill him?  As we’ve gotten to know Martinez over the season, he doesn’t seem like a mindless henchman, he’s got more of a common sense than the Governor, and seems pretty aware of things.  Why would he think that getting back in the truck with the Governor was a good idea? So, now we’ve seen the entirety of the Governor’s “descent into madness,” I suspect the show’s writers wanted us to see this moving example of what could happen to a “good man” during difficult times.

There was a really good review of last week’s episode over at Grantland where Bill Simmons very eloquently summed up the problems with Rick and the Governor. Both of them would be like the 39th most interesting character on Lost.  This show suffers from a massive charisma-gap and until that is remedied, stories like the finale’s will not work very well.

2. Andrea, you need to focus. – The character really did need to die.  Not just from all the annoying behavior over three seasons, but because of her incompetence at the end.  Think about the timing. She did manage to kill Zombie Milton, but still got bitten.  So, it stands to reason that she was almost safe, right?  A few seconds slower, and Milton gobbles her up in the chair.  A few seconds faster, and she’s prepared to fight.  How much time did she spend whispering, “Milton…  Milton…  Are you still with me?   Milton…”  Wouldn’t it be nice if Andrea had devoted that time to getting loose?

Along with the unsatisfying story arc for the Governor, this Season Three was also about Andrea and the trade-offs she made to be “safe.”  Again, I think it was supposed to be moving and poetic, but it just wasn’t.  The resolution to the Sophia Story was better than this.  THAT story was too long, but did ultimately pack a punch. Andrea’s Tale was just a dud.

3. You call that a massacre? – After fleeing the prison, the Governor’s people don’t want to go back.  One of them says something like, “Are you mad?  We can’t go back into that massacre!”  You’d half expect the Governor to say, “You call that a massacre?  I’ll show you a massacre!”  But, he does kinda have a point.  For all the build-up to the raid on the Prison, there wasn’t much heat. Creeping around in the dark, a few zombies, a really bad ambush by Maggie and Glen…  The whole thing was so damn pointless.  Honestly, if they were going to kill all the Woodbury townies, why not have Maggie and Glen gun them down and then have these two “good” people have to wrestle with what they had done?  Make them live with the wives and children of Woodbury next season.  The storytelling choices (and marksmanship) on this show are just baffling.

4. Portrait of a (budding) Serial Killer – Man, Carl is going to have issues.  Comic readers know that this story rears it’s head in the comics. Although it doesn’t happen until MUCH later on.  I know the discussion was that Carl killed that guy in cold blood, but in the actual scene it did seem like the guy might have been inching toward Carl to grab at Carl’s gun.  I don’t know if the show was actually doing something nuanced?  Regardless, it does actually beg some interesting questions.  We saw Rick execute those guys From Philly due to similar provocation.  And we’ve seen Rick make a lot of other unilateral judgement calls about life and death.  I guess it just feels different when decisive action is coming from a little kid without a adult’s level of experience and judgement.  And what does the group DO with Carl if they decide he is a loose cannon?

Due to the slow passage of time in the comics, we still haven’t really seen how a kid like Carl turns out when he comes of age in the zombie apocalypse.  The TV show could actually plow new ground here if next season jumps ahead by a year or so.

5. Waste of a character. – Just as I was starting to like Milton, he’s gone.  I’m not sure what the point was.  Is it that “a good man can’t stand against the tide of a sociopath leader?”  Or that if Milton had “spoken up” sooner, the Governor might have turned out differently?  Or was there supposed to be irony in that Milton was so interested in the transition to zombieness that we got to see him go through the transition himself?  Regardless, for an episode that didn’t get rid of much deadwood, it was disappointing to see them kill an interesting and useful character.

6. Unclear direction for next season – Where the hell is this show going?  People who really follow these things know that TWD will get a new “showrunner” for Season 4.  This will be the third showrunner in the show’s history, which represents a LOT of creative turnover.  There are rumors that AMC is a huge pain in the ass to work with because they are so cheap on the budget.  There are also rumors that Robert Kirkman isn’t exactly easy to deal with creatively either.

Is the plan really to keep Rick and Co. at the Prison while the Governor and his two thugs drive around in a pickup truck?  Does anyone want to see more of the Governor?  Hasn’t he already shot his wad?  Will he be like Valery the Russian in the Sopranos (i.e. never be seen again)?  Maybe you could do an interesting story of the Governor playing the “insane sniper” and taking potshots at Rick’s group from the forest, but it’s hard to see the Governor coming back with another army.  And what of Rick’s group?  I’m sick of seeing them in the Prison.  I guess with these new people, they could try to make it a real community with farming and a proto-government, but I’m not sure that sounds very interesting.  Season Two ended with a few awesome teasers– Whoa!  It’s Michonne!  Whoa!  It’s The Prison!  Season Three offers no such things.  After such a lurching season, it would be nice to have something to anticipate for next year.

Also, this show missed a major chance to thin the cast.  TWD is just too darn big of a show right now and that was obvious over the last few episodes. The only way to have a coherent narrative to an episode was by omitting half of the cast.  I’m not sure that killing Merle, Andrea and Milton really helps.  A few more deaths were warranted just to get the cast down to a reasonable size.  Would anyone really miss Glen at this point?  What more is there to do with the Governor and Martinez?  Has Beth ever been useful?

Conclusion: A tepid finale to a lackluster season of television.  TWD remains at its best when the plot is fast and bloody because it simply doesn’t have the acting horsepower to do subtle moments of powerful TV.  This finale didn’t have a single moment that rose above average.

Grade: C

– Dean Stell