Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 16: Welcome To The Tombs

At long last it's the big Season 3 finale of The Walking Dead! 

Do not read until you've seen the episode. You've been warned!

Season 3 was a definite improvement over the previous one, with a lot more action, the introduction of the Governor and Woodbury, the return of Merle Dixon and some truly shocking and unexpected deaths. There were a few missteps though, mostly in the form of episode padding and strange character actions.

• To be honest I was kind of dreading this episode. They spent the whole season building toward an epic showdown between Rick and the Governor and I was sure that most of the cast was going to be gunned down. Thankfully it didn't quite turn out to be the massacre I was expecting. Yet. No one's ever completely safe on this show.

• I was hoping that they wouldn't kill the Governor just yet and would figure out a way to keep him around a while longer. I was pleased when he scurried away like Darth Vader in his wounded TIE Fighter, sure to reappear to plague our heroes again next season. 

I'm glad the Governor's still alive for now. He makes for a great villain and would be hard to top. This show needs good human villains because lets face it-- as big a threat as the walkers are, they just don't make very compelling villains. Sure they want to eat your flesh, but they're mindless. They can't scheme or plot or betray you. 

Another reason I'm glad the Governor's still around-- after the character was killed off in the comic book they tried and tried but have never found another villain to equal him. Sorry, Robert Kirkman, but it's the truth. I have a feeling the same may hold for the show when the Gov eventually dies.

• So I guess Milton was the one who torched the pit walkers after all. That was certainly... anticlimactic. Why'd they even bother hiding his identity and making it a big mystery then?
• Is Jedi Ghost Lori pregnant? It sure looked like she was as she appeared before Rick, rubbing what looked like her distended belly. I suppose he's just seeing her as she was the last time they were together, but... a pregnant ghost? Sucks to be her, having to live through eternity with back pains and a fetus sitting on her bladder.

• So a couple episodes ago we're treated to a chilling scene of the Governor merrily whistling as he ominously arranged the tools in his torture room. Then once he gets Andrea (half-heartedly) strapped to his torture chair, he decides "Ehh" and doesn't lay a thumbscrew on her. Not that I like watching torture, mind you, but it just seemed odd. As with the pit walker deal, why bring something up if you're just going to outright dismiss it later?

• On the other hand, his plan to kill Milton so he'd turn into a walker and kill Andrea was  pretty freakin' twisted, if not brilliant. "You kill or you die. Or you die and you kill."

• I have to admit that for a minute I thought Team Rick had actually left the prison. That was a pretty good plan to lure the Governor and his men down to the tombs for an ambush.

• Speaking of the tombs, just how extensive are they and how many freakin' walkers are down there? I can think of at least three instances during the season in which they've gone down there and cleaned out the walkers. How many more could possibly be in there? Are they wandering in from outside somehow?

• I think the Governor just beat Rick in the Walking Dead Crazy-Off Contest. When the Governor's ad-hock army retreats from the Prison, he savagely guns them all down. The same people he's been "protecting from terrorists" all season. No doubt he will talk himself into believing this is all Rick's fault.

• So after the Gov kills his own army, Martinez and Fake Dhani Jones are the only two left. And rather than shoot him in the head like any rational person would do, they actually get in the truck with him and drive off. I thought after Martinez bonded with Daryl a few episodes ago that he had a little bit of sense and might actually switch sides, but he's apparently as batsh*t crazy as the Governor.

• There's a lot of chatter on the interwebs about Carl gunning down the fleeing Woodburian. For the record, I'm with Carl on this one. That kid had a really twitchy look in his eye as he tried to hand his gun over instead of just drop it. Plus if they'd captured him then they'd have had to keep him in one of the prison cells and go through another whole Randall ordeal, never knowing if they could trust him or not. They've got women, children and infants to protect. He did the right thing.

That said, it was still pretty chilling though. Especially when he coldly dismissed Rick with a "You can go now" after explaining himself. 

Carl becoming a cold-blooded killer was an issue dealt with in the comic, and it's good to see it pop up on the show as well.

• You know what, TV Andrea? If you hadn't stopped to ask Milton if he was still alive every five goddamned seconds or paused to have a meaningful dialog with him, you'd have had an extra ten minutes to work on your handcuffs, and you wouldn't have been bitten. Jesus, I bet everyone in the country was screaming at the dizzy broad to stop pausing and concentrate on picking up the damn pliers.

• It's a moot point now, but can you really cut through handcuff chains with a pair of pliers? I doubt it. I smell a new Mythbusters episode!

• I know TV Andrea's death was meant to be shocking, but it registered a 9 point Meh on my Richter scale. The writers bungled her character so badly this season that I couldn't muster up much sorrow for her passing. I felt far more sadness for poor Milton's death.

I've been pretty hard on her character all season long, making a point to call her TV Andrea every time I refer to her. I do that is to point out the difference between the TV version and her comic book counterpart. 

This is Comic Andrea. She is sooo much better written than her TV sister. The comic version is a crack sharpshooter, an indispensable member of the team and a complex and nuanced character. 

When I first saw this image shortly before the series began, I thought they'd captured her perfectly. Laurie Holden looks exactly like the comic version here, so I just naturally assumed she'd act like her as well. As Thorin Oakenshield is fond of saying, "Never have I been so wrong."

Sadly TV Andrea has never quite lived up to the comic version from the start, and the writers bungled her character even more and in every possible way this season. Sure she was taken in by the Governor's charm at first, but later there were multiple instances in which she was given hard evidence of his madness and crimes and she stared dumbly into the distance like a cow. It was infuriating to watch such a cool character from the comics become so utterly mangled on the show. Good riddance to her, I say.

• How much time could have possibly passed from the time TV Andrea was bitten until Rick and Co. found her? An hour? Two? When Michonne knelt down beside her she exclaimed that TV Andrea was burning up with fever. That zombie virus must work fast!

• One nice touch: As Andrea sits dying, Rick hands her a gun so she can kill take herself out before she turns. She says, "I know how the safety works." She said the same thing wayyyy back in Season 1 right before she killed her recently zombified sister Amy, in another example of characters repeating earlier lines right before they die (Merle having done so as well last week).

• Here's a question for all the gun enthusiasts out there: Does ammo have an expiration date? I ask because although we don't know exactly how long it's been since the zombie apocalypse started, I'm guessing it's been at least two years. Maybe three. There's plenty of ammo sitting out there in the world ripe for the picking, but I'm thinking at some point it will no longer be usable. It probably keeps longer than three years, but I bet there would come a point where it just wouldn't work anymore. 

• So now that the Governor's killed every able-bodied person in Woodbury, Rick's apparently invited the kids, seniors and the infirm to join them at the Prison. Methinks he just wanted a new batch of redshirts.

And now the moment you've all been waiting for: The Second Annual The Walking Dead Season End Awards!

Worst Character / Most Annoying Character Award
Without a doubt TV Andrea wins both these awards hands down.

Worst Hairstyle Award
Daryl Dixon, c'mon down! Daryl started out the season with a normal tousled hairdo, but for some reason during the last few episodes he suddenly started sporting this odd be-gelled emo haircut. His hair even looks darker than it used to. There's no TV in this post apocalyptic world, so things probably get pretty boring at night. Maybe Daryl and Carol passed the time by doing one another's hair?

Worst Waste Of A Character Award
It's gotta be Tyreese. I, like most fans of the comic, was thrilled when Tyresse first appeared on the show. He's an awesome character in the comic and it was great to finally see him in the flesh. However that elation quickly turned to disappointment as the writers apparently couldn't think of anything else to do with him but transplant him to Woodbury (when they were thinking of him at all).

The problem may lie in the fact that in the comic Tyreese is Rick's right hand man, a role filled by Daryl on the show. Hopefully now that Tyreese is back with Team Rick they can figure out what to do with him and salvage his character.

Character I'll Miss Most Award
And the winner is: Merle Dixon! Yes, a surprise, I know. Merle was a racist, borderline psychotic meth-head hillbilly with absolutely no redeeming qualities, but that's what was so fun about the character. The show needs good villains if it's going to be interesting, and zombies just don't cut it as bad guys. 

Not to mention the fact that Michael Rooker is a damn fine actor. I'm gonna miss that bayonet-handed redneck.

Best Punch To The Gut Award (no pun intended)
Nothing else even comes close-- Lori going into premature labor on the floor of the prison, Maggie having to give her an emergency C-section with no anesthetic and Carl having to shoot his own mother in the head after she died.

Best Character Save Award  
And the award goes to-- Michonne! Another fan-favorite character who started off on the wrong foot. When she first popped up at the end of Season 2 I actually let out a little fanboy squeal. That elation quickly turned to disappointment though as Michonne spent the entire first half of Season 3 glowering at everyone and occasionally growling a terse reply. 

Happily her character softened quite a bit toward the end and she's finally acting like the character everyone knows and loves.

Worst Fake Death Award Goes to Carol Peletier. During a walker attack inside the prison T-Dog sacrificed himself to save Carol, who was later presumed dead. Glenn even ordered inmates Oscar and Axel to dig a grave for her. Later, in a stunning revelation that surprised absolutely no one, Carol showed up alive and well, offering a lame explanation as to her whereabouts the previous week or so. 

So the question remains... who or what did they bury in Carol's grave? Was it a symbolic grave? If so, couldn't they have skipped the digging part and just stuck a grave marker into the ground?

Reddest Redshirt Characters Award  
Goes to the inmates at the Prison. Of the five prisoners we met in the first episode of the season, absolutely none remained by the end. Can you say cannon-fodder?

She Doesn't Look A Day Over 15 Award
Emily Kinney, the actress who plays teenager Beth Greene, is 27 years old in real life! She definitely fooled me-- I thought she was a teen.

Dumbest Implication Award  
When Rick learns of Lori's tragic death he stumbles down into the tombs to recover her body. He soon spots a zombie with a bloated belly and a lock of Lori's hair hanging out of its mouth. Apparently we're meant to believe that this one zombie ate Lori's entire body, which is just too stupid to even think about.

Best Zombie Kill Award   
I'm going with Glenn dispatching a walker while tied to a freakin' chair. If that ain't badass, I don't know what is.

Most Disgusting Walker Award   
I think I'm going to have to say the charred, but still "alive" walkers that Milton torched in the pit.

Grossest Moment Of The Season Award   
Gosh there were so many. Michonne's "biter-gram," in which she spelled out a warning to Merle using zombie body parts, was pretty darn gross. Not to mention darkly hilarious.

Glenn tearing open a walker's arm and breaking off a radius bone to use as a shiv was pretty grisly as well.

I think the award goes to Andrea cutting the arms and jawbone off a walker to make her own Michonne-style walker bodyguard. Never thought I'd see something like that on TV.

It's gonna be a long wait until October and Season 4!

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