And That’s That…? [Review]

The Walking Dead S3 E16 Welcome to the Tombs

The third season of The Walking Dead comes to an emotional conclusion.  Read on for our SPOILER-filled review…

Season 3, Episode 16: Welcome to the Tombs

The Governor makes Milton pay for his recent betrayal by beating him.  When asked if Andrea had been killed, Milton is taken to her and tells them both that they will help him kill everyone at the prison.  Before they leave, the Governor pulls Milton back in and tells him that he won’t leave the room without killing Andrea.  Milton turns to kill the Governor, but he stabs Milton and leaves him in the room to wait for him to turn and kill Andrea anyway.  At the prison, everyone is packing their things to move on before the Governor attacks.  As the Governor rallies his troops, Tyreese and Sasha opt out and offer to stay behind and protect the town.  The Governor carries on and brutally attacks the prison, but Rick and company are already gone.  In the Governor’s torture room, Andrea tries to reach a pair of pliers left by Milton.  As he dies from his wound, she races against his turning.

At the prison, a trap is sprung and the fire fight begins forcing the Governor’s men into retreat.  When one of those men run into Carl and Hershel, the kid tries to surrender, but Carl kills him.  When the Governor tells his men that they have to dig in and retreating is not an option, they rebel saying it isn’t worth it.  The Governor loses his temper and kills all but his two must trusted men.  Rick, Michonne and Daryl go out to find the Governor and kill him.  They find the ones he killed and the one survivor, Karen, who was able to get away.  In the torture room, Andrea escapes just in time as Milton turns.  Karen takes Rick, Michonne and Daryl back to Woodbury where they explain to Tyreese and Sasha that the Governor killed the rest of his men.  When they find Andrea, they find Milton’s body but she was bitten before she killed him.  Andrea says her goodbyes and kills herself before she turns.  Rick returns to the prison with a bus containing the people of Woodbury.

I wish I could say that this season finale was as climatic as it could have been.  This episode built to a much more emotional climax and not a big war that we’ve all expected.  In a lot of ways, I guess it makes sense.  These last few weeks had been primarily built around more emotional scripts and character-driven situations.  In fact, those episodes were some of the finest episodes of the entire series.  That continues here.  The Governor turning on his own army was the final place his obsession would go.  Until he was defied, the thought of personally killing his own people seemed unlikely.  Sure, he’d use them as fodder and then make them martyrs for his own ends, but we don’t really get the idea that he’d go so far as to actually kill his own men.  Carl’s disapproval with his father’s way of handling things continues to show he’s growing into his own man with his own idea of how to do “what needs to be done”.

These two character driven moments are the best two scenes in the episode.  Carl’s decision to kill a boy who is running away from the rest of his people and appearing to surrender makes for a good argument.  Did he murder someone or was he acting in the best interest of the group to not take a chance?  Is he making choices that his father couldn’t that would make a difference in who lives or dies or is he becoming something more like the Governor who would be willing to kill in cold blood as a way to control a situation?  The logic that can’t be argued with is what Carl tells Rick about how the lack of deciding to kill in certain circumstances led to the death of members of the group.  As the viewer, it’s nice to have a character who sees the big picture as we have.  It’s also one of those moments where you can’t help but say, “You know what?  He’s right!”

When it comes to the Governor’s final snap of the psyche, that’s not a moment in which you agree with another character’s assessment of a situation.  This was a “Oh shit” moment, plain and simple.  A similar thing happened in the Governor’s final appearance in the comics.  When he finally made his push into the prison, it sent Rick’s group scrambling.  When he ordered a woman to kill Lori, she did so not realizing Lori was carrying Judith, who also died.  At that point, it became clear to the Governor’s men that he was not really playing with a full deck and was, himself, a dangerous man.  They turned against him and that same woman who killed Lori and Judith, killed the Governor.  I began to wonder if the same thing would happen with this finale.  As it turned out, no – it would not.  The main the difference between the Governor from the comics and this, and a reason why I believe he actually was a little better written for the series than in the comics, is that in the comics, he was a total nut who was in charge of mostly nuts.  It’s like if Charles Manson was the leader of a group that consisted of Jack the Ripper, Ed Gein, Jason Voorhees, and some creepy ass spider with a human head.  Here, he’s mostly controlled people through his charisma.  He puts on a warm and friendly public face, but has a small group of people who buys into his brand of justice and survival tactics.  When he’s opposed in the comics, he’s opposed by people who can handle themselves.  Most of his “army” in this series has been made up of normal town folk who aren’t soldiers and don’t have the constitution to pull the trigger when most needed.  And guess what?  They freakin’ died.  All of them except for Martinez and the black guy who isn’t Tyreese and now they aren’t so sure about the Governor at all.

Obviously, this episode ultimately gets dominated by the conclusion of Andrea’s part on the show.  When we look back on the character, she begins as someone who had to watch her little sister get bitten and turn into a walker, then becomes the person who has to put that sister down for good leading to her contemplating suicide before deciding she’s going to be tough and not be a victim any longer.  This pretty much led her to being disliked by just about everyone I know.  It’s a bit unfair I guess.  I often questioned the decisions she made, but she’s one of the very few characters in this series to actually have an honest arc.  In the end, she was more than just the person who didn’t want to be a victim.  She actually was trying to facilitate a better world, but was ultimately undone by the last two people she put her faith in (figuratively and literally).  It was a well acted and fairly well written scene.  It was more or less Glen Mazzara’s own way of saying goodbye to the series that he’s been in charge of since Frank Darabont’s departure.  What I especially liked about it was that Andrea suffered the same wound as her sister Amy did – a bite to the left side of her neck.  In a way, it worked well as a nice full circle to her character.

However, the question of whether or not this season finale lived up to our own hype can only be answered with a resounding no.  For fifteen episodes we expected there to be a massive clash between the Governor and Rick and it doesn’t come.  For fifteen episodes we wondered if Rick’s crew would be led to slaughter or if they’d somehow take over Woodbury as a nice role reversal.  In the end, we got none of what we expected.  There was no big fight.  There was no slaughter (not counting the Governor Stalin-ing his own people).  Rick does get Woodbury as spoils but not the safety of the town.  No revenge was had by anyone.  I’m not surprised the Governor slipped away.  I pretty much thought there was no way he’d die after these last few episodes.  It would’ve felt hollow in some ways to just have someone put a bullet in his brain.  Though the episode was technically and thematically well written, it falls flat under the weight of its own hype.  We’d been building toward the showdown that never happens.  We sought a conclusion that never came.  And while we did have a lot of hopes and expectations and hype built into tonight’s episode, it was all justified by the extremely well written second half of this season.  We expected something because we were led on by episodes telling us to expect something.

This is what we’re left with for the next six months until season four can get under way and it has left us wanting.

How Would You Rate “Welcome to the Tombs”?

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A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING

Pros Cons
The Governor’s freak out. Carl hitting home with his take on what led to some of their failures. Andrea’s finale worked well. The episode fails to deliver a true climax to what we’ve expected over the last two months. Grand conclusion never came.
Rating
65%


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3 Comments

  1. Billy D says:

    Grand conclusions rarely come in life. Each action is a stepping stone to the next. In this series, I’ve felt that this series has been very well played.

    While the previous finales have given clean conclusions to certain situations that have defined the season leading in to it, I don’t know how they could’ve done that this episode without having the group leave the prison all together… which with the attack at the beginning, I was expecting it to be destroyed (like the farm and the CDC), but when it wasn’t, you had to know it wouldn’t be as clean of an ending, but does that make it bad? No, not at all.

    Sure, it may not have lived up to its own hype, but that doesn’t mean it deserves a 65%, especially since its still better than some episodes that have received significantly higher ratings. Mild disappointment based on higher expectations should not hurt the review of an episode that’s still better than much of the season that came before it.

    Such only provides a lack of consistency. And without consistency, what is the value of a review site?

    Sorry, just my thoughts. I’m tired of people saying this episode sucked because it wasn’t big enough, even though it was still one of the best episodes of the season. I mean, when did season finales become required to be the best episodes of a season? When you look back at classic cult TV shows, most of their season finales are thought more average than not.

  2. Walking Dead Comic Online says:

    I have to say I was a little disappointed. I watched the season 2 finale probably 5 times and was done with season 3 after only twice.

  3. Franklin says:

    I was a bit shocked by the season finale. I wasn’t expecting Andrea to die. My favorite moment was when The Governor killed the majority of his loyal followers. That was one of his darkest moments yet! I can’t wait to see what else is in store for The Governor.

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