While many people were celebrating a resurrection of a different kind, sci-fi lovers spent Easter Sunday evening tuned in to a darker resurrection story — the season finale of ‘The Walking Dead.’
The finale opens on a close-up of the Governor’s remaining eye; an homage to this year’s first episode, which opened on the pupil of a zombie. It creates the perfect bookends for a season that introduces an enemy just as formidable as re-animated corpses: the living.
The Governor is revealed to be beating the crap out of Milton for burning his stash of pit zombies, and probably also for keeping Andrea’s plans to return to the jail a secret from him. The Governor sticks to the story that by burning the pit zombies, Milton “let” the eight people die in Merle’s attack, leaving skeptical audiences to ponder how the two are connected. Would the 10 or so zombies have been happening to “patrol” the area where Merle launched his surprise offensive? I guess things don’t have to make sense when you’re crazy.
The Governor takes Milton on a little field trip to Andrea’s holding cell, where she’s found handcuffed to the ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ dentist’s chair. He’s instructed to remove the instruments as the Gov “won’t be needing them,” and in his half-beaten state, Milton drops a few of them. As he’s cleaning them up, he decides to leave behind the instrument possibly least helpful to someone in handcuffs, a pair of pliers, hidden behind the chair for Andrea to reach.
As punishment for insubordination, the Governor gives his right-hand man one last chance to make it right. He must kill Andrea.
Armed with a knife by his one-eyed boss, Milton makes the mistake of taking a few steps toward Andrea before doubling back to stab the Governor, who is ready for his advances and plunges the knife into Milton’s gut. The Gov points out the irony in Milton’s false bravery, as now he’ll be killing Andrea anyway when he turns into a zombie, and he locks them in the room together.
At the prison, Carl “Cold As Ice” Grimes is giving his father the stink-eye for having admitted to the group that he had considered turning over Michonne to the Governor to avoid a fight. Michonne even takes the time to take Rick aside and admit that she understands his position and no hard feelings on her end. If only everyone in the end of days were that open minded!
Back at Woodbury, the Governor rallies his troops — those trained assassins, and those asthmatic and elderly, since beggars can’t be choosers in the zombie apocalypse. Tyreese and Sasha politely decline playing a part in killing the living, admitting that they will gladly leave Woodbury after the war, but they are happy to kill off biters and protect the townspeople. The Governor miraculously thanks them and goes on his way, and if the audience didn’t know better, we’d think he was just flipping a coin like Two Face from Batman.
Then again, it’s not exactly good leadership to be slaughtering people who oppose killing other humans, am I right, guys?
Woodbury launches its attack on the prison by rolling in three cars deep with guns blazing, and does anyone care about ammo conservation or keeping sound to a minimum lest we attract every swarm of zombies in the tri-state area? But the gang at the prison is nowhere to be seen, so the Woodbury crew searches the cell blocks. Nothing. They head downstairs, and just when they’ve just about hit the final resting places of T-Dog and Lori, the jail’s alarms sound and a relatively small swarm of walkers is let loose on the Woodbury crew, with an easy getaway.
If it weren’t for Glenn and Maggie trying (unsuccessfully) to pick off stragglers as they made their way back to the vehicles, I might say that this plan was actually orchestrated to have as few casualties as possible. And I mean that as a compliment to the prison team — perhaps they just wanted to display their force as a way of saying the proposition Rick had originally come to the table with — let’s just live and let live. I guess it’s a good thing Maggie and Glenn are terrible shots!
Hershel, Beth, Judith, and Carl wait in the forest, and it’s obvious that Carl feels slighted to not be part of the action. A young straggler fleeing the scene happens by the group. Immediately upon seeing Carl, he flips his shotgun to a defensive position and starts to hand it to Carl. True to the nickname I made up for him, Cold As Ice Grimes shoots the teenager where he stands.
The caravan quickly speeds away, much to the Governor’s shock, and he cuts them off and demands they turn back. The Woodbury attack crew admits that it’s not worth fighting fellow humans when there are bigger problems out there. The Governor doesn’t like that one bit, grabs his semi-automatic, and mows down almost everyone in the caravan crew save for two men who appear to side with him and one woman who played dead in all the chaos. What have we learned here? Don’t try to reason with the criminally insane.
Back at the prison, our heroes have regrouped, and Hershel tattles on Rick’s possibly newly criminally insane son. It’s clear there needs to be a father/son chat, however, when Rick broaches the subject, Carl simply points out how many times they’ve let potentially dangerous people live, and how that’s worked out for them thus far. Carl let the walker live that killed Dale, Rick let the prisoner live who led to the alarms being sounded and eventually Lori’s death, and Rick let the Governor live during negotiations, and now Merle was dead. Cold As Ice has a point.
Andrea and Milton have a final heart-to-heart as Milton slips away. Andrea admits that all she ever wanted was to be the hero. She didn’t want anyone to die, including the Governor, and they both feel guilty for the numerous chances they had to off the psychopath, and neither of them took it. Milton tells Andrea with one of his dying breaths that he left some pliers for her to escape with hidden behind her chair, and she struggles to reach them as life slowly slips away from her friend.
Rick, Daryl, and Michonne head to Woodbury and find 2/3 of the abandoned caravan in the middle of the road — one with the lone survivor inside, who tells them everything. They continue to Woodbury where Tyreese and Sasha are guarding the front gates and proceed to tell them everything. No one needs to add extra explanation to the fact that the Governor has completely lost it, which possibly could have been helpful in preventing this whole disaster, but hindsight is 20/20.
The prison group admits to Tyreese and Sasha that Andrea never actually met up with them like she was alleged to have, and they head inside one of the Governor’s patented torture buildings to search for her. Sure enough, they find her lying on the ground of her torture cell, having killed Milton, but not before sustaining a fatal bite to the neck — in the T-Dog Zone, as I like to call it.
Andrea confesses to everyone that she was just trying to help, and she never wanted it to get to this. She knows she needs a headshot and asks for a gun to at least do the deed herself. Michonne promises to stay with her in her final moments. Rick, Tyreese, and Daryl wait outside for the tense moments before they hear the merciful gunshot.
In the last shots of the show, a caravan returns to the prison, this time with a bus as part of the convoy. The prison gang plus Tyreese and Sasha step out, followed by women, children, and the rational, remaining menfolk, who seem to have accepted the prison as a safer alternative to the crazytown that Woodbury has become.
I must admit, this was not the heart-wrenching, loose-end-tying conclusion I think we were all hoping for. I don’t want to go as far as to say I’m glad Andrea is dead, but I will admit that it’s nice to have a remaining group of survivors who use gut instinct and, hell, glaring context clues to determine whether the criminally insane should be trusted or not.
As a comic reader, I didn’t see us losing Andrea, but at this point, comparing the two is simply something hard-core fans do for sport, since the show has diverted so far from its source material.
I do feel a bit cheated that we’ll have to wait almost a whole year to find out the fate of the Governor, but considering the future is likely to follow the comics at least in broad strokes, I’m excited for what’s to come. I can barely wait for the season premiere to come again in 2014.