Woah, that was a rollercoaster ride of a season! It started with something of a cold opener, introducing us to yet another group of survivors. For one moment I thought a reunion with the father and his son from the very first episode was coming for us, but after a few moments I have to sense the error of my ways. New characters, entering the prison. That's going to be interesting. We won't see them for a while, though, as the show carefully centers around the action we're waiting to resolve.
|Meet the new guy|
Rick, Daryl, Oscar and Michonne are infiltrating Woodbury in what really feels a bit like one of these military action movies. They move, give cover and sneak around just like the pros. The tension is palpable, and my heart beat like hell while watching these scenes. They even have a very sound strategy, entering seemingly empty houses (and tying up their residents if need be). Rick's not fooling around anymore.
|Psssht, I'm an assassin!|
Hard cut to Glenn and Maggie. The both of them are under no illusions about what's coming. Watching Glenn to improvise weapons from the dead Walker's bones turns your stomach, however. It's hard stuff we're getting to watch here, and the gore level isn't reduced by one bit. Last season, in a comparable situation, they would have gone to their fates much more sheepishly, and Merle's only rescued by the incoming backup. Too late for the guy who gets throat-stabbed by Maggie of course, but the big redneck is still around and kicking.
|Ready for the firing squad.|
Just before the two of them are executed, the cavalry sweeps in, minus Michonne. Rick was right not to trust her, since she is driven by her own agenda, entering the Governor's house and waiting for him, not before finally telling Daryll about Merle, however. I complained last week that this seemed to be a bit contrieved. Why didn't she tell them beforehand? Of course she did tell him only now because only in this situation Daryll is so confused in a very chaotic situation that he will be left behind and captured. If Rick had had the time for his "I need you" speech before, some minutes to clear the air and talk about it, they could have laid out a strategy. Stuff that happens to advance the plot is bad stuff.
|Like this, getting priorities straight in some tranquility.|
Still, the group makes no compromise as they use their gas grenades and shoot their way out. In the meantime, Michonne enters the Governor's home and discovers his gruesome head collection and, of course, Penny. Just in time to reunite with the Governor, of course, who genuinly pleads for Penny's, well, life. Michonne is not exactly in the mood, however. The two of them are way more alike than Michonne would want to grant you, but here you have it. Both of them out for blood, and the Governor's life is only saved by Andrea. So we get an explanation for the heads: "to prepare me for the horrors outside". Hm, ok. This makes sense, kind of, but Andrea could ask herself if all these heads were put in their by random or if perhaps some internal horror happened beforehand.
|Still a shame how utterly stupid this character is forced to act sometimes.|
Meanwhile, in the prison, Carl gets his moment of badass rescuing Tyreese's group from the zombies. The scenes show us some great things. First, Carl is very much alike his father in season 1 and 2, but not 3. He is compassionate, yet capable. His moral compass is still intact. Second, Tyreese himself is also able to see clearly and do the right thing (recognizing that being locked up in a cell is not a bad thing when the alternative is getting eaten) and to display some tenderness towards his own and their emotional needs. No comparison the Ricktator. Perhaps the big black guy will prove to lock Rick into reality, like his counterpart in the very first episode did. Tyreese is also proving the point that there is only room for one black character in the show, since Oscar dies in Woodbury. Quota fulfilled! Perhaps the writers should think about this before they decide to kill off Tyreese's sister as quick as they can.
|We would miss you if we had a chance to know you.|
With some comic relief from Axell, hitting first on Beth and then on Carol ("thought you were a lesbian"), we head right into the finale. The Governor now resembles his comic image a bit more, having lost an eye to Michonne and delivering a rousing speech to Woodbury. Merle shouldn't have smirked the way he did, perhaps, since the Governor uses him to cover up his own failure, blaming him for working with the "terrorists" and solving the problem with the captured Daryll elegantly. No need to try to convince Merle to kill Daryll, no need to convince Woodbury to go to war on the prison. Deftly done, provided you find any sense in the whole premise, as the Governor's deranged mind does. Andrea clearly seems to have another opinion, but I fear it's too late for her. With that great cliffhanger, we're left hanging until February, 10th, to wait for the next part of season 3 which will also consist of eight episodes. Can't wait.