And the finale for season 3 is over. Man, what a downer. Not because there won't be Walking Dead until fall this year, but because the episode really sucked. The writers seem to be fully in "making shit up as we go along"-mode now. The episode plays some bait-and-switch with us, implying that the gang has decided to leave the prison now, with them all packing up and good to go. Just for a second there I wondered whether they would really leave the prison. It would not be wholly unlogical; the place has become pretty insecure, and they don't even know where Walkers can come in anymore, not to speak of the wide open gate for attacks. But then I remembered the last episodes and thought it was to be a ruse, but I remained a shred of doubt throughout the episode that now can be considered clearly wiped out.
|Loaded and ready to go.|
Of course, they don't leave but instead lay something reminiscent of a trap for the Governor, who leads his "army" directly in, charging in some fashion of order and reaching the evacuated cell block. The troops of the Governor now decide to explore the prison a bit, because nothing beats attacking a dark corridor maze you don't know when you expect enemy resistance that knows the territory and you know for a certainty there are walkers around. Clever of Tyreese not to take part in the assault, although he still scores points for being the male pendant to Andrea's IQ. Speaking of Andrea, right in the beginning of the episode, there's another bait-and-switch where we witness the Governor abusing a prisoner from the prisoner's point of view. Of course you expect it to be Andrea, who was left behind the last time in the torture chamber, but it's Milton, who for some reason (that never gets explained) is now in the cellar too.
|Stop putting your shirt in your trousers and get a decent vest.|
After playing a "good cop, bad cop"-routine all by himself, the Governor tells Milton that he has to kill Andrea with a knife, or else he will die. Milton grows a pair and attacks the Governor instead, who instantly guts him and leaves him in the room, so he can turn and kill Andrea, who is still tied to a chair. What follows now is a strangely intense scene in which Andrea tries to pick up pliers with her toes to free herself while Milton expires. Conventiently, of course, she only manages to wrench free when zombie!Milton gets on her, and the camera leaves the room. With just some noises, we can't know for sure what happened.
|Nerd vs. tied up badass, hard bet.|
In the prison, the wanna-be soldiers stumble into some walkers and break, deserting the place in droves. When the "trap" snaps and the gang starts shooting from fortified positions, one thing happens and one doesn't. The thing that happens is a full-blown flight around the Governor's troops, whose "combat training" at the hands of Martinez proves to be worth shit, and the thing that doesn't happen is anyone hitting anything. Seriously, this starts to get as annoying as the "only one black per group"-policy. They can headshot zombies out of the full run by the hundreds, but as soon as they start shooting at people, they transform into the A-Team, wasting bullets without hitting anything.
|I mean that guy headshots everything that's already dead.|
What follows now is even more annoying: the Governor holds the fleeing troops, and because he's fucking superman all of a sudden, he simply shoots everyone except for the bad black guy(tm) and Martinez, and nobody tries to resist. And really, they all have weapons in their hands and watch the guy kill them one by one, but his super-freezing powers keep them all in his place. It doesn't matter, however, because deus ex machina lets his gun run out of guns before he can kill the only survivor playing dead, who will later inform Woodbury. Yawn. Really, what exactly is the purpose here? The Governor was something resembling an interesting character at some point, but he has transformed to an almost caricature-like evil boss so the story doesn't get something like complex or interesting in and of itself. All tension needs to be created externeally, or by characters doing stupid shit.
|I'm the eeeeeeeeevil Governor!|
In the absence of the totally nuts Governor (still followed by the bad black guy(tm) and Martinez), Rick and his crew go to Woodbury, where Tyreese hands over the town (finally having puzzled together that the Governor is not nice, Andrea-style) and they find Andrea in the torture chamber, where she suffers quietly from a bite wound. Ok, guys...I understand where you are going here. Some emotions for dying Andrea, I know, and Michonne dutifully cries beside here. But really, the scene buildup was done in a way that only reinforced how inapt Andrea has proved the whole season. Glenn defeated a zombie tied to fucking chair, and we left you with your hands free and a tool in your hand! For this death to have any effect, the Governor's plan should simply have worked. Zombie!Milton ripping a helpless, tied up Andrea to bloody pieces...no one deserves such an end. It would have reinforced the Governor's evilness without a stupid slaughtering of his own men and women, and Andrea would have gotten some real sympathy. But like this? Nah.
After Lori, Andrea is the second female character the writers fucked up so badly with weirdly stupid choices that the only palpable way to end the arc was to kill her off. This is getting almost as annoying as the "one black per group"-rule. The women prove themselves inferior to the men around them time and time again, with the notable exception of Michonne, but her emphasized badass-attitude makes her more of a caricature at times. One can almost see Michelle Rodriguez' ghost walking beside her. Anyway, the episode then ends inexplicably with Rick bringing all denizens of Woodbury to the prison. Why? Not really clear. Yeah, I know, he shows humanity, to contrast with the Governor, but there's nothing to contrast anymore. Aragorn didn't need to contrast his humanity against Sauron, neither. The show contains such dissonances in tone and style, it's really jarring.
Every episode seems to be dominated by the writer's desire to produce a specific scene, a moment, a style, and without any thought on the consistency of it all. Yeah, the score is right, with its hopeful tones, when the Woodburys exit the truck and all, and the execution of the shots showing the Governor's rampage are flawless. But all the stuff doesn't fit together. It's bloodless, only going for the cheap effects and not using a fraction of the potential the setting and the characters offer. The only character development that deserves the name is Carl's, who seems to devolve into a killer and enjoy it, but it's strangely muted and without consequence. One can only hope that the writers get their shit together for season 4. I think it was a great mistake not to wrap up the Woodbury plot. By now, the Governor is around with two other guys. Unless he unravels his mysterious superpowers of being immortal again, I don't see him posing a threat. He lacks the army and the tank, after all, and giving one to such a psychopath doesn't make any sense at all. There were some great moments in this season, especially in the beginning and in "Clear", but overall, it wasn't exactly going anywhere remotely remarkable.