Review – The Walking Dead Finale 3.16 “Welcome to the Tombs”

Jon Lachonis March 31, 2013 7

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The Walking Dead finale was, no question, one of the most anticipated finales of recent memory, due mostly to the nearly perfect slow burn towards a clash between Rick’s Prison group and The Governor’s Prison.  Not a just war at all, the conflict was motivated from the beginning by The Governor’s deteriorating mental state, and rising megalomania.  The Governor became one of the series’ most complicated characters, perfectly adorned with the sociopathic world-view needed to survive in the zombie apocalypse, but lacking enough humanity to become a warrior for man-kind.  In some ways he mirrored the worst emerging qualities in Rick, who ultimately recovered from his slide towards The Governor’s “Kill or Die” mentality, but for the most part he was unlike anyone we’ve ever seen.  The overhanging question tonight was:  would The Governor survive through the finale?

Post-Mortem

walking-dead-welcome-to-the-tombs-2With all of the anticipation out there in the fan community, actually producing something that lived up to the energy being produced in forums and chat rooms would be really difficult.  A tough task for sure.  The Walking Dead fandom has been turning over every clue from the season, putting forward their own scenarios, and building possible endgames that fit the causality of the show perfectly.  It’s really something to behold.  Walking Dead fans are truly seasoned by the greatness of the series writing room and in some cases capable of putting forth some very worthy story turns of their own.

That said,most of the rumble and expectation concerning “Welcome to the Tombs” turned out to be dead wrong.  If you were expecting a drawn out gun battle where major characters were falling left and right, you were probably caught off guard by what turned out to be a plot driven by emotional extremes.

The clash did in fact happen.  Rick and a select few of his group withdrew into “The Tombs” and waited for The Woodbury army to venture into the prison.  Once there, they used the element of surprise to take down a good portion of the Woodbury ‘soldiers’, sending the rest scrambling for their lives.  This was fairly foreshadowed already, when The Governor began enlisting asthmatic teens and senior citizens into his ‘army’ his chances for victory when downhill rapidly.   To be clear, though, it really wasn’t so much about the substance of the ‘war’ as much as its effect on The Governor, who pulled the remains of his Army over on a back-road and proceeded to execute them for failing him.  Yes, The Governor, along with Martinez and one other, survive the finale, but most would say not intact.  The Governor is clearly now more dangerous than ever.

Andrea and Milton had conspired towards the end of the season and ultimately paid the price in a tension and suspense cocktail of a scene in which The Governor had fatally wounded Milton and left him in the room with Andrea handcuffed to The Dentist’s chair.  The Gov’s plan was for Milton to ultimately die and munch on Andrea in the chair.  Milton had managed to slip Andrea a pair of pliers and the segment became a test of whether she would free herself from the chair before Milton turned.  She got free but was bitten, and the final scenes she killed herself using Rick’s Python.  The series simply will not be the same without Laurie Holden or Andrea.  She was an emphatic voice of reason and a part of the group’s super-conscience much in the way Dale was.

walking-dead-welcome-to-the-tombs-8The Cliff Hanger 

If there is an area of disappointment it is with the ending of the finale.  Rick goes to Woodbury and rescues Karen, one of The Governor’s people who managed to avoid his bullets, along the way.  She informs Tyreese and Sasha of what The Governor done.  Next thing we know a bus is pulling up to the prison and Woodbury’s children and old folks begin filing in.  This is the essential setup for season four, and as such it really doesn’t give us much to chew on.  Rick is now suddenly interested in community building?

The Carl Factor

Carl is show to have hardened considerably and developed his own logic of war.  It begins when one of the frightened Woodbury soldiers runs into him and Herschell outside of The Prison.  The kid gives up, but Carl shoots him anyways.  Herschell describes it as “in cold blood”, when Rick discusses it with Carl, Carl lays out a string of causal examples for why he did the right thing.  He hadn’t killed swamp zombie, swamp zombie killed Dale, Rick hadn’t killed Andrew, Andrew’s actions killed Lori, and so on.  Rick is a bit speechless because the logic is hard to argue with, and in a world completely drained of the myriad reasons why preemptive killing isn’t actually a good choice most of the time he has little to father up with.

Carl’s dark progression has certainly been alarming, and at times entertaining, but by the way they have left this with us it almost seems as though we should be concerned with what is fermenting in his little noggin.

Complaints…

I thought it was a fantastic episode.  Saving The Governor was an interesting choose, I can’t wait to see him again.  The massive number of death involved did not seem to strike at the core group too much.  Andrea, a huge loss.  I’m guessing if we did a poll,  Andrea wouldn’t be near the ‘top’ of characters fans would want to survive.  The time spent aware from her kin in the prison softened the connection for the audience I feel.  Clearly her heart was always in two places, but she felt a duty to the people of Woodbury and often times felt like an outsider.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tvovermind Jon Lachonis

    Season Four – The Fight for Carl’s Soul!

    I mean I’ve thought that Rick’s vision of pregnant Lori was ment to project the notion of him as a care taker and a provider that still exists beneath his darker layers; a guy that nurtures the group rather than driving them around and forcing them into dangerous situations. him bringing the children and elderly from Woodbury… it could be him overcompensating, Jon Lachonis: Carl is going to home in on that

  • http://wombatattack.tumblr.com Wombat Attack

    Big fan of the comic books, big fan of the show, NOT a fan of the season 3 finale. After the previous episode “This Sorrowful Life,” the season 3 finale was set up for it to be a great episode – and it failed in almost every way.

    Andrea’s death was horribly written – both in terms of execution and how contrived it felt … she can’t talk and try and grab the pliers at the same time? And oh, how great it was for Rick, Michonne and Darrell to walk in just in time for her to say her goodbye.

    Did the writers forget that this is a season finale? That means no more new episodes for 6 months. So what happens with the governor? He’s just driving off into the sunset with Mr. Eko and the angry bazooka shooter? Can you give us something to think about?

    I hate to come off as a hater because I love the show – but this was not a good episode at all.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tvovermind Jon Lachonis

    Well with the proximity of her death I let them off the hook personally, because these things do tend to happen in moments where they are going to have the most emotional impact on and off screen. So the setup was designed more with the fan’s absorbance in mind. That said, I obviously disagreed with you overall. My disappointment with it was that you COULD NOT run her death setup as an effective b story, there just weren’t enough beats to set it up and execute it in any better way, imho. That’s a symptom of it over all, though, there were a ton of location changes and characters on the board. I’m pleased with what they managed to do with it.

    It needed to be two hours. With the amount of setup the series does, two hour finales would be perfectly adequate to tie everything up nicely. That said, they did the best with what they could. imho.

  • Jeremy

    Blah, blah, blah, I have no patience, I have no patience, I have no, blah, blah, blag. You people make me sad for humanity. How dare they not cater to the ADD crowd!

  • Huston

    Wombat you are exactly right and I can tell you are a fan of the comic book. For those if you who think it was a good episode and well written, you have not read the comic book. And Jon the writers did NOT do the best they could with what they had. They had a hundred different things they could have done from the comics. The prison portion of the comic is the best part. Andrea played a vital role in the comic book as a sharp shooter killing multiple woodburians however they just cast her aside like a second rate character. I absolutely love this show and will continue to support it however I am sickened about how this finale ended. I haven’t seen Rick shoot that python once in the last 5-6 episodes! TERRIBLE. WRITING.

  • John C

    I was disappointed…They said their would be some finality and this leaves things open and unanswered as far as the Governor.

    Honestly, looked like their was some hesitation with kid with gun and I liked that Carl shot him. He’s balanced and not evil. Scene where he’s packing what’s dear shows it. Love that he dropped badge for Rick. Protect and Serve. Compassion not high on list of essential character traits in current situation in walking dead land…I would have prefered Andrea lived since it would have set up more new conflict for season 4 rather than keep Governor alive and continue season 3 conflict.

  • Monzenn

    Haven’t read the comics, but based on the comments here, it seems that the writers swapped the bad-assery of the comic book characters with the emotional vastness of the TV show characters, from the conflicted Rick to the maniacal Governor to the darkened Carl. Focusing the season finale of a gruesome show on emotions has its pros and cons, but it makes for a more long-lasting series.

    Regarding that final scene, I don’t think Rick “suddenly got interested in community building.” This was his answer to Carl’s premise earlier in the show, and presents Carl as a possible antagonist in season 4. Not that Carl would necessarily fight his father, but that he would become his father’s foil.

    Carl seems to want to stick to family, killing off the others when they become useless or a threat. His default on humanity seems to be on evil. Rick answers back with the other extreme, i.e., taking more people into the community. And while Rick’s default on humanity seemed to have been on evil as well at the start of season 3 (he needed quite some time trusting Michonne and bringing Angela back into the fold), his default on humanity seems to have turned to good. This is revealed as he is seen to lose the illusion of Lori in that final shot, because when you assume the good in humanity, it’s much harder to focus solely on your family, for good or for ill. This last sequence of events made this season finale a successful one, and I can’t wait until season 4 begins with this thought.