He didn’t even die.
They didn’t even kill him.
After all the plotting and scheming, season 3 of the Walking Dead ends not with a bang, but a wimper: par for the course considering how dragged out the plot lines have been.
Sixteen episodes. Countless murders. A dead daughter. Unnumerable threats, pensive stares and furrowed brows. Culminating in…. the Governor’s getaway.
It’s disappointing that the Walking Dead has gone so far off the trail that they can’t even get the season finale showdown right (maybe the show runners should catch Season 4 of Breaking Bad –now those guys know how to kill off a bad guy).
Mercifully, not everyone made it through the episode. The casualties of Milton and Andrea, drawn out like taffy to achieve the least amount of suspense and highest amount of pseudo-poignancy, were the Governor’s final act of psychopathy. Before heading out to dispatch with Rick’s group at the prison, the Governor punishes Milton for his insubordination. After being beaten to a bloody pulp, Milton is shown the cell built especially for Michonne and ordered to clean up the dentistry formerly designated for her torture. Seems a moot point, considering Andrea’s tied up and the Governor’s about to head out to war. Milton, having been beaten nearly senseless, is a bit of a butterfingers and accidentally drops the tools on the ground – Mon Dieu! He spies an opportunity and surreptitiously leaves a wrench within Andrea’s reach.
But the Governor is not done with his sadistic torture yet. He orders Milton to kill Andrea, telling him he won’t leave the room until he’s done so. Milton makes a valiant effort to maim the Governor and takes a knife right in the gut. The Governor can barely contain he glee as the bleeding nerd sinks to the floor, giving what’s sure to be the night’s most enduring line: You kill or you die, or you die then you kill.
Bet you wish you let Andrea shoot the bastard now, doncha Milton? That’ll learn ya.
Like any good bad guy, the Governor departs to leave Andrea and Milton to their slow, impending deaths. Milton tells Andrea about the wrench stashed behind her, and so begins their long dance toward death. As Milton dies slowly in the corner, Andrea struggles more than a Rhesus monkey to pick up the wrench with her toes.
Finally, after minute upon minute of struggle, she gets the wrench in her hands, just as Milton’s corpse begins to quiver with undead-life. Luckily, the hard work of picking up the tool is over and she is able to break out of her handcuffs in mere moments – leaving not a nanosecond to spare before Zombie Milton descends upon her.
Back at the prison, Carl is throwing a tiny temper tantrum about being forced to hide in the woods with the (weak) womenfolk and the gimp instead of fighting it out with Rick, Maggie and Glen. The plan is this: make the camp look abandoned, lure the Governor’s henchmen into the bowels of the prison and sic a bunch of walkers on them, taking them out unawares.
The plan works like dream – the Woodburyians flee after only moments of loud noises. The henchmen take off toward home, leaving the group at the prison with a big decision to make: remain holed up behind the prison gates, or finish this battle by striking the prison?
Throwing a wrench in the works is Carl. With an itchy trigger finger coupled with a chip on his shoulder the size of an SUV, he comes face to face with a retreating foot soldier from Woodbury and shoots the boy even as he is surrendering. Ah, here we are: with Shane gone and Rick turned back from the brink, Carl will be the next member of the prison camp to go through a moral crisis.
On the road between Woodbury and the prison, the Governor comes upon his retreating legion. He spurs them back towards the camp, but they resist. In his furor, the Governor turns his automatic rifle upon his own constituents, gunning down everyone save Martinez and Bowman. After striking nearly everyone, the Governor methodically walks among his former followers and delivers a final bullet into their heads.
Despite having witnessed his homicidal rampage, Martinez and Bowman decide to throw their lot in with the Governor and ride off into the sunset. And that’s the last we see of them this episode – the final showdown didn’t even deliver a face-to-face between Rick and Evil Incarnate. A shoddy job of storytelling if I’ve ever seen one.
Rick leads a small group into Woodbury, picking up a lone survivor from the Woodbury cavalcade. Tyreese leads them through town to the Governor’s inner sanctum – but it’s too late for Andrea. By the time Michonne and the group find her, she’s been bit by Zombie Milton. Her final moments are glorious in their glibness – she chooses to shoot herself in the head before she can turn, with only Michonne remaining to hold her hand as she ends her reign of ennui.
Dawn breaks over the prison as Rick returns with the remaining survivors of Woodbury. A rude awakening is in store for these folks, who only this morning had hot and cold running water, electricity and were comforted by the belief that their leader would protect them from the danger outside their walls – dangers both of walking dead and vandals living inside a prison.
With the Governor still on the loose, the group has many more trials ahead of them, now with Woodbury’s sick and infirm to look after. Rick has come full circle, now a far cry from the cold, businesslike Rick who discovered the prison in the first place.
I don’t know if the Governor’s story is complete or not, but I do know one thing – after all this, I’m pretty sure I don’t care. Here’s hoping next season resets with a new set of goals, and that the writers are able to see them to completion.
See you next season!