One bitter truth of the entertainment industry is that the final product rarely lives up to the hype; or perhaps more appropriately, the final product never lives up to the hype-marinated expectations of the fans. Yes, I’m saying it is our own faults. Except in the case of the Star Wars prequels. That was just wrong.
The Walking Dead Season 3 finale, “Welcome to the Tombs” is the latest example of this. On its own the episode is a riveting piece of suspense that manages to steer clear of any contrived resolutions to its high tension setups. Under the microscope of many expectant fans, the finale was a massive fail and didn’t live up to the greatness of the writing staff. But why? Here are some common complaints, and how they could have actually turned out a lot worse:
The Battle Wasn’t Big Enough and The Governor Lived
The Complaint: A common complaint is that the battle between The Governor’s Woodbury Army and Rick’s Ruffians at The Prison was not the blood-bath it was promised to be. The Gov’s well armed pack of hastily trained asthmatics and regulars at the town square picnic basically cut and run when faced with automatic gun fire, walkers, and a couple of flash bangs. What the fans expected, for some reason, was a savage back and forth that would lead to major loss of life on both sides.
Why it was Actually Awesome: What we got was perfectly predictable. The Governor’s plan of conscripting his citizens regardless of skill or physical condition was doomed to fail. Anyone who was expecting a couple of days of Martinez yelling at them to turn Woodbury’s leisurely citizens into an army was just kidding themselves. And the fact that The Governor turned his disappointment on them in the form of bullets was such a savage turn for his character. I’ve always felt the TV Governor was a little softer than his comic counterpart, with this act The Walking Dead signaled to us that there are still much darker things to come from The Governor.
How it Could Have Been Worse: If the battle had taken place to the extreme as many fans expected, then it would have had to “go down to the last man” as The Governor had predicted, otherwise it would have been an epic fail of logic. Rick’s limited defenses would have been useless against the mass of The Governor’s army had they not been a hobbled together pack of chicken poop. As for the no-very epic loss of life, only a blood thirsty gore hound would be happy that characters with plenty of psyche to explore were prematurely removed from the series.
Andrea’s Death Wasn’t Well Conceived
The Complaint: In general, some fans thing that Andrea deserved a better exit from the series. The complaint seems to be that her demise was predictable, or just beneath the creative prowess of the writing crew.
Why it was Actually Awesome: Andrea’s death was contrived in the sense that it is based on the “Race Against the Clock” trope that is so tried and worn. There is no question that the trope was done “Walking Dead Style” by having Milton’s death be the ticking clock, this alone gives it a little groove. There were, however, more subtle things to consider. Milton and Andrea were co-conspirators, so there was subtle poetry to The Gov devising this end for them both. Another factor that echoed throughout, yet was unspoken, was that Milton still believed an echo of the person’s self carried on into the zombie realm.
How it Could Have Been Worse: The Governor could have dispatched them both Merle style, allowing them to turn into zombie ‘pets’ in that room. Or worse yet, either of them could have just been hit by a stray bullet in the ‘Battle’ that never quite happened.
The Prison Becomes an Old Folks Home and a Nursery
The Complaint: As far as cliffhangers go, Woodbury’s elderly and children moving into The Prison promises for a dull season 4. What now? “Depends” runs, and Maggie becomes a school teacher?
Why it is Actually Awesome: Guess what. There are old people and children in real life. In fact what this infusion will do is create, for the first time, an underlying sense of ‘community’ in Rick’s group. In some ways, this is the perfect graduation for his storyline as a character. Rick’s character arc ran parallel in some ways to The Governor. They both did heartless things in the name of the greater good, regardless of what underlying madness might motivate them. Rick ultimately saw his actions reflected in The Governor and saw how awful his ‘dictator’ mentality could become. I doubt The Walking Dead is going to dwell on the day to day maladies of the elderly and children. The Prison is low on food and basic necessities, I’d expect the new populace will be difficult to support next season, and with The Governor still ‘out there’ the stakes are higher than ever.
How it Could Have Been Worse: The Prison destroyed, Rick and his crew hit the road once again with no idea of where to go. We’ve been there and done that. It seems as though in this case we are left with more of an interpersonal cliff hanger. Is Rick up to the task of providing and caring for this many people? Can he be a better man than The Governor? Can he reverse Carl’s transformation into a cold blooded “Kill or be Killed” kid. Guess we’ll have to wait and find out.