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The Walking Dead – Welcome to the Tombs Review: Death and Mediocrity

Finales are interesting and often times divisive among fans. On one hand, loose ends need to be tied up, but on the other, except in the case of series finales, there needs to be a bit of set-up for the next season. This episode gave us both – plenty of deaths and some resolution, but even more questions heading into the fourth season. Namely, why isn’t the Governor dead?!

Often, we’ve seen the contrasts between Woodbury and the prison, and more specifically, the Governor and Rick. This episode couldn’t have made their differences any starker. Last week, Rick made his grand speech, telling the group that they’re alive because they’ve stuck together and made decisions collectively. There were no words of inspiration this time because they were all too busy getting ready for the Governor’s inevitable return to the prison.

But oh, the Governor. If he appeared cuckoo bananas during the cat and mouse game with Andrea, he has certainly upped the crazy, first punishing Milton for charring the pit of walkers, and of course, we’ll get to that intense part when he completely loses control later in the review. It’s a rough scene with Milton, to be sure, and it shows the Governor’s increased fondness for physical violence, especially against people who go against his orders. He seemed restrained before, very cool, calm, and collected, but that side of him has long since disappeared. Even the way he speaks has changed, taking on a timbre of hatred and vileness, although his reasoning for the way he acts hasn’t differed, as evidenced by his answer to Milton’s question about what his daughter would think of his actions: “She’d be afraid of me, but if I’d been like this from the start, she’d be alive today.” Interesting logic, but it’s something a villain would say to justify all the horrible things he’s done.

In any case, the Governor orders Milton to kill Andrea to prove that he’s learned something, but frankly, the Governor’s sadistic ways make absolutely no sense at this point because he’s stopped seeing people as people. It’s either you’re with him or against him, and Milton and Andrea are definitely in the top three of his "most hated" list. Milton has had an interesting arc over the past few episodes. He has certainly been conflicted over the fact that his former friend has taken a turn for the dark side, and much like Andrea, he’s willing to do whatever he can to make sure that no one else has to die – hence, the burning of the walkers. Alas, it’s too little, too late, and his last attempt to kill the Governor is for naught, instead earning him a few extra holes in the stomach. And here’s where the Governor takes it to another level of crazy: “I told you you were gonna do it. And now you’re gonna die and you’re gonna turn and you’re gonna tear the flesh from her bones.” You can just hear the vitriol in his voice for these two people who have chosen to go against him. He’s gone beyond the point of no return, but what’s the payoff? Does he get him comeuppance? In a word, no. And that’s where this finale fails, especially after what he does to the helpless citizens of Woodbury later in the episode.

But first, when the Woodburians are drawn into the tombs of the prison, where darkness and dozens of walkers await, it’s the only bit of action we get in the whole episode. Unfortunately, smoke bombs, hungry walkers, and Glenn and Maggie shooting at the retreating soldiers can only do so much to amp up the drama. Frankly, it was a disappointing fight when the events leading up to it – the meeting of the minds, Andrea’s escape and capture, and Merle’s death – foreshadowed something greater. Instead, the Woodburians retreat, and Rick, Daryl, and Michonne give chase in order to make sure things are finished. What a buzzkill.

Before they leave to chase the Governor, however, Rick takes the time to talk to his boy after Hershel confirms that Carl killed one of the Governor’s men as he was surrendering his weapon. Cold-blooded, that kid. It’s been said many times before, but Carl has had to grow up at warp speed, and while it’s unsurprising that having to shoot his mother has done a number on his psyche, it’s also hard to fault him for shooting that wayward Woodburian, especially when he says that he couldn’t take the chance of letting him live, citing the unnecessary deaths of Dale, Lori, and Merle due to inaction. He did what he had to do, and he urges his dad to go after the Governor so no one else is killed. He symbolically leaves the sheriff’s badge behind, and there’s no denying that the relationship between father and son will never be the same again. Sometimes, it feels like Carl resents his father for not being more of an assertive leader, and I foresee more conflict as Carl gets older. Will a power struggle between the Grimeses happen soon?

On the way back to Woodbury, the Governor pulls over the convoy, calling them cowards for running away. And then, a truly surprising twist happens. The director effectively uses slo-mo to illustrate a switch flipping in the Governor’s head as he begins to massacre the entire group, save for a noticeably shaken Martinez and another soldier. It’s absolutely terrifying to see this complete transformation by the Governor into a murderous creature, killing people who he had originally vowed to protect. Taking the ruthlessness to another level, he walks around the field in somewhat of a daze, shooting at people numerous times to make sure they’re really dead. And that’s the last we see of the Governor for the rest of the episode. Yes, he gets to ride off into the sunset without any repercussions for what he just did! Honestly, if the people that be don’t kill off the Governor in spectacular fashion next season, I will be forced to write a strongly worded letter voicing my displeasure.

As for Andrea, she desperately tries to free herself using the pliers Milton dropped behind her chair. It is slow going, and I can’t help but scream at her through my TV to make haste. Milton fades in and out of consciousness as the two swap “I almost killed the Governor” stories, and I hate them even more for not ending this mess sooner. Milton inevitably turns just as she finally frees herself from the handcuffs, but I’m incensed that we don’t get to see her fight off zombie Milton! We’re only able to see that he’s dead and her shoulder has been bitten once Rick and the gang find her slumped near the door. Although I can appreciate that she was surrounded by her old friends during her final moments, her death was a disservice to her fans, at least the ones she had left. Despite her faults, Andrea was tough as nails, and I would have liked to see her fighting to survive, especially since she knew she made a mistake by siding with the Governor for so long.

As the bite wounds continue to weaken her body, twice she says that she did what she did because she wanted to save everyone. Ironically, she’s unable to save herself and has decimated the town she hoped would allow her a sense of stability and normalcy. But in one last act of valor, she asks for a gun to kill herself before she turns. I wouldn’t have expected her to do anything less. The ever loyal Michonne vows to stay by her side, and it’s touching to see her display so much emotion even though Andrea doesn’t deserve the pity. However, the months these two women spent together wandering around the woods was no joke, and I’m sure Michonne regrets the fact that Andrea chose to stay at Woodbury until it was too late. “I tried,” she tells Rick, and after a gunshot rings, another one bites the dust. Normally, I’m sad when a major character dies, but am I as disheartened about Andrea’s death as I was about Dale or even Merle? No. There just came a point where I stopped caring about what Andrea did – probably when she didn’t kill the Governor the first time

Before she dies, however, Andrea calls back a major theme of the season when she says, “No one can make it alone now.” It’s true for Michonne, it’s true for Daryl, and it’s true for Rick’s old pal Morgan, who barely survives as he clears his surroundings of walkers. There’s much to be said about rallying together as a group. There may be in-fighting, but in the end, the enemies are the walkers, not each other. I hope they continue to explore the group dynamic, especially with the busload of new additions to the prison.

Carl isn’t happy about the newcomers, but Rick looks determined. He no longer sees Lori watching over him from the walkway, and it seems like he’s found a new purpose in life – to lead and protect this new group of survivors.There’s a tinge of optimism at the close of this chapter, with the potential for a cohesive and harmonious group, at least until the Governor comes a-calling, but I’m left wondering how they will make this work. I didn’t count how many people came off the bus, but it was a good amount. They’ll most certainly need to be toughened up if they want to stay. But more importantly, how will the Governor make his grand return? Undoubtedly, he’s angry at the world, but with only two men (unless he’s already killed them), how can he possibly fight back against such a large contigent? Will he find another group to sweet talk into doing his evil bidding?

Overall, I thought this finale was quite weak. Had something major happened, like the Governor dying, I would have been on pins and needles waiting for the new season. But as of now, I’m left ambivalent as to how they’ll resolve the story.

Notes and Quotes
-- R.I.P. Andrea and Milton. But hey, you guys should have killed the Governor when you had the chance! They should have taken notes from Carl. Shoot now, ask questions later.

-- Daryl mentions Merle, and it’s wonderful that his brother’s sacrifice didn’t go unnoticed. “He gave us a chance,” says Carol, and I admit, the little scene makes me wonder if those two will ever get together. I’m not one to “ship,” as the kids say these days, but I just love them together, okay?

-- Michonne and Rick also briefly discuss the deal with the Governor, coming to an understanding about the entire situation. She also thanks him for accepting her into the group when he could have just taken the baby formula from her the first time they met. He gives credit to Carl for making the call, but it’s a nice moment between the two.

-- I was a bit frightened for Tyreese and Sasha when they spoke up against the Governor, saying they prefer not killing humans. (Um, who doesn’t?!) Thankfully, the Governor only gives them a disdainful look instead of shooting them in the head. I’ve been impressed by the siblings’ kindness and humanity ever since they showed up so hopefully they’ll inject some much needed positive vibes into the prison group.

-- When the Governor goes into a cell, he sees a bible with John 5:29 highlighted: “And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” I thought that spelled his doom, but I suppose that was just wishful thinking.



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