After last season’s zombie armageddon and barn burning, I was expecting more action. I kept waiting for the second half of the battle after the governor’s group was driven out of the tombs, but it never came.
I was left at the end with the feeling I had just watched a series finale, rather than a season finale for a number of reasons. There was the feeling of finality to Rick’s three-season character arc. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but Rick decided he was going to give up his trust issues and start welcoming in new people again, and when he did, ghost Lori moved on. There was the sad death of Andrea and tear-inducing lines, like Rick correcting her “the rest of them” with “the rest of us,” and Andrea’s “I tried.” The bad guy lost his home and army (with the exception of two loyalists) and was banished while the innocent survivors gathered to live in peace. There was the lack of a build toward a cliffhanger to keep us in suspense all summer. And most of all, there was the end-of-journey music track.
There was some good to this episode:
- The opening scene of the close-up of the Governor’s eye.
- The scene of the governor massacring his own people. You can almost see something snapping within the governor right before he starts shooting.
- Beautiful scene shot of the sun setting in the horizon as Rick, Daryl, and Michonne come back to the prison with a busload of Woodbury residents.
- The few minutes of suspense as the Woodbury army arrives with serious artillery and explodes the guard tower.
- The Bible passage Hershel left for the Governor, “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.” Perfect.
- Andrea getting a chance to explain her actions.
- Andrea telling Rick, “I know how the safety works” – a callback to the first season, in Atlanta when Andrea didn’t know how to use the safety, and again to Andrea’s line when her sister Amy had died and Rick tried to pull Andrea away from the body.
- Michonne staying with Andrea to the end, again a nice parallel to Amy’s death, when Andrea never left her sister’s side. She was comforted by her new sister at her own death.
- Andrea opting to have control over her own death – something she had felt cheated out of when Dale stopped her from killing herself at the Center for Disease Control.
But there was also some bad:- Andrea never getting out of the Governor’s torture chamber. The ending was set up in the first five minutes. The governor told Milton and Andrea that Milton would die and kill a handcuffed Andrea. The scenes of Milton slowly dying, and Andrea struggling to get the pliers were much too long and drawn out.
- Being robbed of seeing how 100-pound weakling Milton (ok, I may be exaggerating a little on the weight) overpowered walker-killing champ Andrea once she had gotten free. True, she didn’t have a knife, and walkers are dangerous, but he had a metal weapon in her hand and expertly took on three walkers at once just a couple of episodes back, while trapped against a tree. From what we’ve seen, walkers don’t become better fighters after they die, and Andrea could take Milton any day.
- Dialogue that was a little heavy-handed. There were comments like “No one can make it alone now,” “They never could,” that felt a little like anvil dropping.
- Choppy transitions with some character arcs. For example, we’ve been seeing Carl get scarier and scarier since he insisted on witnessing Randall’s execution last season, but the episode Clear seemed to be a turning point for him. He had softened after bonding with Michonne and apologized to Morgan for shooting him. Another example is Daryl didn’t show signs of mourning Merle. I didn’t expect an episode of sobbing, but outside of a couple of lines with Carol, you would have never known he had just lost the brother he’s been searching for since season one. And Rick suddenly seemed to drop all of the fear of outsiders after three seasons of hard lessons learned. While there’s been a slow build up to this, I can’t pinpoint exactly when and why his attitude turned.
- Too much screen-time dedicated to some of the season’s weaker storylines – yes, I’m looking at you Tyreese and Sasha. I’m sure there are plans for Tyreese for next season, but right now I’m left thinking they introduced the character too early – about half a season before they had anything interesting for him to do.
And Rick – are you really going to lecture Carl on this? You’ve been flip-flopping in your parent-raising strategy every other week. No wonder Carl doesn’t know right from wrong anymore.
What was scarier for me than Carl's shooting of the boy was Carl’s anger toward Rick. When Rick tried to talk to him about what Carl had done, Carl just dismissed him. The boy who last season looked up to his father is so far gone. In this episode we saw a Carl that was angry, sullen, dishonest, and disrespectful to his father. Carl’s either becoming a young Governor, or a teenager. But more relevant to this discussion is whether this storyline belonged in this episode. Carl’s journey is interesting, and this appears to be set up for next season, but is it finale-interesting?
So what did you think? Was this episode what you expected? What do you think will happen next season?