Monday, April 01, 2013

"The Walking Dead" Season 3 Finale: Give Us Your Old, Your Young, Your Socially Awkward

*The Governor is getting a little tired making all of these rest stops (pic via).*

Coming as a person who is a die-hard LOST fan (I watched all six seasons with glee; in fact, I started re-watching them since last week), I can understand disappointment. Granted, my disappointed with LOST differed greatly compared to those who expected every friggin' secret to be revealed, but what can I say? I'm a cat who walks his own path.

Anyway, I think my experience in "Shows With An Unrealistic Premise Using Realistic Characters" is pretty established, which is why I'm confused at all the early-bird hate over the Season 3 Finale of The Walking Dead.

Did we get an epic, Mano-y-Mano fight worthy  of Stephen King's "The Stand?" Did the romances fans have fervently tried to ship come to fruition? Did things get wrapped up in a nice bow, so we can prepare to speculate the potential awesomeness that would surely be Season 4? Hell no.

But look at what we did get:

  1. An honest, re-occurring villain: No dead Governor means a human threat down the line. Sure, his army consists of two thugs who are currently experiencing the Worst Road Trip Ever, but let's be honest: between Operation Get The Couple Back and Merle's Solo Suicide Mission, 13 otherwise dangerous "paramilitary wannabees" (as Michonne called them) were out of the picture, forcing the Governor to use second, third and fourth stringers. And now that we know that you just can't hand any able-bodied adult a weapon and make him/her a soldier overnight, the Governor needs to re-think his "kill Michonne, Rick and Pretty Much Everyone At the Prison" strategy. As for the prison group, Rick and Co. need a non-zombie threat to keep them on their toes (and to keep Rick sane). My guess is the Governor will stick around until the middle of the 4th Season, or at least until they can think of a even better antagonist.
  2. A new group conflict: Hershel told Rick in Season 2 that he needed to keep an eye on his son Carl; his late wife Lori warned him that the kid was inches from being a cold-hearted killer. Well, both were right and Carl looks like Damien Wayne except there is no Batman on this show and fighting zombies with batarangs is just plain silly. Rick's new mission is to bring his son back from the brink, but after mercy-killing his own mom, is there really a brink to pull him back from?
  3. The end of Woodbury: Let's face it, the town was lame. The people tried to recreate a world without zombies but the flaw in that design is zombies still existed. Oh, and eventually, people who didn't live in this creepy Mayberry-like town would eventually cause trouble one way or another. Something tells me that the Governor would have had a more cohesive and sane plan for retaliation if Michone hadn't shown his dead daughter her sword (so to speak). A plan that would have scared Rick's group senseless and allow the Woodburians to live in their dreamworld. Alas, their leader went nuts, and the second tier was made up of warmongers (Martinez), guys suffering from denial (Milton) or the conflicted (Andrea). So yeah, when you're fantasy-city is run by a borderline loon who loses the one thing that's keeping him sane and there's no true successor, you're screwed.
  4. New prison characters: I take this as the show's way of saying, "We're gonna need to kill some more people next season, and to make it feel poignant it's going to have to be those on the 'good guy' side. So yeah...we're gonna need some red shirts." If any of those kids, old people or sick people make to the end of Season 4 I'll be surprised. But in the meantime, the show and the characters need fresh blood; if anything, there's a need to see how Rick's group deals with having new people around (particularly those who need protecting).
  5. Another needed housecleaning: Forget for a minute that Laurie Holden was, along with Jeffrey DeMunn and Melissa McBride, part of Team Darabont (check here for another project they were all a part of). Andrea's story was pretty much done. In the comics, she had a relationship with Dale and that can't happen here cause Dale's dead. As far as the show, sure there could have been a re-integration episode, but they already did that (twice, if you count both "I Ain't a Judas" and "Prey") so there's no point in beating that horse again. Besides, Andrea's presence as Alpha Female would have come at the cost of the character development of Carol, Beth, Maggie and Michonne (and probably in that order, too). Milton -as good an actor as Dallas Roberts is- was just too weak and out-of-place for a group of harden fighters who have already gone through the "What Caused the Virus?" Phase (see "Wildfire").
  6. Realism regarding warfare: Look, as much fun as it would have been to see Rick and the Governor go at like two Jedi Knights (one obviously turning to the Dark Side, of course) I think they played this "war" out exactly as one would expect when you two groups of amatuers against each other. Rick's group was fighting for survival, the Governor's out of (misguided) revenge. Rick's group was more proficient in weapons. Rick's group had home field advantage. The only thing the Governor had going for him was numbers, and guess what's so fridge brilliant about that? That's also the only advantage the zombies have (yes, I know...other than the "headshot" thing). So while the Governor was simply hoping to use mere force, Rick's group had to be way more creative. And that's were they adopted the strategy made famous from former ballet instructor and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: shock and awe. All Rick's group had to do was scare the crap outta the Woodburians, ala Mel Gibson in "The Patriot," and the ones who really just wanted to have another picnic were going to scramble for the next bus back home. And when that happened, we got a fairly predictable response from an increasingly unstable Governor. Sorry to those who were disappointed, but the fact of the matter is wars usually stop when you can convince the other side to stop trying to fight you, and the truth is the Woodburians were not that motivated to begin with.
So I can happily say that I look forward to Season 4. We have a group of old and sick people who could become Walkers at any time. We have a bunch of potential Carls in the making.We have way more black characters than this show is used to (watch out, Sasha!). And oh yeah, I'm pretty sure there will be a wedding episode.

And of course, the zombies are still out there...

(Editor's note: We cannot confirm that Donald Rumsfeld ever taught ballet, but it would explain a lot). 


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