If you came out of The Walking Dead finale feeling at all cheated, you’re not alone. The way things ended, I was left with a similar mix of emotions as when I first watched The Killing’s Season 1 finale. There was a certain expectation the show was building toward, but what seemed inevitable now looks, in hindsight, like a ten-dollar bill attached to a string being yank away from my outstretched hand. I am, of course, referring to the war brewing between Woodbury and the prison. I never imagined, for one second, things would end in such a noncommittal way. We got our fight, but it wasn’t at all what I expected it to be. And whose fault is that? Is it The Walking Dead’s for allowing me to have those expectations, or is it mine for making any assumptions at all? In a lot of ways, “Welcome to the Tombs” was a ballsy episode in where it ended up taking the season-long story, but just because it took a risk doesn’t mean it was successful.
My one big issue with the episode was it just didn’t feel like a finale. The screen fades to black and I was genuinely shocked it was over. “That was it?” I asked my wife. The Governor is left alive and Rick is still in control of the prison. No conflicts were resolved, or so it seemed. In the big scheme of things, Rick won over the people of Woodbury, even bringing a busload of them to live in the prison with him and his group. But it didn’t feel like a win he earned. It only went down that way because the Governor finally snapped and killed most of his men, singling him out as the true villain for all to see. And then he disappeared from the episode. Where did he go? Certainly not back to the prison to finish his war, or even to Woodbury. He takes two of his remaining men and drives away, presumably to come back and cause trouble another day.
I guess I’m just disappointed this war we built toward only lasted for about 10 minutes and mostly consisted of the Woodbury army killing some walkers, searching an apparently abandoned prison and finally being ambushed by Glenn and Maggie in tactical armor. They’re pretty easily driven away despite having the numbers advantage. At first I thought it was odd the Woodbury army would retreat, but I remembered they consisted of mostly civilians the Governor goaded into going to war. In that regard, the way things ended made more sense. They weren’t prepared; they’ve never fought living humans before. They aren’t the Governor, who is ready to kill anyone that gets in his way. But it just ended so fast and the Governor never got the payoff I thought he deserved. He may have been inconsistent in his portrayal of madness, but he still needed to face off against Rick in a more personal way. But that’s been pushed off until at least Season 4. Keeping him alive was a risky move, as I mentioned earlier, but it was one of the decisions that led to this finale lacking a sense of finality. Sure, the point is that this war isn’t over, but it should’ve been. The Walking Dead is a show that works best when it isn’t dragging conflict out.
Case in point: Andrea’s season long arc. She’s been a frustrating character this entire time, refusing to see the Governor for what he is for so long. And when it finally dawned on her how evil he is, she never killed him, even when she had opportunity after opportunity. She goes on about wanting to save people, but her inaction is what caused the deaths of so many, including her own. I appreciate the irony of her actions, but I wanted more from this character. I didn’t necessarily want her to kill the Governor – that should be Rick’s job – but I would’ve liked her to be more observant. Things were clearly not cookies and cream in Woodbury, but she somehow missed it all until it was too late and she got handcuffed to a chair. It was a storyline so needlessly dragged out it eventually turned off any positive feelings I had toward the character. All I wanted for most of the season for somebody to please, please, kill Andrea. And then they killed her.
But it’s not like she died in a rewarding way – although, just the fact she did die was pretty rewarding. Regardless of how happy it made me to watch her go, the lead up to it was torture, which is funny given the context of the scene. The Governor gives Milton the choice of killing Andrea or himself dying. Naturally, Milton makes a go at killing the Governor, fails, and is stabbed in the stomach. The Governor leaves Milton to die in the same room as the handcuffed Andrea, knowing Milton will eventually turn and tear Andrea to shreds. “In this life now, you kill or you die. Or you die and you kill.” And then things became frustrating. Before he was mortally wounded, Milton left a wrench for Andrea to grab and use to set herself free, but holy crap why was it so hard for to do it? Her attempts to escape lasted the entire episode, and not just because she is no good at using her feet to grasp things, but because she continuously stops trying to escape so she can have conversations with Milton who could die at anytime and turn into a zombie! Why do you have to be so aggravating Andrea?
That said, when Rick, Michonne and Daryl show up to rescue Andrea and discover her dying from a bite, it’s decently written and far more emotional than I thought it would be. Andrea does the Andrea thing to do and shoots herself in the head, because nobody makes decisions for Andrea except Andrea. It’s probably the one time her character worked in her favor. Now that she’s gone, we can properly mourn, not the show’s version of the character, but the comic book version we never got a chance to fully meet. Andrea could’ve been great, but the show took her in this weird direction that made most fans despise her. I don’t why this happened, but it did. At least the writers realized they needed to kill her. She was too far gone. It was barely even mentioned how great with a gun she is. What a waste.