Well, I was not prepared for anything that happened in this episode. Occasional overlong scenes aside, this was a very good season finale. It didn’t have the incensed walker horde descending on Hershel’s farm factor that brought so much chaos and carnage to the end of season two, but “Welcome to the Tombs” was more than exciting enough in its own twisted way.
We open on a first-person perspective of the Governor beating up the person whose eyes we’re watching through; he eventually talks about the burning of the pit walkers and the camera angle goes back to normal to reveal his “interrogation” of Milton. Poor Milton, he’s not built for this sort of thing. The Governor brings him to see Andrea and Milton makes one last try to stab the Governor, but he’s no match for him, and the Governor leaves him locked in with Andrea to kill her anyway, just as a zombie. I’ll be honest, I figured Milton wasn’t going to last the episode, but this way of going out is way more awful than I imagined.
Over in the prison, everyone is packing up to get the hell out of there before the Governor shows up. Or at least, that’s what it looks like; I’ll be honest, I completely fell for this misdirect. I genuinely believed they voted to leave at that meeting we never saw the end of, and I couldn’t understand why that would make Carl as pissed at Rick as he is. Even Glenn thinks Carl’s anger is weird, and Glenn just proposed to his girlfriend using a ring hacked off a zombie’s finger.
Back in Woodbury, the Governor is busy working his people up into a fury about the prison folks. Tyreese and Sasha bow out of soldier duty; they’re okay with killing walkers, but they’re not into killing people. Congratulations on standing up for what you believe in, Sasha and Tyreese. They offer to stay and hold down the fort instead.
The Governor and the Woodbury “soldiers” roll into the prison, guns blazing. They take out a couple guard towers and a whole bunch of walkers before making their way into the C block. Nobody’s there, which is only made eerier by the utter lack of dialogue going on. The Governor finds a Bible in what can only be Hershel’s cell, open to a highlighted verse about the good getting life and the evil getting damned. Now, I don’t know much about the Bible, but that seems like a preacher burn to me.
The Woodbury group splits up and goes searching, suspense building for what seems like a year until they’re finally ambushed: explosions, alarms, and their own screaming draw walkers fast, and everyone books it out of the prison. Maggie and Glenn rain bullets on the group as they head to their trucks, and we find out Carl’s really pissed because he’s stuck outside the fence with Beth and Hershel in a safer spot.
Most of the Woodbury people make it back to their trucks and they drive off, but one kid takes off on foot, only to run into an armed Hershel and Carl. He slowly makes to give them his gun like they ask, and Carl shoots him anyway. Hershel, much like most viewers I imagine, looks utterly shocked. I understand that this kid came with the group that was trying to kill them, but I’m with Hershel. There was no reason for Carl to kill him like that.
Once the group has reassembled in the prison, Hershel makes it a point to tell Rick exactly what went down out there. Carl tries to pass it off like the kid had his gun drawn on them, which would have been more understandable. Rick tries to defend Carl, but Hershel doesn’t have time for that: “I’m telling you, he gunned that kid down.” Whatever other consequences come from Carl’s new attitude about killing, I can guarantee he’s never hooking up with Beth as long as Hershel’s still around.
On the road from the prison back to Woodbury, the Governor makes everyone stop and pull over. He’s got the bloodlust going, you can see it in his one good eye, and he’s trying to get everyone to go back. As the townspeople raise their protests (which sound an awful lot like Tyreese’s), the sound suddenly drops out as the camera focuses on the Governor. You can practically pinpoint the moment he drops out of rationality (A+ job again from David Morrissey), and he opens fire on his own people. He kills them in cold blood for disagreeing with him about killing other humans. I literally shouted at my television in shock, I was so taken aback. I knew he was twisted, but this felt like a whole new level of wrong.
He gives several of the fallen townspeople the double tap to keep them from turning, but thankfully spares the body lying on top of the still-alive Karen. The only people he left alive on purpose are Martinez and another guard, both of whom silently get into his truck and leave with him, looks of abject horror on their faces. Why one of them didn’t just shoot him then and there is beyond me, but that’s the cliffhanger we’re left with on the Governor. Is he going to go back to Woodbury? Double back to the prison for some more revenge? Build himself a new evil lair to start over from? He’s obviously going to play a part in season four, I just wish we had some idea what role would be.
Before Rick heads off to Woodbury with Daryl and Michonne, he stops to do some post-apocalyptic parenting and confronts Carl about what really happened with the kid he shot. Carl maintains that he did what he had to do and strongly implies that if Rick had done the same more often, they wouldn’t have lost the people that they lost, including Lori. Carl storms off, leaving Rick’s old sheriff badge behind like the obvious symbol of lost innocence and father-son problems that it is.
Rick, Michonne, and Daryl stumble upon the roadside destruction on their way to Woodbury and stop to take out the walkers the Governor left. They find Karen alive and hiding out in one of the trucks for safety, and bring her with them to Woodbury. When they first get to the walls, Tyreese and Sasha give them a hard time, but Karen explains what the Governor did, and they let them in. Andrea never made it to the prison, Rick explains, so they’re here to find her now.
All this time, Andrea’s been conversing with a dying Milton and trying to get her hands (or rather, her feet) on a pair of pliers he dropped behind her chair. It takes her an incredibly, frustratingly long time to finally get the pliers into her hand, but along the way we get some final character development from her as she talks to Milton. She confesses she had the chance to kill the Governor all those episodes ago when he was sleeping but didn’t because she didn’t want anyone to have to die. I know even in her final episode people are going to hate on her, but come on, is that such a bad sentiment to have? It’s a little naïve in the face of what the Governor is capable of, but she didn’t know how awful he really was. She was somewhere safe and just wanted everyone involved to come out alive. I think it’s an optimistic mindset that not a lot of the other characters still seem to have.
By the time she finally foots those pliers to use on one cuff, Milton has already turned. You can tell by the black lipstick he’s suddenly sporting. He slowly comes to life (Un-life? Second life?) as she desperately tries to work her other hand free, and all we see before the cop-out shot to the exterior is Milton descending upon her still in her chair.
When the others find her, they open the door to see a twice-dead Milton by the chair and Andrea slumped by the door. She’s still alive, but burning with fever from the bite she reveals on her shoulder. I sort of figured that’s what happened with that cutaway but I still didn’t want her to die. Michonne instantly starts crying, and Danai Gurira’s tears are apparently very powerful things, because I immediately got choked up, too.
Rick corrects Andrea’s pronoun referring to the prison group to “us” and she tells Rick she knows how the safety works now when she insists on taking herself out and I just stopped being able to handle this scene. I never thought Andrea’s death would affect me so much, but she’s so tragically stoic about the whole thing and Michonne’s grief is so heartbreaking that it ended up really getting to me. Am I the only one who got a little teary about this?
Michonne bravely stays with her friend, and all we hear is the gunshot ring out as we look at Rick, Tyreese, and Daryl positioned outside the door. I regained enough of my composure in the meantime to watch the final scene with clear eyes. They return from Woodbury all right, but they’ve brought along a busload of the left-behinds: the older folks, the kids, and Tyreese and Sasha. Carl asks what this is all about and Rick says they’re joining them. Carl stalks off at that for reasons I won’t pretend to understand completely. The zombie apocalypse is no time to be a petulant preteen. Rick looks up to where he’s been seeing Lori lately only to have a non-hallucinatory view of the prison for once.
I really adore the turnaround that Rick has made in comparison to the Governor. At first, this season they were heading on a similar downward spiral, and it was neat to compare and contrast their rapidly greying moralities. Now the Governor has sunk further than he has before while Rick seems to be on the mend, giving up his absolute control of the group and recovering from his guilt-laden hallucinations. I don’t think he can ever be the white knight he thought he was in the first episode, but I’m very interested to see where this dynamic will go. Is Carl going to be the new member of the group in danger of corruption and Governor-esque problems?
While there are obviously lingering questions like that (and how the group is going to provide for all these new people), I felt like “Welcome to the Tombs” gave us a better sense of closure than other season finales. Maybe it was just the completion of Andrea’s character arc, but I felt more satisfaction in the resolution of the plot than I have with past finales.
I’ll be biding my time until season four with some more of the comics, but I’m really excited to see where the show writers take this next.