As tensions rise between the Governor’s people at Woodbury and Rick’s team at the prison, things come to a climatic head…
The final three episodes of this season of The Walking Dead wrap up a run of stories that may have been slightly over-extended, featuring as they have much to-ing and fro-ing between the two camps at the prison and at Woodbury. In some ways this has been necessary as it has allowed for a deeper exploration of character, something David Morrissey’s Governor has benefitted from. However, it has also resulted in a feeling of sameness and a lack of progression that similarly affected the seemingly never-ending series of episodes set on Herschel’s farm last season.
Worst off has been Andrea, whose seeming inability to decide between Woodbury or her old friends at the prison lay behind several of the resulting conflicts. She may have wanted to avoid the need for anyone else to die, but her vacillation brought about that very outcome. Her demise—at the teeth of the zombified Milton and a bullet from a gun—towards the end of the final episode was very much needed, as she’d outlived her usefulness to the story by that point. It was a shame that Milton had to go, too, but there was no way he was going to escape the wrath of the Governor.
Here’s where the show now has a problem: having had such a magnificent, nuanced performance from David Morrissey, the writers of the show could not bring themselves to kill him off. So, finally driven mad (as seen in the massacre of his own people), he’s off roaming the woods with his two henchmen presumably cooking up new ways to gain his vengeance on Rick and Michonne. The danger here is that as a recurring villain next season, the Governor will be reduced to a one-note mad guy with an eye-patch. With the Governor seemingly killed off in the comic book, the TV show is now set to diverge even further from its source material (as is also the case with Game of Thrones in connection to its lengthy source novels).
There were other casualties in the build up to the finale, with Merle being the other character without a home, rejected by both sides and just cruising for an appointment with zombie-hood. The penultimate episode ‘This Sorrowful Life’ was built around his attempts to escape his looming fate: it is a shame that Michael Rooker had to go (again), but like Andrea, his character had reached a point-of-no return.
The finale itself turned out to be a little low-key. There was an action-packed assault on the prison (again) by the Governor’s crew, but they were fought off by Glen and Maggie in riot gear. Following that and the Governor’s massacre of his own people, everything came down a notch, with a focus on character through Andrea’s plight and little Carl’s growing pains (he shoots a teen in the process of surrendering). The final reconciliation of the two groups, and their decision to move en mass into the prison was a quiet end to a great run of episodes, even if the story was a little stretched in places.
Verdict: The Walking Dead lives to fight another day, as does the Governor.
Episode 14 ‘Prey’: 7/10
Episode 15 ‘This Sorrowful Life’: 9/10
Episode 16 ‘Welcome to the Tombs’: 8/10
Brian J. Robb