Posted by: pop-break | April 3, 2013

Dead End: A Final Look at The Walking Dead Season 3

the gang takes a final look at The Walking Dead …

deadend

We’ve had time to let it all settle in, now the staff of Pop-Break, gives their opinion on the bloody third season of The Walking Dead.

Logan J. Fowler (Senior Editor, Link to the Past and Trailer Tuesday Columnist): Season 3 of The Walking Dead, as I would put it, came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. I don’t think there was one fan who didn’t think the beginning of this season was kick ass or awesome, or there wasn’t a stick-out moment that was water cooler-worthy. Then the break happened, and it wasn’t like that break softened the show’s steam from rising, but we all came back eager to see stuff happen. And really, beyond the far overpraised Governor and Rick man-to-man chat, there was little to discuss this second half of the season.

The Governor (David Morrissey) and Karen (Melissa Ponzio) - The Walking Dead - Season 3, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The Governor (David Morrissey) and Karen (Melissa Ponzio) – The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Sure, Maggie and Glenn “got engaged,” The Governor (thankfully) cut loose and showed his true colors, and Merle redeemed himself before he was unfortunately axed. And yes, Daryl did almost make me cry, but nothing really stood out. And the strongest episode of the second half, where Michonne, Carl, and Rick went on their little walk, was the best of the bunch post break. It was simple, but it cut it down to three main characters we ultimately care about (and Morgan’s amazing resurgence) and that was a really good thing.

The show narrowed its focus and that was awesome. But then we got back to characters that a good number of people hate (Andrea), or going for the inevitable breakdown (Governor), or what the hell are you doing/which side are you choosing (Tyrese). Then Lori keeps showing up, and these factors just dragged it down. And the season finale had its moments (Governor finally just going into disturbing mode, ANDREA dying), but the whole episode felt so anticlimatic. Also, The Governor and his crew run scared from the sneak attack prison assault; did the ruler of Woodbury realize that not ONE of his pack was injured or killed? I admit the girl who survived The Governor’s shoot out will definitely foil his plans for domination, which was a clever move, but still, it’s a strong moment in a series of dull ones.

And Rick’s acceptance of other people shows him growing as a character, which I think came from Michonne’s gratefulness towards him, but it just felt like it could have been a better developed plot point, something that comes with time, I mean we saw this guy go to town on prisoners that had the prison to themselves, with Mr. Grimes just being defensive. It almost feels like they were wrapping it up quick for the sake of Rick being a hero, and turning Carl against him to now provide him some new tension.

All in all, I feel that the second half ultimately took a lot away from the far superior first half. I will still watch this show when it comes back, but during the last few episodes heading towards the finale, I was either falling asleep or waiting to watch it. It won’t lose viewers easily, but if I say The Walking Dead has become boring, then obviously something is up. And I’m not the only one. Hopefully Season 4 fixes the mistakes, because as good as this show is when it is that good, it’s not flawless.

Bobby Olivier (Garden State Headache Columnist): The second half of Season Three was largely disjointed, but it did answer a few questions I had always pondered. Like what ever happened to Morgan and his son? The son turned and Morgan lost his mind? OK, cool. How was human firestorm Merle’s plotline going to end? Oh, the Governor rips off his fingers and kills him then Daryl has to kill him again? Got it. Was something going to kill that harlot Andrea? Yes, finally! Thanks, walker Milton.

The finale was a little weak, but my undying addiction to the show is a testament, I suppose, to the show’s redeeming qualities. And now I’m afraid of cold-blooded Carl.

The Governor (David Morrissey) and Director Ernest Dickerson - The Walking Dead - Season 3, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The Governor (David Morrissey) and Director Ernest Dickerson – The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Kelly Duncan (TV Columnist): The Walking Dead is pretty much the only show on TV right now that I have to watch live. I was nervous coming into this season, because let’s face it, Season 2 was boring, but this season had a lot to love. I’ll even throw, The Governor into the love category. Not because I love anything about the character, but because he was the catalyst for a fantastic season and I love to hate him.

What else did I love about this season? Pretty much anything having to do with Daryl. Daryl saving that family on the bridge, finding Carol in the tombs, his reaction to having to kill zombie Merle, and his all around bad-assery. He is probably the one character, at this point, that I would be devastated to lose.

While I loved the majority of this season, there is something, or should I say someone, that really bugged me. And that would be Milton. I know Andrea had a million chances to take out The Governor and she failed on her own. I would most definitely have a hard time killing an actual human too, but when she was finally about to do it for real while Milton was showing her the torture chamber he was making for Michonne, what the f#$%, Milton! You know he’s a horrible person. I know he eventually came around, but clearly it was too late. Here’s hoping Season 4 is just as fantastic.

Shumpert (Travis Love), Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and The Governor (David Morrissey) - The Walking Dead - Season 3, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Shumpert (Travis Love), Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and The Governor (David Morrissey) – The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Jason Stives (Senior Editor, Resident Whovian): It’s amazing how in three seasons The Walking Dead went from a clever genre show that involved killing zombies to a smart character study about survival and the human condition. Yes, splattering zombie brains is still fun and expected but over three years we have seen the turmoil that our leads have gone through and sympathized or detested it, depending in the situation. Season three took that to the full extent and for every time we groaned and spat at the naïve and harlot tendencies of Andrea, we marveled at the disturbing and ominous nature of the crypto-zoological specimen known as The Governor. We sympathized with Rick with every tragic moment and then screamed at him to snap out of it when it meant defending the group and being badass Rick again. Point is season Three very rarely disappointed in my eyes and yes while not everything was perfect and some plot threads (including those left dangling by the finale) were never fully realized it still made for gripping television.

For some the consistency of the season probably ended with Sunday night’s finale but I would be more than willing to argue that while it wasn’t a great finale it also wasn’t a bad episode. Walking Dead for the longest time did and has come down to expectations and the finale to some was probably the most disappointing thing since The Sopranos ended but it’s a show that isn’t looking to please you as much as it is to give itself room for growth. Overall Season 3 was a triumph that took the show from the zombie smashing humble beginnings to a well thought out drama that while not always consistent invests enough of an emotional punch as some of the other best dramas on television.

Special Effects Makup Artist Kevin Wasner and Co-Executive Producer/SFX Make-Up Supervisor Greg Nicotero - The Walking Dead - Season 3, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Special Effects Makup Artist Kevin Wasner and Co-Executive Producer/SFX Make-Up Supervisor Greg Nicotero – The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The Final Word — Luke Kalamar (Walking Dead columnist): I can’t believe The Walking Dead is already over for the year. It feels like it was only yesterday Rick and his tribe of survivors found their way into The Prison and into The Governor’s crosshairs. If you recall from our Mid-Season Report Card back in December, I absolutely loved the first half of Season Three. The fast-paced action mixed with stellar acting and welcomed cast additions made those first several episodes some of the best to date. I had high hopes for the second half and had full faith in the writers to deliver in spades. While there were some shining moments in these latter few episodes, it’s clear that there were some more stumbles in the second half than the first. If it wasn’t a whole episode focus on Andrea, the least liked character of the season, it was plots that ended up going in a circle. It also didn’t help that the highly teased epic showdown between Rick and The Governor ended up being no more than a human bloodless skirmish.

Honestly, there was nothing I really hated this entire season. I loved so much of what I saw that you’d think I was hopped up on drugs for an hour every week. There were however those moments that I loved less and even felt a pang of disappointment. A lot of the disappointment does come from Andrea (I really wanted to like her because I love her comic counterpart, but too much of what she did was very frustrating), but there were other things like Tyreese being as pushed to the background as possible, T-Dog going so soon after getting set up and heavily promoted, and Michonne not getting the extended focus that I would have liked. None of these really ruined the season, obviously, but it’s hard not to remember them.

Walker - The Walking Dead - Season 3, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

On a more positive note, the welcome additions were plenty! David Morrissey and Danai Gurira were perfect as The Governor and Michonne, and Michael Rooker bringing back Merle Dixon after over a year was amazing to see. Dallas Roberts did an excellent job making Milton more of his own man and less of The Governor’s sidekick. Having a defined villain this season definitely helped the show in more ways than one, and I love how Morrissey is now a recurring cast member. Having him around can only help the show get better.

In the end, I’m both excited and scared for Season 4. I’m excited because the open-endedness of this finale allows the writers to basically take any path they want and go crazy. Predictability is almost entirely gone at this point and everything is up in the air. I’m also scared though because without a solid sense of direction, the show might just become haphazard. Plus, Season Three officially raised the bar, and despite the fact that I believe the writers and the new showrunner Scott M. Gimple can meet the challenge, it’s foolish to not have that extra bit of caution. Regardless, I’m extremely excited for Season Four, and I know I will only have fond memories of Season Three in the long run.

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