This season of The Walking Dead was absolutely packed with the horrors of a post-apocalyptic society where gruesome monsters that want nothing more than to tear into your delicious flesh are not necessarily your greatest concern. This season increased the gore factor (holy hell, some of those zombie feasts were pretty disturbing), several major characters died, others returned, and each character went through their own personal struggles. Overall, I think the season was very entertaining and I can’t wait for Season 4.
However, no show is perfect, so let’s get the negatives out of the way. My biggest complaint is that the second half of season 3 dragged on until the last 2 episodes. Season 2 of The Walking Dead had 13 episodes whereas Season 3 had 16. The studio was probably able to increase their budget for this season given the popularity of the show, but I don’t think that money should have gone into increasing the number of episodes that didn’t further the plot. Character development is great, but I can only listen to them talk about attacking Woodbury for so long before I was practically yelling at my TV, “Attack the damn town already!” Assuming the studio had a larger budget to work with this season, what changes would you have made? More explosions? A ridiculously huge zombie hoard? Pay the extras more? Life insurance for the actors whose characters die and put them out of a job?
But I know why we all secretly hate baby Judith…Lori made the ultimate sacrifice when she gave up her life for Shane’s hellspawn her unborn child while simultaneously screwing up her existing child. Not only do we lose Lori, but Carl is slowly turning into a killing machine, and now we’re going to have to repopulate the earth with Shane’s macho-prick DNA. Carl’s decision to put a bullet in his mother’s brain is difficult for the audience, not just for obvious reasons, but because he does it so easily. Did he kill her out of pure mercy, or is Carl adjusting to the world he’s growing up in? Rick’s mental state following his wife’s death is played out for the audience to see, but Carl’s remains questionable. Rick does seem to have regained his sanity (given the absence of “ghost Lori” at the end of the season finale), so I expect we’ll be seeing more of how Carl has been affected in Season 4. It may be presented as an exaggerated “generation gap” given that Rick grew up pre-apocalypse and Carl is growing up during the apocalypse.
Another great element of season 3 was the dramatic return of Andrea, Merle, and Morgan (and to a lesser extent Tyreese and Sasha). The Walking Dead loves to keep its audience on its toes by bringing back characters that the audience has nearly forgotten about. I expect we’ll be seeing more of this in Season 4 and throughout the series. Have we lost track of any characters other than The Governor and his henchmen? I’d love to hear your thoughts on who they will bring back next.
Speaking of The Governor…Am I the only person who thought he was a lame villain for most of the season? Simply wearing an eye patch, keeping your zombified daughter in a closet, and heads in fish tanks is pretty crazy but not villainous. You actually have to do something evil for that title. The Governor did FINALLY establish himself as evil in the final episode, but it took way too long to get there. I would have liked to see some more zombie/human experimentation from the governor. Seems like his jam. Lastly, I have a feeling he knew there was a lone survivor of his rampage. It harkens to the concept that if you kill everyone then there’s no one left to tell the tale.
Of course we can’t talk about season 3 without mentioning the relationship between Daryl and Merle. I see their relationship as a modern take on the Civil War when “brother fought against brother”. In the world of The Walking Dead, the entire country is under siege by zombies, but the group’s biggest concern was the other community of humans. It really was a kind of civil war. Daryl and Merle’s opposition throughout the season serve as a microcosm for the country and perhaps the world. Brother against brother, person against person. Despite Merle’s antagonism, his death was the most emotional moment of the season for many viewers, including myself. Merle finally did the right thing, he protected his little brother as his final act and died a hero. What a great scene.
I’ve saved my favorite for last. Michonne. Michonne goes through the most profound emotional changes out of all of the characters this season. She begins as a hard and emotionally isolated warrior, a product of her environment, and perhaps the most self-sufficient character on the show. After Michonne rescues Andrea I think it’s the first time she allows herself to connect with another human being since the beginning of the apocalypse. Though she is still cold by mid-season, we can see that she’s not heartless and not invincible. After Michonne is shot, she brings the baby formula to the prison and informs the others that Glen and Maggie have been abducted. She offers them information and supplies in return for medical assistance and perhaps a group to stay with. This may be when she realizes she does need others to survive. By the end of the finale, Michonne is the most emotional of the group, sobbing as she accompanies Andrea in her final moments. I only wish that Michonne was the one to end Andrea’s life. In this world, such an act is merciful, and I think it would have been a much more prolific.
While there were so many great things that happened this season (so many I could never cover them all), I think the theme of entire season can be summed up in an exchange between Andrea and Daryl:
ANDREA: No one can make it alone now.
DARYL: I never could.
This group needs each other as much as we (in real life) need each other. What a lovely message…all wrapped up in blood, guts, and gore.