by Kat Rosenfield
And so begins the longest, dullest, dryest seven months of the year, at least when it comes to seeing zombie body parts go splat on AMC's "The Walking Dead". Boo! The season came to a bloody, bullet-riddled, breathtaking end last night, as we bid goodbye to the Deep South survivors of the walker apocalypse until Season 4 returns next October... and psssst, this is a finale, so certain of said survivors may be getting a more permanent send-off, too. So place your bets, grab your tissues, and get ready to find out who was welcomed to the tombs — in more ways than one — in the final moments of season 3.
When it comes to the third season of "The Walking Dead", we begin the end as we began the beginning: with an extreme close-up of an eyeball. Specifically, it's the last remaining peeper of the evil Governor, whose face is splattered with blood. He draws back his fist and lets fly, as we watch from the semi-conscious, swooning perspective of the beat-ee. Who is this poor bleeding, bastard?
Oh, no! It's Milton, whose zombie-burning shenanigans in the last episode have put him on the gubernatorial blacklist. The Gov is monologuing in classic villain style about how the only thing to do is kill everybody, basically, until Milton manages to croak, "What would your daughter think about what you are?"
His tormentor's reply: "If I'd been like this from the start, she'd be alive today."
And with evil justifications firmly in place, the Governor unveils his next trick: Andrea, who's still strapped to the Death Chair, looking like she's taken a beating herself. He tells Milton that all is forgiven...because he's going to take this nice knife and kill Andrea like a good boy. But Milton, who's finally done being a sycophant, tries to stab the Governor, leading the Governor to then stab him about a million times. And then he (the Governor) leaves, but not before taunting both his captives with the inevitability of Milton dying, turning, and chewing Andrea into tiny little pieces. ("See? I told you you were gonna kill her!")
Meanwhile, back at the prison, it's busy time. Everyone is readying for the attack they know is coming. Also bonus: there's a heart-warming hand-holding moment between Carol and Daryl, AND a money shot of Daryl's sweet-ass poncho being put into a bag. (Please you guys, whatever happens in this episode, let the poncho survive until season 4!)
And if you've been waiting for that much-anticipated moment from the teasers when the prison guard towers explode in a ball of fire, here it is! The Woodburians blow through the prison gates in heavy trucks, armed to the teeth, and everything goes boom. The guard towers go up, the random walkers in the yard go down, and the Governor and his army of creeps head inside. The only remaining vestige of the prison group is an artfully-placed Bible —hmm!— and the intruders wander through the abandoned cellblock, make their way into the dark halls that lie beyond, and...
The intruders panic and beat a hasty retreat, which is also when Glenn and Maggie appear with SWAT gear on and guns a-blazin'. It's a sound spanking for Woodbury; they pile back into their cars and flee, except for the one unlucky fellow who escapes into the woods and finds himself face-to-face with Carl and Hershel. He's about to put down his weapon — a new friend? — but nope, scratch that, Carl goes ahead and shoots him in the face. And while the rest of the group celebrates their victory, Rick finds himself having The Talk: Don't Kill People Edition with his wayward child. Ugh, awkward — especially when Carl points out with deadpan tween logic that whenever Rick doesn't kill people, those people come back and kill them.
Meanwhile, the Governor is furious at his FUBARed operation. He chases down the fleeing Woodburians and demands that they go back and finish the job. And when one conscientious soul objects to killing the living, the gloves (not to mention the mask of the friendly post-apocalypse politician) come off: he guns them all down where they stand.
Also, don't forget about the episode's first victim: Milton! He's bleeding out, but he's left Andrea a pair of pliers with which she can hopefully free herself... and, um, maybe do some other things. ("When you get free," he gasps, "you are going to find something very sharp, and you are going to stab me in the head.") He seems to be hanging in there, occasionally regaining consciousness enough to talk, but as she fumbles with the pliers, he goes silent and still — and oh, geez, Andrea, hurry! Quick! Milton is much more unambiguous about his desires as a zombie than he was as a human! He lurches toward her, the camera draws back beyond the door, and there's screaming and screaming and—
Hey, look it's Rick, Daryl and Michonne, who've found the lone survivor of the Governor's highway massacre and thus gained entry into Woodbury! (They've also gained an ally in Tyreese, who happened to be guarding the wall.) They find their way to the Governor's chamber of horrors, where an ominous blood pool is oozing from beneath a corrugated door. And inside? It's Andrea, still alive.
...Well, for the next five minutes, anyway. Milton managed to take a nice big chomp out of her neck, and she doesn't have long; she only takes the time to apologize, explain herself, and confirm that everybody's okay before politely requesting a gun. Michonne stays with her until the bang, and it's bye-bye, Andrea.
And as dawn breaks over the prison walls, the survivors return — along with a busful of expat Woodburians. A mournful, hopeful theme plays as the passengers disembark. Carl scowls at all the new people, probably wondering which one to kill first. And Rick, as he's done so many times this season, looks to the catwalk, but sees only the rising sun.
And where, oh where, is the Governor? We'll have to debate his whereabouts until the show returns in October, because this season's one-eyed villain is nowhere to be seen... but we don't think he's gone for good, either.
Are you sad to see Andrea go? Do you have a guess as to the Governor's fate? Tell us in the comments and on Twitter!