How The Walking Dead's Third Season Went Wrong
Laurie Holden and Andrew Lincoln | Photo Credits: Gene Page/AMC
[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the third season of The Walking Dead as well as the comic books upon which the AMC series is based.]
It's been one week since the dust has settled on The Walking Dead's third season finale and we're still scratching our heads.
The AMC series took a bold and surprising turn in the finale by killing off Andrea (Laurie Holden), a beloved comic book character whose TV persona ended up being a polarizing figure to say the least. Andrea's third-season journey and ultimate demise marked one of the biggest departures from Robert Kirkman's graphic novels to date, which made us re-examine some the writers' others decisions with one question in mind: Did The Walking Dead make a mistake with Season 3?
After a decidedly slower-paced second season, the first half of Season 3 took off with a head of steam. It took our band of survivors to the infamous comic-book setting of the prison and introduced the katana-wielding fan-favorite character Michonne (Danai Gurira) and the town of Woodbury's sadistic dictator The Governor (David Morrissey). Tensions in the idyllic Woodbury quickly grew and culminated with Michonne stabbing The Governor in the eye after killing his zombie daughter. Things were even more intense back at the prison, where Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and T-Dog (IronE Singleton) died early in the season. As the loss piled up, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) began losing his grip on sanity, which ultimately left the prison group severely outnumbered and weakened. The first eight episodes were unquestionably the show's strongest run since the series began.
But the second half of the season, which presumably was building to the two groups — and more specifically The Governor and Rick — finally coming to blows, was pretty much anything but exciting. Instead, more time was spent preparing for war instead of actual fighting, all of which reeked of the writers delaying the inevitable battle as long as they could. (Did AMC not learn from The Killing's mistake?!) Rick and The Governor didn't even come face-to-face until Episode 13, when they met to discuss a peace treaty. (The Governor didn't even use the secretly taped gun under the table!) By the time the finale rolled around and The Governor and his men bumbled around the prison before quickly fleeing, we were wondering what had happened to the war we were promised.
We can understand the Dead writers wanting to keep The Governor around — especially considering Morrissey's superb performance, which evolved The Governor from a somewhat-ruthless leader looking out for his people to a completely deranged dictator. (Readers of the comic never saw that progression since The Governor was introduced at the height of his craziness.) The thought of having him out there in the ether, able to attack at any point is interesting, but with Morrissey staying on as a series regular in Season 4, The Governor will once again probably be the big villain next season. Been there, done that.
But what's most frustrating about The Governor escaping unscathed is the effect it had on Andrea, who many viewers grew to hate after she squandered every chance to kill her merciless former flame by foolishly hoping for peace. Instead, she was left to die in the torture room after The Governor stabbed Milton (Dallas Roberts) and turned the soon-to-be-zombie loose on Andrea. (Aside: Learning how to pick up pliers with our perfectly pedicured toes is now on our apocalypse preparedness checklist.) After a lot of exposition about why Andrea ended up with this fate — She saw potential in Woodbury! She wanted everyone to live! — Andrea said goodbye to her dear friend Michonne.
The problem, of course, is we never really got to see why they were friends. The potential to explore more of that relationship and how it evolved is now wasted. Even more, Andrea had great upcoming comic book story lines with Rick (Warning: comic book spoilers coming), with whom she eventually starts a romantic relationship. We had already been cheated out of certain Andrea story lines — including her sexual relationship with Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and how awesome she is with a sniper rifle — so why not mine what was left?