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THE WALKING DEAD Post-Mortem: “Welcome to the Tombs” Recap

Greetings zombie lovers and fans of lackluster season finales….this’ week’s episode of The Walking Dead “Welcome to the Tombs” was easily one of the most disappointing, frustrating, and anti-climatic episodes of The Walking Dead I have ever seen. However, the ratings for last night’s episode broke records once again, putting up insane #’s in the adult 18-49 demographic. I think it’s more than safe to say The Walking Dead is here to stay, and with incredibly strong viewer support like that I found myself wondering: does it really matter what reviewers/recappers have to say about the show at this point? Are we just throwing sand at the wind? Would AMC, the writing staff, and production crew really be willing to change up the way they construct seasons of The Walking Dead given the incredibly high ratings and a viewership that continues to grows every season? As you can see I have a lot of questions…so I’m going to pose a series of said questions…to myself… about the finale. And of course, you’re all welcome to chime with your own answers in the comments section.

Seriously, was there anything in this episode that you found worthwhile or fulfilling?

I liked it when it the episode was over and I could finally fire up my Game of Thrones recording on the DVR….

Did you enjoy The Governor’s raid on the prison?

I cannot deny the raid was somewhat well-staged visually, (explosions are cool) but if you hold the entire sequence up to the tiniest bit of scrutiny…it all falls apart. Why didn’t The Governor roll into the prison with that many people, and that heavily armed, after Team prison’s initial attack (or, rescues mission…whatever) on Woodbury? The first time he attacked the prison, it was just him and a couple of his goons with some machine guns. It seems like they should have brought the fifty calibers and grenade launchers then. Of course, all this merely compounds the fact that the season should have ended much, much sooner than it did. Seriously folks, we do not need 16 episodes of The Walking Dead every year. The first 8 episode were very entertaining and consistent  and there was only so much story left to tell after the first half of season three. On this point, I will not budge.

Why is the Governor still alive?

Good question… I have no idea. A television rule of thumb: always kill off and/or utterly defeat the big bad in the season finale. Big bads can be a useful tool for television shows sometimes, the allow seasons to have intense focus on one particular conflict, they help provide narrative cohesion throughout the episodes, also, if they are used correctly, they should always complement the hero (or heroes) inner struggles during that particular season. They are physical representations of the internal conflicts our protagonists are dealing with. So naturally, if they are to be conquered, the hero must conquer his or her personal demons as well. To the writer’s credit, The Walking Dead set this conflict up beautifully: Rick had established the Ricktatorship at the end of season 2; he was tired of everyone constantly questioning his decisions and told the group, in so many words, that they were either with him…or on their own. Enter Philip Blake, The Governor, a seemingly benevolent leader of men who’s been corrupted by his own need for control and power. Rick starts out the season on the road to becoming someone like The Governor, which is why he was the perfect antagonist for season 3. When Rick abolished the Ricktatorship in last week’s episode and he conquered his inner Governor, his character arc for the season was complete. Ergo, there was no more need for The Governor’s continued existence as the antagonist. The fact he wasn’t killed in the skirmish at the prison was beyond baffling and deeply unsatisfying. Towards the end of the season The Governor was a being reduced to a cartoonish caricature of a villain. I suppose next season they will take this to its logical conclusion and he will be reconfigured as a poor man’s Mumra, always coming up with some new ridiculous scheme to get back at that cursed Rick and the other Prison dwellers. Here’s another rule about big bads: they don’t need to overstay their welcome….

Were Andrea and Milton’s deaths earned?

Nope. Milton was an interesting character; I would have preferred him sticking around for another season or two, it would have been fun watching him become BFF’s with Herschel and continuing to play amateur scientist. Instead, we’ll be getting more of The Governor acting all crazy and stuff… yippee. As far as Andera goes, I will admit her characterization has been problematic this season, and it’s affected her likability but what I find more problematic is how the show deal’s with its female leads. Lori and Andrea were both written very inconsistently, and as a result the audience turned on them, labeled them as annoying, and hoped for their (onscreen) deaths. And once again, the writers gave the people what they wanted…. another prominent female character is killed off. Maybe instead of killing her off, they could have, I don’t know….written a compelling storyline for her next season.

But wait, you’re forgetting Carol, she used to be lame but she’s turned out all right….

Yeah, she is still a supporting/borderline minor character. Lori and Andrea were both the respective female leads of the show…and both have now been killed off.

If you had children, would you send them to Rick’s new daycare operation at the prison?

Of course….seems safe enough…

The Walking Dead

Speaking of Rick opening a foster home in the prison for the orphaned children of Woodbury…How do you feel about the complete Disneyification of The Walking Dead?

Like I said earlier, the show is more popular than ever, and it’s very popular with mainstream audiences, and generally speaking, mainstream audiences don’t always go for the darker stuff that challenges them intellectually. There is a reason show’s like Duck Dynasty and EVERYTHING ON CBS pulls in huge ratings folks. Rick saving the wee children is a wholesome bit of positivity that I’m sure some viewers (the people who don’t…and would never read reviews) loved. These types of fans (who now constitute the majority of the viewership) will be happy as long as Daryl and Michonne are killing zombies, and Glenn and Maggie are making googly eyes at each other.

Hey, why are they staying at the prison? Isn’t it all, like, jacked up now? Why would they stay there?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Carl killed that dude!

Yeah I saw that.

What did you think about that?

It was narrative subterfuge. It was a lame and undercooked idea that bogged down what should have been an exciting finale. And now he’s acting all pissy and whiny. I officially hate Carl again.

Are you going to keep watching/recapping?

Maybe…I think The Walking Dead will remain an immensely popular show for years to come. But, and this truly saddens me to say: I’m not really looking forward to the next season. Maybe the new showrunner Scott Gimple will be able to work with Robert Kirkman and AMC to create a show that’s quality matches its immense popularity. I’m not holding my breath, the Walking Dead is a seriously flawed show, at its worst it coasts on rampant carnage, faux-artiness, and the pseudo-despair of the characters, It’s proven on more than one occasion (“Nebraska”, “Clear”,) that it can rise above its shortcomings and deliver dramatically potent and viscerally engaging storytelling. Unfortunately, the show always falls back on its worse qualities more often than not and there comes a point as a viewer where you just throw your hands up in frustration. You begin to wonder if you’re going to continue watching. That was tonight’s episode for me.

Going to close with some words from my friend and fellow screen invader Kyle Moody, who is spot on in his assessment the finale’s problems:

I’ve never seen a show so badly let down its fanbase with its season finale. Nothing feels like it mattered, which killed its potential storytelling gravitas.

In episodes like this, The Walking Dead isn’t an actual show. It’s Snakes on a Plane, a visual story told not to fill hearts and minds but rather deliver the barest of its promised bounties and cross off a task sheet. I can see the writers actually creating the rules for a drinking game based on the narrative, then checking off the boxes to meet their boardgame demands. Really and truly, if you take a drink every time a person or a walker dies on this show, last night was a special treat for you. It’s just seeing the episode without any special blurring tricks that left you realizing that the Emperor wore no clothes.

It’s a game of checkers, not chess. There’s no strategy, just winning. And they’re winning by playing dirty, by playing first.

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The Author

Chris Baldwin

Chris Baldwin

Chris Baldwin is a sometimes college student, a most of the time pop culture geek, and aspiring comic book writer. He loves: movies, comics, good television, (no Snookis or Kardashians please and thank you) short fiction, long fiction, Stephen King’s fiction, all things Nintendo, music, standup comedy, sushi, and beer. He is from the south; Midway, Kentucky to be exact. GO CATS!! He’s required by state law to say that. He spent the last few years attending college at Western Kentucky University where he studied pop culture, creative writing, and film. Sometimes, he turns off the geek and enjoys the great outdoors, but only sometimes.