The Walking Dead season three wrapped up on Sunday night. I am here to provide a quick glance back at the season that was. Much like the actual show, this recap will have a lot of potential only to fall flat on its face in disappointment. (Full disclosure, I have not read any of the Walking Dead comics.)
Rather than an excruciating walk through each episode let’s break it down into two categories:
The Good, the Bold and the Beautiful:
Without a doubt the highlight of not only the season but also the series has to be the episode ‘Clear’. Written by the future showrunner, this episode broke off from its traditional paths and had us following Rick, Carl and Michonne as they headed back to their (surprisingly close) home town. This episode relieved a lot of the fans’ frustrations including a near mute Michonne and a forgotten character in Morgan. This episode gave me great hope for the future of the show. I honestly thought they would try to sustain the momentum they gained from this episode. Alas it has yet to happen as the episodes that followed were disappointing (more below).
The man loses a leg but gains everyone’s respect (and a ponytail!). To be honest I was not smitten with farmer Joe in the second season. I wrote him off as pretty useless and fully expected to see a zombie with a beard at any moment. Fortunately his character was redeemed despite a close brush with death. His character turned into a wise Obi-Wan type role. He was weak and slow but his mind was calm and quick. His ability to get through to Rick was extremely important and it gave the show a logical voice. He becomes the first character to survive a zombie bite and boy am I glad he did.
After binge-watching the first two seasons of the Dead, I assumed I had missed something regarding Merle and Morgan. I was very interesting in their whereabouts but I figured that they were never coming back. I was wrong. Both came back and both delivered in their own unique way. Merle became a regular character that added great moral issues for his brother Daryl. Morgan only had an episode to work with but boy did he ever deliver. His scenes were chilling and emotional and it pained me to see him stay behind. This season’s best moments revolved around these two and I am very glad the writers wrapped up their loose ends.
Let’s see, this season we lost T-Dog, Lori, Andrea, Milton and Merle. So three regulars, two of which annoyed the internet to no end and one of which was barely given enough screen time to be considered the token black guy. After that Milton, a new character that was intriguing but not loved, and Merle. Ahh yes, Merle. Somehow the guy that disappeared for two seasons and came back being the same jerk he was before, was the most gut wrenching death of the season. This season was about trimming the fat of the old cast and welcoming in some new, stronger characters. Transition time!
The New Arrivals:
See what I did there? Anyway the new arrivals had their frustrating times in this season but they look pretty solid going into the next. These include Michonne, the Governor, and Tyrese. Michonne struggled to catch on in the beginning but thanks to a colorful cat and tradebait story line, we all love her. Right? Oh, not quite yet? Well she is at least headed in the right direction. The Governor, much like the show, is terribly inconsistent but he does provide a bad guy role that can open up many different narratives. As for Tyrese, it is more wishful thinking on my part than anything. He seems like a cool and intelligent guy that could provide a lot for the group. Just don’t give him a gun. Somehow he has survived this long without being a good shot. You have literal walking targets surrounding you 24/7! How can you not be a good shot Tyrese? Get it together man. Oh, it looks like I forgot the infant. Little Ass Kicker is already a huge upgrade over her mother. Hey maybe next season she can take all of Beth’s lines. I bet she could handle that.
The Andrea, the Lori and the Beth (AKA The Awful, the Lame and the Bad)
Location, Location, Location:
What started off as a fairly interesting place for our favorite Dead Heads to bunker down in quickly turned into a prison. Ok so it was literally a prison. Look, I know it’s dangerous out there but I like my apocalypse survivors to journey through the unknown. The group only moves with a new season and I wish this would change. Unfortunately at the end of the season our Dead Heads gathered even more people and it looks like they will be stationary for the time being.
The Ricktatorship is over! He wasn’t overthrown or anything. He just pulled a Pope Benedict XVI and decided to step down due to, you know, RECEIVING PHONE CALLS FROM HIS DEAD WIFE! No big deal. Seriously though, Rick is a frustrating character (that frustrating feeling seems to appear everywhere with this show). I appreciate the writers taking a risk with their lead man but the execution lacked something. Maybe it was because after the passing of his wife, Rick became maddeningly selfish in regard to his family. I understand that he was struggling with the loss and I understand he is awful with emotions but I feel like his “Dad Mode” should have clicked on. Maybe he should have provided more comfort for his son after her was forced to kill his own mother! I don’t think a pat on the shoulder counts as empathy for his only son. Oh, by the way he also has a daughter. You didn’t realize that because their limited interaction right? I think he kissed her forehead once. That’s sweet.
The last episode:
I am willing to forgive the other 8ish forgettable episodes. Most of them were set-up episodes that moved at a snail’s pace. But at least they foreshadowed future epicness. The last episode was supposed to fulfill our epicness and it failed. I understand not centering the episode around a full on war and I respect that. What I don’t respect is the stupidity of the Governor’s war strategy, the failure of Andrea to do ANYTHING right, the gunning down of the innocent citizens of Woodbury, and Carl’s teenage angst/murder. All of which I feel like were very unrealistic. I felt numb towards Andrea’s death solely because her stupidity foiled her once again. Meanwhile Carl chose a curious time to play teenage rebel in my mind. He was annoying more than anything. Honestly, I don’t fault him for murdering the stranger in the woods. When someone with a silencer on his handgun demands you to put the gun down then please put the gun down. Don’t hand it over, don’t try to pull a fast one. Put the gun down, hands up and pray you survive. As for the Governor, well first he leads his ragtag militia straight into enemy territory and manages to waste a ton of bullets right off the bat. How did he not realize it was a trap when his vehicle ran over the tire spikes? And to top this off he turns the gun on his own people. I’m not buying it. I never had a great understanding of why he became so evil. Nothing about his turn towards evil felt convincing. Maybe it will make more sense in the upcoming season. Either way I felt like this episode emphasized everything that this show does wrong rather than use it as a time to restart for future seasons.
There you have it. Season 3 was an overall success in my eyes. They strengthened their core characters and added some potentially strong characters for the future. They had set backs and frustrations but overall it was better than the second season. What a relief that is. Hopefully season 4 takes the next step and solidify itself as the show I know it can be.
Walking Dead Season 3 rating: 7/10