‘The Walking Dead’ 3.16 Recap: “You Kill or Die, or Die and Then Kill”

So, what was all that build-up for? The fourth season? Because the ‘Walking Dead’ third season finale left me feeling like there has to be another episode after this. It falls just as flat as many of the filler episodes that we saw this season.

Sixteen episodes later and Season 3 went out with a whimper rather than a guttural growl. Instead of acting hungry, the show looked lethargic, like it had already bitten off more than it could chew and was just waiting to digest. I kept staring at my clock wondering how much time was left, thinking, “This is when everything is going to go down. This is when they’re going to try to blow us away with some epic flip of the script.” But that never came.

I’ve made a point of comparing ‘The Walking Dead’ to ‘Lost’ on numerous occasions, and this time is no different. I mean, opening up on the Governor’s eyeball and slowly spinning outward to reveal his face? It made me wonder if the producers had simply run out of creative things to do. Judging by how the prison siege was handled, I think that’s a valid concern.

The entire season has been building to some kind of showdown between the Prisonites and the Wooburians. We accepted episodes here and there that seemed less about moving the story forward and more about setting up the final moments, simply because we believed that the ending would bring something big. That something was supposedly going to be this showdown at the prison. So, what happened? Quite possibly the most anti-climactic thing the show has done so far.

The Governor and his cronies charge into the prison blowing up guard towers and mowing down Walkers with .50-caliber machine guns. They’ve obviously come to win. When they burst through the gates, they aren’t met with any sort of resistance. A little odd, but I had a feeling that Rick had concocted a diabolical plan of his own, so I felt satisfied with the lack of return fire.

The Woodburians quickly reach the entrance, jump down from their vehicles, and stupidly file into the prison, leaving no one as a lookout. The Governor leads the charge, weaving his crew deeper and deeper into the bowels of the prison. I couldn’t help but think that there were multiple opportunities where Rick and company could’ve ambushed the entire group, especially as they walked further into the catacombs of the prison. They hid so well, why not double-back and simply lock them in and then open fire? It seemed that they knew beforehand which path the Governor would take, because that’s where they finally threw out their flashbangs.

What annoyed me was that they missed all the opportunities for a surprise attack, and instead waited until the entire group was back outside, where there was much less of a tactical advantage. Then, they open fire with only two people! Glenn and Maggie lay down huge amounts of machine gun fire, don’t hit anyone, and the Governor’s forces drive off with their tails between their legs. This entire sequence doesn’t make much, if any, sense. It feels undercooked, like the writers spent so much time worrying about filling up 16 episodes that they forgot to save something exciting for the finale. The Governor mowing down his constituents (guess who’s not getting re-elected for a second term?) doesn’t qualify. That’s much more shockingly comical than actually shocking.

I admit that the Andrea/Milton’s zombie dilemma is intense, but after a while it gets tiresome to watch a woman try to pick up pliers with her feet. However, I was far too let down by the measly attack on the prison to care about anything else going on.


  1. I didn’t have a problem with the raid on the prison, but I was disappointed that the season ended with no resolution for the Governor. I don’t want to see him hanging around for another season. The finale was extremely anticlimactic.

  2. JR

    Couldn’t agree more. I told my wife I could pretty much sum up my opinion in one word,”Thud.” The sound of the season falling flat on its face. If this is why Mazzara fired, then I say good riddance.

    What exactly was the point of focusing so heavily on the season’s narrative arc, instead of the characters, just to essentially ignore it all and end with a whimper?

    Now all of those episodes that were more filler than killer have been made that much worse by building toward nothing. The best episode of the season had only a small hint of the arc in it. They need to focus there for next season and right this ship.

    • I think Mazzara wanted to ditch the prison in Season 4, and AMC (after spending significant $$$ on the set) wants to keep it around for a while. How else do you explain Rick bringing the Woodbury citizens back to the prison instead of everyone else moving there?

      • Aaron Peck

        Going back to the prison seemed illogical at best. It had already been shown that it was easily taken over by outside enemies/forces. The group could’ve easily moved into Woodbury, took over the town, and called it home. It would’ve made a more strategically defensible position. But, since when have Rick or anyone else relied on logic to guide their decisions?

        • I disagree. Taking over Woodbury would be a tremendously bad idea. The prison at least has a limited number of entry points to defend. The town is a much larger area with far more entry points that the Governor would be well familiar with (yet Rick’s group wouldn’t be). With half the townpeople slaughtered, and the remaining half mostly being children, the elderly or the infirm, there’s simply no way Rick’s group could secure Woodbury. The Governor could easily sneak in and kill them all.

          On the other hand, with the Governor’s group reduced to just him and two lackeys, he’ll have a much harder time staging another raid on the prison.

          With that said, I think it’s really lame that the writers didn’t kill off the Governor in the finale so that next season can move onto a new storyline.

  3. RollTide1017

    The whole second half of the season has been pretty flat and boring IMO, so I wasn’t to surprised when the finale went out with a loud whimper. With they way they wrote Andrea for most of this season I was actually glad to see her die.

    It’s been said before but I;m saying it again. I’m sick a tired of how these characters can empty magazines of bullets and not even nick someone but, turn around and place precision head shots on every zombie. Not only that, they whine and whine about conserving ammo when hunting zombies but, have no problem wasting buckets of bullet shooting at air when fight non-zombies. Lazy, lazy writing; the whole staff should be fired, not just Mazzara.

    • I disagree with that…I think both “Clear” and “This Sorrowful Life” were fantastic shows. You can make an argument for “Clear” being perhaps the best of the entire run.

      Both the above shows were written by new showrunner Scott Gimple, who also wrote the great “18 Miles Out” from Season 2 (my personal favorite episode)…so one hopes that he’ll get the series back on track next year. I know we’re likely to see more characterzation from him than fight scenes and zombie killings, so there is a risk of turning some of the audience off.

      • Aaron Peck

        Rumor is that season 4 will focus on the dynamic between Rick and Tyrese. Since Tyrese is about the dullest character on the show, I’m betting we stay pretty much mired in mediocrity.

    • Aaron Peck

      This is true. Headshots are a dime a dozen whenever Walkers are attacking, but suddenly humans attacking humans and bullets fly everywhere except at their intended targets. It’s wildly inconsistent.

  4. Aaron Peck

    And with that I say adios to ‘The Walking Dead’. I won’t be recapping it for however many more seasons it runs because I simply can’t muster up much excitement when Sunday rolls around.

  5. Charles

    Unfortunately, I have to agree. Worse finale I’ve ever seen. Say what you want about season 2, but at least it ended well. This was just so anticlimactic to the extreme.

  6. EvilResident

    It was terrible as a season finale, but as an episode it was fine. I’m not giving up on this show yet.

  7. WJD

    Yeah, second half was pretty lame.
    Agree with knocking off Andrea…she added zero to the show this year.
    Writers are going to have to dig deep next year.
    P.S. What dynamic between Rick and Tyrese?
    Tyrese is probably the worst actor on the show!

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