What to expect from The Walking Dead finale: Welcome to the Tombs

Well, this is it. Ready or not, The Walking Dead’s third season is coming to a close this Sunday. And based on previous season finales, which have tended toward changing the game utterly or being complete bloodbaths (or both), it’s likely to keep us glued to the screen. It’s been a rough season for our main characters as they fight off the legions of undead as well as new, human enemies, and there are a lot of loose ends lying around. How will they get tied up before the hour is over, and which ones will be left hanging?

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This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead up through the This Sorrowful Life, the episode before the season finale.

Run With It
After the way that last episode ended, it’s absolutely inconceivable that Daryl Dixon won’t play a huge role in the finale. Norman Reedus has said as much: Daryl is looking for revenge. And I for one hope he gets it. I may be happy as a clam that Merle is dead (good riddance to that abusive, racist, misogynistic, divisive waste of space), but watching Daryl have to put down the walker that used to be his brother was nothing short of heartbreaking. If someone is going to take out the Governor on Sunday, Daryl has a very strong claim to the kill.

daryl

The only one with a stronger claim would be Maggie, who was sexually assaulted by the Governor earlier in the season. But honestly, I don’t see her seeking revenge. Her storyline since her captivity in Woodberry has been more about personal healing and inner strength. So while I’d love for her to get a shot at the man who victimized her, I don’t think that’s the direction they’ll take her. I expect to see her leading the team beside Glenn instead of going off to pursue her own agenda.

Speaking of Glenn, his character growth over the last three seasons has been the most satisfying thing about the entire show for me. When it comes to Asian male characters, even compelling ones, mainstream media tends to fall into certain racist pitfalls of making them childlike, sexless, and forever secondary to white men (think Hiro Nakamura). But season 2 saw Glenn develop a relationship with Maggie that has come to be one of the most steadying and humanizing aspects of the entire show, and season 3 honed him to the point that he was the heir apparent when Rick was indisposed. Whatever the prison group chooses to do, he will be at the forefront.

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Andrea’s destiny is less clear. After a series of frustrating developments for her character (mostly centered around keeping her in Woodberry and attached to the Governor), she finally got an episode in Prey that reminded me of what I used to like about her. She was proactive, she was resourceful, she was vicious. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for her, and last we saw she was chained up in the Governor’s torture room. Her writing over the last two seasons has been so hit-and-miss that I honestly don’t know what to make of her. She might bust her way out of mediocrity and back into badassery, or her flight in Prey might have been the last time we get to see her spread her wings.

andrea

And then there’s Michonne, who is yet another viable contender for a showdown with the Governor. She missed her shot at him before, and we know she’d like another. But to be honest, since she escaped Woodberry her development has gone in such a different direction that I don’t even think she needs to resolve that confrontation. We saw a gentler side of her during her interactions with Carl and Rick in Clear, and (creepy racist undertones aside) she was absolutely fascinating while playing off Merle in This Sorrowful Life. While her arc is nowhere near complete and there’s still plenty to learn about her, she has clearly earned her place on the team. I’d be interested to see her friendship with Andrea take the fore in the finale instead of focusing on her agenda against the Governor.

michonne

Tyreese and Sasha are highly secondary to everyone else I’ve mentioned, but the amount of focus they’ve received in recent episodes makes me think they will be instrumental in the finale. They’ve become compelling characters with only a few scenes, and they occupy an interesting space between the two factions that poises them perfectly to get caught in the crossfire. I cannot describe how much I want them to survive the finale and continue being awesome. Between Jacqui, T-Dog, and Oscar, this show has a nasty habit of neglecting and then killing off its black characters. Hopefully Tyreese and Sasha (along with Michonne) are the beginning of the end of that pattern.

Leave it be
Considering the fact that he’s the main character, it’s a little strange that the person I’m expecting the least of in the season finale is Rick Grimes himself. Unfortunately, the side-plot of Rick’s grief over losing Lori has kept him from becoming too involved in the main plot of the season: the ongoing conflict with Woodberry and the Governor. Of course he’s a part of it in that he leads his faction, but compared to characters like Michonne, Daryl, and especially Glenn and Maggie, his personal stakes remain relatively low. And while he’s played a bigger role lately as he’s started to get control over his visions of Lori, his personal arc for the season seems pretty well played out after his decision to give up sole control of the group in favor of a democracy. Sure, he’s important, but this episode has so much to cover in one hour that I will be highly disappointed if it spends too much time on Rick.

rick

The same goes for Carl. He has a lot of potential as a character – possibly even more than his father at this point – and despite some cheesy moments in season 2 he remains one of the best-written characters of his age range in a mostly-adult ensemble cast that I’ve ever seen. But like Rick, he simply doesn’t have the personal stakes in this fight that some other characters do. I’d like a few more moments to wrap up Carl’s arc this season, but not too many and not too long.

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I think we can expect Hershel, Beth, and Carol to play much the same roles that they have all season. Hershel has become a sort of quieter stand-in for the late Dale, speaking with the voice of reason and logic in the face of anarchy (though I have to say that I preferred the unapologetic way that Dale used to ream everyone out when he thought they were wrong to Hershel’s more reserved wisdom). Beth has remained very much in the background. And while I appreciate the acknowledgement that Carol has “bloomed” from the timid, mousy woman she used to be, she has yet to really take any kind of proactive role in the story.

Maybe next season will hold bigger roles for these characters, but as for the upcoming finale, there simply isn’t time for them to do much more than stand back and let the spotlight fall where it’s needed more.

Chopping Block
But the real question is this: who will die?

The Governor is an obvious one. It’s been fun watching his façade crack and the sadistic madman slowly bubble to the surface, but now that all his cards are on the table it’s time for him to go.

governor

I wouldn’t put Maggie and Glenn on this list – they still have so much to offer, and they’re very popular with fans – except for the fact that they just got engaged in a very touching scene. Happy moments like that can be harbingers of death in a show like The Walking Dead. So I’m worried about them, but I will say that I would be very disappointed in the show if it chose to kill either one of them off. Glenn has grown so much, and his brand of leadership is a great foil for Rick’s. And killing Maggie at this point would make no sense for her character; it would only serve to create drama and motivation for Glenn. It would be a textbook example of a woman-in-refrigerator moment. Hopefully this show is better than that.

glenn maggie

The show would have to be deeply stupid to kill off fan favorites like Daryl and Michonne. And Rick seems to have contractual immortality due to being the technical main character. Carl is probably safe, too. While the show has proved that it has no qualms about killing children, Carl’s character development seems ready to take off soon. It wouldn’t make any sense to get rid of him when another season might make him into one of the best characters on the show.

Hershel is a likely candidate. He’s become too much of a Yoda for Rick, and we all know what eventually happens to mentor-figures. I’d be sad to see Beth or Carol go, but they’ve been such wallflowers lately that they seem like easy targets.

I’m calling it: Milton is going down. Now that the Governor has evidence that the good doctor is working against him, Milton is not long for this world. Besides, he always had a sort of tragic air around him. I’m surprised he lasted this long.

milton

I would have called it for Martinez too, except for his little exchange with Daryl in Arrow on the Doorpost. That moment of humanization might have just been to make his death all the sadder, or it might have been setting him up as a more reasonable alternative to the Governor once Woodberry is left without a leader.

Andrea is in very real danger of dying. But, like Maggie, I feel that her death would be a mistake. Its primary purpose would be to further other characters’ stories, which is poor use of a long-running character like Andrea. And as an end to her own story, it would seem to punish her attempt to sustain Woodberry and a semi-normal life with the Governor. Though her choices throughout this season ranged from questionable to reprehensible, I don’t think the message should be that she deserves to die for them.

See You On Sunday
Tune back in this weekend to see which predictions we got right and which will make us claw the drapes in our unmitigated rage and sorrow (which is what will happen if Glenn and/or Maggie dies, just saying).

We’ll also be covering the return of Doctor Who and the premier of Game of Thrones, so buckle up; it’s going to be a Hell of a Geekmas.

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