Season finales are hard, and they often leave audiences disappointed. When you spend an entire season building toward one huge climax, expectations are damn near impossible to top. Look at last year’s dramas, for instance: In the case of Mad Men, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire, the penultimate episode of the season was better than the finales of each of those series. It was the same, even, with Breaking Bad (as you recall, the penultimate episode was the Mike Ehrmentraut episode). Winding down isn’t nearly as fun as winding up.
That said, I did like the third season finale of The Walking Dead. My only issue with it is that, perhaps, the show tries too hard to please its audience, but in doing so, the season finale fell slightly short, but to the benefit of the future of the series.
If you’re reading this, you’ve already seen the finale, or at least I hope so. So I won’t bother recapping all of the events of the episode. Let’s instead just break it down by character, from the characters with the least movement to the most.
Glenn and Maggie — It was a great season overall for Glenn and Maggie. Much of the middle section of season three centered around the couple, from their abduction by The Governor to their efforts to come to terms with what happened to Maggie and Merle’s role in it. Last week, the engagement felt shoehorned into an otherwise excellent episode, and I didn’t understand the need unless they were attempting to forge a stronger emotional connection before robbing us of one of the characters. In the end, though, nothing happened. They were barely a factor in the finale. That said, I will miss Maggie the most during the offseason.
Beth Greene — Beth FINALLY killed a walker. Let’s give this woman a gold sticker, folks. She is not completely useless, after all. GET SOME, BETH.
Daryl and Carol — Likewise, Daryl and Carol were something of an afterthought in last night’s episode. Daryl crammed in a line about Merle (“Merle never did something like that his whole life”), and there was a sweet moment before battle where Carol and Daryl looked friendly together, but besides being soldiers for the prison’s cause, these two weren’t much of a factor in the finale, either.
Carol did get in a great kill.
Hershel Greene — Like he’s been doing for most of the season, Hershel basically just offered moral support last night, although him ratting out Carl to Rick would help to propel Carl’s transformation.
Tyreese and Sasha — These two, obviously, had major roles in last night’s episode, though they were passive advancers in the storyline. By choosing to stay behind to protect the children and old people of Woodbury, Tyreese and Sasha’s lives were spared and they were able to join Rick’s camp, along with the rest of Woodbury’s survivors. Their roles, all season, have basically been dictated by the actions of others. Their character traits, so far, can be reduced to: Sane Black Man and Sane Black Woman. Hopefully, they will further develop Tyreese’s character — make him a leader of the prison camp, perhaps — in season four, because Chad Coleman deserves to have a more active role in the series.