In the wake of what was to many a disappointing season three finale of The Walking Dead, we are learning from a Vulture interview with Dallas Roberts (who played Milton) that there was a different ending to the season, which was changed in reshoots two months after the original ending had been filmed. The details changed, somewhat, but the result was overall the same, at least where it concerned Milton and Andrea.
(Spoilers ahead, DUH.)
Indeed, Milton and Andrea still died, but in the original ending, Milton was shot by The Governor instead of stabbed, and instead of the walker version of Milton being killed by Andrea, Milton-Walker was taken out by Tyreese when he and Rick broke into The Governor’s torture chamber to rescue Andrea, who had already had a chunk taken out of her by Milton.
That original ending, however, didn’t have Michonne, which means that the tearful scene between Michonne and Andrea — or the best part of that sequence — came in reshoots. Where was Michonne in the original ending? I have no idea. Chasing down The Governor? Maybe she killed The Governor in the original ending, as many of us had predicted she might.
In fact, I’ve been giving some thought to the ending of The Walking Dead since it aired, and while I didn’t hate the ending as many of you did, it certainly hasn’t sat well upon reflection. The problem that the series faced is the same sort of problem that has confronted Sons of Anarchy for the last couple of years, and something that The Walking Dead should’ve learned from. One of the best characters in SoA is the villain (Ron Perlman), and to kill him would rob the show of one of its biggest draws. Sons of Anarchy has found creative (or TERRIBLE) ways to keep Perlman’s character around, despite the fact that there have been many opportunities to kill him. Unfortunately, now we’re stuck with feeble, oxygen-mask Clay instead of the bad-ass he once was, taking from us of the satisfaction of seeing him die at the top of his game, and sticking us with a limp, arthritic old man trying to outmaneuver Jax with no real support system. At this point in The Walking Dead, The Governor is the arthritic, feeble Clay Morrow of the series with no real support system.
However, if The Walking Dead had killed The Governor in the season three finale, it would’ve opened season four with a huge vacuum. They would’ve had to create another big bad from scratch, and creating a villain as memorable as The Governor is difficult (see also season three of Justified, which suffered somewhat under the shadow of Mags Bennett). But I thought of a solution that The Walking Dead showrunners might have considered, and while hindsight is 20/20, it wouldn’t have been that difficult to implement, and it would’ve solved both The Governor AND the Andrea problem.
What the series did to Andrea was damn near criminal, turning a strong, bad-ass female character in season two into a weak, indecisive harpy. But they could’ve worked that to their advantage. They would have needed to lay the groundwork starting around mid-season, but given Andrea’s sexual history with The Governor, it’s not out of the question that she might’ve gotten pregnant. I’m not suggesting that the show needed another baby, but if — during the first showdown between the prison and Woodbury, after The Governor pitted Merle and Daryl in a gladiator fight — Andrea had been injured, and had lost her child, there could have been an opportunity to better unite her and The Governor against Rick and the prison, responsible for the loss of her baby. As you may recall, Andrea was already on the fence about Rick’s camp initially; she believed The Governor’s lies about the threat that the prison camp posed against Woodbury. Had she completely and permanently turned to the dark side, she and The Governor could’ve formed a strong unit. Andrea had already displayed dark-side tendencies in her relationship with Shane; in fact, she could have used Shane’s death as another excuse to turn away from Rick. It’s not too difficult to envision some sort of madness taking over Andrea, either, since that very madness has already claimed The Governor and Shane as victims.
This scene could’ve been the turning point for Andrea.
Then, in the season finale, instead of Milton killing Andrea, The Governor could’ve died, as he did in the comic book (preferably at the hands of Maggie or Glenn, who most deserved that satisfaction). Andrea, who we would’ve hated for the right reasons (because she was evil) instead of the wrong reasons (because she was annoying and indecisive) could’ve then filled the vacuum left by The Governor. She would’ve wanted revenge for The Governor’s death, and she could’ve taken control of the Woodbury army, now doubly hardened against the prison because of the casualties they had racked up (including The Governor).
Is it a perfect ending? Maybe not. But we would’ve gotten the satisfaction we were due in the death of The Governor, and season four could’ve kicked off with a villain we already hated. As it stands, season four will start with a weak Governor in regrouping mode, and given the limited resources he has available to him, it’s hard to imagine that we could ever hate him as much as we did after he killed Merle. It would’ve also spared us the Looney Tunes absurdity of The Governor taking out his own army during a ill-advised temper tantrum.