The Walking Dead season finale recap: Pretty Little Pliers

The Woodbury army comes to the Prison. People die, and die, and die
Ep. 16 | Aired Mar 31, 2013

THE KID SHERIFF OF GRIMES CITY In an episode filled with bloodshed, Carl was the only soldier who had to make a tough decision. Did he make the right call? Hershel didn't think so, but Hershel has inherited the Dale mantle of waffling mortality morality. Rick didn't think so, but Rick made an almost identical decision way back in episode 2, when he split Tomas' head open. Carl is cursed to live in a world where none of the authority figures can agree on any ethical rules of engagement. He's a great soldier and a terrible human being; but at least he has a moral code, as twisted as it is.

Gene Page/AMC

Now listen, this is clearly a terrifying view of the world. It is also a view of the world that makes complete sense in the context of the world these characters inhabit. The problem is that The Walking Dead decided to confine this perspective almost exclusively to the most obviously villainous character: A one-eyed man who dresses like Snake Plissken in Escape from L.A., a hunter of women and a biter-offer of fingers. The broken promise of season 3, I think, was the idea that the Governor and Rick weren't really so different; that Rick, in his caveman-war-chief melancholy, might actually be a less attractive authority figure than the Governor, a cultured charmer who kills bad people while you aren't looking. (Maybe he actually kills some good people, too. But how often do you pay attention to casualty reports?)

Back at the prison, Tribe Grimes was making preparations. Not for war. They appeared to be setting back on the open road, loading up their cars and packing up all their belongings. Carl was in a bad mood. Michonne was in a good mood, thanking Rick for letting her into the prison. [Michonne Character Arc Season Grade: Michonne became one of the most instantly memorable characters on the show, a badass woman with a samurai sword and a bad attitude. One season later, here's what we've learned about her: She's a badass woman with a samurai sword, and her bad attitude has morphed into a rather genial attitude. Danai Gurira gives great samurai face, but Michonne is an important character with practically zero character traits. B+] Meanwhile, above it all, Ghost Lori lingered, looking vaguely bored.

The Governor led his men into the prison. They came in guns blazing, Call of Duty style. Martinez blew up a couple of prison towers. Bullets flared across the prison. Confusion: Nobody fought back. The Governor led his men into C Block. There was no one in C Block. There was no sign of life at all, really, except for a Bible left open to John 5:29 -- "And shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection and the life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." The Governor was not happy. "Blast you, eerily appropriate Bible passages!" he screamed. "I won't stand for your cheap irony! I won't!"

Now, here is where things get a bit fuzzy, tactically speaking. The Governor led his men into the dark tunnels of the prison, apparently mad with bloodlust. This strikes me as a terrible idea, but it's also something I can conceivably see the Governor doing. He knew he had overpowering numbers; he probably figured that he could handle Tribe Grimes, even though they could strike from the shadows guerilla-style. (It's the same mistake the British army made in the Revolutionary War, at least according to The Patriot.)

But the tunnel tactic wasn't just stupid on principle. It also led them right into a trap. A bunch of flashbombs went off, and the alarm sounded, bringing groups of walkers right to the Governor's army. Now, for about one second, here is the thought I had: "My god, I've been wrong all along about Tribe Grimes' inability to shut their own back door and prevent more zombies from coming into the tombs! They managed to create the perfect deathtrap for the Governor's army!" But no, that wasn't the intention at all; weirdly, after a season of building up animosity between Woodbury and the Prison, it appeared that the Grimes' were trying to wage a bloodless war.

This is morally admirable and utterly ludicrous in the context of The Walking Dead; even more ludicrous is the fact that it actually worked.

NEXT: Morality and zombies

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