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

While the bulk of the episode focused on the Woodbury/Prison Non-Showdown, Andrea and Milton were trapped in a neat, tense little one-act play. Milton was dying, slowly but surely. He told Andrea that he had left some pliers behind her. (Andrea apparently hadn't noticed those pliers, because she lacked peripheral vision.) Andrea assured Milton that she would save his life. Milton told her very bluntly: "When you get free, you are going to find something very sharp, and you are going to stab me in the head. That is what you are going to do. [Milton Character Arc Season Grade: Milton was introduced as some kind of mad scientist, then was quickly retconned into the resident pacifist. He never had much to do, but I liked how Dallas Roberts played him with a low-key, awkward-yet-firm force. Also, he killed the show's most annoying character, which practically earns him an entire extra grade. B]

Andrea apparently spent the next three hours trying to grab the pliers with her feet, while Milton watched. I like to imagine Milton, dying, staring at the utterly useless Andrea uselessly trying to do something useful, and pondering the tragic comedy of existence. At various points, Andrea even paused to tell Milton really passionate explanations for her incoherent behavior this season. "I wanted to save everyone," Andrea said. "I didn't want anyone to die." Milton Mamet died watching Andrea fail miserably at freeing herself while soliloquizing about that time she almost killed the Governor. Then, right as Milton turned into a zombie, Andrea managed to use the pliers to free herself somehow. Milton moved toward her, and...

WE CUT BACK TO the prison, Rick tried to have a Serious talk with Carl about the boy he killed. Was he really handing the gun over? Did Carl really have to kill him? But Carl was having none of it, and he told Rick point-blank the smartest thing anyone has said on the show all season:

"I couldn't take the chance. I didn't kill the walker that killed Dale, and look what happened. You didn't kill Andrew, and he came back and killed Mom. You were in a room with the Governor, and you let him go, and then he killed Merle. I did what I had to do. Now go. So he doesn't kill any more of us."

Somehow, Carl has become the only character on The Walking Dead capable of making tough decisions without waffling, which makes him a bit of a sociopath and which also makes him -- post-Merle, post-Governor going full-crazy, post-Michonne becoming a kinder-gentler samurai -- the most interesting character on the show.

Glenn and Maggie opted to stay behind at the prison, which meant just Rick, Michonne, and Daryl were going to Woodbury. "Just the three of us?" said Daryl Motherf---ing Dixon. "Awright." They drove off...and found the Governor's killing field. They also found the one woman he left behind. She was their key into Woodbury. Tyreese let them in when they saw her. Rick led Tyreese to the Governor's prison pen. There, they found the doubly-dead Milton with a pair of pliers stuck in his head. They also found Andrea.

Now, I'm not a bloodthirsty person. I promise. But when I saw Andrea still alive on the ground, I thought to myself: "Nooooooooo!" And when Andrea revealed a big old walker-bite in her neck, I thought to myself: "Yeeesssss!"

And then, damn it, the show wound up making me feel a little sad for Andrea. Not that sad. Andrea never really made much sense as a character. She was suicidal and then she learned to love killing zombies, and then she was friends with Michonne but didn't really care much about Michonne, and also she still loved killing zombies but gave speeches about how humanity needed to be more human, and don't forget that she fell in love with Shane and the Governor.

But Andrea died well. She told Rick she wanted to kill herself, and she told him -- in a deep callback to the early episodes -- "I know how the safety works." Michonne opted to stay in the room, crying. Andrea told Rick her last words: "I tried." Rick gave her a simple epitaph: "Yeah, you did. You did." The shot of Rick, Tyreese, and Daryl waiting outside of the closed door was a standout visual from the evening. This was the toughest, most brutal moment in the episode -- a great send-off for a not-so-great character. RIP, Andrea: Please stay dead.

NEXT: What Lies Ahead

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