In Slate’s The Walking Dead TV Club, Chris Kirk will IM each week with a different fan of The Walking Dead. This week, he discusses “Welcome to the Tombs” with Todd VanDerWerff, TV editor of the AV Club and The Walking Dead reviewer for the Los Angeles Times.
Chris Kirk: Let’s dive right into the guts and gore! The Governor gives Milton a knife and instructs him to kill Andrea to redeem himself. Milton bravely refuses and attacks the Governor instead, but the Governor overpowers him and stabs him repeatedly. It’s clear at that point that he’s not going to make it. Are you sad to see him go?
Todd VanDerWerff: Milton continues the show’s odd habit of adding really good actors to the cast then killing them off within the space of the season. That said, yeah, I’m sad he’s dead. He was a good character and the only Woodburyite I connected to at all. It might have been nice to see Milton fit in with the prison group, but, alas, Dallas Roberts getting added to the cast of Unforgettable pretty much scuttled that.
Chris: After the Governor makes short work of Milton, he takes a new hit squad on an offensive against the prison. The new band looks a little ragtag; Merle must have taken out some of their best men. The Governor happens upon a Bible with a highlighted verse.
Todd: That was a bit from the Gospel of John, in which Jesus promises that those who have done good will have the resurrection of life, while those who have done evil will have the resurrection of judgment. Appropriate for both this show and Easter Sunday.
Chris: Unfazed by the omen, the Governor and his group continue deeper into the prison. Alarms start going off, zombies appear, and suddenly they’re scrambling out. That scene reminded me of the first few episodes of the season, when the Grimes people themselves are wandering confusedly through the inner hallways of the prison.
Todd: The Governor’s tactical planning has left quite a bit to be desired all season. Just taking this group into the jail seems kind of stupid, particularly when you consider how much better the prison group will know the location. Even with the advantage of numbers, it would be all too easy for the Woodburyites to get trapped in there, as they almost did.
Chris: Outside, Glenn and Maggie fire upon the invaders, although they don’t appear to hit anyone. I wonder if that was intentional? In the forest, Carl and Hershel run into a kid with a shotgun, clearly one of the attackers. The kid lowers his shotgun, but Carl shoots him anyway. I’m not sure how to feel about this. That kid was lowering his shotgun much too slowly; it seemed like he was about to attack Carl.
Todd: I’ve liked the show’s slow build of Carl as somebody who’s pretty hardened by having this happen at such a young age. I actually prefer it to the comics’ treatment of the same character.
Chris: While Carl is flirting with evil, the Governor is embracing it wholeheartedly. He tells everyone to turn back around, and his team protests. So he kills them.
Todd: The show has been selling its version of the Governor as this sort of weird mastermind all season long, and then he just starts gunning his own men down? I didn’t buy it, even if it was an excellent moment in terms of being shocking.
Chris: Over the course of the season, he’s stepped from Machiavellian to just plain murderous.
Todd: Yes, and the evolution has been incredibly abrupt. I’d buy it if the show had tried to make it clear this was all always in him, but for the most part, it was trying to make him seem vaguely reasonable, outside of the zombie daughter and fish tanks full of heads.
Chris: At the prison, the A-Team forms up: Michonne, Daryl, and Rick. As the gate closes behind them, Carol, who looks unusually badass, plunges a blade into a zombie head.
Todd: Carol is sort of my favorite character at this point, which I don’t know if I would have said back in the day.
Chris: In Woodbury, Andrea is still trying to get out of a chair.
Todd: I can already hear the Internet snark about how this section of the episode boiled down to Andrea trying to get out of a chair for an hour, even if I liked some of the earlier conversations between her and Milton.
Chris: Milton turns into a zombie and bites her before she can kill him. The A-Team finds her dying. I can’t help but wonder if Andrea died because viewers seemed to have such disdain for her. I wonder, will her touching demise tonight lead people to remember her more fondly?
Todd: It’s a pretty classic You didn’t like this character? Well, look at how they do THIS! setup. That said, I don’t really know that that moment was powerful enough to rise to that level. The music and filmmaking were doing a lot of the heavy lifting there.
Chris: She says, “I just didn’t want anyone to die.” Will we remember her as nobly optimistic or irritatingly ignorant?
Todd: Well, one of the arguments of The Walking Dead has always been that optimism and ignorance are basically the same thing.
Chris: Andrea has become a testament to that like no other character. Her desire to “save everyone” killed a lot of people. So I have trouble feeling bad for her. Then again, it’s hard to remain unmoved when Michonne arrives.
Todd: The show tried to pitch us on this heavy connection between Andrea and Michonne that just never came across. We were told about it more than shown the chemistry between the actresses.
Chris: I agree. Still, it’s good to see Michonne emoting.
Todd: I came to like Michonne a lot, particularly once she was at the prison. The show has found a really good group of core characters now, one that it could work with well going forward. Rick’s the one I like least of them, which is … problematic, but I think this is a good batch to use in the future.
Chris: Agreed. This season’s character arcs have been strong. I suppose that is in part attributable to the greater number of episodes in this season. The writers have used their 16, for the most part, well. Now that it’s over, what are your thoughts on the season as a whole?
Todd: It’s easily the strongest season of the show so far, but it also rather points to how the series struggles to tell good, character-based stories. Sometimes, things just happened because they needed to happen, and the Governor’s arc was really strange in just about every way.
Chris: I was hoping to see zombie Merle rise again and rescue Milton so the two could start their own spinoff. Nevertheless, the season and season finale delivered, and I’m looking forward to the next. Now, will somebody tell me what happened on Game of Thrones?