1) When you stop treating Carl like a stupid kid and start treating him like a child soldier, it turns out he’d make a more clear-minded and decisive leader than his dad. (Yes, he shot that dude in cold blood – but in the zombie apocalypse, when an armed boy in a cowboy hat tells you to put down your shotgun, FUCKING PUT DOWN YOUR SHOTGUN, DICKWEED.)
2) Even when the leader of your group is bleary-eyed, sweating from every pore, waving around his gun like it’s too heavy for him, trudging along in mid-day Atlanta sunshine and DEFINITELY seeing visions of his dead wife, apparently the response is not “Hey…Rick, wanna come inside, buddy? You’re clearly suffering from a heady mix of insomnia, dehydration and post-traumatic stress disorder.” It is, “Let’s let him work through it at his own pace.”
3) Did you know that T-Dogg truly was the best of them all?
4) Michonne’s sword operates on three principles: the blade is made out of adamantium; zombie flesh and bone is about the consistency of soft butter; and upper body strength doesn’t enter into it at all.
5) Old guys who quietly voice their objections as simply and directly as possible are far preferable to old guys who glare judgingly at everyone and insist on episode-long discussions of morality in the parlor. (So, no, I do not miss Dale.)
6) Apparently things only went to shit in Woodbury once Rick’s group sent The Governor totally around the bend, but…this whole town apparently gathered every night to watch a one-handed racist hillbilly in a zombie gladiator pit as the accepted form of entertainment. Because apparently starting a softball league or a theatre troupe would’ve been too much work.
7) At some point Carol kind of turned into the most awesome character, and I can’t even put my finger on why.
8) It is nice, getting some confirmation that the writers want to kill all the same people I want them to kill.
9) Teenage girls who grow up on isolated farms in Georgia know the lyrics to Tom Waits’ Mule Variations. (OK, yes, just “Hold On,” but I imagine immediately after she was done crooning that one, she snapped right into “What’s He Building?” because THAT’S WHAT YOU DO.)
10) Someone must have let it slip to the writers that generally, successful television stories have things like “stakes,” “long-term and short-term objectives,” “logical character arcs,” and on occasion, “antagonists.”
While season 3 still had its fair share of stumbling blocks (almost anything Andrea-related; the Maggie rape-threat arc, which actually focused more on how it affected motherfucking GLEN, off the top of my head), it was a marked improvement over the meandering tediousness of season 2.
This season had a couple clear questions that more or less made up a narrative backbone:
- How does one define “community” when having to rebuild it from scratch?
- What’s more important, security or liberty?
- What constitutes real leadership?
- If Rick gives into letting go of his basic humanity, what’s the result – The Governor? Or Lenny James? And are there benefits to either? (I would argue that in the case of Lenny James – and what’s generally considered the show’s best-ever episode, “Clear” – the benefit is “Every day you get to come up with amazing new ideas for your murder-gauntlet!” which has not the happiest hobby, but certainly lends itself to bouts of creativity.)
And by ending the season with something of a shock – which is to say, by not actually ending the story with the violent showdown everyone assumed was coming, but rather with Rick welcoming the remaining Woodsbury townsfolk into the fold, while allowing the now crazy-revealed Governor as a lingering threat in the future – the show seems confident that it can mine these ideas for further seasons.
In all, a confident if unconventional end to a pretty reassured season. I’m actually looking forward to the next one, since the cast is now made up entirely of people I don’t want to die horribly, and the new showrunner is the guy who wrote “Clear,” so there’s even the possibility that there will be anywhere from two to three moments of levity!
(Or at least more bloody axes with the words “Told You” scrawled on them.)