Reflections on “The Walking Dead” Season 3

So here we are again!

Season 1 summary
Season 2 summary

Far from the idyllic lifestyle of living on a ranch, the showdown between Rick and Shane at the end of season 2 brought that to a crashing end and the group had to scarper. Their destination after another eight months on the road is a prison with secure fences and walls, watch towers and secure buildings. Ideally they could make a life here if they can maintain the integrity of the defences, plant crops and generally get on. But things never go according to plan.

At the mid-season finale, Maggie comments to Glenn that “we’ve been so worried about protecting ourselves against the Walkers that we’ve forgotten what we can do to each other” (paraphrased). And that is the over-arching theme of this series. The Governor sees any organised group away from his as a threat, he kills a group of soldiers and takes their equipment. When he learns of the existence of the prison he wants to know where it is and plans to take it. The new arrivals in the second half of the season discuss taking over the prison, as did the prisoners at the beginning of the series wish to send our group away. Constant conflict between the living and for the scarce resources makes you forget about the walking dead sometimes.

Rick: He had Daryl and Merl pitted against each other. Crowd, cheering for them to fight to the death. What kind of a sick mind does that?
Hershel: The kind this world creates

Andrea has been searching for a purpose and some stability since her sister died. She seems to find it in Pleasantville Woodbury, never looking beyond its apparent perfect exterior and when Michonne implores her to look beneath the surface, she will not accept it. When The Governor asks her to be a stand-in leader, effectively a “Regent” she isn’t best pleased about it and when he immediately undermines that authority by attacking the prison, she offers to make amends – an offer he refuses telling her “you go to the prison, you stay there.” He raises an army despite her protests. Does he really want her in charge or merely a figurehead that he can blame things on if/when things go wrong? I want to be annoyed at her demise because she was one of the most complex characters but ultimately, I think she had run her course.

Andrea: Once we entered Woodbury you became hostile
Michonne: That’s because I could see it
Andrea: See what?!
Michonne: That you were under his spell from the second you laid eyes on him

Michonne though, ever untrusting, has red flags flying from the moment they arrive and looks for evidence to confirm those suspicions. She is right to be suspicious, these mini-utopias are never what they seem and The Governor is a wannabe dictator who reveals his true colours when things start to go wrong – and go wrong they do, and pretty quickly after Rick’s mission to rescue Glenn and Maggie. Despite claims that people are always free to leave whenever they like, the reality is much different and soon people are being forcibly kept inside. Michonne is the antithesis of Merl Dixon. She’s the girl you want and need on your side but she is not a team player – despite that she seems to be warming to the group at the end and seems to want to stay.

Despite myself, I almost liked Merl Dixon in the end. Yes, he was a shithead but he had the capacity to be the ‘Sawyer‘ character (but less intelligent) when his brother could temper him (remember the family they saved on the bridge. Merl went rooting through their car for something to take in compensation but Daryl pointed the crossbow at his brother’s head). Daryl might be the younger brother but over the previous seasons we have come to understand that he has a strong head on his shoulders. All Merl was really worried about is his brother – watch how his priorities change inside Woodbury once he discovers that his brother is still alive. He helps repel the walkers that were sent in by The Governor in episode 10’s attack and he entices them into a trap in the penultimate episode. Whether you liked him or not, I felt he was a necessary character since the departure of Shane – we needed a loose cannon that we could only trust some of the time. I am annoyed that they killed him too.

Hopes for season 4?

Mostly I hope that any new characters that are introduced are not bumped off within one or two episodes. We need fresh blood and with the cast being picked off gradually (too many I feel), that need becomes greater. Within half a season, all of the prisoners were dead when two or three seemed to be building up to stay for the long-term. We don’t expect anybody to survive but if you’re going to start to make us care about a character then save the death scene for when it will be a real horror (Dale is a good example of this – so was Merl’s on reflection). Too many come and go as well; remember the group that made their way into the prison? We could have done with them hanging around but after a couple of episodes of posturing and pleading, they were on their way. They joined up with Woodbury and didn’t do much until we saw them falling apart during episode 13 and then became bit-parts until the very end.

Too many died this year and the more regulars you bump off the more immune to it you become – you lose that shock factor that we saw with Dale. They don’t need to keep upping the body count to maintain an audience and it might end up having an adverse effect. It was a good decision to bring in those who fled Woodbury and hopefully we’ll have a few interesting additions for the next season.

Otherwise, more of the same! This was a superb season.

8 thoughts on “Reflections on “The Walking Dead” Season 3

  1. Matt

    I have to disagree but I do compare to the comic book a lot. There is a great plot line in the book with them all trying to live together in the prison and this was brushed over quickly to get to the midsession finale and then the waiting for the governor to attack the prison was stretched out for so long I got very bored. I felt te pacing was horribly wrong in this season. Even without comic book considerations. There were some good moments but it all felt like padding to me. The show is really losing its steam.

  2. Cyndi Faria, Author

    This is by far one of my favorite series. Like you, I’m concerned about the remaining few. I have so many questions. Will Rick’s guilt be resolved? Will he find love? Yes, I’m a romantic. I found Meryl’s death shocking even though I know minor villains must be killed off. That scene with Daryl was so sad. The last episodes climax did work for me, however. What did you think about the last episode?

  3. tmso

    I haven’t seen Season 3! So I skipped most of your post. I will have to wait till it comes out on Netflix. :(

    But that’s okay. I’m patient.

  4. Matt

    I thought the final episode was an awful let down. They build up to a big fight for ages(far too long in my opinion) and all we get us a brief raid on the prison where the governors men get trapped and then the governor got away! I’ve seen normal episodes with more thrill than that ‘finale’. The villain needed to die.

    1. Wow, this one has people talking! I enjoyed the season overall and felt the pacing was better than season 2 where there was a lot of sitting around philosophising and talking. I do agree though that the final attack was a damp squib. Episode 10 had a far better action sequence and they would have done better to switch them around – a more half-arsed approach earlier on because Woodbury didn’t expect the prison to be so organised and then go in later as an act of desperation and transporting those walkers in. Strategically it put them on the back foot.

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