April 1st, 2013
09:41 AM ET
[This post contains spoilers for the March 31 season finale of AMC's "The Walking Dead."]
In the Governor's apocalypse, it was "kill or die ... or die and kill."
Those are the choice words that the Governor told Milton after stabbing him and leaving him to turn into a walker in the room where Andrea was handcuffed to a dentist's chair.
Just moments before, the season finale opened with a blood-splattered Governor beating down on Milton, who had admitted to setting fire to the "pit biters."
Milton then confronted the Governor by asking what Penny, the Governor's dead daughter, would think of his actions if she were alive.
The Governor told him that if Penny were alive, she would be afraid of him, and not dead.
Milton - played by Dallas Roberts - will be missed by many fans of the show. Over the course of season three, Woodbury's scientist/historian completed his transformation from mousy acolyte to brave renegade.
Even while Milton furnished a tool for Andrea to pry off the handcuffs with, it took her an instant too long to break free. When Rick and Michonne found her at the end of the episode, she was mortally wounded by Milton's deadly bite, but was afforded a final goodbye to her friends.
Asked about her time on the show, actress Laurie Holden reflected that it was "the greatest gig I ever had. I worked with my best friends every day, and we played jokes on each other and we sang and we danced. We’d blast 'Thriller' and pretend we were zombies. There were so many fun, happy moments. It was pretty much a joy each and every day. It felt kind of like renegade student filmmaking. We would just get in there and support each other. Even if you didn't have to be there, everyone would show up for the big moments other people had. You felt such love and support in a way that I've never experienced as an artist."
But for those expecting a fiery battle this episode, the season finale did not disappoint.
At first, it seemed like the gang had opted to pack their things and leave their fortified position behind. But then the finale's best twist came halfway through the prison siege, when we learned that they'd gone the "Home Alone" route and booby-trapped the place.
The Governor and almost every able-bodied Woodburian blasted the prison with fire from machine guns, a Gatling-like minigun and rocket-propelled grenades. They lost their ill-begotten Humvee to a well-placed spike strip in the prison's yard, and found another trap that sent bullets and tear gas flying once they made their way inside the building.
Not being "combat-tested," the small army scrambled back onto the prison yard and were met with fire from Glenn and Maggie. The two, together with Rick, Daryl and Michonne, forced them out of the grounds and into retreat.
Carl, who was waiting out the combat with the others from a safe distance, pulled the trigger on a young fleeing Woodburian. Seconds before firing, a cold sweat and a troubled gaze span his countenance.
On one hand, it was hard to blame Carl for firing on an enemy who ignored calls to drop his weapon, and then somehow managed to look like he was slowly attempting a sneak attack.
But when confronted with his actions, the young Grimes blamed his father for not killing his enemies when he had the chance, allowing them to come back to haunt them. He wouldn't make the same mistake.
It was all tough-talk from Carl, who ended his do-what-must-be-done lecture with an icy "you can go now." Class dismissed.
So it's up to us to make up our mind about Carl. Is he now so weary of outsiders that he won't hesitate to shoot another person to death in the pursuit of his own well-being? Is he, like the Governor, and Shane before him, now firmly of the "kill or be killed" mentality?
Or is this just teenage angst flaring up at a moment when he couldn't let the opportunity pass to school his father and get back at him for sending him away to wait out the combat?
After the retreat, the Governor and his rag-tag army regrouped on a lonely stretch of road. Infuriated by their refusal to continue the fight, the Governor turned his gun on them and shot everyone but those who stood behind him.
Allen, who had wanted to fight to avenge his son Ben - killed by Merle - confronted the Governor and was also shot. The only two remaining men, Martinez and the quiet Shupert, sheepishly hopped on a truck together with the Governor. Their fate will remain unknown until next season.
While hiding, one Woodburian survived the Governor's onslaught, and she joined Rick, Michonne and Daryl, who had agreed after the siege to take the fight back to the Governor at Woodbury. The four made their way inside Woodbury, and transported every last remaining resident back to the prison, including Tyreese and Sasha, who had stayed behind to guard the walls.
Though at first it seemed like this would be the last episode at the prison, season three ended with smiles of relief as the gang welcomed Woodbury's survivors into their fortified homestead, ready to stand their ground for another season.
Production begins on season four on May 6 in Atlanta, Georgia. The first of sixteen episodes will air in October 2013.
Jump in the comments (or on iReport) and tell us what you thought of the finale, and what you think the future holds for the prison gang and for the Governor and his two surviving henchmen. Will Rick be able to break through to Carl? Will we ever see Morgan again? Chime in with your theories!
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