Only the extremely talented can pull off an intentional anticlimax in the long-winded TV format, and it’s tough to make viewers feel like they haven’t wasted their time without giving them a payoff of some sort. The season finale of “The Walking Dead,” on the other hand, did nothing but deflate the conflict the entire season had been building up to, making for a climax that was anything but satisfying.
Sure, the Governor (David Morrissey) blew up some guard towers in a short-lived attempt to invade the prison, and our heroes brought the fight to Woodbury, but nothing came together in any sort of meaningful fashion. The two sides never even came face-to-face in combat, with the Governor offing his entire army in a bizarre twist and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) leading his team into a deserted Woodbury.
The Governor’s survival isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the writing team never got a handle on what sort of antagonist they wanted Morrissey to play, essentially setting a talented actor afloat in a vaguely defined character. His choice to wipe out everyone fighting for him was just another bizarre decision made in service of the plot.
Speaking of muddled characters, Andrea (Laurie Holden) finally met her end in a rather unspectacular fashion. Trapped in a room with the mortally wounded Governor flunkie Milton (Dallas Roberts), Andrea was presented with a ticking clock until Milton became a zombie and a pair of pliers to free herself with. In a feat of time mismanagement, Andrea still found time to deliver lengthy monologues to Milton before freeing herself. While it was tragic to see the zombified Milton take Andrea out, it was hard not to think she may have had it coming for the endless stream of illogical decisions the show has pushed her into over the last three seasons.
Despite“The Walking Dead’s” tendency to be nonsensical, horribly written and completely inconsistent, it is still one of the most addictive shows on TV for reasons beyond any sort of logical explanation. Maybe it’s the one thing the show does manage to consistently deliver, the zombie carnage, which never fails to entertain and disgust. Or maybe it’s to simply see what harebrained decision Rick will stumble into next. Either way, when “The Walking Dead” returns in the fall, I’ll watch with significantly lowered expectations, ready for preposterous violence but not confident in any emotional investment or satisfying storytelling.