The end of Season Two left high expectations for what was to come in the third season of the highly popular, zombie apocalypse television series. Not only was there a glimpse of the prison, which caused fans of the comic book series the show is based on to salivate in anticipation, but it also introduced the character of Michonne (Danai Gurira), who is one of the most bad-ass characters in comic history. Along with these two events, The Governor (David Morrissey), Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln ) biggest enemy, had been cast for Season Three, leaving many wondering if it was even possible to bring his insanity and brutality to a television series.
It’s been months since Rick’s group was forced out of the safety of the farm, leaving them exposed in the wilderness with little more than their wits to defend themselves against the Walkers. Having spent so much time just trying to survive, they stumble upon the prison and look at it as an opportunity. Even though it’s crawling with undead, the fenced courtyard, guard towers, and secure walls make it an excellent place for them to take refuge.
During their time on the run, they have formed themselves into a capable fighting team that quickly manages to carve out a section of the prison for their use, but not after nearly losing Hershel (Scott Wilson) with an infected leg and finding that there are a handful of inmates who survived the apocalypse and are now trapped inside with them.
Meanwhile, Andrea (Laurie Holden ), who was separated from the others during the late-night attack on the farm, has no clue as to what happened to her friends and ends up being rescued by Michonne, a dreadlock-wearing, katana-wielding female warrior who leads a couple of Walkers around on a leash for protection.
When Andrea gets sick, the two women are captured by a group of men who take them to a town called Woodbury. The town is an oasis from the chaos of the outside world where people carry on with their normal everyday lives without the threat of Walkers. While Andrea is quick to accept this new-found paradise, Michonne is suspicious and realizes something is seriously wrong. Ultimately, these two differing opinions cause friction between them, and when Andrea starts becoming romantically involved with Woodbury’s leader, The Governor, Michonne is forced to leave her behind.
As in past seasons, there are plenty of surprises and twists throughout each episode and the writers once again show that nobody is safe as multiple characters that have been on the show since the beginning are killed off in gruesome and horrifying ways. Not only are the Walkers a threat to the group’s existence, but The Governor and his slow decent into total madness threaten them at every turn as he forms a personal vendetta against Michonne and Rick, wanting them dead no matter the cost.
The Governor’s obsession becomes stranger as the season progresses and builds up the tension and excitement for the season finale and the epic showdown between him and Rick. Unfortunately, what the audience is expecting and been geared up to expect falls completely flat. Instead of an epic confrontation, The Governor storms the prison with his men and then flees as soon as they feel some resistance. Rick and the Governor never face off and there is no resolution.
In fact, most of the third season is unsatisfying for the audience. Rick, whose leadership skills are barely average at best during the first two seasons, is a total basket case after he loses his wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies). Andrea gets dumber and dumber each episode so that she becomes the most hated character on the show. And even when she finally gets her just desserts, it’s executed so poorly that even those that wanted her to die aren’t happy about it. The prisoners that were left behind in the prison are just a minor nuisance. T-Dog (IronE Singleton) goes out rather quickly and senselessly. The shocking and unhappy story of what happened to Morgan (Lennie James) and his son is revealed. And Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), who in the comics is more of a Shaft-like character, finally shows up and Rick runs him and his friends away.
The only redeeming storyline is that Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) brother, Merle (Michael Rooker), returns to the show. He is still the racist jerk that he’s always been and is working for The Governor as one of his enforcers. Not only is Merle an interesting character but his real intentions keep the audience guessing as he changes allegiance from one group to the other and ultimately redeems himself.
The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p Widescreen format with a 1.78:1 ratio and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track. The video is movie quality with rich tones and sharp contrast, especially in the light and dark subtleties. There are many shades of gray throughout giving it that more sinister and apocalyptical look. The soundtrack is good but a little underused as there really isn’t a huge need for it as in a feature film. But those sounds that are used are clear and help underlie the eeriness of the show’s theme.
The Third Season fills four Blu-ray discs with the fifth being filled with the Special Features. The eight features cover different aspects of the show and the characters with the most enlightening ones being about the special effects and what it took to make the prison and the Walkers. There is also audio commentary on five of the episodes and a six deleted scenes that were better off left deleted as they were scenes that would have been out of place had they been left in.
Even though Season Three was the weakest of the seasons, it may have been because there were a lot of expectations as it involved a lot of new aspects, such as the prison, The Governor, Michonne, Tyreese, and the return of Merle. Any one of these could have been its own story, but trying to mesh all of them at once left too much to be wrapped up nicely in one season. The characters are still interesting, the fact that the audience never knows who will die next and all of the shocking plot twists still leave it as one of the best shows on television. Maybe instead of calling this Season Three, it might be better to call it Season Three Part One and wait until the end of Season Four and seeing how things are played out before calling it a total bust.