(Spoilers ahead!) Boy, time flies when you're living out an apocalyptic nightmare, doesn't it? It seems like the show just came back from its midseason break, but here we are at the thirteenth episode of The Walking Dead. Tonight's finale marks the end of a season that's tried to strike a balance between the blood-soaked zombie action and the survivors' existential dilemmas ... with varying degrees of success, I'd say. After starting off at a plodding, Sophia-laden pace, the last few episodes have ratcheted into high gear with major characters dying left and right.

We left off last week with Shane dead (killed for the second time by Carl's hand), and a horde of walkers heading towards Hershel's farm, so it certainly seemed like AMC was going to keep tensions high in tonight's finale. Did the highly-anticipated last episode of the season leave us slobbering for season 3?

Let's break it down:

The episode starts off with a flashback explanation of sorts as to where that giant mess of zombies came from: back in the zombie-ravaged city, a lone helicopter went buzzing by, which attracted the attention of a bunch of walkers. They went staggering off in pursuit and mysteriously grew in numbers as they left the city, eventually making their way through the countryside and ending up near the farm just in time to hear Carl's gunshot. Carl is like the biggest zombie apocalypse party foul ever.

Also: helicopter? Hmmmm.

So here come the walkers, and it's a legitimately creepy scene watching them descend on the farm. Rick and Carl manage to outrun, outwit, and outlast by dodging between the ever-increasing crowd of slow-moving undead (is it me, or does it seem like the zombies' pace is kind of random? Like, weren't they running during the Shane/Otis showdown?), luring them into the barn, and setting it on fire.

Jimmy—AKA, the guy with like three lines of dialogue to date—drives up with the RV so Rick and Carl can make their escape, but sadly Jimmy is eaten before he can join them. Hey, you got a fourth line, Jimmy! It went like this: "AIIIIEEEEEAA*arrrrgle*"

Back at the farm, Lori FINALLY notices that her son is missing. Gosh, Lori, didn't you read that chapter in What to Expect When You're Expecting to Be Devoured By the Walking Dead?

Hershel declares that he's not going to leave—it's his farm, and by god, he's going to die here if he has to. "It's a good a night as any," Daryl drawls, before leaping onto his motorcycle with his crossbow on his back, and wow, is it getting warm in here on account of the barn being engulfed in a raging inferno that backlights the zombies in a hellish metaphor—or is it because of Daryl? *fans cleavage*

Chaos ensues. The women run for it, and Patricia (who?) is turned into walker chow. People climb into cars and speed in crazy circles around the farm shooting zombies. Dude, seriously, can the zombies run or not? WHY IS EVERYONE DRIVING SO FAST? Meanwhile, Hershel stands his ground and blasts round after round after round after round into the oncoming hordes. Nice gameplay, Hershel! Magical unlimited ammo shotgun: achievement unlocked.


The farm is officially overrun, and people start to GTFO. Daryl and Carol motor off on the bike. Rick drags Hershel away, along with Carl. Glenn and Maggie take off in one car, and T-Dog, Beth, and Lori are in a truck. Andrea is ... oh, snap. Andrea's busting ass through the woods, being chased by zombies. The situation's not looking good for her, but she's holding her own and ruthlessly killing walkers left and right. Good thing she didn't listen to stupid Lori about how she should be spending her time doing laundry.


Day breaks, and everyone (except Andrea) finally reunites on the clogged highway where the note for Sophia is a heart-wrenching reminder of what was—sayyyy, is that a jar of peanut butter? DIBS! What, it's not like Sophia needs it.


Daryl suggests that they go back and look for Andrea and everyone's like HELLO DIDN'T YOU SEE THE FIRST SIX EPISODES OF THIS SEASON? The group takes off before being forced to make camp on the side of the road, at which point Rick tells the gang that bee tee dubs, everyone's infected. That's what Jenner told him at the CDC: you don't turn into a zombie from a bite, everyone already has the infection. That certainly leaves some questions about the corpses we've seen along the way—did they really all have brain injuries? And why did Shane reanimate so quickly, as opposed to, say, Andrea's sister?—but whatever, the important thing here is that I WAS RIGHT.


Everyone's super-pissed at Rick for keeping the secret, and he explains that he thought it would be best if people didn't know. Yeah, except for the part where any natural death could have turned into a bloodbath, Rick. Suicidal Beth could have eaten everyone on the farm, for instance. Duh.

 
Rick also tells Lori that he killed Shane and she's like OH GOD WHAT HAVE YOU DONE which is funny because wasn't it Lori who was conspiring to have Rick kill Shane like three episodes ago? Oh well: pregnancy brain, probably.

Back in the woods, Andrea looks like she's on her last legs—a walker is closing in, and she's out of weapons. But just as the zombie is about to take a chomp, a sword comes whistling through the air, wielded by a mysterious hooded stranger dragging along two chained walkers. This is when every comics fans shouts in unison: MICHONNE!!!


(No spoilers here, but suffice to say: Michonne is going to kick a lot of ass in season 3.)


At the survivors' makeshift camp, Rick squares off with the gang. Everyone doubts him now, and he knows it. He dares them to go ahead and leave, but if they don't, "Let's get one thing straight. If you're staying, this isn't a democracy anymore." Everyone contemplates this darker, twisted version of Rick the Leader as the camera pulls back to reveal what's just beyond their camp: a giant prison. And ... roll credits.


Well folks, that's it from The Walking Dead until next season, which returns in October. We know this much about what's to come: there will be 16 episodes, The Governor (a major bad guy from the comic series) will be played by David Morrissey, Michonne will be played by Treme‘s Danai Gurira, and Michael Rooker will once again assume his role as Merle Dixon, Daryl's older brother who went missing in the first season.


As for tonight's episode, I thought it was fantastic. Lots of great action, they finally got off the damned farm, and it ended with the perfect sort of cliffhanger for season 3. I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait.


What did you think of the finale?



Image via AMC