Season three of The Walking Dead has without a doubt been the strongest season of the show so far, and so the stakes were high for the finale. Most expected an intense battle between the Governor and Rick's prison group, but what we instead got was a somber and subtle one that managed to successfully wrap up the entire season, and in many ways the entire show. Honestly, this could have probably been the series finale, not just the season one.
The episode began with the Governor torturing Milton for betraying him by burning the zombie pits. He then sends Milton into the torture room that Andrea is held in and then tells Milton that he had to murder Andrea in order to live. Milton then takes the Governor's knife and turns around and tries to stab him, only to be stabbed in the stomach in the process. The Governor then lets Milton know that he will now kill Andrea as a walker instead, and leaves the room.
Back at the prison, the group packs up all of their supplies in order to leave the prison. Michonne confronts Rick about the deal with the Governor, and then Rick fully accepts her into the group.
Meanwhile, back at Woodbury the Governor gathers up all of his men and prepares to attack the prison. He arrives there and finds it vacant, and enters the tombs on the hunt for the group. They are quickly hit with smoke grenades, which set off the fire alarms and send walkers in pursuit. The Governor's forces retreat into the courtyard, where Glenn and Maggie ambush them. The Governor's men retreat quickly into their vehicles, and it appears that the battle is over.
In the woods just outside of the prison, a young man from the Governor's army stumbles upon Carl and Hershal, and immediately attempts to surrender to them. While trying to hand over his gun, Carl shoots him, and it appears that Carl has no compassion for other human beings.
The Governor pulls his men over to the side of the road after the retreat, and when they refuse to go back to battle personally guns them all down. The Governor has been villianous this entire season, but this marked his lowest point yet. He gets in his truck with Martinez and rides away, not to be seen for the rest of the episode.
Meanwhile, Rick confronts Carl about shooting the young man in the woods, and Carl is defensive about his actions, telling Rick that many have died because of his inability to act. Carl gets up and walks away, but leaves behind Rick's sheriff badge, and Rick has a moment of clarity.
He takes Daryl and Michonne with him to go get the Governor and stumbles upon the walkers that were once the Governor's men. They find a survivor, and immediately head to Woodbury, where they confront Tyrese at the gate, since he had decided earlier to stay behind and defend the women and children. Tyrese is then told that Andrea is in Woodbury, and they set off to find her.
When they finally reach Andrea, they find that Milton had turned and was killed by Andrea, but also find that Andrea was bitten herself. She asks for Rick's revolver, which he gives her, and Michonne stays by her side while she shoots herself.
Rick, Daryl, and Michonne arrive back at the prison with Tyrese and his sister as well as all of the Woodbury survivors. Carl disapproves of Rick's actions and seems angry about the fact that his father would bring more survivors to the prison. Rick looks up one last time at the catwalk where he had seen Lori's ghost before and finds that she's gone, representing the fact that Rick has become the man he needs to be.
Overall, this was a strong finale that did not play out exactly as expected, but brought closure to what has easily been the best season of The Walking Dead so far.
Now we just have to wait until October for more.