Written by: John Edward Betancourt
This was the year we lost many of the faces we had come to know over the first two seasons, but most importantly, this was the season that brought us the series greatest villain to date...the Governor.
With a new season now on the horizon, it's time to recap the year that we said goodbye to series favorites and realized that there are bigger threats out there than walkers...
After escaping the farm the gang has spent the winter on the road, dodging one herd after another. They are tired, hungry and without hope. The baby is coming soon but they keep on pushing. But the discovery of the West Georgia Correctional Facility provides a needed break when they are able to secure the courtyard. Meanwhile, Andrea and her new friend Michonne do their best to survive. Andrea is extremely ill but continues to forge along as the walkers continue to fill up the countryside.
Back at the prison, Rick sees an amazing opportunity; a fortified position and once clear of walkers, a place to settle down. Their initial push into the prison is successful and the walkers are contained. But as they move deeper into the prison, Hershel is bitten forcing Rick to amputate the limb in the hopes of saving his life from the infection, as five prisoners watch on.
Hershel is weak and badly wounded, but alive for the moment, safe and sound in the cell block that Rick and his group have claimed as their own. But before them now are five prisoners who have no clue of the apocalypse waiting for them outside.
In an effort to find a peaceful way to coexist Rick offers to help the prisoners clear out their own cell block in exchange for a half of the remaining food and peace between the two camps. The prisoners, led by Tomas, agree and the two teams begin to clear out more of the prison, a move that costs one of the prisoner's his life. Regardless of this loss, Tomas has Rick's death in mind and his double cross fails miserably when Rick kills him and leaves another prisoner, Andrew, alone with no chance of escape in a courtyard full of walkers. Only two of Tomas' group did not participate in the double cross; Axel and Oscar and they left with their own cell block as Rick and his group prepare for the first peace they have seen in some time.
We rejoin Andrea and Michonne on the road as they spot a helicopter in the sky, moments before it crashes. Curious the two of them investigate and find that other people are intrigued as well.
A well armed group appears and inspects the crash site, and their actions prompt Michonne to smell trouble and she begins to plan a quiet exit. But her pet walkers end up making too much noise and moments after she is forced to put them down, Merle Dixon gets the drop on them. They are taken to a small town just out of the way named Woodbury, where its enigmatic leader, the Govenor offers them shelter and a chance to begin again. Michonne believes the offer to be too good to be true, and she is right.
For the Governor will stop at nothing to protect his little empire, wiping out a platoon of national guardsmen before bringing all the gear back to Woodbury where he lies to the entire town as to how he acquired the equipment. But his ruthless nature comes from a stronger source, the man is stark raving mad, as evidenced by the wall of aquariums with the heads of walkers on display in his apartment.
Andrea has begun to settle in and enjoy life in Woodbury while Michonne remains suspicious of the Governor and the town he has built. But as she observes the town closely, we rejoin the group at the prison where they find elation in the fact that Hershel has recovered.
But the celebration is short lived, walkers are inside the compound once again and the group must scramble to contain them. In the process they all find themselves separated and T-Dog is bitten. With chaos all around them and a riot siren that will draw more walkers to the prison blaring, Rick takes Daryl, Glenn and the two remaining prisoners to shut off the noise and find that Andrew has survived. To prove their loyalty, Oscar guns down Andrew, but the damage is done. T-Dog must sacrifice his life to save Carol and Lori has gone into labor. But the baby will not come easy and she, Maggie and Carl are no where near Hershel. Lori makes the decision for Maggie to perform a C-section, regardless of the fact she will likely die during the procedure. She says her goodbyes to Carl and makes peace with her son at last before Maggie cuts her open and delivers the baby. But before Maggie and Carl can return with the infant, Carl must take care of one last matter and puts a bullet though Lori's head before she has the chance to turn.
In the aftermath of the disaster the remaning survivors reunite in the courtyard where Rick sees his newborn daughter for the first time, before realizing that his wife is gone. The joy of birth is bittersweet as the group watches Rick break down, completely devastated.
The madness that shrouds the Governor is further revealed as we learn that his daughter, Penny is a walker and he does his best to care for her as if she was still alive. While he tries to keep Penny a secret, Michonne discovers another, that their are walkers in Woodbury, which she is happy to dispatch them. Her actions lead to her and Andrea parting ways as she heads off into the world once again, no longer wanting to be apart of whatever stinks in Woodbury. Andrea later discovers that the walkers serve an odd purpose, their teeth are removed and they are used as decoys of terror in the Governor's new gladiator arena.
Back at the prison, Rick has snapped and delves deep into the halls, killing every walker he can find. Lost in anger and pain the group reacts to keep the infant alive, with Maggie and Daryl heading into town to find formula to feed her. Rick however has found the place where his wife has died and discovers a walker that seems to be filled to the brim with Lori's remains. He suffers Rick's wrath, and while Rick waits in the silence of his wife's tomb the phone in the room begins to ring. Stunned, Rick answers, and hears a voice on the other end.
Rick's condition seems to have improved as he returns to the group looking as though the rage has left him. But Hershel isn't sure, since Rick continues to disappear for hours on end. He finds Rick next to the phone where Rick confesses he has been speaking to a group that is safe and is waiting for their call. Hershel offers to stay with him but Rick wants his solitude, something Hershel provides him with. He does so for good reason, the voices that Rick hears on the phone are those they have left behind. Jim, Amy and Lori. Through the fracture in his mind Rick finally says goodbye to his wife and finally seems to move on.
Michonne however, is on the run, hunted by Merle and a group of the Governor's men. They wound her, but she still gets the better of them and manages to escape, but Merle is still on her tail. As they move on they both run into Glenn and Maggie on a formula run. Stunned to find them, Merle steps forward trying to find out if his brother is still alive. But his attempt at peace is merely deception and he quickly manages to capture Maggie and Glenn and haul them off to Woodbury. Left on her own and now armed with an idea of where the prison is, the reformed Rick is stunned to see her standing outside of the gates of the prison. She has discovered that smelling like a walker will keep you safe among them, and in her hands is the much needed formula.
The wounded Michonne is taken inside the prison to receive care for her wounds. As she recovers she informs Rick and his group what has happened to Glenn and Maggie and the dangers they face in the town of Woodbury, prompting Rick to put together a rescue party.
As they prepare to to head toward Woodbury, we quickly learn that Michonne's warning rings true, as Glenn finds himself horribly tortured by Merle in an effort to discover not only the fate of his brother but the location of their safe haven. Unwilling to break, the Governor tries his hand at interrogating Maggie and utterly humiliates her in the process, but she too will not reveal any information. As they do their best to get the two to break, Rick and his team, including Michonne arrive at the outskirts of Woodbury, weapons at the ready and they are prepared to do whatever it takes to bring their people home.
With Rick out on the rescue mission, Carl is left in charge and helps out another band of survivors who have managed to enter the prison from a collapsed portion of the facility that no one has yet seen. The leader of this group, Tyreese does his best to make peace with Carl, knowing a good opportunity is before them.
Meanwhile, Rick and his team enter Woodbury and begin the search for Glenn and Maggie. As they do the Governor finally gets Maggie to break and reveal that they come from the prison by threatening to kill Glenn in front of her. The prisoners are to be moved, and as they leave their makeshift cell, Rick and his team strike, rescuing their people and sending the town of Woodbury into terror as they make their way out of town. Moments before they finally escape, Rick's sanity once more comes into question as he sees a vision of Shane before they head back into the walker infested world beyond the border of Woodbury. But outside of the gates, Rick discovers that not only have they lost Oscar, but Daryl and Michonne are missing as well.
Michonne has taken the opportunity to settle the score and waits patiently in the Governor's apartment. But while she waits she hears a suspicious noise and discovers his twisted den and the monster that is Penny. But before she can put down the Penny-walker, the Governor returns, pleading for his daughter's "life." Michonne however does not accept his plea and ends Penny's suffering, an act that puts the Governor over the edge and the two battle to the death. The hand to hand combat costs the Governor his right eye before Andrea arrives to see Michonne off and soak in the horror of the wall of heads.
Badly wounded, the Governor has clearly changed and knows what must happen next, ordering a town meeting. It is here that he accuses Merle of being a spy, and that ol' Merle must pay for his betrayal, by battling to the death with a prisoner captured in the raid...his brother Daryl.
It's brother versus brother to appease the crowd and the Governor, until Rick and company arrive to rescue Daryl and Merle. But Merle's reunion with the group is anything but joyful. For Glenn wants revenge for what happened in Woodbury and there is much disdain over the idea of taking Merle back to the prison.
In fact the tension over this is so great that Merle and Daryl head off on their own, leaving Rick stunned as he returns to the prison. As the group takes a moment to catch their breath, it is chaos in Woodbury. The people feel that their safety and security is now gone and Andrea is forced to take a leadership role in order to reassure the people that Woodbury is where they need to stay.
Back at the prison however, another decision faces Rick, whether or not to let Tyreese and his group stay. But before Rick can make a level headed decision, the pain that still haunts Rick over Lori's death continues to manifest itself, with a vision of his wife and an outburst that sends Tyreese and his friends packing.
As Rick continues to deal with the disturbing hallucinations of Lori wherever he goes, there is a greater threat the group discusses without him...possible retaliation by the Governor.
Yet while the group debates, Merle and Daryl discover that times have changed. While rescuing a family under attack by walkers, Merle is stunned when his brother takes the high ground as Merle tries to rob them of their supplies. The incident leads to a confrontation between the two brothers that ends with Daryl beginning the journey back to the prison.
Back at the prison Hershel reaches out to Rick in the hope that he can snap the former peace office out of his funk, to no avail moments before their fears come true, as the Governor opens fire on the prison and the survivors within. He is ruthless in his attack, and Axel's life is lost in the assault and the prison courtyard is flooded with walkers courtesy of the Governor's new "Walker Bomb".
In fact the attack is so devastating that Rick appears to be overwhelmed by walkers...until the Dixon brothers appear to rescue Rick. But there is no joy in Daryl's return, for the threat of the Governor is now greater than that of the living dead.
The debate begins among the prison group as to whether or not it is time to leave the West George Correctional Facility behind and move on with their lives. But as they debate, the Governor prepares for war, quietly building an army out of any able bodied citizen of Woodbury.
This act offends Andrea to no end and she uses the doubt now brewing within Milton over the Governor's bloodlust to get out of Woodbury and head for the prison, but not before Tyreese and his group make their way into the fortified city and reveal to the Governor that they have indeed been inside the prison.
Andrea however, reaches her destination but is not exactly greeted with welcome arms at the prison. She is stunned at the losses they have suffered and tries to broker peace between the two factions but makes little progress. Instead she is given an idea by Carol before she leaves, that Andrea could end this whole matter by simply putting an end to the Governor's life while he sleeps soundly.
Upon her return to Woodbury, it is clear that Carol's words have had some bearing on Andrea, for in the middle of the night she stands over the sleeping Governor with a blade in her hand, but she is unable to find the courage to finish him off.
With war on the horizon, Rick knows that the group is in need of weapons and ammo and he takes Michonne and Carl back to the one place where he knows of a cache of weapons, his old office...the King County Sheriff's Department. But upon his arrival home he finds out that the weapons are all gone and that main street has been transformed into a gaunlet for the living dead.
The man behind these "death traps" asks them to leave but his words fall on deaf ears, leading to weapons fire. They manage to knock the man out, only to discover that it is the man who saved Rick's life...Morgan.
They move Morgan to safety only to discover he is sitting on enough weapons to arm a militia and Rick decides it is best to wait until Morgan reawakens, giving Carl and Michonne a chance to bond as Carl reveals the real reason he came along...to find the last picture of his family so that his little sister Judith can know what her mother looked like.
While they retrieve the picture, Morgan awakens and and in a maddened frenzy attacks Rick before finally recognizing who he is going after. Rick learns that Morgan has fallen on worse times than Rick could ever imagine. He lost his son after all and has nearly lost his mind as the devastation of the end of the world has taken its toll. Rick does his best to try to get Morgan back into the world, even offering him a chance to join the group at the prison, which Morgan declines.
Instead they gather the weapons they need and leave Morgan to what he now believes is his new purpose in life, clearing out the dead.
In an effort to avoid war, Rick and the Governor finally meet face to face to figure out how these two factions can peacefully co exist. Their meeting is filled with tension for both men, and for those that support them outside as both sides interact.
Yet despite the tension, the Governor manages to make an offer to Rick that may provide peace, give up Michonne and they are allowed to live. Rick is given two days to make his decision on this offer and the two factions part ways.
But we quickly learn that the Governor plans to end this conflict through bloodshed regardless, planning an ambush when Rick returns with Michonne. However Rick has a feeling the deal is bogus and tells the survivors in the prison...to prepare for war. But he confides in Hershel, that part of him is wondering if there is a chance the deal is legit and that maybe he should hand over Michonne.
With the war effort ramping up in Woodbury, Andrea finally reaches her breaking point when she discovers that the Governor has put together a torture chamber for Michonne. Seeing no other alternative, Andrea hits the road toward the prison in the hopes of warning them that conflict is coming.
But she is hunted during her journey by the Governor himself. During his absence, preparations for the final assault on the prison continue, including gathering more walkers to be used as weapons. But a mysterious man burns these walking weapons to a crisp.
In the meantime the Governor finally corners Andrea in an abandoned warehouse. They play a horrific game of cat and mouse until it seems that Andrea has managed to escape from his clutches. As she approaches the prison she is ambushed by the Governor and taken back to Woodbury, where the chair in the torture chamber meant for Michonne, is now occupied by Andrea.
The deadline draws near to strike a deal with Woodbury and Rick has begun to lean toward handing over Michonne and enlists Merle's help in carrying out the order. But when Rick has a change of heart, Merle goes through the plan regardless. Along the way however Michonne finally manages to break through Merle's tough exterior and forces his own change of heart, and Merle lets her go.
But his change of heart comes with a great cost as Merle rounds up as many walkers as he can for a surprise attack on the Governor and his ambush squad. Early on Merle's attack is successful, but eventually he is cornered and brutally beaten by the Governor. But rather than outright kill Merle, the Governor has bigger plans for his former henchman. But before those plans are revealed, Rick speaks to the group so that they can all make the decision as to whether or not they should fight for the prison or leave it behind.
The only people not present for this discussion are Michonne and Daryl, the latter having spent his day tracking his brother to bring him back to the prison. But when he arrives at where his brother attacked the Governor's assault team he discovers the Governor's grand plan for Merle...he has let Daryl Dixon's older brother turn into a walker.
Milton is revealed to be the man responsible for burning the walkers the Governor planned to use in the assault on the prison. The Governor figures out how to handle both Milton and Andrea by stabbing Milton in the torture chamber to die slowly, so that he can return and tear Andrea apart. As Milton slowly dies, the Governor begins his rally cry for the assault to begin now, and is stunned when Tyreese and Sasha wish to stay behind.
Meanwhile in the prison, the decision appears to be that the group is going to leave their newfound sanctuary behind and the timing could not be better as the Governor and his army arrive, laying waste to the guard towers and walkers before heading inside. But once inside, it turns out that the group deceived the Woodbury army and decided to stay and fight and being a surprise counter offensive, firing off flashbangs, their weapons and sounding the alarm, terrifying Woodbury's army and sending them into retreat.
It's a decision that does not sit well with the Governor and when he tries to rally the army to fight once more they refuse. It is then that the Governor crosses the point of no return, quickly killing most of his army. Once this horrible act is finished, the Governor simply climbs into a truck with his two top lieutenants and heads off into the distance.
Meanwhile the group has decided to finish this once and for all and head for Woodbury, discovering the slaughter along the way and that the Governor has not returned to Woodbury. In fact the only army left in the town...is Tyreese and Sasha. While back in Woodbury they search for Andrea and find her and a horrible discovery. It turns out that she managed to put down the reanimated Milton, but not before he managed to take a bite out of her. The group says its goodbyes before Andrea takes her own life.
All of these events lead Rick to make an important decision, to take the survivors in Woodbury and bring them back to the prison to stay with his own group. It is a decision that finally seems to put Rick at peace, for the hallucinations are finally gone.