Mar 27 2014, 9:46am CDT | by Forbes
“Those who arrive, survive.” Most Walking Dead fans aren’t exactly holding their breath on that promise in this week’s season finale. But things may not be quite as grim as many everyone is expecting. One of the ways to get a spoiler-free handle on the upcoming season finale is to look back at season finales past. And-hint, hint– while there hasn’t been one that was death-free, they haven’t been full-blown massacres either.
“Every death that we have on the show has to lead to some other story,” said former showrunner Glen Mazzara about the season three finale. And that’s probably a good thing to keep in mind–how a death (or a survival) informs the story going forward.
Here’s a quick look at the previous three season-enders as well as a quick review of the mid-season finales, too.
Season One: “TS19”
Who dies : Jacqui, Dr. Edwin Jenner, lots of nasty microbes.
What Happened: In the first TWD season finale, our merry band have made their way to the CDC in Atlanta. For a brief shining moment it looks like they’ve hit the jackpot. Hot showers, clean sheets, and real food. But this is The Walking Dead, and they soon find out that from Dr. Edwin Jenner that they’ve well, come at a bad time. The generators, you see, are running out of fuel and given the nasty things that a place like the CDC holds, you need a self-destruct sequence, right?
Then it looks like everyone is going to die—albeit clean and well-fed—until Carol hands over the hand grenade she found in Rick’s clothes. But while the others plan an escape, Jacqui (remember her?) and Andrea decide to stay. At the last moment, Dale guilts Andrea into leaving with him and they make a last-minute escape. Jacqui and Jenner hold hands as the Doomsday clock ticks down and the CDC blows up real good. A dramatic finish to be sure, but the body count was about as low as it could have been.
Season Two: “Beside the Dying Fire”
Who Dies: Patricia, Jimmy/>
What Happened: The Walking Dead was on a roll at the end of season two. In two consecutive episodes, it offered up its Most Dramatic. Death. Ever. In episode 211, Dale buys the farm, eaten by a walker that Carl taunted into escaping the swamp. In 212, Rick kills Shane in a fight to the death.
In the season finale, the stage is again set for bloodshed. Team Rick seems to have forgotten about the weather, and with the winter frost comes hoards of walkers who had been stuck in the swamps protecting Hershel’s farm. Suddenly it’s zombies, zombies and more zombies. Given the truly impressive number of walkers and the number of people firing weapons, the body count is again quite modest. At one point Carol looked like she was a goner, but gets rescued, and Andrea is left for dead, only to have Michonne stumble upon her. When the dust settles, the casualties are limited to two totally peripheral characters. Patricia, Otis’s girlfriend, and Jimmy, Beth’s boyfriend. Again, much action, little death.
Season Three; Welcome to the Tombs
Who dies: Andrea, Milton, various Woodburians/>
What Happened: In the season three finale, the Prison Gang prepare for war with The Governor and his troops. But despite the military vehicles, automatic weapons on both sides, and even a grenade launcher, the result is a clash that ends with with no meaningful casualties, just a few faceless Woodburians. After losing the battle, The Governor loses it and opens fire on his own troops, but again, the victims are all-but-faceless characterse we don’t know or care much about.
The real drama was already in motion at Woodbury. In a particularly sadistic turn, The Gov kills mild-mannered Milton, and then leaves him to turn and kill a shackled Andrea as a walker. Rick and Michonne come to the rescue, but, alas, it’s too late. A horrible, moving moment, and arguably the show’s most resonant death scenes until “The Grove” this season. FWIW, Laurie Holden, who played Andrea, says she found out about this plot twist only days before it was filmed, and Dallas Roberts, who plays Milton, explained that several versions were filmed.
A quick look at the midseason finales dovetails with this bloodless-finale trend. “Pretty Much Dead Already,” from season two, features the scene affectionately referred to as barnmageddon, the walkers in Hershel’s barn are set free. The big reveal is that we find out that Carol’s missing daugher, Sofia, was among them./>/>
The season three midseason, “Made To Suffer” also featured a fair amount of action but little morbidity as Michonne kills The Governor’s daughter, Penny, who’s already a walker, and and takes out The Governor’s eye. We also bade farewell to Oscar, a prisoner who stepped in front of a bullet.
This season’s cliffhanger “Two Far Gone featured two memorable deaths—Hershel and The Governor—as well as a lot of generic Woodburians, including Meghan, the child The Governor had sworn to protect./>
If past performance is any indication, it seems that in Sunday’s episode, entitled “A” (directed by Breaking Bad alum Michelle McLaren) will feature some huge action scenes like each of the previous finales have. But casualty-wise, expect two characters will shuffle off this mortal coil, but those deaths won’t be core characters. But, of course, Scott Gimple and the rest of the writing staff could certainly fool us. That’s, of course, why we watch.
What do you think will happen in the season 4 Finale? Which characters will survive? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Allen St. John is the author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, published by Ballantine Books
Source: Forbes Business
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