The Walking Dead, Episode 316: "Welcome to the Tombs"
Original airdate: March 31, 2013 on AMC
Written by exiting producer Glen Mazzara, this season's finale managed to eliminate some regulars—though season 3 newcomer The Governor was not one of them; David Morrissey will return as a regular next season. (The Walking Dead will return for a fourth season this fall, albeit with yet another new showrunner, Scott Gimple.) Below, we sample the response of professional critics and TV bloggers to last night's episode, though, as a group, they seemed to like the third season as a whole more than they did its final episode in particular.
Extremely positive reviews
93 "What we all assumed would be the final showdown between Rick and The Governor was full of surprises."
— Josh Jackson / Paste
94 "It felt like things were happening, the characters all getting their moments to shine (I mean Beth was even killing walkers!), and the story wasn't dragging it's feet anymore. I even appreciated the quiet, hopeful end of the hour, rather than some wild cliffhanger."
— Sean McKenna / TV Fanatic
83 "It wasn't a perfect hour, and once again there are characters behaving in ways that should've have been better established over the course of the entire season, rather than just randomly getting pulled out of a hat in the last hour. But it still holds together, and makes the arc of the season seem cleaner in retrospect."
— Zack Handlen / A.V. Club
80 "Occasional overlong scenes aside, this was a very good season finale. It didn't have the incensed walker horde descending on Hershel's farm factor that brought so much chaos and carnage to the end of season two, but "Welcome to the Tombs" was more than exciting enough in its own twisted way."
— Danielle Gillette / Blast Magazine
70 "As a finale, 'Welcome to the Tombs' kicked off with the tension that has been building up all season but fizzled out when the overwhelming forces of Woodbury got scared off by some pyrotechnics and a few well-placed sharpshooters."
— Dave Trumbore / Collider
"The Walking Dead is very much a show made by its cinematography and special effects, and both were on display this week. "
— Ron Hogan / Den of Geek
"While it wasn't the best of the three (so far) season finales of The Walking Dead, it was still a must watch episode. ... Honestly, I was expecting a little bit more from tonight’s episode; it was a bit anticlimactic. Sure, the action was great, and there were a few character deaths, but there really wasn’t a big cliffhanger like there was with the season one and season two finales."
73 "The Walking Dead finale had a lot to deal with and there were certainly some exciting and crowd pleasing moments. But it also suffered from some dramatic missteps and off moments that ultimately made it good but not great."
— Eric Goldman / IGN
"Last night's season 3 finale didn't pack a similar punch [to Season 2's finale]. In fact, the ending was a bit slow, if decently dramatic. Forgoing the (literal) fiery finish of last year's season, the producers chose to tie up some loose ends, focus on character development, and cruise into blackout."
— Nate Rawlings / Time
"A good episode full of the post-apocalyptic platitudes but a lot of senseless death, and it tied a ribbon on the season quite nicely."
— Nick Campbell / TV.com
"If there's one thing I can say about the end of The Walking Dead season three, it's definitely that it was…unexpected. This whole season seemed to be leading up to a big showdown between The Governor and Rick, and fans of the comic book are all looking forward to a very big moment in their relationship that I've been anticipating seeing how they'll handle on the show, so the fact that this whole thing fizzled out was really a bit of a letdown for me."
— Luke Gelineau / TV Equals
"While this season was far from perfect — starting with the "Rick goes crazy, starts seeing dead wife" interlude, which went on far too long — the finale continued to exhibit the show's enormous guts in terms of shedding significant characters and relying upon new ones."
— Brian Lowry / Variety
"There was more than enough blood-splattered action to satisfy thrill seekers, but also enough substance for those looking for more than a live action video game."
— Geoff Berkshire / Zap2It
"I haven't been the biggest fan of this half-season. But I was excited about the season finale. Because The Walking Dead has always stuck the landing. ... This time, it didn't. The third season finale had a couple bulletstorms and a few explosions; it killed off one main character, about which more later. But as a longtime fan of the show -- a skeptical fan, but a fan nevertheless -- I couldn't help walking away from the season finale feeling a bit disappointed. This was not a Killing-level catastrophe, and it wasn't it a Breaking Bad-level event. (It had elements of both, though -- which is a compliment and a criticism.) The finale was a bloodless blood opera, filled with action and weirdly static. It ended the Glen Mazzara era with a bang and a whimper, and it gave very little indication of what lies ahead in season 4."
— Darren Franich / Entertainment Weekly
"Great character moments coexisted alongside questionable storytelling decisions — sometimes in the same scene. ... If you're going to spend the back half of your season going in circles so the big showdown happens in the finale, and then the big showdown only partially occurs (Woodbury is routed, but Rick has nothing to do with a good chunk of it, and the Governor is just in the wind), then that's not a way to make the audience feel like that time was well-spent."
— Alan Sepinwall / HitFix
"'Welcome To The Tombs' was third season show runner Glen Mazzara's swan song on the show, and it seemed at times as if he was intent on putting a button on every single relationship and character arc he'd built in his time on the show. This worked beautifully in some instances, felt forced in others, and occasionally seemed to be both at the same time. It was a weird episode of television, but not an ineffective one."
— Todd VanDerWerff / Los Angeles Times
"Well, that was…anticlimactic. We appreciate the value of a good script zagging when we expect it to zig, but we can't help feeling a bit cheated that 'The Walking Dead' season 3 ends with so little punch. ... We understand that in all likelihood AMC sought to keep both the prison set and one of its most compelling villains, but 'Welcome to the Tombs' largely robbed us of any real payoff to the season."
— Kevin Fitzpatrick / Screen Crush
"In the end 'Welcome to the Tombs' worked out in much the same way as 'This Sorrowful Life' and, to a certain degree, like season 3 as a whole. About half of the season (mostly the pre-hiatus portion aside from 'Clear') was fairly strong, but those moments were mostly undone by muddied characterizations and a drawn-out conflict that, as we see here, didn't really deliver."
— Kevin Yeoman / Screen Rant
"Tonight's season finale ... was something of a disappointment. ... Was the decision not to have a full-scale Battle of Woodbury a creative one, or one decreed by budget concerns?"
— Mitch Salem / ShowBuzzDaily
"I don't hate this episode but I don't love it either. For what is a season finale, 'Welcome to the Tombs' doesn't surprise in any way."
— Ricky D / Sound on Sight
"An episode that really doesn't live up to many of the recent entries in Season 3, not so much because there was a great deal riding on this episode (though there was) but because the show took the easy way out and didn't give us what it's promised, at least implicitly, since we first met the Governor."
— Erik Kain / Forbes
What do you think?
What did you think of last night's finale, and of the third season as a whole? Let us know in the comments section below.