This Sunday was more than baskets and egg hunts. It was full of basket cases and hunts for an army.
Sunday night was a night only possible by the alignment of the stars, as both “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” both aired only hours apart. “The Walking Dead” capped off its third season, and “Game of Thrones” began its third season.
These two shows cross many lines together, including themes and audience, and yesterday they shared a release date. With that in mind, it’s only natural that they will be comparatively looked at.
Such a momentous day was surely enjoyed by nerds far and wide, but, after the excitement and fanaticism dies down, which of these shows was most worthy of this Easter showdown?
The Walking Dead
The season finale of “The Walking Dead” began with a cold opening (emphasis on the cold), as the governor repeatedly punched Milton as punishment for foiling his plans.
The Governor then orders Milton to kill Andrea, whom he captured in the previous episode, and implies that he will do it. When Milton turns on the Governor, he is stabbed through the chest and left to die and turn, which will lead to Andrea’s death as foretold.
This unsurprising act of sadism by the Governor develops into the dramatic center of the season finale. Andrea is trapped in a room with Milton as he is turning into a walker, and she must desperately struggle to pick up a tool that Milton left behind for her to untie herself before Milton turns and kills her.
They have a few (maybe a bit too many) heart-to-hearts during the process.
While suspenseful and heartbreaking, this dramatic development becomes the crutch of the season finale.
Away from Andrea’s peril, Rick’s group is preparing for their inevitable “war” with the Governor. Their plan isn’t MacGyver-esque (it’s also quite muddled), but it proves to be effective. The Governor is repelled by a surprise attack from Maggie and Glenn, who are equipped in riot suits.
In the midst of several underwhelming developments, two characters begin to transform in ways fans have been eagerly awaiting.
While the governor attacked the prison, Carl was left to defend Hershel and the other members of the cast unready for the gruesome battle. As the governor and his forces were defeated, a retreating member of the Woodbury army, undoubtedly a young man, ran into Carl’s company.
Instead of accepting the young man’s surrender, Carl shot him down to the horror of Hershel. This seemingly remorseless violence is the climax of Carl’s development in season 3. Throughout the season his character has become less trusting of his father’s leadership, opting to an “any means necessary” thought process.
Rick’s attempts at rectifying Carl’s descent seem to be ineffective, and Carl’s change of character will be of interest in the fourth season of “The Walking Dead.”
While Carl began showing his first signs of being remorseless, the Governor reached the final stage of his descent. After his army refused to return to the prison, the governor killed everyone but his two best men and a lone survivor.
This led to the Governor’s control of Woodbury being lifted, and no longer does he hold trust among its citizens.
However interesting the governor’s ever-growing cruelty is, the episode’s greatest letdown was tired directly to it–the Governor survived.
With the Governor living on to the fourth season, the story arc cannot fully progress. This inhibits the plot and left the season finale to rely solely on Andrea and Milton to supply true drama.
Andrea’s eventual death at the hands of Milton, while saddening, felt slow developing and forced.
Unfortunately, the penultimate episode of “The Walking Dead” was much stronger than the season finale. The entire third season was marked with several compelling and striking episodes, but the season finale fell flat against high expectations.
Game of Thrones
The season 2 finale of “Game of Thrones” left many familiar characters in frightening, interesting and uncertain situations. Jon Snow was far across the Wall on his way to meet the King Beyond the Wall. Arya was freed from Harrenhal, as she seeks vengeance for her family’s misfortunes. Daenerys recovered her dragons and began anew looking for an army.
Season 3 picks up where season 2 left off, as Sam cowers from a White Walker legion. The Lord Commander, and a group of Night’s Watchmen, discover and save Sam.
The episode then jumps to King’s Landing, Blackwater Bay, Dragonstone, Harrenhal and across the Narrow Sea.
Each stage of the show creates a separate narrative for the different characters, but there are a few notable absences. Jaime, Arya and Bran are regrettably not featured in the season opening.
In King’s Landing, Joffrey sits on his throne fearful of his own citizens; however, Lady Margaery (Joffrey’s new bride to be) is working to help the poverty-stricken orphans, who lost their fathers in Stannis’ invasion. While Lady Margaery’s actions will no doubt help lessen the hate surrounding Joffrey’s name, she is garnering Queen Cersei’s animosity.
The building tension between these two women will be of interest, especially considering the implications it holds for Joffrey, and, with Joffrey’s recent resentment of his mother, will Cersei be able to remain influential in King’s Landing?
After his invasion of King’s Landing, Stannis has retreated to Dragonstone to lick his wounds after defeat. His most loyal soldier, Davos, has returned to his side, but Melisandre has indoctrinated Stannis in her fiery religion. Davos attempts to strike her down, but Stannis has him thrown in the Dragonstone dungeon.
Stannis and Melisandre’s relationship will continue to be a point of interest. Stannis, out of desperation, seems to be fully committing to her religious zeal, and the extent of Milsandre’s power still remains unseen.
Robb Stark is still chasing after the Lannisters and holding his mother captive. Robb’s character didn’t see much development, but he is still determined to avenge his father and save his siblings.
Daenerys has convinced her unofficial Dothraki Khalasar to set sail with her to slaver territory in search of an army. She is presented with an offer to buy the “Unsullied,” a group of rigidly trained eunuch slave soldiers. Despite their unwavering loyalty and lack of fear, Daenerys is disheartened by their status as slaves and their training regimen, which includes being initiated by killing a newborn.
While in Slaver’s Bay, Daenerys is also attacked by a warlock assassin (Remember the magic dude who stole Daenerys’ dragons?). Before being attacked by a seemingly fatal scorpion, Daenerys is saved by Sir Barristan.
Barristan was last seen in season 1 when he was dismissed from his position of Lord Commander of the Kingsguard by Joffrey and Cersei.
With another loyal (and gruff) man by her side, how will Daenerys’ plans proceed?
The beginning of season 3 was not chalk full of action and all the characters, but it served as an exposition for the rest of the season. Despite the fact that the vying for the Iron Throne has settled down, the characters are moving in directions that can only end in conflict. With the foundation prepared, “Game of Thrones” can now enter into another season that is set to flourish.
“The Walking Dead” had a strong second half of season 3, but the ending felt unmotivated and unresolved. “Game of Thrones,” however, came through strong and exciting, and it set in motion what potentially will be the most action-packed season yet. The strength of both series is directly tied to their character development, and, while both have strong and compelling characters, “Game of Thrones” has taken a lead over “The Walking Dead” in terms of believability and producing likable (and hate-worthy) characters. Perhaps the slice ‘n’ diced narrative style of “Game of Thrones” has some advantages in developing characters, but, overall, “Game of Thrones” won the Easter showdown, and the next season of “The Walking Dead” has to rectify many confusing and unanswered situations.