I am surprised by the low reviews coming in for the Season 3 final episode of The Walking Dead, as the show has always been a drama, not an action series. Therefore having a massive showdown would have contradicted the genre and purpose of the season. I don't think that was the intention of the writers in the first place.
I've felt that the purpose throughout Season 3 has been to illustrate how difficult it is to hold onto any semblance of morality or even sanity. Rick comes close to 'losing it'. He also meets his old friend Morgan during one of the episodes who seems to have lost his mind almost completely. The Governor appears that he probably wouldn't have been the monster he is if it wasn't for what happened to his family (Andrea is quite symbolic in illustrating that). I think Rick too comes close to going down that road after losing his wife.
Thus, the ultimate 'showdown' for me happened when The Governor completely lost it and turned on his own men, similarly in the earlier episode when Rick decided *not* to hand over Michonne. These are both turning points for both characters. This is the real resolution that the season has been building up to, based on my interpretation.
The Walking Dead illustrates that despite the end of the world, the characters are still capable of humanity and morality in their decisions and actions. In an earlier episode Rick left someone on the side of the road to get eaten by walkers without even blinking an eye! He refused to take on the people that came to the prison looking for shelter. These decisions contrast with taking on a whole group of people in the final episode. Some reviewers are raising an eyebrow and saying "what was that whole scene of taking on a bus full of injured and old people about? How does that help the prison?" Well it's not about that, and when we consider the season as a whole it is a powerful scene to conclude on.
In light of the character development and plot progression I believe that the cast/crew have outdone themselves in this season. This is one of AMC's best productions thus far and it does reach a level of story/character development alike to what I have come to expect from shows such as Breaking Bad. In my experience watching AMC shows, there is a lot that goes unsaid in the character development, and the writers usually know exactly what they are doing. You have to read between the lines with these sorts of shows to find them fulfilling. Although the finale was not satisfying in terms of full-blown action, it was a very emotionally satisfying ending to the season. The more I think about it, it is a fitting ending.
Sure, Andrea could have murdered The Governor in his sleep. Or, Rick could have had a massive showdown with the Governor. These might be more 'exciting' plot lines, but ultimately not what this show is about (and it never was).
Thus, I do not agree that the finale was 'weak' or disappointing at all, as these low end 2/10 - 4/10 reviewers claim. However, these are just my own personal thoughts and interpretations.
What do you think about these low scores for the season 3 finale?
**Side note: From the reviews I've read, The Walking Dead seems to have a divided fan base, with people either ranking the show quite high or quite low. What do you think the reason for that might be? I get the sense it could be that people are struggling to find a place for the show amongst the genres we've come to expect from zombie shows. After all, most zombie TV shows and movies are action, horror, or even the odd comedy. I don't think we've seen a drama-driven zombie show before.