The Walking Dead: Into the Mouth of Madness (A look at the conflict in season 3) *spoilers*

This article series will attempt to explore to compare and contrast the protagonist and antagonists of the Walking Dead season 3. I’m fairly new to this series so bear with me if I’ve got some things wrong. Also keep in mind I haven’t read the comic’s version yet.

As we open season 3, Rick and his group-who have recently been chased away from the Greene family farm by a herd of walkers and separated from Andrea (who they presume is dead)-are on the run. Rick’s wife Lori is very pregnant with her second child, which further complicates things. He’s also recently killed his best friend Shane, who went mad from jealousy, and his authority over the group has become far more totalitarian (“This is not a democracy”). Fortunately, they’re able to eventually settle down in a Prison, although it’s surrounded by walkers not only inside but also in various parts of the inside (later named “The tombs”) Hershel in particular has his leg bitten, and it’s forced to be amputated before the fever spreads.

Meanwhile, Andra and Michionne are ‘rescued’ by a man called the Governor, who takes them in. Andrea is initially seduced by the Governor’s intact town and seemingly friend attitude, but it’s all a lie-all this sunshine, lollipop and rainbows is built on a facade-he’s in fact a man who raids other survivors (including military groups) for supplies and weapons, keeps a sick aquarium of heads in his house, performs experiments on Walkers (with the help of his somewhat reluctant partner Milton) and also uses them as a sideshow for wrestling matches, and “takes care” of his zombified daughter. One of his right-hand man is Merle, the morally-challenged older brother of Daryl, who Rick and co. abandoned for his erratic behavior back in season one. When he learns of the prison, he pretty much declares war almost right away, kidnapping and torturing Glenn and Maggie, and lying pathologically to pretty much everyone about the actions of Rick’s group.

Compared to the shiny, nice, old-fashioned Woodbury (despite it’s rotten core) the situation at the prison is hardly ideal either-especially when Rick and his crew discover a group of possibly untrustworthy prisoners.

Despite Rick’s moral compromises in keeping his group alive, he hasn’t quite lost it yet-although soon encountering the prison’s surviving prisoners changes things. Although three-Oscar, Big Tiny, and Axel seem to be okay, and were only there for possibly minor defenses (especially Axel, who sort of got implicated in an “armed robbery” despite using a water gun), Tomas and Andrew are definitely more dangerous. Rick deals pretty quickly with the dangerous Tomas, but doesn’t make sure that Andrew is killed by the Walkers.

Andrew in turn unleashes walkers on them, separating the group at a critical juncture-when Lori goes into labor. Carol and Hershel, who had been trained to handle Lori’s pregnancy-are separated from her, leaving only Maggie and Carl to help Lori. Although the baby is delivered, Lori dies in Childbirth and Carl has to kill her before she becomes a zombie.

This causes things to spiral out of control for Rick, as he suffers a psychotic break, going ballistic on Walkers, hearing phonecalls from dead people, and seeing visions of Lori in a white dress walking around the prison. Nevertheless, he doesn’t exactly bottle it up and keep it secret, like the Governor does.

The Governor is also a widow, although one far earlier than the outbreak, however, while Rick gains a daughter, The governor has lost one-although he still keeps her around as a zombie (although on a leash).

Rick’s sanity starts to come back somewhat when he encounters Morgan-the man who saved him at the beginning of the series and treated his wounds-who has now gone quite a bit nuts himself from losing his son and extreme isolation. They both help to bring him back from the brink.

The Governor’s madness finally starts to boil over, however, when Michionne returns, and exposes his darkness to Andrea-the heads, the zombie daughter etc. (Andrea had sensed something was wrong from the fights) and also stabbing his eye out with glass, the Governor pretty much begins to go full psycho and boils over. He also refuses Andrea’s attempt at a truce between him and Rick’s group, and he continues to lie or distort their actions and motivations, eventually causing the people who trusted him the most-Merle, Andrea and Milton-to rebel against him (which unfortunately leads to their eventual deaths).

This all finally comes to a head when he makes a second assault on the prison with a poorly trained “army”, and they’re forced to retreat-and then he fires on his own people, causing many to hide, join Rick’s group, or-in the case of his most loyal but now clearly scared as hell lieutenants Martinez and Thumpert- reluctantly stick around.

Rick takes in the people of Woodbury (although it’s not really explained why he brought them there instead of relocating everybody to Woodbury, which seemed reasonably well-fortified against the Walkers).  He also pretty much outlines how his attitudes have changed since the beginning of last season, when he said “This was not a democracy”. He’s fought his inner demons and won, whereas the Governor has pretty much become a demon, in part by not fighting his own inner demons, but letting them fester and pollute his soul.

What I said last year, that first night after the farm… it can’t be like that. It can’t. What we do, what we’re willing to do, who we are – it’s not my call. It can’t be. I couldn’t sacrifice one of us for the greater good because… because we *are* the greater good. *We’re* the reason we’re still here, not me. This is life and death. How you live, how you die – it isn’t up to me. I’m not your governor. We choose to go. We choose to stay. We stick together.

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