I was actually sad to see Meryl go. The WAFF addict in me would love to see him get his shit more or less together and have the Dixon brothers happily ever after. However from a story telling perspective I see how that would be a cop out. It would more or less result in two different Meryl characters in the show. The way he went out was appropriate and badass enough to suit him and Daryl's reaction was spot on and really good acting my Norman.
In the end Michonne's cliche attempt to get Meryl to stop what he was doing... worked. Shockingly it worked. There was some good still in Meryl, but at the same time he didn't accept what she was saying as completely right. He believed there was no real redemption for him. He couldn't be a good guy, but he might be able to go out taking out a far worse guy than him and that might him a bit of redemption in death. Yeah, I don't think Meryl expected to survive his one man assault on the Governor. I think he was just hoping to take the man out before he died.
The second most surprising thing in the episode was that Rick actually was thinking of going along with it. Between Michonne and Meryl's interactions and Glenn and Maggie's experience he still thought the governor would honor the agreement or at least be nice enough that it was worth a shot and they all wouldn't die in the attempt.
The finale... I was braced for another season 2 mid season or full seaon finale, or a season 3 mid season finale. I was not ready for what we got. And that's a good thing. Better to shake things up. This finale was every bit as game changing as any of those but in totally different ways. I liked that.
I hated to see Milton die, but it was sort of inevitable. With the governor descending into black trenchcoat wearing villian-ville Milton's torching of the walkers was not going to go unpunished. He was obviously working with Andrea so when Andrea got sideways of him it wasn't like Milton was going to dodge it all for long. I liked how the governor dealt with it all. Milton was going to get blood on his hands, good old fashioned innocent killing blood thereby proving his allegience by killing his co-conspiritor. Though I do partially wonder if after knifing her the governor might have taken the knife, untied Andrea, and let her turn to kill Milton. Leaving Milton to turn and kill Andrea was a sadistic way of handling it. Very fitting. Andrea's death was... more moving than it had any right to be frankly. I've never been her biggest fan but seeing her actions of this season in the light of, "I wanted to save everyone," went a long way to making me not hate her long enough for her death to resonate.
The governor's army falling apart was good. They aren't soldiers. Most of them have spent the last two years sipping lemonade, having BBQ's and pretending that the wold hasn't ended. They're still in the suburban mindset which is not a soldier's one. So when the tear gas starts pumping, shots are ringing out, and they've got walkers all around them their panic is appropriate.
The governor's reaction... yeah I can see him losing his shit like that however it pretty much ends Woodbury. Everyone of age or fitness to fight and survive is now dead. More on that later. What surprised me was that Allen just pointed his gun at the gov and didn't fire. I mean, first, why aren't you shooting? This guy just cold bloodedly killed more than a dozen people because... psycho. So why aren't you killing him? Why aren't you killing him as he's drawing his pistol to aim at you? Fuck you Allen. Then Martinez and the black guy just stand there. I get the shock and trying to process it all but at no point did they just say, "Fuck this," and jump in the truck and bail? They didn't shoot the governor? After he's clearly gone completely off the deep end they get in the truck and drive off? They have the ammo they have on them and... that's it. They left all the weapons with the Woodbury people and just drive off with a lunatic and not to Woodbury... I mean... what?
The resolution of the "war" was actually so anti-climatic it was shocking. A few tear gas grenades, a couple of walkers, some poorly aimed fire in the general direction of the Woodbury army and... they run. Then the governor kills them and Rick's assualt on Woodbury finds it totally empty of anyone wanting to resist. In a way... it's beautifully anti-climactic. We've been waiting for the comic book style war and when it arrives it's a total and complete bust because what it amounts to is a bunch of untrained suburban civilians playing hillbilly war against another group. It's the patheticness of the big fights between the Hatfields and McCoys brought to the zombie apocalypse. Part of me wants to be annoyed by how much of season long cock-tease it was and what an absolute failure it turned out to be but... I love it.
Carl, he did the right thing. Two people are pointing guns at this kid. Carl clearly told him to "Drop it," the kid's response was to keep inching forward holding the business end of the shotgun out towards the kid like he wanted Carl to grab the gun while he still had his hand on the grip. He was acting fishy, he wasn't obeying a clear and simple order while two people are pointing guns at him, and if Carl dies the only person protecting Carol and Carl's best shot at not dying a virgin (Beth) only have the cripple protecting them. No, in that situation Carl was absolutely right. Sorry asshole, but in the zombie apocalpyse we take the rules of Simon Says very seriously. Bang.
The refugee's... wow. There's a powder keg. Like it or not you've got husbands, wives, mothers, and a few fathers who have all lost loved ones due to Rick's group's direct action (the attack on Woodbury, Meryl's attack), or due to the consequences of said action (the massacre of the army). Those people are refugees entirely due to the Woodbury/Prison conflict and I pray the series acknowledges this in season 4. Given that they were complaining about a lack of food only a few episodes ago I aslo wonder what their plan is to sustain all those people. Finally... why didn't they relocate to Woodbury. It's secure and a hell of a lot more comfortable than the prison. They no longer have to worry about mass attack, but guerilla raids by the governor and whoever he's got with him.
Looking fowards to season 4 I think we'll see the governor again. Strike that, I know we will. In fact right now I suspect that season 4 will have Rick's group and the Woodbury refugees turning the prison into something downright homey, secure, and livable only for the finale to be the Governor return with an army of maraduers and stage the comic book style assault on the prison. The guy wants Rick and Michonne dead. He's not going to care who else dies in the process but he wants Rick and Michonne dead.