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The Walking Dead Recap: “Welcome to the Tombs” (Season 3 Episode 16) (4/1/13)

After a frustrating third season full of jerky accelerations and sudden brakes, The Walking Dead brought the crazy to a jarring, effective halt in last night’s season finale. Facebook’s Walking Dead page teased me by coyly posting that 27 people would die last night – and the writers certainly made good on the shock value. The finale neatly wrapped up (almost) all the loose ends, got rid of the various characters who’ve annoyed the bejesus out of us all season, and instead of ending on a cliffhanger, gave our little posse a little peace and quiet for once.

Walking Dead Carl

Even if Rick doesn’t always remember who he is, Carl remembers. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

The opening shot of “Welcome to the Tombs” is an effectively eerie zoom out from extreme close-up of the Governor’s iris. He winds up and punches the camera in the face, drawing the viewer directly into the drama. The “previously on” blurb, which reminded us that Andrea is still strapped to his torture-dentist chair, indicated the subject of his violence would be our blond waffler…but it isn’t. It is Milton, who I guessed last week wouldn’t be long for this world.

Poor Milton, ever the good guy. He asks the Gov what his daughter would think of him now. Honestly, the Governor answers, “She’d be afraid of me, but if I’d been like this from the start she’d still be alive.” This is a trope in last night’s episode; characters ask themselves “What if?” repeatedly, and discover the only way to know for sure is to preemptively strike. After beating the living hell out of Milton, his assistant and confidant, the Governor forces Milton to kill Andrea. When the good doctor tries to strike against the Gov, Phillip stabs him three squishing, unnecessarily gory times, twisting the knife. He steps out the door, knowing Milton will come back to life shortly and do the deed anyway. “In this life, you kill or you die…or you die and you kill,” he quips.

Meanwhile, the prison folks are gearing up for battle. Carl, who’s been relegated to the woods with the disabled and young, is thoroughly pissed off at Rick and pulling away. Glenn mentions to Rick that he’s never seen Carl this angry before, not even after Lori…and Rick dismisses him: “He’s still a kid, it’s easy for him to forget.” Carol and Daryl are companionable; she comforts him, telling Daryl that Merle “gave us a chance.” This is about all the mourning you’ll see for Merle, which is actually infinitely appropriate. After that sudden change of heart and martyrdom, he deserves a few lines and a brief moment of silence…and that’s about it. Dude was still a racist, sexist, gaslighting, brutally violent assassin. RIP Merle.

Walking Dead Michonne Daryl Carol

How to proceed from here? Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Michonne takes a moment to show Rick she understands his position. He had to think about handing her over; obviously, he did. If there’s one thing Michonne is good for, it’s a level head – and her level head knows even the most beneficent gentleman (or woman) on the face of this post-apocalyptic earth would have to think twice about sacrificing his own family for the sake of a veritable stranger. Rick, for what it’s worth, tells her “You’re one of us.” It’s not the last time we hear this.

In Woodbury, the Governor is gathering his forces. Tyreese and Sasha warily tell him, “We’ll fight the biters, but not other people.” Sounds familiar, yes? “Don’t kill the living” has been Rick’s motto up until this season. The siblings offer to stay and defend the children, and if he wants them when he returns, they’ll be there. Sasha’s nervousness is obvious when he approaches them with a big fuck-off gun – and hands it to Tyreese before thanking them for their service. They’re beginning to realize something’s not right in Woodbury (duh).

Walking Dead The Governor off to battle

If only they knew their fate… Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

The Woodbury soldiers are not screwing around – they go at the prison with artillery shells, massive machine guns, and basically every weapon you can imagine. The guard towers shatter, walker heads explode, shells tumble to the ground en masse…but everybody’s gone. The Governor discovers an open, highlighted Bible, Hershel’s personalized message: “And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” How very Easter-appropriate.

In the Governor’s outpost/torture chamber, from the place where he is dying a slow, miserable death, Milton tells Andrea she can get some pliers if she scoots her right foot back far enough. He faked weakness, dropping a tray even as the Governor looked on, to ensure Andrea had access to a tool that might help free her. The question, mid-episode, is whether Andrea can liberate herself in time to keep zombie Milton from attacking and killing her. He tries his damndest to stay alive, and takes the opportunity to ask why she stayed in Woodbury once she knew her friends were out there. It’s a smart narrative move – and a question we’ve all been asking ourselves this season. She tells him she nearly killed the Governor after Carol suggested it, but changed her mind at the last minute. “I didn’t want anyone to die,” she says. Once again, it isn’t the last time we hear this.

At the prison, Rick’s crew ambushes the Governor’s soldiers. Using blaring alarms and exploding grenades, they frighten the soldiers back out of the prison before opening defensive fire. Beneath all that weaponry, these people aren’t soldiers at all. They’re citizens, frightened and exhausted, trying to survive by following a psychotically charismatic man. Carl, Hershel, Judith, and Beth wait in the woods. After fleeing battle, the youngest kid among the Woodbury contingent comes upon them. He tries to surrender his weapon to Carl, who shoots him in the face. “I’m sorry you had to do that,” Rick says, and Carl shrugs him off. “That’s what I was there for.” Hershel stays back to tell Rick, in no uncertain terms, that Carl didn’t need to kill the poor kid. Rick argues for Carl’s innocence (once a kid, always a kid), and Hershel, to his credit, stops Rick dead. “I’m tellin’ ya, he gunned that kid down.”

Here’s the point in the episode where the feces truly strike the perennial fan. After fleeing the prison, the Governor stops his cadre of frightened citizens to convince them to go back…and they refuse, wondering rightly why on earth they’re going in with guns blazing for a half dozen people who’re just trying to survive, same as they are…”We’ll fight biters, but not people,” someone says, which harkens back to Tyreese and Sasha’s previous assertion. To everyone’s surprise (and my profane exclamation), the Governor opens fire and cuts down twenty or so people in one go. He then takes the time to shoot some of them in the head so they don’t come back – what a gentleman. One woman lies very still beneath a dead body, saving her life…for now. The Governor leaves Martinez and one other soldier alive. The two are obviously afraid but continue to follow him even after that massacre. This single scene accounted for about 25 of those 27 deaths.

Walking Dead Carl Rick

One of the things we’ve been missing this season… Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

In the next scene, the writers grace us with a little bit of what was truly missing from this season. Rick, stumbling through his own personal hell, hasn’t bothered to notice that his kid isn’t a kid anymore. Carl, for whom “it’s easy to forget” according to his dad, remembers everything. When Rick tries to tell Carl he didn’t have to shoot that kid, Carl eerily lists all the times someone thoroughly messed up and didn’t kill another person, all the deaths that could have been prevented. Carl, as it turns out, is very tired of asking “what if?” and has turned toward killing so he doesn’t have to lie awake wondering about it.

Milton finally succumbs to his gruesome injuries, and then oops, he comes back again. He shoves himself into a standing position, and if this were a Romero film his guts would tumble out of his gullet, but alas, AMC is still subject to the censors. From behind the closed door, both Milton and Andrea release bloodcurdling shrieks.

Rick, Michonne, and Daryl go after the Woodbury crew, hoping to end it all…and on the road, they encounter the scene of the massacre. The woman who survived tells them exactly what went down, and when they reach Woodbury they’re spared. We can finally exhale; extracting the Governor from the situation means that Tyreese, Rick, and the citizens of Woodbury are exchanging information for once. If only everyone had known, from the very start, what was going on behind the scenes in Woodbury; how different things would be. The three of them enter Woodbury to find Andrea, knowing now that she had escaped but not made it to the prison.

From beneath the door of the torture chamber, a pool of blood sits, coagulating. They open the door, expecting the worst…and they find it. She’s bitten, feverish and anguished. Rick assures her she’ll always be one of them (once again, not the first time we’ve heard this sentiment in this episode). Michonne strokes her hair, but that level head prevents her from saying it’ll all be okay. They all know it won’t. I’ve been vocally annoyed with Andrea this season, but I appreciate the writers’ attempt to make sense of her frustrating inaction. She, better than Merle, redeems herself at last. “It’s good you found them,” she says to Michonne. She repeats, “I just didn’t want anyone to die.” After she tells Rick she has to kill herself, she smiles a bit and says, “I know how the safety works;” it’s an emotional reference to her early exploits learning to shoot with Shane. She sadly eyes Daryl and Rick. “I tried,” she says, and that’s as much as she needs to say. Michonne holds her hand and stays with her while she commits the final act. The camera artfully pans out the door, where Tyreese, Daryl, and Rick stand still as statues, waiting for the gunshot which finally comes after a lengthy pause.

What choice does Rick’s crew have, but to bring back all the women and children from Woodbury? The prison is the safest place for them, and these, after all, are the good guys. In the final scene, Rick looks up at the walkway where Lori has appeared to him all season. This time, though, we, at least, don’t see the ghost of his wife. Is this perhaps a sign that he’s conquering his demons? The episode ends on a shot of a makeshift grave, symbolizing all the death we’ve seen thus far – and all the death that’s sure to come. (Didn’t the first season also end on a similar shot?)

The episode was well done, brilliantly paced, and smartly written (though repetitive). It mostly wraps up the Governor’s storyline – he has lost his followers, and thus, one hopes at least, his power. Unfortunately, the writers didn’t show us where he went or what happened to him and his two final soldiers…so he could reappear in the next season like that bouncy clown – you punch it, it won’t stay down. This episode extracted the people we expected (Milton), and the ones with whom audiences were vocally frustrated (Andrea). Andrea was given her moment to shine, and Carl’s character was given much-needed time to reflect on his development this season. The finale sets up Carl and Rick to be completely at odds with one another over the importance of mercy, and saddles our prison crew with a whole lot of people who need protection.

Walking Dead The Governor

Cyclopean villainy: where are you now? Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

How did you feel about the season finale? What frustrated you, and what thrilled you? Did you expect so much carnage, and how do you think the next season will pick it up? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Language : English.
Runtime : 141 min.
Genre : Action, Drama, Science Fiction.

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The Walking Dead Recap: “Arrow on the Doorpost” (Season 3, Episode 13) (3/11/13)

Walking Dead Rick

Rick in his most familiar pose. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

The writers of The Walking Dead probably intended last night’s episode to be a gut-wrenching, suspenseful interlude in the lead-up to the great battle. Unfortunately, lackluster dialogue and a displeasing lack of suspense leave us wanting more. We already know how the Governor functions, and we don’t need more evidence of his shortcomings as a human being. We don’t want Michonne to lose any of her badassery as she becomes more attached to Carl and Rick. We know Rick likes to play the hero. We didn’t need an entire episode to pound in these aspects of our characters.

Walking Dead Governor Andrea Rick

Can Andrea play mediator? Something tells me she can’t. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Andrea has set up a meeting between the Governor and Rick because, as the Governor says, the two of them “have a lot to talk about.” Well, that’s an understatement. In a shadowy, abandoned warehouse, the two meet. The Governor plays at removing all his weapons, but has a gun taped to the table where Rick can’t see it – of course he does. How much will it take to convince everyone around him this man is out of his mind, and the farthest thing from trustworthy?

Walking Dead The Governor

Don’t know about you, but the Governor in a “Promise I won’t hurt you, really!” posture is creepier to me than if he looks deranged. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

For backup, the Governor brought Martinez (his new sidekick since Merle abandoned Woodbury) and Milton. Rick came equipped with Daryl and Hershel. Andrea came to oversee the festivities, of course. After kicking Andrea out of the warehouse, the Governor and Rick eye each other warily, conversing occasionally in measured tones and sipping on whiskey. While the leaders “calmly” converse inside the warehouse, the “henchmen” snipe at each other outside the doors. Andrea stares blankly into space, contemplating her options.

When they hear oncoming walkers, Andrea, Daryl, and Martinez go to work. Martinez and Daryl engage in a pissing contest while Andrea marches in and gets going. She shakes her head at the two of them before smashing a walker’s head. Suddenly, the writers are trying to play her like she’s frustrated with all this testosterone, when in reality it’s her own shortsightedness, her own stubbornness and denial, that brought everyone here in the first place. As always, her scheme got away from her.

Meanwhile, at the prison, it’s another episode of Everybody Hates Merle. The elder Dixon brother tries to convince Glenn, Maggie, and Michonne that they need to attack the Governor. “Your dad’s head could be on a pike real soon,” he says to Carl. Merle gathers weapons and tries to attack the Governor on his own, but the combined force of Glenn, Maggie, and Michonne put the kibosh on his little hero mission.

The Governor and Rick snark at each other for a few more minutes, until the Governor mentions Judith’s parentage. At this point, it feels like Shane and Lori have been dead for ages, and it’s a nice reminder of just how shoddy Rick’s emotional situation is. “Didn’t you ever misjudge someone?” the Governor asks Rick, knowing perfectly well the answer. “Andrea told me about your baby, how she could be your partner’s. You’re caring for her anyway, and I respect that. You’re taking responsibility for being unable to see the devil beside you,” he says, with a tiny grin.

Walking Dead Daryl crossbow

Your friend and mine, Daryl Dixon, being a badass. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Outside, the henchmen and the advisers settle into an almost-comfortable routine. Daryl smokes a cigarette and talks to Martinez, who begins to actually grow a personality. The two share a sullen moment together, representing the hard-but-secretly-sort-of-soft killers. Across the way, Milton and Hershel sit amiably next to each other and converse. They represent science, compassion, and thoughtfulness on both sides. Milton’s totally fascinated by Hershel’s stump and how it got to be. “I’m not showing you my leg,” Hershel says, slightly disgusted. “At least buy me a drink first!” Milton isn’t quite sure how to respond to a joke at first, but when the two share a laugh you begin to realize they’re actually quite similar. Andrea looks up from her stupor long enough to ask Hershel, and to show genuine concern for, what happened with Maggie. “I can’t go back there,” she says desperately after Hershel tells her how sick the Governor is. “You’re family, you belong with us,” he assures Andrea. But it isn’t that simple.

Inside, the Gov tells Rick the details of hearing about his wife’s death in a car accident. She left him a voicemail asking him to call her on the day she died, but he didn’t have a chance. “I sat there clutchin’ that phone thinkin’, what did she want? Just to check in? Ask me to pick something up for dinner?” Once he realizes his story has affected Rick (dead wife, phantom phone calls, etc.), a smug smile crosses his lips briefly. He’s got the upper hand in inhumanity, that’s for sure. (On another note, it’s odd to hear a character refer to something as mundane as “voicemails” in this universe.)

Back inside the prison’s walls, Merl and Michonne display a fun rapport. He claims to be an assassin “when he needs to be,” and she rightfully asks why he let her go. “Musta been seduced by your sterling personality,” he says with utmost sarcasm and disdain. He asks Michonne, the other potential rogue agent, if she’ll go with him to get the Governor. She, though, has a newly built loyalty to Rick and Carl, and tells him where he can stick it, more or less.

Maggie finally extends a hand to Glenn, giving them an opportunity to talk. Talking leads to touching, though, and touching leads to sex. Understandably, Glenn can’t get aroused with the walkers “watching,” so they give up on watching for intruders and retreat into a storage compartment to have dirty, sweaty sex on the cement floor. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the two of them interact in a loving way, and it’s nice to have their relationship back. Unfortunately, this kind of love can’t exist long in such a brutal world; I kept expecting one of them to get shot in the head, and I fear one of them will die or be severely injured by the end of the season.

Walking Dead Governor Rick

The Governor and Rick in A Good Old Fashioned Shoot Off? Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Rick negotiates with the Governor, who reveals that (of course) he only wants Michonne. Our fearless leader offers a hypothetical question: “If I give you Michonne, how do I know you’ll keep your word?” The Gov gives him two days to think over the offer. After establishing similarities and a cool understanding between the lesser members of each faction, everyone gets back in their cars to leave. The henchmen and advisers exchange tense glances through open car windows as the vehicles move away in a yin yang pattern. (This seems pointed – Woodbury and the prison are inextricably intertwined now, perversely relying on one another.)

Shortly after arriving back in Woodbury, the Gov lets Milton in on his master plan, which of course is to kill everyone but Michonne. As he tells Martinez happily, in a few days they’ll bring everyone around and it’ll be a perfect way to end everything! He explains that this is obviously the “best way to avoid a slaughter.” Showing some backbone for once despite his deeply rooted fear of the Governor, Milton says, “That is a slaughter.”film The End of the Tour 2015 streaming

The show’s soundtrack has changed in the last few episodes, and this is no exception. There’s a soft crooner on the soundtrack as the Governor and Andrea dance around each other, then as Rick avoids telling his people what the terms are. “He wants the prison, he wants us gone,” he tells the prison posse. “We’re going to war.” It’s clear he’s chosen a battle over sacrificing Michonne, as we expected him to do. Afterward, though, he asks Hershel if he’s willing to sacrifice his daughters’ lives for her. “Why would you tell me this?” Hershel wonders, and it’s a good question. “I’m hoping you can talk me out of it,” Rick reveals. And cut.

This episode was a slow fizzle as opposed to last week’s uncomfortable burn. I realize the season’s End of Days is coming up, but this episode slowed the season’s roll to a point of inertia. Hopefully the writers can pick it up again next week.

Walking Dead Walkers

Greg Nicotero: still showing off. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

The Walking Dead Recap: “Clear” (Season 3, Episode 12) (3/4/13)

In last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, a happy little family took a delightful road trip. No, wait, this is the zombie apocalypse. Michonne, stone-faced as always, drives Rick’s dusty SUV while Rick rides shotgun and Carl perches in the backseat. The car passes by a man begging for their help, shrieking at them. His gait and enormous pack indicate he’s been on his own for a long time – but his desperation pains none of the passengers, at least not visibly. Carl glances backwards, but Rick and Michonne don’t even look, and they certainly don’t stop.

In this episode, Carl and Rick interact as equals, rather than as father and son. I noted last week that Carl is growing up so fast it’s eerie – and Rick had to see it sometime. Carl asks upfront why Michonne is with them, and Rick explains that a) he couldn’t leave her at the prison with Merle, and b) that he also invited her along for her skill and tenacity. “Right now, we have the same problems. Maybe we can work on them together,” he tells Carl, who’s not Michonne’s biggest fan.

Walking Dead Rick Carl Michonne

The posse comes to clean house. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Michonne briefly gets the car stuck in the mud; the three of them shoot their way through a small herd of walkers, then unstick the tire. The same man on the road sprints toward them, screaming for help. They get back in the car and leave him alone out there. The imagery of a man alone in the postapocalyptic, zombie-infested wasteland is difficult and well executed. These people, ostensibly the good guys, have completely changed their outlook. (How could you not?)

As the minutes pass, it becomes clear that their road trip destination is the police station in the little town where Rick, Carl, Lori, and Shane used to live. Unfortunately, someone else has gotten to the gun storeroom first. In a tense moment, Rick says there are a few more places to look: businesses downtown sometimes kept rifles under the counters. Michonne makes a vague sighing noise, at which point Rick asks pointedly, “You have a problem with that?” She eyes him knowingly, sadly. “No Rick, I don’t have a problem,” she tells him, and hands him the bullet she’d picked up from the floor. Danai Gurira can tell a story with a single expression – and it becomes clear that Rick’s descent into insanity is affecting Michonne. Empathy and a fragile humanity are beginning to peek through her hard exterior.

When the trio reach town, they discover what looks like a madman’s art installation. “NO GUILT YOU KNOW THAT” is spray-painted prominently on a brick wall. Curses, nonsense words, and “EVERYONE TURNS” adorn the surfaces of hollowed out cars and shop windows. Birds and rats in cages are scattered around the street, with clusters of ropes, spiky wooden stakes, shopping carts and skateboards tied together. The word “CLEAR” is scrawled everywhere. Just as the three of them take in the fact that these are walker traps, a man clad in helmet, body armor, knee pads, and flannel starts shooting at them from above. Michonne tries to get to him, but he pops out the bottom floor suddenly. Who comes to the rescue again? Why, it’s Carl, of course, shooting him in the chest.

Walking Dead Carl Michonne

KING COUNTY CAFE, Today’s Special: filet of rat encased in a delicate metal cage, perched atop a lovely bed of skateboard. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Rick uncovers the assailant to discover Morgan, a throwback to the first season. Morgan is wearing body armor, and thus sustained only a very uncomfortable-looking bruise from Carl’s shot. However, he’s knocked out cold, and the two adults have to lug him up the stairs to his lair. Morgan, it seems, has rigged himself up a regular fortress. Beneath the innocuous-looking welcome mat lie metal spikes, prepared to slice open the next visitor. At the top of his stairs, an axe hangs, waiting to murder any intruder who trips a wire. Morgan has been busy acquiring weapons (from the storeroom Rick showed him a year ago, and from many other encampments, it seems) and writing all over the walls. “DUANE TURNED,” Rick reads…and the sudden, sad realization that Morgan’s young son turned into a walker causes him to play savior. Poor Morgan has lost everything, and Rick has lost too much. The two of them were bound when Morgan saved Rick’s life – and Rick wants to repay the debt.

Carl examines Morgan’s hand-drawn map of town and realizes their entire neighborhood is gone, burned out. He makes a decision to get some supplies for baby Judith – including a crib, and something else, something he’s hiding. Michonne points out coolly that he won’t be able to carry a crib all by himself. Rick looks to her with gratitude when she offers to go with Carl to help; she does it in a gentle, inoffensive way that allows Carl to lead, and doesn’t leave Rick room to say no. She knows, somehow, that he’s up to something else.

Carl, of course, tries unsuccessfully to sneak away at the first opportunity. Michonne catches up to him and follows him toward a cafe where he’s certain there’s a photo of his family. He sees no movement inside and almost opens the door before Michonne stops him. She devises a way to sneak past the many walkers: push in skateboards carrying rats in cages. While the walkers attack the bait, she and Carl grab a Grimes family photo. When Carl accidentally drops it, she goes back in to get it for him. “I just thought Judith should know what her mother looked like,” Carl says without a hint of sadness or sheepishness. Surprisingly, along with the precious photograph, Michonne also brings out a metal cat sculpture, its arched back painted in bright pastels. “I had to bring it,” she says to Carl with a hint of a smile. “It’s just too damn gorgeous.”

Meanwhile, Morgan wakes up to find Rick in his house. It’s not pretty. Rick struggles to show Morgan who he is, but Morgan doesn’t know anybody anymore. When Rick says, “I gave you this,” and holds up a Walkie-Talkie, Morgan finally begins to realize who he is. “I told you I’d turn on my radio every morning at dawn.”

He realizes, suddenly, that Rick is none other than his old companion…but the realization isn’t easy. There’s no hugging and making up. “You were not there!” he screams. Rick tries to explain why, and basically “why” is that he forgot about Morgan and Duane when he found his own family. Morgan tells Rick what’s happened in the interim: Morgan’s undead wife, the one Rick tried to get Morgan to shoot, murdered his son in front of his eyes. Duane had a gun, but he couldn’t pull the trigger, much as Morgan couldn’t pull the trigger when Rick asked him to. “I called to him,” Morgan says, “and he turned, and she was on him.” It’d be enough to drive anyone crazy.

Walking Dead Rick CLEAR

This is what chalkboards are good for? Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Morgan’s guilt and pain have made him weak and viciously emotionally unstable. Rick offers to take him back, but Morgan refuses, saying, “I have to clear.” Good people like Rick always die, and so do the bad ones, he says. “The weak people, the people like me, we have inherited the earth.” This is bitterly close to, and yet very far from, Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Full of a madman’s wisdom, Morgan tells Rick, “You will be torn apart by teeth or bullets.” Yes, indeed. That’s as good a summary of this world as any. “When you’ve got something good, somebody else wants it,” Morgan says, and it’s always true. What a wonderful world.

Rick sees himself in Morgan and hopes to escape his own demons. If he can save his friend, can he save himself? They leave Morgan behind, though, and what does that mean for Rick? Michonne once again shows a feeling; she asks Rick, who’s peering attentively into the distance, if he sees somebody. When he eyes her suspiciously, she admits, “I used to talk to my dead boyfriend. It happens.” Rick, with a half smile, answers, “You wanna drive? Good, ’cause I see things.” Well, the first step to recovery is admitting you’ve got a problem, right?

On the way back, the lone man they silently, callously avoided on the way to town is splattered, in pieces across twenty feet of roadway. Not one of them flinches, but they pause and back up to pick up his pack. How things have changed.

This episode was one of the most interesting of the season so far. The story has been so busy bouncing between locations, spiraling Rick into crazytown, making Andrea waffle over Woodbury and that creep the Governor, placing a rift between Glenn and Maggie, and pausing to let Daryl and Merle hate-love each other, that the writers haven’t devoted much time to the less developed relationships. Michonne’s strong-silent demeanor was beginning to grate, just as Glenn’s and Rick’s hysteria, and Andrea’s denial, were beginning to wear me down. This is just the kind of episode we needed at this point in the season. One wonders, though, where it’ll go from here. Who’s on what side, and is Rick going to recover?

How did you feel about last night’s episode? Share in the comments!

The Walking Dead Recap: “Home” and “I Ain’t a Judas” (Season 3, Episodes 10 and 11) (2/25/13)

I always wonder about the viewership of television shows like The Walking Dead that have the misfortune to run during the Oscars ceremony. Did most of the world watch Walking Dead last night, or DVR it in favor of pretty dresses, Adele, and magnanimous back-patting?

Walking Dead Season 3 prison crew

A tiny army, but an army nonetheless. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

If there’s one thing The Walking Dead does well, it’s to remind us that in the zombie apocalypse, the real danger isn’t zombies. It’s us. Loyalties shift from day to day, power takes precedence over mercy, and everyone has guns. Since returning from hiatus, the series has slowed considerably. Is anyone else already tired of Rick’s “wandering through crazytown?” Yes, we understand he’s been through a lot and the pressure is wearing him horribly thin. This is, after all, the apocalypse. However, his self-indulgence is obnoxious (and I had really hoped we were rid of Lori once and for all).

Following their return to the prison, Glenn and Maggie aren’t in the best shape. Glenn can’t stand the idea of Merle joining the posse, and hates Maggie a little bit for her pragmatism – she realizes perfectly well that they need more able-bodied men, even ones like Merle. When it feels like Rick is welcoming Daryl and Merle back to the prison, Glenn throws a tantrum. It’s all the more poignant for his beaten face and blackened eyes – Merle did those things to him, and if I were Glenn, I’d want the guy dead.

Walking Dead Season 3 Glenn

Remember season 1 Glenn? Good times. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Daryl, of course, can’t leave his brother behind, so goes with Merle. In the woods, the two of them bicker and argue. Just in case anyone forgot, Merle is still an asshole to his little brother. When they get into a minor physical altercation, Merle rips off Daryl’s shirt, revealing a back horribly scarred by a whip. In this scene, we get an important, humanizing glimpse into the Dixon abode of yore – and how the brothers turned out the way they did. “I’m sorry,” Merle says to Daryl about their childhood, and he really means it this time. “I had to leave, or I woulda killed him.”

Daryl, newly attuned to the cries of a baby, hears a child crying and follows the sound with a grousing Merle on his heels. The two discover a Mexican family fighting off a herd of walkers, and help them escape. Merle complains to Daryl the whole time about wasting bullets, and Daryl responds (god bless him), “There was a baby!” Merle’s just going to have to deal with this new, softer Daryl.

Speaking of families, Maggie craves a stability she’s unlikely ever to have. In a scene that is sad and telling, Beth hands her sister Lil’ Asskicker and explains how to hold the bottle so the baby doesn’t get gassy. Motherhood, it seems, is something Maggie will probably never experience. And if Glenn doesn’t get himself together, his rage is going to kill him, leaving her all alone. She’s pulling away for her own sake.

Walking Dead Season 3 Carol Axel

RIP Axel. I liked you. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

After revealing to Carol that he was in prison not for pharmaceuticals as he previously said, but for robbing a store with a toy gun, Axel takes a bullet to the face courtesy the Governor. In the hail of gunfire that follows, Carol uses poor Axel’s body as a shield. The prison crew miraculously hold off any further fatalities, but the Governor sends a truck through the gates and unleashes a horde of walkers. Checkmate.

In last night’s episode, Carl takes a moment to tell his dad to take a damned break already. This poor kid watched his father kill his mentor, helped birth his baby sister, shot his mother in the head, and is now watching his father spiral down the rabbit hole of madness. And yet, he’s the sane one? Stephen King wrote in a foreword to one of his novels that kids have malleable, adaptable minds – which is why they can look the boogeyman in the face. It is only in adulthood that we begin to harden, our mental walls thickening – the boogeyman is a figment of the imagination, of course. When those walls begin to crumble, when the boogeyman becomes real, we tumble toward insanity, as Rick is doing. Carl’s world is still shifting and changing, his mind adapting; the question is, how will he turn out?

The Governor, meanwhile, is building an army. It includes asthmatic teenagers and old ladies with arthritis, but it is an army nonetheless. For the Gov, it is literally an eye for an eye, and as Merle warns, the prison posse is dealing with a very, very dangerous man. “He’ll leave Rick for last so he can watch his family and friends die ugly,” Merle explains.

Carol and Daryl continue their gentle flirtation. She has become rather zen in the last few episodes, and her words in this episode are important. “He’s your brother, but he’s not good for you,” she tells Daryl. Them’s fightin’ words coming from anyone but Carol. Hershel approaches Merle to get a feel for him, and the amputees quote the Bible at one another. Hershel has fully taken Dale’s role of peacekeeper and father figure (which only serves to further convince me that Jeffrey DeMunn quit the series unexpectedly, facilitating Dale’s untimely death).

Andrea asks Milton to help her escape from Woodbury, and Milton, that snake, reports her to the Governor. When the Gov gives Milton the go-ahead to help Andrea out, the two of them trap a walker, chop off his arms, and curbstomp him (this scene was really difficult for me to watch), rendering him harmless. In the process, Tyreese’s crew stumbles on Milton and Andrea, and Milton leads them back to Woodbury. Using Michonne’s method, Andrea heads toward the prison using her pet walker as a deterrent against the other biters.

Walking Dead Season 3 walkers

Oh, just trapped in prison surrounded by these guys. Everything’s just dandy! Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Of course, since Rick went crazy on Tyreese’s people, forcing them out into the wilderness, they’re going to pick whatever side offers them shelter…and that’s a big problem for the prison crew. When Andrea arrives, she sees just how things have changed, the conditions in which her friends are living, the deception under which she’s been toiling. No one, on either side, can tell where her loyalties lie. I don’t think she knows.

Andrea accuses Michonne of telling lies, while Michonne tells Andrea what’s actually been going on – that the Governor sent someone to kill Michonne, that he would’ve killed Andrea too, if she’d left Woodbury with her friend. “Those people need me!” Andrea cries, to which Michonne responds cooly, “I did not realize the Messiah complex was contagious…you chose a warm bed over a friend.” Ooh, burn. The truth hurts, huh, Andrea?

Carol, ever the voice of reason, tells Andrea she can stop this. All she needs to do is give the Governor the night of his life, then when he’s asleep, end it all. When Andrea returns to Woodbury, she does give the Governor a lovely night, and then holds a knife to his neck…but she can’t quite pull it off. (In other news, the Governor is so slimy that watching him kiss Andrea actually caused an involuntary moue of disgust to appear on my face…I can’t help it.)

In other news, the prison has great acoustics, and while the Governor may have electricity through which to play his creepy piano sonatas, Beth has a pretty voice and knows the beauty of Tom Waits.streaming The Gift movie

We keep trading people back and forth, from Woodbury to the prison, back to Woodbury. With Tyreese and company on the Governor’s side the prison is in more trouble than ever. Merle appears to be basically a hired gun, useful to whichever side he’s currently on…and that side will always be Daryl’s. And who will Andrea choose? She’s the only wild card.

What did you think of the last few episodes? How do you think it’ll end? Do you think Tyreese and Andrea will rejoin the prison crew? Share your thoughts in the comments!