Tag Archive for Daryl

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!

The Walking Dead Recap: “The Suicide King” (Season 3, Episode 9) (2/11/13)

After a prolonged, anxiety-inducing hiatus, AMC has ushered us back into the postapocalyptic wasteland of “The Walking Dead.” In the last episode, way back in December, Rick’s posse stormed Woodbury to save Glenn and Maggie from the Governor. Michonne, who led the crew through the cracks in Woodbury’s walls, went…well, a mite overboard in her vengeance against the Governor. She lay poor Penny to final rest and took out the Gov’s eye in a vicious fight. When Andrea came to rescue the Governor, she let Michonne go instead of killing her.

Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 9 Merle Daryl Governor

Let the games begin! Photo credit Tina Rowden/AMC.

After his inevitable capture, our hero Daryl was finally confronted with the conniving, one-handed brother who’s only appeared to him in hallucinations since their separation in Atlanta in season one. The Governor scapegoats the Dixon brothers for the attack on Woodbury, and well, he has a point. After all, it was Merle who let Michonne go in the first place, and Daryl who led the charge on the village. The Governor, always classy, arranges a fight to the death, brother against brother. Surrounded by the gibbering, gnawing dead and the gibbering, pitchfork-wielding living of Woodbury, the Brothers Dixon are forced to do battle.

Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 9 Merle Daryl

Brother pitted against brother. Photo credit Tina Rowden/AMC.

After three months of waiting, last night’s episode fits all the pieces of the season three puzzle together at last. For the last eight episodes, we’ve been watching separate factions creeping closer to an inevitable battle, sneaking toward each other without full knowledge of the enemy. These warring tribes are not comprised of villains or heroes but confused, desperate people fighting for their very lives. “The Suicide King” brings everything into focus for all the characters, but disappointingly we’re not much closer to closure.

The Dixon duo begin by throwing punches, but shortly it becomes clear their chances of survival improve exponentially if they work together. “Follow my lead, little brother,” Merle says, his hands wrapped around Daryl’s neck. “I’m gettin’ us out of this right now.” Before the battle is really underway, Maggie and Rick jump into the fray with smoke bombs and machine guns. In the midst of this civilized savagery, the Governor stalks calmly through the noxious smoke, smiling to himself. In the aftermath, a cyclopic walker sneaks in the crack in the wall, shambling into the idyllic main street of Woodbury.

Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 9 Rick Daryl

To the rescue! Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Outside the village, Rick’s posse find themselves at odds when Michonne and Glenn, both of whom had stayed back due to injuries at the hand (rimshot!) of Merle Dixon, see that Daryl’s brother is the crew’s newest addition. Straightaway Merle, always a charmer, reveals the connection between Michonne and Andrea. In case you forgot he’s a horrible racist, he inserts a jibe about his “Nubian Queen” and makes a snarky joke about lesbians. You’re hilarious, Merle, really.

Merle and Michonne are the wild cards; what’s the Sheriff to do? He can’t very well welcome Merle into a cell block with women, children, Glenn, or Maggie. Likewise, Michonne’s ominous silence and obviously dangerous demeanor make her an iffy prospect (far, far less iffy than Merle, if you ask me, but Rick doesn’t know that). Well, if Merle isn’t welcome, says Daryl, then it’s back to the beginning for the Dixon brothers. “It was always just me and Merle before,” he tells Rick as he leaves the group behind. Rick makes one of the first outright references to Daryl’s relationship with Carol, reminding us that the two had a sweet, uncomplicated affection for one another. “She’ll understand,” Daryl says, but he doesn’t mean it.

Back in prison, Hershel is busily patching up Tyreese’s crew. The other group reveals that they’ve lost over twenty of their people, that they assumed they’d never see another baby. In a gentle, much-needed bout of jest, Tyreese remarks that he “must be the first brother in history tried to break into prison.” Axel, handing him a bowl of soup, returns, “Which makes me the first white boy didn’t want to break out.” Hershel, with a slight smile, warns them that their fate doesn’t lie with Hershel; it’s Rick’s decision.

Tyreese’s companions take a quick break from burying their friend to discuss taking guns from Carol and Carl and laying waste to the Tribe of Rick. Suddenly, though, Beth and Axel arrive bearing shovels and asking if they need any help burying their friend. Tyreese, anyone who’s read the books will know, is the kind of man who knows the importance of “a little common decency.” He talked down his friends, but for how long?

When Glenn, Maggie, Michonne, and Rick stop briefly on the road back to the prison, Glenn goes totally apeshit on a walker and then screams at Rick, who let Daryl just walk away after all that death, all that strife, pain, and anguish. Their hollow-eyed, fearless leader just “let” Daryl walk away after spending all that manpower to attack Woodbury. Maggie sides with Rick, trying to calm Glenn after he’s spent a long, brutal minute stomping the head of a walker – but calm isn’t what Glenn wants, and a rift forms between the lovers.

Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 9 Andrea in Woodbury

Whose side is Andrea on? Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Meanwhile, back in the village, the citizens of Woodbury, once dressed in summery, shimmery clothing, gossiping about one another, and congratulating themselves on the state of their sunny little town, now fear for their very lives. They’re climbing the walls, drawing walkers with strident car horns, trying in vain to escape. Little did they know, they’ve been trapped since the beginning. There are now walkers within the borders and the Governor is in hiding. Andrea appears to be the strongest and sanest person left. She tries in vain to keep the peace after the Governor appears briefly, shoots a dying man in the head, and wanders back upstairs. From the privacy of his apartment, the Governor watches his girlfriend give a rousing speech, quelling the masses: “They will write about Woodbury. We persevered.” Smiles and hugs all around – but Andrea’s uneasiness, her mistrust, could be the downfall of the Governor yet.

As Carol, Melissa McBride puts in another subtly emotional performance. When she discovers Daryl left her, her sadness and dismay is palpable in just a few words and expressions. “Daryl has his code. This world needs men like that,” she tells Beth. She picks up the makeshift cradle Daryl made for Judith, her unglamorous nickname, Lil’ Asskicker, Sharpied onto a mail bin. Daryl, this symbol tells us, truly loves that baby. Something tells me he won’t be gone for long.

Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 9 Carl Rick Caroltrailer movie La La Land 2016

Warriors one and all. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Hershel tells Glenn he’s like his own son, tries to patch the growing rift between Maggie and Glenn. It doesn’t work. Rick examines Tyreese’s group, refuses to shake hands, and tells them to leave. Hershel, truly the new and improved Dale, pulls Rick aside to gently remind him, “You’ve got to start giving people a chance.” But before Rick can truly contemplate this bit of wisdom, an unexpected visitor appears.

Lori’s phantom, shimmery white gown in silhouette, stands silently on the prison railing. Rick doesn’t take this development terribly well. Suddenly, the fearless leader is nothing but a gun-wielding madman. How many more sucker-punches to the morale can the group stand?

What do you do when the most powerful among you has lost it completely? Both the citizens of Woodbury and those in the prison are forced to confront the possibility that the people they trust most to lead are not in any shape to do so.

Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 9 The Governor

The Governor isn’t happy. Photo credit Tina Rowden/AMC.

After such a long, grueling wait, I had higher hopes for this episode. Taking into account the fact that the writers still have at least three more episodes in which to finish up the season, more still could’ve been done at this point. So far this season has been moving along at a breakneck pace, and this vignette was a little slow. The season started off with a bang – how will it end?

What did you think? Share your opinions in the comments!

The Walking Dead Recap: “Made to Suffer” (Season 3, Episode 8) (12/3/12)

Last night’s midseason finale of The Walking Dead brought yet more new faces, pitted brother against brother and sister against sister, and ended with a fabulous cliffhanger. Smoke and mirrors keep our characters from seeing one another’s true nature, and from seeing the overarching truth…until it’s too late. Dear writers: You’re doing it right.

Walking Dead Tyreese

Tyreese is here to shake things up. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

In the opening scenes, we meet another group of survivors led by Tyreese (Chad Coleman), the hammer-wielding badass readers of the books will recognize. They’re struggling to exist in the same cruel world in which Rick’s group has grown grudgingly complacent. After one of their own is bitten, they carry her atop their shoulders, just like Rick’s group would have in the months preceding. (Now? Not so much.) They enter the prison through a blown-out part of the fence, coming perilously close to where Carl, Beth, Hershel, Axel, and Carole are waiting like lame ducks.

Andrea is also, unbeknownst to her, a lame duck. The Governor is taking very great pains to keep Glenn and Maggie hidden from her. She smiles into the mirror at him, reverently telling him that all the people he brought together, they’re not just surviving – they’re helping each other through this mess. Indeed they are – but helping Dr. Mamet cremate a body is different from helping the Governor kill her old friends, as she’s shortly to understand.

Walking Dead Governor Penny Season 3

Family portrait. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

The Governor is teetering on the very edge of madness, but hiding it well. In the room behind his apartment, surrounded by fish tanks full of zombie heads, he struggles to train his undead little girl. Every unsuccessful encounter fuels the spark of insanity behind his eyes. In his infinite wisdom, the Governor tells Merle they have no choice but to take out the group at the prison – “We’ll white-flag ’em just like the National Guard,” he says with a modicum of glee. Meanwhile, the group at the prison is already inside.

Walking Dead Glenn Maggie

What to do now? Photo credit Tina Rowden/AMC.

Glenn and Maggie, still trapped in Woodbury, prepare to make a stand against the inevitable execution. Glenn’s resourcefulness leads him to the only available weapon: the walker’s radius and ulna (note to anyone who hasn’t watched yet: don’t watch while eating). With this grotesque weaponry, Maggie is able to overpower Merle’s accomplice when the executioners come. Unfortunately, Glenn isn’t able to overpower Merle in his weakened state.

Throughout this battle, Rick, Michonne, Daryl, and Oscar creep closer to where Maggie and Glenn are being held; once they are on the other side of the wall, it’s bombs away. As the room fills with choking fog, Daryl and Merle are only feet apart, but no one can see through the thick veil of self-imposed smoke. Suddenly the two POWs are back in safe hands. When Glenn gets a moment to catch his breath, he tells Daryl who’s responsible for his terrible beating. “I gotta work something out, I gotta talk to Merle,” Daryl pleads with Rick. His face, so harsh and stoic throughout season one and into season two, now betrays his emotions. His heart is on his sleeve more often than not, and in my opinion that’s because Merle hasn’t been there to torture him. (Speaking of torture at the hands of your brother, at one point during the shootout Rick is certain he’s seeing Shane, ghostly in the smoke, and shoots his best friend again only to realize it wasn’t Shane after all, couldn’t have been.)

Walking Dead Woodbury attack

Bombs away! Photo credit Tina Rowden/AMC.

Back in the prison, Carl takes up the mantle and investigates the shrieks coming from Tyreese’s group a few cell blocks over. Carl does exactly the right thing – and exactly what Rick would do – by saving as many as he can, leading them to relative safety, offering to do the heinous deed of shooting a woman before she can come back (shades of Lori), and then locking them behind bars. As if to pound the point home that this child, well, isn’t a child, Tyreese instructs his friend to “let the man go.” Carl is the man now. “We’re in his house.” Perhaps the Carl of the show won’t turn down the same dark path as the Carl of the books.

Carole notices Axel paying lecherous attention to Beth, and tells him, no dude, not cool. Axel, to be fair, has been locked up for ages and just wants to get laid. He doesn’t strike me as the type who’d go about it by force, but who knows? In this world, no one is completely innocent. Carole shakes her head as she tells him she’s not a lesbian (“But you have the short hair!” cries Axel, confused), and no, she won’t sleep with him either. Even in the midst of these epic battles, humans are always concerned with sex…and one has to admit, in the zombie apocalypse, somebody better be having it, or else humans are in serious trouble.

Walking Dead Daryl

Daryl in pensive mode. Photo credit Tina Rowden/AMC.

The preceding episodes sailed our characters perilously close to one another, then let them drift apart again. Michonne didn’t tell Rick’s group about Andrea, or Daryl about Merle, not because she wanted to keep them secret, but because she just didn’t know. This episode uses literal smoke and mirrors to keep Daryl and Merle apart, to keep the Governor’s true goals hidden, and to keep Andrea from seeing the truth. In a firefight in the street, you’ll wait for her to catch a glimpse of a familiar face – but instead, she only sees Oscar, whom she’d have no reason to recognize. The writers have done a brilliant job of intertwining the actions and activities of two independent – but completely dependent – groups of people.

Walking Dead Governor Michonne

An immovable force meets an unstoppable object…(Governor and Michonne). Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Once Glenn and Maggie are (relatively) safe again, Michonne splinters off to take revenge on the Governor. With sweat beading on her forehead, she yanks out her katana (that satisfying “whish!” noise is becoming synonymous with her character) and waits. In the waiting, she of course discovers the fish tanks, and then poor, undead Penny, dressed in her clean clothes and hooded like a bird. Before she can end it for Penny, the Governor catches her. Danai Gurira is the essence of perfection in this scene; Michonne so rarely speaks, her expressions tell you everything. As she sees the Governor’s genuine desperation, she understands him. And in the next moment, you watch the veil of cruelty slide back into place. “You f*$& with me,” that expression says, “I f$&% with you.”

Walking Dead Governor dies

Jack of Hearts. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

She starts a war by slicing through Penny’s head. Writhing around on the floor with the Governor in a sea of broken glass, waiting for the heads in various stages of decay to bite her, she grabs hold of the only thing available – a shard of fish tank, the last shred of the Governor’s failed experiments. Into the Governor’s eye it goes. Before she can end his life, who should show up, but Andrea? Sister is pitted against sister, gun against katana. After a long, stressful pause, Andrea lets her go.

Walking Dead Michonne Andrea

Showdown (Michonne and Andrea). Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

In the aftermath, Daryl is lost in the fray, but not lost to all. The Governor calls all of Woodbury out of their hidey holes to address them, and suddenly the people of Woodbury don’t look so clean anymore, don’t look so flawless and summery. Subtle shifts in costuming and makeup cause them to appear dark, ugly, barbaric in the firelight. Mercenaries point guns into the darkness. The “terrorists,” the Governor says, his eye patch bleeding through, “want what we have, want to destroy us.” He tells the good people of Woodbury Merle led the “terrorists” here and let them in…which is true, but not really. It was his lie that left Michonne alive, certainly. But Merle had no idea Daryl was among the interlopers. It could be his end.

The episode cuts off with the Dixon brothers staring helplessly at each other in the center of a gladiatorial arena, surrounded by shrieking demons who want their heads on pikes. What a magnificent way to lead us right up to the edge without dropping us over. Michonne has set off a chain of events that will change the entire show, and Daryl and Merle are in a bit of a spot. And now we wait through the darkest depths of winter for the rest of the season in February.

What are your thoughts? Why did Michonne do what she did? Why did Andrea let her go? Do you think Merle will see the light? Share in the comments!