The Walking Dead Season 3 (Episodes 6 and 7)

Hey all! The wife and I are officially back from up north, where family trials and house sitting combined to create one of the longest weekends on record. In addition, I was limited in terms of internet access, which was why I’ve been a bit stingy with posts lately. For example, when I went away last week, I had yet to do a review for The Walking Dead Season 3 episode 6, and now I’ve come home to view episode 7, which puts me two reviews in the red.

So I thought I’d rectify all that now by doing a two’fer and reviewing both episodes at once. Given the continuity between them and the way the story is shaping up, I don’t think anyone will mind. And when a show is this good and suspenseful, one show tends to blend seamlessly into the next, people always waiting and wanting more! So here goes…

Episode 6: Hounded
The show opens on Rick in the basement of the prison, talking to an unknown source on the phone. A ladies voice tells him they are calling from a “safe place”, and Rick quickly begs to know where this is. Desperate from all the loss and suffering, he seeks a refuge where his people will be safe from now on. However, he soon finds that the callers are wary and suspicious, and don’t trust him much.

Herschel comes to spend time with him and lets him know that the rest of them are waiting on him, but that he should do whatever he needs to to get free and clear of his grief. He inspects the phone that Rick has been receiving the calls from and appears disturbed, as if there’s no signal on the thing at all. However, he leaves Rick to his sadness without word and tells him to come join them when he’s ready.

In Woodbury, Andrea volunteers for Wall duty but quickly distinguishes herself as a loose cannon when she jumps into the fray to kill a Walker with her knife. The Governor pulls her off, but she and he get might cozy over some whiskey and intimate chit chat where she reveals that she liked the gladiator fights in spite of herself. At heart, Andrea is a warrior and wants to fight, and she and the Governor proceed to sleep together.

Out in the forest, Merle and his men are busy hunting Michonne. Her skills with the sword and wariness allow her to get the drop on Merle’s men the first time around and she kills two of them, though she gets wounded in the process. After a group of Walkers interrupt their next encounter, Merle decides to head back to town, and kills his last remaining man who wants to keep looking. Michonne continues on, wounded and covered in Walker entrails, and finds that she is no longer a target for other Walkers. Having masked her scent with the blood and guts of one, she is now safe to roam unhindered.

However, on his way back, he runs into Maggie and Glenn who are out looking for supplies. After a standoff, he takes Maggie hostage and forces Glenn to drive them back to Woodbury. He announces to the Governor that they now have two members of the prison camp in their custody, and is given permission to interrogate them. Naturally, the Governor keeps this all from Andrea, whom he has just woken up next to in his bed.

At the prison, Rick realizes that no one has been calling, that his conversations have been with the memory of all the people who have died. All the previous people he spoke to were members of their group, and the last to speak to him is Lori. He pours his heart out to her, after which she tells him to move on and take care of their baby. Finally healed and in control of his faculties, Rick comes back to the group and embraces his baby. Down below, Daryl and Oscar are busy clearing out another cell block, and manage to find Carol held up in a room. Haggard and suffering from dehydration, she is nonetheless alive and he carries her back out.

Going out to inspect the perimeter, Rick is shocked to see a healthy human standing at the gates next to Walkers. It’s Michonne, who is still covered in guts, and carrying the supplies Glenn and Maggie left behind…

Episode 7: When the Dead Come Knocking
The episode opens in Woodbuy, where Merle has begun interrogating Glenn in the hopes of finding out where his brother, and the rest of the prison group, is located. The interrogation turns violent, with Maggie in the next room forced to listen as Merle beats Glenn mercilessly. In the course of telling him his companions will come for him, he accidentally mentions Andrea’s name, which Merle finds interesting…

At the prison, Michonne begins to draw the attention of the Walkers. Though she is covered in their filth, her wound begins to bleed again and causes them to notice her. She manages to take a few out with her blade, but passes out from exhaustion as they close in on her. Rick and Carl comes to her aid just in time and put her down below in a cage, after tending to her wounds.

Meanwhile, Daryl comes in to announce that he’s found Carol hiding in a cell below. Though beat up, she’s alive and unbit, which is a bit of a miracle for a camp still reeling from the loss of  many of its people. She begins to share her story with them, how she saw their people being kidnapped, and how she came from Woodbury. She wants their help apparently, to slip in and rescue Andrea. Of greatest concern to Rick, however, is the fact that she found the prison with ease, based on directions that she picked up in Woodbury. They form a search party with the intent of finding Glenn and Maggie and load up a car. Rick, Oscar, Daryl, Axel and Beth agree to go with Michonne, and Rick leaves Carl to oversee things. He finally picks a name for his new sister, Judith, after his third grade teacher.

At Michonne’s urging, their party parks near the town and proceeds on foot. However, they are quickly hit by a hoard of Walkers and are forced to fight it out hand to hand. They take refuge in an old abandoned cabin which appears to still be inhabited by an old man who is armed. He seems to be a little out of it and makes a ton of noise, forcing Rick to subdue him. He tries to run for the door, but Michonne kills him with a stab to the chest. Tossing his still-warm body to the Walkers, they run out the back.

In Woodbury, Andrea is made to witness one of the Governor’s inside projects, which consists of Milton – his chief researcher – conducting tests on a “Mr. Coleman”. The man is elderly and near death, and will come back a Walker once he has “reanimated”. The purpose of the test is to gauge if a Walker still remembers who they were once they change. Once dead, they restrain him and wait, and after some time he comes back as a Walker. Milton tries to remove his restraints to get a better read on his responses, but Andrea is forced to stab Mr. Coleman in the head when  he grabs Milton and tries to bite him.

As par of his interrogation, Merle’s sets a Walker loose in Glenn’s cell. Glenn narrowly manages to survive, breaking free of his chair restraints and using a broken arm to stab the Walker in the head. Merle meanwhile tells the Governor of Andrea’s involvement with the other camp, and they wonder if his people will come looking for him. The Governor volunteers to question Maggie and tries the soft approach. However, after she refuses to tell him where her people are, things get a little rough. He demands she strip down, or he will being bringing Glenn’s body parts into the room. He seems poised to rape her, but stops short when it’s clear she still won’t talk…

Instead, he brings Maggie to Glenn and threatens to shoot one of them if they don’t talk. Maggie tells them they are located in the prison and how many they are. The Governor’s people are not convinced ten people could clear a prison in the “Red Zone”, but he is mainly impressed with the feat. The Governor also begins to question Merle’s loyalties, since his brother is with the opposite camp and they are out there. Outside the walls, Rick and his party close in on the town and inspect its defenses. Andrea comes back to the Governor’s office and tells him of the botched experiment, and the Governor tells her its alright, though seems less than pleased…

Summary:
The stage is now set for one big ol’ clusterf@*&! of a confrontation! I can tell you, after all this build up, it feels like there is going to be one hell of a season ender, though it is still a few episodes away at this point. I foresee a successful rescue in the town, followed by a full-scale offensive by the Governor on the prison in retaliation. Well, I don’t exactly foresee it as much as know that something of this nature is going to happen, but I am anxious to see what they do with it. But of course, there’s the matter of what these two episodes accomplished.

First of all, I was pleased with what they did regarding Rick. At the end of episode 5, it was not exactly clear what was going on with him and that phone in the boiler room. But I suspected he was going nuts and this was all a figment of his imagination. Good to see that I was right, mainly because I thought it would be so damn effective! The way he went nuts after losing Lori was quite powerful, especially the scene where he stabs her reanimated corpse again and again in the stomach. They never explained what he was doing there exactly, but it seemed like he was desperately trying to kill an imaginary Walker spawn which thought might have been growing there. Didn’t make sense, since he knew she already had her baby, but it must have seemed perfectly logical to an insane mind.

And then there was the discovery of Carol which I thought was very nice. Not only was it heart warming to bring someone back after they lost T-Dog and Lori, but I actually was a bit confused when I watched the fifth episode and everyone just assumed she was dead. I asked myself “When did that happen? Did I miss something?” Alas, it was not to the case, she was simply missing in action and chose to hide below. Everyone else just assumed she was dead. Now that she’s returned, alongside little Judith who survived childbirth, the group kind of feels like they’ve been blessed with one hand and cursed by the other.

And of course, Michonne’s exploits, which are always totally awesome/badass, were especially so this time around. Not only was she kicking Walker butt, she even managed to kick the crap out of some of Merle’s men. Seriously, the way she jumped from a tree, decapitates one guy, runs another through, and then uses him as a human shield. You don’t get more badass than that! Merle had the right idea after all that, which was to cut his losses and go back home, though his methods (i.e. shooting one of his own) did seem a little out of line.

And of course, the poignant ending, which consists of Glenn and Maggie being kidnapped, and Michonne making her way to the prison, also felt very appropriate. In this show, it always seems like every time something is lost, something is gained. All the time, people die or are separated from the main group, but this usually coincides with new people being added or answers being found. In this way, the narratives maintains its rhythm of being harsh and gritty, but never so bad as to be completely depressing and hopeless.

____

As for episode seven, I think it just graduated to become my new favorite episode of all time. Though it had less in the way of psychological or subtextual commentary going on, it was just loaded with morsels of fun and anxious awesomeness! In this way, it’s the perfect follow-up to a series of episodes that were emotionally heavy and loaded with concerns that the main character – Rick Grimes – might be  going off the deep end and tempting fate. It also wraps up a bunch of things from previous episodes, while trailing us along even further with suspense!

It starts with high tension as Glenn and Maggie are being interrogated and we’re not sure where things will go. Will they surrender their comrades to save their own lives and each other, will the Governor do the unspeakable to Maggie as he did to Michonne in the comic – a friend and I were talking about whether or not they would go there with the series – and will either of them even survive? Naturally, we are left waiting and wondering if the confrontation that is coming will lead to a rescue, or a big ol’ clusterf@*$! that leaves them and others dead.

In addition, the insight into Milton’s world and his ongoing experiments, that I liked quite a bit. Ever since Woodbury has been introduced, its been made perfectly clear that the Governor has a number of secrets, many of which involve his lead researcher. So far, all his experiments have seemed remarkably disgusting, attaching electrodes to Walker brains and seeing how long their heads lived after being cut off. This experiment, involving whether or not any residual humanity remains within, was much more touching. It was also interesting to put Andrea in this setting, as it made her confront her own feelings about losing her sister.

As she asked Milton when he raised the question of “how much do they remember”, she naturally asked him, “did you lose someone?” The question works on two levels, as it not only shows she’s hardened from her experiences, but suggests that anyone who did lose someone close to them would prefer to think that nothing of their former self remains. After all, if you have to kill them, you don’t want to think that anything of them is still there to kill, just some ugly beast that has taken over and must be put down.

Also, there were tender moments as Carol is brought up and reintroduced to the party. Not only was the reunion scene touching, it was important in that it demonstrated to Michonne that Rick and his people might be trustworthy after all. And between her and Glenn’s accidental admission that Andrea was one of them, the Governor now knows where the prison is and is set to attack it. Add to that the fact that Rick, Michonne and Co. are now trooping towards the Governor’s compound and you have a recipe for a the long-awaited confrontation which they’ve been hinting at since episode 2.

Yep, looking forward to seeing how this season wraps up, which is coming in the next three episodes! Action, drama, explosions, climax! And of course, lots and lots of greasy, gory zombie guts! Until next time…

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