Welcome back to the Walking Dead. With the second episode in the latter half of the third season, things are coming down from the mid season climax. All the major characters have been introduced and the two main threads – that of the prison and the town of Woodbury – are now fully intertwined. And with blood drawn and both sides aware of the others presence, things seem to be settling in for a bit of a lull.
Last time, during the mid season opener, we saw Rick go crazy, the Governor go into isolation, and other people step in to fill their boots. Daryl also took off with Merle to face his fortunes alongside his brother rather than abandon him a second time, and Glenn and Maggie were beginning to crack due to the torment they suffered in the Governor’s captivity.
Which brought us to last night’s episode entitled…
Home:We start with the prison, where Rick is reconnoitering after losing his mind, keeping watch on the field and Michonne. That ends when he sees Lori again standing before him in white dress, first overlooking their graves, then standing out beyond the fence. After coming to her, he spends time in an imagined embrace. Meanwhile, Glenn decides to step up and talks about their next move, whether they should assassinate the governor or fortify and wait.
Back in Woodbury, the Governor thanks Andrea for the way she stepped up and tells her she could lead the town. She asks him if he’s abdicating, which he seems ambivalent on at the moment. He also tells her they will leave the prison alone as long as they do the same. Privately though, he asks Milton to monitor Andrea since he doesn’t know where her loyalties lie. Later, he and others seem to vanish from the town, and Andrea asks where they are. The best she can learn is from Milton, who says he’s “on a run.”
In the forest, Daryl and Merle come upon a group of survivors who find themselves stuck on a bridge and beset by Walkers. After saving them, Merle tries to rob them but Daryl intervenes. This leads to a fight between the two of them, during which time Daryl accuses his brother of never being there for him and for the loss of his own hand. After the fight turns physical, Daryl tells Merle he’s leaving and begins heading back to the prison.
Glenn and Maggie have a fight over what happened to her in Woodbury and he decides to head out on a mission. Hershel comes to him beforehand to ask him if he intends to kill the Governor. Glenn says no, but Hershel suspects he is going off the deep end too, and urges him to come back since he is effectively in charge. Glenn still leaves and Hershel finds Rick out in the woods, wandering aimlessly. He explains how he’s been seeing Rick and Lori, to which Hershel replies that they need him back.
In the yard, Carol and Axel are talking and having a laugh, when suddenly a bullet hits him in the head. The entire camp looks up to see the Governor and his men shooting from the treeline! Rick and Hershel are both pinned down, and Michonne grabs a gun from the bus and begins shooting from the inner area while Carl and Maggie start shooting from the prison grounds.Things appear locked in stalemate until the Governor’s men drive a big truck through the gate and release a whole slew of Walkers into the yard. They then fall back, just as more Walkers are drawn from the treeline by all the shooting. Michonne begins cutting her way through the Walkers while Glenn drives in and grabs her and Hershel. Rick seems trapped outside, but is saved when Daryle and Merle show up to protect him.
All told, the prison has lost one man – Axel – and the governor one of his. What’s more, its now clear the Governor is intent on wiping Rick and his people off the face of the Earth. And that’s where things end for this week…
Initially, I felt like this episode was a pacing chapter, where things slow down after the big climax so people can catch their breath and other parts of the story can be resolved. However, the surprise ending pretty much shot that impression to hell and left me hanging big time! Too bad too, I was all set to complain!
Basically, this was a good ending because it let us know that the Governor wasn’t going to simply roll over and be the subdued “live and let live” shell of himself. Everything’s been done this season to make him seem like a split personality, benevolent and stalwart on the surface, ugly and crazy beneath it. I’m glad they’ve kept that going with him because that is who he is. Making him stand down at this point would only seem like a shameless way of dragging things out, which is something I hoped they wouldn’t do this season.
Daryl’s return to the prison, so soon, had me a bit surprised. Between the two main threads, it seemed like they were introducing a third just to make things more interesting. However, after a brief romp in the woods, Daryl already decided he was sick of his brother and decides to head back. Naturally, this is good timing since the Governor attacked them, but I thought we could look forward to more of a side story where it was just the Dixon brothers.
I did enjoy how they gave Michonne some ass-kicking screen time this week, but I did think there ought to be more. She’s been downplayed so far this season, relegated to the background as a wounded bird instead of the usual independent badass she was earlier on. I hope she recovers soon and becomes the Governor’s worst nightmare, because that was her apparent role in the comic book.
Ah, which brings me to Tyreese and his companions. Again, this is something that is starkly different than the comics. There, Rick and his people met Tyreese and his family early in the comics and lost them before they ever found their way to the prison. His late introduction at this point was clearly due to other changes they made – i.e. keeping Shane alive so long. Given the way they did not appear in this episode, it’s unclear if they are gone for good or coming back. Peron sally, I will be disappointed if it’s the latter.
And as for the assault, no complaints there. Again, it was a scaled down version of what happened in the comics and was clearly just a raid, not the all-out offensive the Governor committed that left the prison shattered and took the lives of both Lori and “Little Ass Kicker”. Yep, that’s how she died in the comics, and the same death claimed Rick’s daughter. Which in turn was how he really lost his mind.
All in all, it’s clear at this point that the show has diverged heavily from the original comic, but seems committed to remaining true to spirit of it. The war between camps continues, it is unclear at this time who will die in the process!