The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 7

wd4_season4_7And we’re back with episode seven from Season Four of AMC’s The Walking Dead; or as I choose to call it, “episode the second of a former Governor’s story”. As anyone who’s been following this season knows, the show has taken a bit of a detour ever since the Governor was reintroduced at the end of episode 5. Basically, they’ve chosen to double back to cover everything that happened since he snapped and went AWOL from the show.

Beginning last week with a romp in the wilderness followed by some coupling with a new family, things have since picked up with the discovery that the Governor’s former henchman, Caesar Martinez, went off and created a community of his own after leaving him alone in the wilderness to die. With that the Governor and his new family now in their care, the stage seemed set for some interesting developments.

All of which took place in this week’s episode known as…

Dead Weight:
wd4_deadweightThe episode begins where the last left off, with Martinez and the Governor in a stand off after finding each other in the woods. After a few tense minutes, Martinez agrees to take them in, provided they understand that a) he is in charge, and b) that everyone contributes or is cast out, no exceptions – i.e. no “dead weight”.

In between, he get scenes of “Brian” and Meghan playing chess and admitting that they both had abusive fathers.  Meghan also asks Brian is she is good, and he assures her that they are going to be okay, though he doesn’t seem so sure of that. We then get a shot of their new digs, a camper that is parked next to an abandoned M60 tank.

wd4_deadweight2The Governor begin contributing by going out on a supply run while Lilly establishes a nurses station. They come across a body tied to a tree with a sign that says “Liar” on it. As the move on, they find more bodies, one with a sign that reads “Rapist” and another inside a cabin who shot himself and has a sign that reads “Murderer”. Each are wearing military uniforms.

When they move inside the cabin to look for supplies and hear something bumping around. A Walker attacks their group and find the heads of the decapitated men still alive on the floor. The Governor manages to take them all out and saves one Martinez’s people (Pete) in the process.  They make camp for the night, collect the supplies, and talk about how things have changed for all of them.

wd4_deadweight1Apparently, all of Martinez’s people were once army, hence their weapons and vehicles. Back at camp, Lilly and the others begin to meet with the rest of the camp – which includes the army soldier Alisha, whom Tara takes a shine to. When the Governor and Martinez return home, they share a meal with Lilly and her family, and the subject of their old camp (Woodbury) comes up again.

Afterwards, Martinez and him play a round of camper rooftop golf. He tells the Governor that Shumpert, another one of his former henchmen, never came back after Woodbury and died. Martinez talks about sharing responsibility for keeping the place safe. The Governor responds by hitting him in the head with a golf club and tossing him into one of the Walker pits.

wd4_deadweight3The next day, the camp is told of Martinez’s death, and it is assumed that it was an accident. Pete assumes command for the time being, though the camp demands a vote. Pete invites the Governor out on a hunting run and asks for his help. They come upon another camp in the woods. Mitch recommends they take their supplies but Pete disagrees.

After finding very little, they double back and find the camp was overrun and their supplies gone. One survivor remains, and Mitch stabs him in the head. They return, and Brian tells Lilly that it isn’t safe there anymore and they have to leave. On the road that night, they come a herd of Walkers stuck waist deep in the mud. With the road out, they return to the camp.

wd4_deadweight4In the morning, the Governor murders Pete and holds Mitch at gunpoint in his camper. He tells Mitch that he was right about the other camp, that he is running things now, and offers him the chance to join him. Henceforth, he says, no one will worry about doing the right thing, because they will be doing “the only thing”. Mitch agrees, and they cover up Pete’s death by telling people he died heroically.

In the coming days, everything appears to be running smoothly now that the Governor is in charge. But of course, things get dicey as Meghan runs into a Walker inside the camp while playing hide and seek and the Governor narrowly. He then goes off to stare at the pond and reflect, and in the water, the reanimated corpse of Pete is shown chained to the bottom and reaching up at him. The old Governor is back!

wd4_deadweight5He then drives off to the prison and watches Rick and Carl from the tree line. He contemplates shooting the, but instead walks a distance and spots Hershel and Michonne talking by the side of a dirt road. He takes aim right before the credits roll!

Summary:
Well, suffice to say, some things have been made abundantly clear now, things I myself have been wondering about for some time. Now that the two episode detour is over and we are back to the main plot, it is clear that the way Season Three ended was more of a temporary detour from the original plot rather than a major divergence.

Between what happened in this week’s episode and what has been previewed for next week’s midseason finale, it looks like the show really is following the comic after all, albeit in their usual, prolonged way. And I have to say, I suspected as much when I saw that big tank in this episode and heard all that talk about how Martinez’s new community was made up of several former army people.

the-walking-dead-governorattacksSomehow, the scene in Volume 8: Made to Suffer where the Governor arrives at the prison in force popped into my head and made me think. It was at that point that I considered that maybe the abortive assault on the prison at the end of Season Three was meant to allude to the way the Governor’s initial attack in the comics failed, followed by the heavier, deadlier one.

And it was a pleasant surprise to see that this is indeed the way are doing things. From what was shown in the preview, the Governor now plans to return to his new community, tell them about the prison, and mobilize them to assault it. And apparently, some people are going to die. In short, we’re in for a mid-season climax that actually resembles what happened in the comic.

wd3_governor1If I have any complaints, they would be that this week’s episode was predictable. Even before it aired, I was of the mind that everything would revolve around the Governor going back to his old ways and taking control of the camp (most likely over Martinez’s body) before he rediscovered the prison and began screwing with them again.

But since all that led to a setup directly from the original comic, those sentiments are fighting uphill against genuine anticipation. As we head into “the Governor versus the Prison crew, Part Two”, I can honestly say that from here on out, I will likely be watching out of genuine interest rather than a sense of obligation or mild curiosity.

Congratulations, AMC’s The Walking Dead, you just became interesting to me again! And while I anticipate that the second half of the season is also going to drag on like the previous ones, I remain pleased that they are finally back on track with the plot. The REAL plot!

The Walking Dead – Season Four, Episode Six

wd_season4And we’re back with more of AMC’s The Walking Dead. This week, the sixth episode aired, with just more to go before the show takes another mid-season break. And it’s clear that they are working up to something climactic, given that the story involving the flu that’s sweeping the prison has finally come to an end. And it’s pretty clear at this point who’s going to be involved.

As expected, this week’s episode was all about the Governor, addressing what happened to him after the events of the last season. This would be everything that followed from the abortive attack on the prison, his subsequent breakdown and summary execution of his people, and his fleeing into the wilderness. And in all honesty, it was kind of interesting…

Live Bait:
wd4_livebait_govThe episode begins with a recap of what happened since the Season Three finale. After shooting his own people, the Governor and what was left of his henchmen drove to a spot in the wilderness where they set up camp. In the morning when the Governor awoke, he realized he had been abandoned by the last of them and drove to Woodbury. Finding it abandoned, he set the town ablaze and began walking the road.

After wandering for quite some time, he comes upon a community where a family is held up in an apartment complex. This consists of Lily (a former nurse), her daughter Megan, sister Tara (a police academy student), and father David (a former truck driver). After meeting with them and telling them his name is Brian, he takes the apartment across the hall and begins helping them.

wd4_livebaitEventually, Lily asks for his help in obtaining more oxygen tanks from the nearby senior care center. Her father, who is dying of lung cancer, is running out, and she fears what will happen to her daughter if he dies. Brian goes to the center and finds a large stash, but is quickly set upon by a dozen or so Walkers and has to retreat with what he can carry.

Afterward, Lily begins to attend to his injuries and tells him that Megan initially thought that Brian was her father, who disappeared three years back. Megan is left to watch over him and asks what happens to his eye, and the two quickly begin to bond. He teaches her to play chess, and she draws an eye patch on the king to make it look like him.

wd4_livebait2Afterwards, he and Megan learn that David has died, and may have been dead for some time. He tells them to leave, but David comes back before they can, and Brian crushes his head with an oxygen tank. After burying him outside, Tara tells him that they understand what that their father had turned, and forgive him for what he did.

That night in his room, Brian burns a picture he has been keeping of himself with his wife and daughter and tells Lily that he’s leaving. Lily tells him they are coming too to find something better, and that he’s stuck with them. Grabbing the truck David commandeered, they begin to drive off. While on the road, Brian and Lily make love while the others sleep.

wd4_livebait3The next day, the truck won’t start and they begin walking. On the road, they are spotted by a herd of Walkers and are forced to ditch their gear and run. After clearing the forest by the side of the road, Brian and Megan fall into a trench and are set upon by several more and Brian manages to kill them with his bare hands. After reassuring Megan, he looks up and sees Martinez looking down at them.

Summary:
Well, that’s part I of what happened to the Governor down. And judging from the sneak peak, part II is all about him and his new family being introduced to a new community, one which is run by Martinez himself. And of course, things go awry, and I’m guessing the Governor deciding to oust Martinez as leader has something to do with that.

wd4_livebait5But getting back to what happened this week, I would reiterate that it seemed interesting. After all he’s done and been through, it was kind of neat to see what the Governor got up to after his sudden disappearance. It’s always good in a series when a character who is considered evil and irredeemable is given a second chance at life and finds a way to carry on.

However, I would have to say that things began to fall apart for me when it became obvious that Lily, Tara and Megan are becoming his new family. The indications were many and obvious, and it seemed like the moment David died, it would prove to be the case. And if all those hints weren’t enough, he even burns the picture of his old family just to make it abundantly clear.

wd4_livebait4I did suspect that there might be some tension after Lily and he hooked up, but they pretty much nullified that with the 11th hour revelation that Tara is a lesbian. Kind of seemed a bit awkward and forced, but whatever. I guess they had their hands full with finding a way to both fill in the missing pieces of the story and bring it back to the point where he begins messing with the prison crew again.

Some things I did like is where the Governor takes out several Walkers with his bare bands. Not since Michonne had her hands bound and her sword confiscated have we seen such creativity at work. And I was also surprised to see Martinez at the end, and was intrigued by the idea of the Governor being forced to endure his leadership for a change. I imagine some interesting scenarios occurring in the episodes to come.

wd4_livebait6On the other hand, I do kind of worry that the Governor’s role in this season is going to last to the end. With just two more episodes before the season halfway mark, I’m thinking that the next two episodes will both involve the Governor, in full or in part. That way, he can remain in the background for the rest of the season as the prison crew’s antagonist, thus ending the season with a final battle.

Which means it won’t be until season five that they’ll be getting back to anything resembling the original plot. Still, should be interesting, and the prospect of a little action where the Governor is no longer in charge and fighting for some other than brutal, backstabbing revenge will certainly be worth watching! Until next week…

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part III

Walking-Dead-Volume-5Back with the third installment of my review on Robert Kirkman’s classic tale of the zombie apocalypse, and the AMC miniseries that bears its name. Last time, I got into volume 3 and 4, which became the basis of the series first half, or at least much of the material they covered. Today, I will be covering volumes 5 and 6, which manages to cover the rest of the material from the first half of season three… sort of.

I know, confusing! But as I’ve said before, the show’s producers and writers took some rather large liberties when it came to season three, most of which seemed to be the result of changes made to season two. With Shane only dying at the end of that season, and Andrea getting lost in the wilderness and separated from the pack, and Merle’s ongoing disappearing act, it was predictable that the parts of the story dealing with the prison and the Governor would also be handled differently.

Volume 5 – The Best Defense:
the-walking-dead-thebestdefenseThe new volume opens with Rick, Dale, and Tyreese performing a final sweep of the prison to make sure the last of the cell blocks is clear. Things are strained between Rick and Tyreese, but time seems to have healed the rift a little. Glenn and Maggie find them and tell them they found the armory, which is stocked full of guns and suits of riot gear.

Outside, they test the riot gear by doing a sweep outside of the walls. It proves effective and they managed to take out several Walkers with ease. Their sweep is interrupted when they hear a noise coming from overhead, but they are enthused when they learn that its coming from a passing helicopter. That changes when they realize that it’s crashing in the distance.

A scouting part is formed with Rick, Glenn and Michonne. They commandeer a car from the parkade and head out to search for the crash site. Back inside, Lori continues to worry about Carol’s odd behavior towards her. The two have taken to distributing books from the library and planning movie nights now that they have electricity and some DVDs.

the-walking-dead-choppercrashRick, Glenn and Michonne follow the smoke plume from the crashed chopper to a nearby forest. After their car gets stuck, they are forced to make the last of the leg on foot. When they finally come to the wreckage, they see several sets of footprints leading from the chopper, which means someone took the crew away. They begin to follow the tracks to a nearby town called Woodbury.

Back at the prison, Andrea and Dale talk to Allen’s two son’s – Ben and Billy – and let them know that they will be taking care of them from now on since both their mother and father have died. Lori’s fears are confirmed when Carol suggests a polyamorous relationship between her, Lori and Rick. She naturally shoots the idea down, and Carol storms away in anger.

the-walking-dead-thegovernorWhen Rick, Glenn and Michonne reach the town’s fence line, guns open fire and take out the Walkers pursuing them. They are pulled inside by a man named Martinez and other armed guards, and showed to a man called the Governor. He naturally wants to know who they are, and they lie and say they have been traveling.

He shows them around the town and explains they have a four block radius that is protected by walls, with intentions to expand of course. The highlight of the tour is a stadium where they have live gladiatorial-style fights, which involving Walkers. When Rick asks how they are keeping them alive – i.e. fed – the Governor tells them “Well stranger, we’re feeding them strangers.”

the-walking-dead-rickshandRick and the others are immediately taken captive, and the Governor tells them that the chopper crew is being cut up to be fed to the Walkers. The purpose of the games is to keep the peace, he says, as people need distractions and release. He demands to know where Rick and his party came from, where they got their armor, and to make his point, he chops off Rick’s right hand.

Michonne tackles him and bites off his ear, and the Governor orders her thrown in a cell so he can deal with her personally. Glenn is tossed in another cell and Rick is hauled to their resident doctor, who is clearly hostile towards him. He then goes to Michonne, who is conversing with her dead boyfriend, looking for strength, and proceeds to beat and rape her.

the-walking-dead-governor-headsRick wakes up in the infirmary, tackles the doctor when he comes in and the nurse if forced to sedate him. Finished with Michonne for the night, the Governor heads home and meets his daughter, a Walker that he is keeping alive. After feeding her parts from the chopper crew, he takes the heads and placing them in a tank where dozens of other Walker heads are suspended in water.

He then goes to Glenn and demands he tell them where they came from. When Glenn won’t reply, he goes back to Michonne’s cell and beats her terribly, making his listen. He then visits Rick next to get his ear patched up, and tells Rick that Glenn told him everything about the prison. He also says he let him go and plans to follow him back.

the-walking-dead-tyreesscoutingAt the prison, everyone continues to worry about Rick and the others. Carol attempts to comfort Lori, is once again brushed off. Tyreese puts on another riot suit and heads out to pick up their trail. When he returns, they are forced to drive out to get him and pull him inside. He tells them all he found their car, but there was no sign of them. Back at Woodbury, the Governor reveals that he was bluffing, and that Glenn is still in his custody.

Volume 6 – This Sorrowful Life:
the-walking-dead-6-This_Sorrowful_LifeWhile in the infirmary, Rick is told by Stevens – the doctor – that he wants to help him, but that they are both under guard. A fight between two gladiators and when stabs the other in the neck. The Governor tells Michonne that if she steps into the ring and gives the crowd a good show, he will give her a few days grace.

Michonne is takes to the field with her sword amidst a huge crowd and proceeds to very quickly decapitate her opponent and all the Walkers chained up around her. The crowd is incensed and the Governor orders taken back to her cell. Rick meanwhile befriends the nurse Alice and learns that she too would like to escape.

the-walking-dead-woodburyescapeThey get their wish when Martinez comes in and tells them he’s defecting, and they need to leave now if they are going to make it out. They find Glenn, whom Rick thought was dead, and learns that the Governor doesn’t yet know where the prison is. They make it to Michonne’s cell and free her too, and Alice and the doc join them.

They head for the wall and wait for Stevens to get some supplies from the infirmary, and Michonne tells them she needs to go visit the Governor and will catch up with them, or not. Once they make it over, doc Stevens is bitten and they are forced to shoot him and the Walker, thus alerting people inside the town. They begin to beat a hasty retreat, knowing they’ll have guards to worry about soon.

the-walking-dead-governor-remainsMichonne breaks into the Governor’s apartment and they begin to fight it out. She overpowers him quickly enough and then chains him up. As soon as he wakes up, she begin to go to work on him with a number of power tools. By the time his henchmen come to the door, Michonne has cut off his arm, removed his eye, sodomized him with a spoon, and removed his manhood. She then flees and catches up with Rick and the others, and refuses to talk about it.

They begin to proceed back to the prison and are attacked by multiple waves of Walkers. Luckily, they find their way back to their old car and drive the rest of the way. When they arrive, they find the front yard overrun by Walkers and fear the worst. The issue ends with a quick look over at Morgan and Duane, who are still in their old hometown and enjoying Christmas together.

the-walking-dead-issue35Glenn drives into the yard and crashes the car into the far wall. The other follow, forcibly cutting a path. Rick finds Otis’ reanimated corpse on the ground, and Alice runs to pull Glenn out of the wreck. Andrea and Dale emerge from the RV and begin to provide cover. The explain that the Walkers got in after Tyreese came back from looking for them, that Otis and Hershel were bit, and that the rest ran inside.

While Andrea and Martinez provide cover, Rick gets the front door open and lets them inside. Hershel is there to meet him and tells him he was wounded by “friendly fire”. Lori and Carl come to greet him and are shocked to see he lost his hand. Telling him to sit this one out, Tyreese leads the others outside to clear the rest of the yard.

the-walking-dead-martinezdiesNext day, they begin burning the Walkers, but Glenn asks them to stop long enough to fetch a wedding ring from one the bodies. Alice looks Lori over and determines that her pregnancy is coming along nicely and she is healthy. Aside from the death of Otis, everything seems fine. Until Rick learns that Martinez is missing, and suspects they’ve been had…

Rick grabs the RV and starts driving off alone to find him. Within minutes, he spots Martinez running across the field and rams the truck into him. While standing over his broken body, Martinez tells Rick he wanted to get his own people into the prison and away from the Governor. Rick tells him he doesn’t know what people are capable of, but Martinez replies that he’s beginning to see, and Rick chokes the last of his life out of him.

the-walking-dead-glennmaggie_marriedBack at the prison, Glenn asks Hershel’s permission to wed Maggie, which he agrees to. Maggie does too, and they decide to hold a wedding and let Hershel officiate. Rick returns and tells Lori how he killed Martinez and that he doesn’t know who he is anymore. He calls a meeting and tells everyone about Woodbury, the Governor, and how they need to prepare for their arrival…

Differences to AMC’s The Walking Dead:
Picking up where I left off last time, it should be clear to anyone at this point what the biggest divergence was at this point in the adaptation. Namely, Lori isn’t dead! Yes, by this point in the show, she was not only nine months but pregnant, but died in the delivery due to complications caused by one of the inmates (Andrew) who escaped and came back to cause trouble. Never happened! Moving on…

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The introduction to the Governor and Woobdury was also something that happened much quicker in the comic book, and didn’t involve a separate thread where Andrea and Michonne wandered in. What remained true to the spirit of the comic was the involvement of a crashed helicopter, which Andrea and Michonne tracked until they came upon the Governor’s own people. But beyond that, things happened very differently.

Also, the fights that the Governor stages were very different, with the version presented by the show being a rather benign affair where the Walkers had their teeth removed. The fact that Andrea approved of them seemed weird, but then again, so was her relationship with the Governor. Much like the feud between Shane and Rick, the way this tested her loyalties was something that I felt dragged out inexorably in season three.

WD3_dead_merleWhat’s more, when the two camps did come together in the form of the Governor taking some of the prison crew captive, it was Glenn and Maggie he grabbed in the show, not Glenn, Rick and Michonne. Instead of torturing and raping Michonne, the Governor instead threatened to rape Maggie while Glenn listened. But alas, he didn’t, nor did he chop anyone’s hands off. He still came off as cruel, but nowhere near as psychotic as he was in the comics.

In fact, vast efforts were made to humanize the Governor throughout the third season, which I did not understand. Many a time, it felt like the writers were trying to steer the audience back to seeing the good in him, like they couldn’t make up their minds as to whether he was truly crazy, or just hardened and redeemable. After the first few episodes, it seemed established that his outer persona of the benevolent Governor concealed his inner, psychotic self. Best to leave it at that and move on.

WD3_suffer_pennyAlso, Michonne’s disdain and hate for the Governor also seemed somewhat unjustified in the show since he never took her captive or abused her in the first place. This made the showdown scene with him later seem remarkably toned down and less justified. In the comics, she mutilated him horribly in revenge for torturing and raping her. But in the show, she kills his Walker daughter and stabs him in the eye because… she just never liked him. Way less convincing!

Another element which was missing here was Carol’s descent into quasi-madness. As I’ve said before, not having Tyreese or Sophia around left a big, gaping hole in her story. And some abortive romantic tension between her and Daryl really didn’t fill that void. Instead, she seemed to grow stronger and more confident, never really doing much, but still exuding a toughness that wasn’t there in her before.

WD3_dead_carolGlenn and Maggie’s courtship was adapted truly though. In the comics, as with the show, they truly came together once they began living in the prison. And faced with the prospect of death, they decided to make every moment count and got married. And of course, Hershel approved and officiated. In this one case, everything was by the book.

And of course, I could mention that so much of this depended on Merle, who in the show was practically the Governor’s right hand man. He was the one who captured Maggie and Glenn, tortured Glenn, and then tried to feed him to a Walker. At this point in the comics, Otis did die, but Axel was still alive, and of course Tyreese was part of the camp.

Summary:
In short, it seemed like at this point, the show’s writers were determined to keep things true to the spirit of the comic, if not the letter. But the changes were very vast and sweeping, and required them to seriously retool many plot elements. Also, as I mentioned, great pains were taken to create a sense of tension with regards to divided loyalties, with both Andrea and Merle, that never took place in the original.

While it seemed creative to bring Merle back into the fold by putting him in with their enemy, Andrea’s relationship with the Governor and the way she became torn with the whole “can’t we all get along” became very drawn out and tedious. And as more than one friend remarked to me, the way she kept trusting in the Governor and giving him the benefit of the doubt made her seem like a bit of an idiot.

But of course, much of this hadn’t come up yet and the show still seemed fresh in my mind. The biggest change was the fact that Lori had been killed off and Rick was beginning to lose it as a result. This called to mind how he began to lose it in the last volume when Carol nearly killed herself and he and Tyreese had their terrible fight. But again, this was a case of removing one thing and subbing another. Doesn’t seem true to the spirit of the story when you keep doing a cut and paste job like that…

One more installment to go before I’ve caught up to the show! I tell ya, I’m not sure what to expect out of season four, but I can tell you that it’s likely to be so widely divergent from the comics at this point that just about anything could be done. And that’s my problem, since I disapprove on the one hand, but am made more curious as a result.

Man, this is so much easier with Game of Thrones. By comparison, those people really stay on script!

The Walking Dead – Season 3 Finale!

wd3_meme1We’ve come to it at last. Last night, after months of escalating tension and drama, the season finale of The Walking Dead finally happened. Needless to say, after taking the long road to reach this climax, and familiar with how things happened in the original, I was somewhat eager to see how it would all go down. I suppose you could even say my expectations were high…

And, to be honest, I was a bit disappointed. After all the expectations, slow build-up and plot development, the ending was fast, loose, and a bit abortive. Sure, there were lots of sad moments, tense moments, and some action, but none of it was particularly explosive, final, or end of the road-esque. And of course, the differences with the source material at this point were like night and day.

In the comic book, the assault on the prison was devastating, and cost the lives of Lori Grimes and their daughter. But more than that, the would-be conclusion to this season, which all indications would seem to suggest would be the death of the Governor, didn’t even happen. So add an openness to the abortive nature of this ending, and you’ve got the season three finale…

Welcome to the Tombs:
wd3_tombsThe finale ends with a slow, creepy expanding frame which is focused on the Governor’s eye. We quickly realize that he has Milton in one of his prison chambers and is torturing him for torching the Walkers they had captured. After beating him for awhile, Milton asks him if he thinks his daughter would approve of what he’s become. He says no, but also feels his daughter would be alive if he were the man he is today before.

He then takes Milton into the room Andrea has been kept in and orders him to gather up all the implements of torture. While collecting them, Milton drops a pair of plyers on the floor and leaves them there. The Governor hands him a knife and orders him to kill Andrea, which Milton tries to stab the Governor with, and then is stabbed himself. The Governor tells him he will soon turn, and then he will kill Andrea, for that’s how the world is now. Or as he puts it: “In this life now, you kill and you die… Or you die and you kill.”

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????At the prison, Rick and the others are busy packing their cars up in what appears to be preparation to leave. Carl is angry with his father for some reason, and Michonne thanks him for not handing her over. Daryl also speaks with Carol about how his brother sacrificed himself, thus giving them the time they needed to prepare. Lori looks up at a catwalk and sees Lori looking down on him again…

In Woodbury, the Governor is busy mobilizing his people. Blaming Rick’s group for the death of the eight men he lost to Merle, he has assembled an army of townpeople and commandeered their army vehicles for the assault. Tyreese and Sasha tell him they do not wish to participate and will stay behind to guard the town, and the Governor lets them.

wd3_tombs5The Governor and his army then come to the prison and begin gunning their way in, blowing up the watch towers and shooting all the Walkers in the field. Without any opposition, they make their way inside and the place appears to be deserted. However, they hear noise coming from below and begin searching, and are met with an ambush!

A series of flashbangs go off inside the tunnels and some Walkers are sent in after them, causing confusion and forcing everyone to begin running out. Maggie and Glenn begin firing at the runners from protected positions, and the retreat turns into a route. In the forest, Carl stands watch with Hershel and Beth and is met by one of the townspeople who is running for his life. After telling him to drop his gun, Carl shoots him without apparent cause.

WD3_tombs3When the dust settles and the camp is reunited, Rick and the others discuss what their next move is. They agree that they can’t simply sit idle and wait for the Governor and his people to come back. They agree to take the fight to Woodbury and form an attack party of Daryl, Rick and Michonne. Before they leave, Rick confronts his son about the boy he shot, to which he replies he “did what he had to do”. In his mind, far too many people have died due to hesitation, and he wasn’t willing to let it happen here.

Back on the road, the Governor stops the retreating convoy and demands they turn around and relaunch their attack. However, his makeshift army says it isn’t worth it and wants to go back to town. The Governor has a severe break and begins shooting people left, right and center. Only Martinez, Bowman, and a single woman are left alive, and she is left in a field to die while the rest head back to Woodbury.

wd3_tombs4Back at the prison, Milton tells Andrea about the plyers behind her seat and lets her know she has to hurry. They continue to talk for several minutes while she manages to get them off the floor and into her hand. However, no sooner does she have a grip on them that Milton begins to change. She manages to get her manacles off just as his resurrected body comes towards her, and they fight…

On the road, Rick, Daryl and Michonne find the remains of the Governor’s army, which now consists of those who have turned feeding on the bodies of the dead. After killing those turned, they find Karen – the one person who survived the massacre – and take her with them. They then proceed to town, where they run into Tyreese and Sasha manning the wall. After a quick shootout, Karen calls out to him and tells them what happened.

wd3_tombs6Rick then explains that they have come to save Andrea, who never made it to the prison. They then proceed to Andrea’s cell where they find Milton dead, and her bitten and dying. They share a tearful farewell, during which time Rick assures her that the rest of them are alive, and Andrea tells them she will take her own life while she still can. She asks Rick for his gun, which he gives her, and Michonne stays behind to be with her when it happens.

Rick and the others proceed back to the prison with a large bus in tow. The door opens, and townspeople from Woodbury begin to file out. Rick goes to Carl and tells him, “They’re going to join us”, to which his son seems a bit perturbed. Carol, Hershel and the others begin to file out and help them in. The episode ends with a close up of Lori’s and T-Dog’s graves on the front lawn.

Summary:
As I said already, this episode kind of flopped. While I knew that they could not stick to the source material at this point, Lori already being dead and all, I did think they would attempt to establish some degree of finality. While it’s obvious that Woodbury is finished at this point and Andrea did die, the Governor is still alive and the final fight only lasted a few minutes.

And given the superiority the Governor had in numbers and firepower, it seemed to end awfully quick. A few flashbangs and some rifle fire, and they all went running! Not at all the honed and ruthless army that the Governor brought with him to the prison in the comics. Hell, they had a tank there and kicked the crap out of the place! Here, they just tucked tail and ran!

And of course, there was the way the Governor just snapped and shot all of his own people because of it. Here, it kind of felt like one contrivance justifying another. The humiliating loss gave the Governor his motivation for going nuts, thus demonstrating how he was the bad guy, not Rick and his people. Okay, but again, after all the build-up? As Maggie is quoted as saying below: “No! No!”

WD_noSure, there were some interesting points, like Carl’s dangerous transformation into something akin to the Governor. His justifications, which he shared with Milton and Andrea before leaving them to die together, sounded an awful lot like what Carl says in his defense to Rick. “I did what I had to do”, “this is the way it is now”, and so forth.

The ending, where Rick extends a helping hand to their former enemies, also seemed like the perfectly fitting end to all that. And so did the way the episode opened and closed on the graves of Lori and everyone else they’ve lost since taking the prison. Its like they are saying, “this is what we’re fighting for”, and the way they return to it in the end shows that the final act of kindness honored their memory as well.wd3_meme

Still, the climax… not what I was looking for! If you’re going to stray, at least have an ending where they fight it out and there’s tons of blood! And I’m hardly alone in this respect. Already, there are a ton of memes out there satirizing the ending and what fans didn’t like about it.

Twd3_meme2he one’s you see here are only a few, which not only mock the ending but the numerous plot holes contained within. For example, the Governor has really good aim for someone with no depth perception, as evidenced by the way he shoots up an entire group of men and women.

And then there’s the fact that the Governor not only survived, but just seemed to take off into the night without another word. It’s like, are we done with him? Is he dead? Will he be lurking in the shadows, waiting to reappear and settle the score? No indications is given either way, but it does seem like a deliberate attempt to hedge their bets and keep his return open as a possibility.

But frankly, this seems a bit like the ending to Terminator: Salvation, where the plot wrapped up succinctly (albeit stupidly), but they felt the need to leave things open for the sake of additional milking down the road. That kind of ending not only feels anticlimactic, but can really be annoying when you know for a fact that it strays drastically from the source material.

Good news? Apparently, there’s only 183 more days until season four premiers. And season three was pretty rocking compared to the last one. I only hope that this time around, they stick to the script a little closely, try to converge with it a bit more instead of making these wild divergences. I’m all for variations, but if you’re going to make chances, you have to know the geeks will take notice and have some complaints to share!

See you in half a year, Walking Dead! I and a whole slew of fans will be waiting for you…

The Walking Dead – Season 3 Episode 14

The-Walking-DeadMorning all and welcome to another episode review of AMC’s The Walking Dead! As usual, this week’s episode provided lots of suspense and tense plot development as things get closer to the big confrontation between the Governor and the prison camp. As I’m sure you’re all aware, we are now just two episodes away from the end of the season, and now is the time for the show to be prepping all its plot threads for completion.

After last week’s episode where a meeting took place between Rick and the Governor, we were left with unmistakable knowledge that war was inevitable. Rick could not bring himself to hand over Michonne, even if it meant peace for his people. On the other hand, the Governor had no intention of abiding by the peace terms he set and openly admitted that their standoff would only end with Rick’s demise. And of course, Andrea was now set to betray him, the only question was when and how..

Prey:
wd3_preyThe episode opens with a flashback, where we see Andrea and Michonne together before they found Woodbury. Huddling around a fire and eating beans out of a can, Andrea asks Michonne where her “companions” – the jawless, armless Walkers – came from. Michonne tacitly admits that she knew them before they turned, and she expresses anger for them, says they “weren’t human to begin with.”

We are then taken to Woodbury, where Martinez is busy overseeing their preparations for their next “meeting” with Rick and his people. Andrea is stripped of her sidearm and talks to Milton, who tells her the deal the Governor proposed in a sham. What’s more, he shows her to a secret room the Governor has prepared for Michonne, which is basically a torture chamber.

wd3_prey1Andrea heads for the wall, where she meets Tyreese and Sasha. After failing to trick them into leave their posts, she scales the wall and tells them she’s leaving. Tyreese tries to stop her but Andrea pulls her knife and he is forced to let her go. Allen, one of their people, is angry and worries that Tyreese’s failure will jeopardize their position within the community. What’s more, he is still angry over the way Tyreese mercy-killed his wife Donna after she was bit.

The Governor forgives Tyreese and Sasha, but becomes very angry with Milton when he realizes he knew Andrea intended to leave. He is even angrier when he learns that Milton told her about the deal, how he demanded Rick hand over Michonne. Rather than send anyone after her, he takes a truck and heads out to bring Andrea in himself. After spotting her in an open field, a chase ensues…

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This leads them both into an abandoned warehouse where the Governor begins to stalk her. She refuses to come out and “come home”, so the Governor begins breaking windows with a shovel and attracting Walkers. After finding a service door, Andrea sees that it leads to a stairwell filled with Walkers. When the Governor corners her there, she slips through and forces him to deal with them, and escapes again to the forest.

Meanwhile, Martinez takes Tyreese, Sasha, Allen and Ben along on a mission to one of their Walkers traps. Tyreese realizes that they are being used as weapons and refuses to help. This leads to a fight between him and Allen, whom he almost throws in with the Walkers. He is sent back to town with Sasha, knowing that they will likely be kicked out. Later that night, a truck pulls up the to the trap and an unidentified begins dousing them in gasoline and setting them ablaze.

wd3_prey3Andrea finally makes it to the prison and sees Rick manning the tower, but the Governor catches her before she can get his attention. He returns to town and claims he never found her, and goes to speak with Tyreese and the others. He manages to assure them that the Walkers are just for show, and seems content that they had nothing to do with lighting them on fire.

He then meet with Milton, repeats the lie to him about Andrea, and is told “its a shame about the pits”. The Governor construes from this that it was Milton who set them on fire, and he replies that he already knows who did it. The episode ends with a slow return to the torture chamber, where he find Andrea dirty, bloodied, and restrained in the chair.

wd3_prey4

Summary:
What more can be said about this show now? They’ve put together a good season, and this week’s episode did everything it was meant to: making us worry more about Andreas fate, show the Governor descend further into madness, and set up Milton and Tyreese’s people for the coming showdown. Now that Andrea has made her choice and is due to suffer for it, that leaves Milton and the rest  to make up their mind on where they stand.

By now, its obvious Milton has lost all faith in the Governor, but Tyreese and his group are still ambivalent. At the same time, it seems like their group is subdivided, with Tyreese and Sasha doubting the Governor and his decision to go to war, and Allen and Ben who want stick by him. Not only is Allen desperate for a home where he and his son will be safe, it’s clear he harbor animosity towards Tyreese for killing his wife after she became infected.

And the show managed to hit on some more key elements from the comic book, which is good considering that it has diverged quite heavily from the source material at this point. For instance, Tyreese and his family were friends with Rick and their bunch long before anyone else. What’s more, he was a very important member of their crew, so the fact that they neglected to incorporate him until now seems a bit odd, frankly.

But they are managing to develop his character now and in such a way that it fits with the comic book. For one, Tyreese was a terrible shot, which they showed here when he and Sasha were doing target practice on top of Woodbury’s wall. He was strong but gentle man too, but after witnessing so much death (including that of his daughter) he began to lose his grip and went a little rampage-y. In this episode, they managed to convey some of that in the way he almost killed Allen.

And then there’s the big change with Michonne’s character. In the comic book, she was captured by the Governor, tortured and raped repeatedly by his men. They hinted at that a little with his treatment of Maggie, but now it seems that Andrea is standing in for her as his primary victim. Though they have established why the Governor hates Michonne – she killed his daughter and took his eye – they kind of sidestepped her reasons for doing that. In the comic, it was in revenge for his brutal treatment of her; whereas in the show, it just sort of happened in the course of a tense showdown between them.

But I digress. This week’s episode focused entirely on things inside Woodbury, which is to be expected given all the threads that are on that side of the story. Next week, we can expect an episode that shows both camps as they prepare for the final standoff. Rick is expected to return to their previous meeting place, where an ambush will be waiting.

But of course, he will be going in prepared and ought to have surprises of his own lined up. While we won’t see it all unfold until  the end of March, I anticipate they will be dropping more hints as to how it’s all going to go down and who will betray whom… Looking forward to it!

The Walking Dead – Season Three, Episode 13

the_walking_deadHappy Monday Morning all! Nice weekend? Good, because it’s time to catch up on this weeks episode of The Walking Dead.

Last week, we got something of a “bottle episode” as Rick, Carl and Michonne went back into the Grimes old stomping grounds to pick up supplies and ended up running into an old friend. It seemed that Morgan, the man who saved Rick after he wandered back from the hospital, had fortified himself in the town and was waging a one-man guerrilla war against the Walkers. He had also lost his son Duane since last they met, and had gone a little batty as a result.

And despite his best efforts, Morgan would not come back to the prison with them since he believed that it was only a matter of time before Rick and his people would die, either at the hands of the Walkers or someone else. Letting them go with their share of guns and ammo, he said goodbye to them, and they returned to the prison to deal with their main problem – the Governor and his army operating out of Woodbury.

Which brings us to this week’s episode, where Rick and the Governor are meeting on neutral ground to hash things out.

Arrow on the Doorpost:
wd3_arrowThe episode opens with Rick, Daryl and Hershel arriving at what appears to be an abandoned silo. After doing a little recon, Rick finds his way into a large warehouse where someone has set up a table on top a raised platform. Making his way to it, the Governor appears and tells Rick they “have a lot to talk about”. After a brief stand-off, they disarm and get down to business (but of course, we see that the Governor has a second gun strapped to the table).

Another car arrives shortly thereafter carrying Caesar, Milton and Andrea. Andrea is surprised to hear that the Governor is already inside and goes in while the others wait out front. Apparently, she arranged the meeting and offered Rick a compromise where they would divide the land between them. However, the Governor rejects it and tells her to leave.wd3_arrow4

Outside, the two camps wait and endure a tense standoff until they are set on by some Walkers and begin taking them out. This gives Daryl and Caesar a chance to do a little “male bonding” as both take out their share with Andreas help. After killing their share, they reflect on how war seems inevitable, and neither one is too crazy about the idea.

Milton and Hershel begin to talk as well, with Milton taking an interest in Hershel’s amputation and how it saved him from being infected. And eventually, Andrea begins to talk to Hershel and asks about Maggie, whether it was true that Governor tried to rape her. Knowing the truth now, she realizes she can’t go back to Woodbury. Hershel invites her to come back to the prison and to her family.

jpegBack at the prison, Glenn and the others are forced to content with Merle, who keeps insisting they go to the talks to kill the Governor. Glenn refuses, which prompts Merle to try and get out on his own. After Glenn, Maggie and Michonne restrain him, he tries to appeal to Michonne’s desire for vengeance. However, she refuses to put Andrea at risk and tells him he’s on his own. Afterwards, Glenn and Maggie finally make up after and decide to blow off holding watch on the field to go have sex.

After talking things over with some whiskey, the Governor finally gives Rick his terms. In exchange for Michonne, he will leave them alone. Rick doesn’t believe it will end there, but the Governor gives him two days to think it over and tells him to return to the silo with his answer. The meeting ends and he leaves with his people, and Andrea goes with him. All parties head back to their respective homes.

wd3_governor1However, upon his return to Woodbury, the Governor reveals his true intentions. He orders Caesar to set up an ambush around the meeting place so they can kill Rick and anyone he can be expected to bring. Milton is surprised and objects, but the Governor insists that its the only way. Sooner or later, they will have to deal with Rick since he doesn’t believe they can ever live side by side.

At the prison, Rick tells his own version of the story: that the Governor wants the prison and all of them dead. The camp is divided, with Merle and Michonne thinking they should strike first while Carol and Hershel think they should take their chances on the road. However, he is willing to trust Rick’s leadership and stay and fight, as long as they are together. Rick tells him what the Governor really wanted, and Hershel agrees its unacceptable.

It’s official. The two camps are going to war!

Summary:
Once again, I have to say I was happy with what was arguably a pacing episode. It managed to build up the suspense, let us know what’s going to come, and provide some breathing room while we build to the big climax. For some time now, its been obvious that an all-out war between the two sides will be happening, but many pieces needed to fall into place before that could happen. This episode was good in that it established much of that and hinted at where others pieces are going to fall.

And like the last episode it was thematically consistent. I liked how the show cut between the Governor and Rick dealing inside and the grunts talking outside. At once we can see two hardened leaders talking about the undesirability of conflict and how far they will go to protect their people, while their soldiers realize how much they have in common and also confess that a fight is not something they would want.

All the while, its clear that said conflict is inevitable. In a world where two sides have the exact same interests – i.e. survival and protecting their own – it would seem that peace and cooperation are the only way. And yet, that is the one thing they cannot hope to achieve, simply because the need to survive dictates that they destroy each other. As always with TWD, the greatest enemy is not the zombies, but your fellow man.

But I think the best aspect of this latest episode is how it is building towards the big finish. We have only three episodes to go this season and some key factors need to be established before it can end. Namely, there’s position of Andrea in all this, the involvement of Tyreese and his gang, and how Rick and his people plan to confront the Governor and his army and win.

At this point, its clear that Rick and the prison camp stand a better chance now of thwarting the Governor and his army than before. With Merle, Michonne, a small stockpile of guns and the prison walls, they have certain advantages, at least if they are attacked. But of course, the Governor has more people, more resources, and the freedom to use them. In any prolonged fight, he is sure to win.

Which brings up Andrea and Tyreese’s group. As a friend of mine suggested (hi Khaalidah!), she believes the Tyreese group is part of a double-cross. After Rick kicked them out, we didn’t see or hear from them at all until they came to Woodbury, hats in hand and looking for refuge. She thought it was possible that Glenn made a deal to have them do a little spying. However, if the previews for next week’s episode are any indication, they were genuine in their desire to become part of Woodbury, but Andrea will set them straight.

So between the Governor’s planned ambush, Milton and Andrea’s desire to stop him, and Tyreese and his gang’s assistance, its entirely possible we’re building towards a big confrontation that will only be won with the help of some last minute help from those people who are closest to the Governor. That’s what I’m predicting at this point. And even though it means violating the comic book material somewhat, it’s what I’d do if I were one of the writers.

It might be premature and hopeful of me to predict a happy ending, but I think if there’s one thing this show can be counted on, its to keep going and not let things get too bloody. Unlike the comic, which really didn’t pull punches and had a bigger death toll, the show has been looking to strike a balance between grimness and hopefulness, where the characters are constantly looking for a normal life and are actually managing to get closer to it. But of course, there’s always a giant cost involved, so expect plenty more death!

Three episodes to go!