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!

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part II

The_Walking_Dead_-_Safety_Behind_BarsWelcome back! In my last post, I was able to cover the first two volumes of the Walking Dead comic series and how they differed from the television adaptation. This took us to the end of season two of the show, as each volume became the basis of its own season. And as I might have mentioned, the series producers and writers made some serious changes, not the least of which had to do with the introduction or substitution of characters. But there’s another big change which I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention.

While the first season did a pretty good job of adapting the material from the comics – that is to say, succinctly with 6 episodes – season two took what was also a six-issue volume and expanded it to fill a full 13 episodes. Basically, this meant that they dragged things out inexorably to make it all fit. Aside from Shane’s ongoing presence, this included throwing some additional complications and events into the mix before Rick and the other finally moved on to the prison.

Their arrival and attempts to make a life at the prison was the basis of volume three of the comics and season three of the show. But whereas the show expanded on volume two to make their second season, they did the opposite with volumes three through eight, which covered the story involving the Governor, Woodbury, and the fight between his people and Rick’s.

Whether they simply glossed over certain events or chose to minimize certain story elements, the show’s producers and writers left an awful lot of material out, substituting it with their own for reasons which seemed to have more to do with inertia than fitting the requirements of television. And between myself and other fans of the comic book series, this seemed like a real let down.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here! First up, let’s take a look at the next few volumes and see how they compare to the show…

Volume 3 – Safety Behind Bars:
the-walking-dead_Volume_3-Safety_Behind_BarsThe series opens again with Rick and the others arriving at the prison, where he, Tyreese and Andrea begin clearing out the front yard of Walkers. With that done, they camp out in the RV inside the gate for the night and wait on morning to enter. Once they penetrate inside the first cell block, they are surprised to find survivors who barred themselves inside the cafeteria.

Everyone comes in to share in some food, and the supply situation appears to be abundant, which puts everyone at ease. But things get a little tense as Rick and the others realize that the survivors are not guards, but inmates. Rick explains what’s been going on in the outside world, something they have been oblivious to, and they recount what happened to the prison when the outbreak hit.

the-walking-dead-inmatesThe four inmates include Axel, an armed robber; Thomas, who claims his crime was tax fraud; Andrew, a former junkie; and Dexter, a man convicted of murder. After eating and doing their intros, Dexter agrees to show Rick and Tyreese around. This culminates in them going to the gym, which has its doors barred, and finding dozens of Walkers inside. Afterward, people partner up and take to different cells.

While burning the bodies in the front yard, Rick and the others notice a plume of smoke rising from down the road. Rick heads back to Hershel’s farm to find that they are also burning the bodies of Walkers. Glenn and Otis explain that with the weather turning, more attacks are coming, and Rick proposes that they relocate to the prison. Herschel agrees and apologizes for sending them out earlier.

the-walking-dead-juliedeadBack at the prison, Julie and Chris have sex for the first time and, in keeping with their pact, agree to kill each other. However, Chris fired too soon and killed Julie, leaving him alive. Tyreese is on the verge of killing him, but is stopped when his daughter comes back tries to bite him. Chris shoots her again and she dies. The last remaining truth about the virus is revealed…

Tyreese strangles Chris in a fit of rage and grief and burns both their bodies on the following day. After checking up on him to make sure he’s okay, Rick commandeers a motorcycle and drives off, saying he has something to take care of. Meanwhile, people at the prison begin to settle in while Tyreese, Andrea, Glenn and Billy work on clearing the gym. Things go well until they are surrounded,  and the others escape just as Tyreese is enveloped.

the-walking-dead-kidskilledWe then catch up to Rick, who has returned to where he buried Shane, and unearths him and finds that he too has turned. Rick explains that he now understands that the virus turns everyone once they’re dead, not just people who have been bitten. He tells him he had to come back to make things right and shoots him through the head. Back at the prison, Herschel looks for his two youngest daughters – Rachel and Susie – and finds their beheaded corpses in a cell!

Glenn is forced to deal with their remains as the heads come back to life, and news of their and Tyreese’s deaths spread and cause panic. Andrea and Lori grab their guns and lock Dexter, their chief suspect, in a cell with his companion Andrew. Emotionally distraught, Carol kisses Lori and apologizes. Rick returns to find things in chaos and returns with them to the gym where they find Tyreese exhausted but alive, lying amidst the corpses of dozens of Walkers. In the laundry room, Andrea is accosted by Thomas, who it turns out is the killer.

the-walking-dead-thomas_beatenIn the immediate aftermath, Rick and Herschel are distraught and blame themselves for his daughter’s deaths. Carol, relieved to see Tyreese alive and well, makes love to him on the gym floor while Axel try to clear the fence line of Walkers. They are all interrupted when Thomas chases Andrea out into the yard. Rick intervenes and beats Thomas to within an inch of his life. Rick decides that he must die, that “you kill, you die” is to be their system of justice from now on.

Rick lets Dexter and Andrew out of their cell, but the damage appears to have been done. Convinced that he and the others are not safe with Rick’s party, he tells Andrew to get some guns from the armory they’ve been keeping secret. The decision is made to hang Thomas, but Patricia (Otis’ girlfriend) tries to let him out of his cell, he becomes violent again, and Maggie is forced to shoot him. His remains are tossed outside the gate so Walkers can feed on them.

Dexter and Andrew enter the yard carrying shot guns, and he orders Rick at gunpoint to get “out of my house!”

Volume 4 – The Heart’s Desire:
the-walking-dead-Volume_4-The_Heart's_DesireThis volume opens with a rather important introduction – that of the character Michonne. While walking across the landscape, her two chained Walkers in tow, she hears gunshots. She sees Otis using Hershel’s horse-drawn cart to haul supplies to the prison, and firing off a rifle to keep Walkers by the side of the road back. Curious, she picks up his trail and begins to head for the prison as well.

Back at the prison, the stand-off between Dexter and Rick continues. It is interrupted when Walkers pour out of A Block, where Andrew took the guns from the armory, and a gunfight ensues. In the confusion, Rick shoot Dexter in the head. On the other side of the fence, Otis arrives and is nearly overrun, but Michonne arrives in time and saves him by lopping the heads off of Walkers with her katana sword.

the-walking-dead-michonneSending off a patrol to clear out the rest, Rick opens the gate and lets Otis and Michonne in. Andrew, distraught over the loss of his companion, runs out into the wilderness. Once again, things begin to return to normal, the people busying themselves between clearing the fence line of Walkers and using the yard to plant food. Dale and Tyreese also find the generator in the basement and realize they could have electricity.

Allen begins to recover from the trauma of losing Donna and joins Rick and the others as they conduct another sweep. However, he is bit on his Achilles heel when a Walker sneaks up on him, and Rick tells them to cut his foot off. Realizing that the virus is already in them, that everyone turns only after they die, he tells them they need to amputate and close the wound. With Hershel’s help, they manage to stop the bleeding and lay him to rest in a cell.

the-walking-dead_Michonne_TyreeseCarol is distraught when she hears of this and runs off to find Tyreese, who is in the gym trying to forget how things are going to hell. She arrived just in time to find him in the middle of an amorous encounter with Michonne. Glenn and Maggie, who’s courtship is growing, are away and oblivious to it all. And Andrea arrives in Michonne’s cell and hears her talking to someone, but no one else is there.

After catching him with Michonne, Carol becomes distraught and tells Tyreese to move out of their cell. Michonne takes him in and the two begin having a relationship of sorts. With Allen down, his boys begin to feel like they are about to lose him too, and Andrea and Herschel step in to look after them. After speaking to Lori about how he’s worried about Carol, Rick and Lori return to her cell to find that she has slit her wrists.

the-walking-dead-ricktyreesefightRick comes to Tyreese and Michonne’s cell and tells him about Carol, and blames him for it. The two get into a terrible fight during, they accuse each other of becoming  cold-blooded killers, and Rick falls over a rail and nearly cracks his skull. They are interrupted to learn that Allen has died from his wounds. Rick goes to his cell to shoot him to keep him from coming back, and then falls unconscious.

Rick wakes up to see Carol keeping watch over him. Having recovered from her self-administered cuts, she tells him she’s heard about how he confronted Tyreese for her, and proceeds to kiss him too. Dale shows up and tells Rick he needs to step back from being leader, and that a committee was formed that elected Tyreese to fill that role for the time being. Disheveled, tired and upset people are questioning him, Rick confronts them all and tells them how it is.

What follows is one of the most important and seminal speeches in the entire series. He tells them things have changed, that they will never go back to the way they were, and that killing is now the only way they will stay alive. He concludes it with the chilling words:

We’re surrounded by the dead. We’re among them, and when we finally give up, we become them. We’re living on borrowed time here. Every minute of our life is a minute we steal from them! …You think we hide behind walls to protect us from the walking dead! Don’t you get it! WE ARE THE WALKING DEAD!

walking-dead-rick

Differences to AMC’s The Walking Dead:
As already mentioned, many of the changes that took place in season three, which were adapted from these volumes, seemed to be motivated by inertia. Having strayed from the source material in season two, they were now obligated to find ways to tie it together with material from the next volumes to make it all work. But there was still some serious minimizing and exclusions which I really can’t see the logic in.

For starters, Tyreese’s and his daughters absence from the cast at this point meant that a ton of important plot developments were not usable. His daughter’s death, his killing Chris, his affair with Michonne and how it led to Carol’s attempted suicide, and his big fight with Rick. This last one was especially important, in that it demonstrated how both men were effectively being pushed over the edge by their situation.

WD3_prisonersSure, they found other ways to sneak some of the ideas in, but they were not nearly as effective in my opinion. What’s more, they did a total rewrite of the inmate crew. Instead of Dexter, Thomas, Andrew, and Axel, we got Tomas, Big Tiny, Oscar, Andrew and Axel, and their characters were switched up. Axel remained the trustworthy one of the group, but Tomas ended up merging Thomas and Dexter’s character into one short-lived bad guy who dies very quickly.

Rick killing him was true to the spirit of him murdering Dexter, but it was not nearly as dubious. And Andrew runs off in the book never to be heard from again, he doesn’t flee to go cause trouble down the road. Big Tiny and Oscar served no purpose either, being little more than stand-ins who also die pretty quick. And even Axel died off in the first half of season three. Once again, the term “highest paid extras” seems to apply!

wd2_sophiaAnd speaking of extras, the way they killed off Dale and Sophia in season two and – again! – left Tyreese out of the picture, meant that Carol’s character has effectively been reduced to a background person. Aside from flirting with Daryl, brushing Axel off, and popping in to help look after other people kids, she did very little in season three.

Oh, and Carl and Sophia also begin courting at this point in comic. But since she dies in season two of the show, they switch that romantic angle over to Carl and Beth, another character that doesn’t exist in the original. Yes, Herschel had several daughters – and four sons (one of whom was a Walker) – but none of them were named Beth.

Once again, some characters are dropped and other subbed in inexplicably. Oh, and you may think that Allen’s absence from the script may be the reason Herschel lost his leg in season three, but you’d only be half right. In truth, the amputation Herschel endured was reminiscent of a different character losing a foot, which comes up later. Yep, two amputations in one story!

WD3_michonneMichonne’s introduction was also vastly different. Instead of finding Andrea in the wilderness and traveling to Woodbury with her, thus introducing both the town and Governor far sooner than took place in the comics, she shows up at the front gate of the prison and integrates with them quite quickly. Sure, they managed to capture her badassery in the show, but they completely glossed over her rich inner life, which included vulnerability and the fact that she’s also fighting to maintain her sanity. Some of this would be covered later, but in a very topical, in-passing kind of way.

Ah, and let’s not forget how Merle was part of the Governor’s crew, which was their way of reintroducing him after his departure in season one and explaining his whereabouts. This provided another connection between the two camps and a tie-in for a character that wasn’t in the original story. And this was one change I saw the value in, as it laid the groundwork for an eventual clash of loyalties for the Daryl family and was a chance for more character development.

Summary:
At this point, I have to say that reading the comics has diminished my opinion of the show, which is exactly what I was afraid of! While I didn’t like season two much, I was a fan of season three right until that unsatisfying ending (more on that later). But now… between the way they chose to leave certain characters out, thus decapitating much of the story, and introduce different characters who are promptly killed off, I have to say I really don’t get what they were thinking.

Sure, the obvious explanation is budgets. But that argument falls flat when you consider that they dropped some leading characters in favor of ones they invented themselves. For the cost of  Daryl and Merle – aka. Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker, both very talented actors! – they totally could have afforded a solid actor to play Tyreese as well as two perfectly decent teen actors to play Julie and Chris.

Of course, I can see the reason for keeping Shane around. Between the actor and the character, they felt they had something with him and didn’t want to lose that. But the early termination of Dale and Sophia is another matter. In Dale’s case, his relationship with Andrea was an important aspect of the plot, as was Sophia’s with Carl. Their deaths I can only assume were a matter of conflicts or money, as no other explanation seems to make sense.

WD3_governor_endBut alas, the best is yet to come. As volumes 5 and 6 begin, we are introduced to the Governor and the seeds of the prison versus Woodbury confrontation are sown. And trust me when I say, compared to what the miniseries did with it, the comics version was far more interesting, and bloody! Stay tuned!

Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead”

the-walking-dead_comicYou know how it is, when you find yourself loving a particular TV show or movie and someone tells you “you should really check out the original”? Well, that has happened to me three times now; first with The Lord of Rings, then with Game of Thrones, and then shortly thereafter with The Walking Dead.

From these three experiences, I’ve come to learn that I have a sort of rule of threes. Basically, if three friends tell me I need to read the original source material, then I definitely do! And in all cases, I came to identify with the self-professed franchise geeks who acted they had some prized inside knowledge and were insufferably critical about the adaptations.

And now that I’ve read the entire series, all 112 issues that have been published so far, I feel I am in a position to do a comparative analysis to the show. But for the sake of avoiding spoilers, I figured I would only cover the material that has been adapted into the miniseries thus far. So if it hasn’t happened beyond season three of the show, you won’t have to worry about it being mentioned here.

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead:
*Note: For simplicity’s sake, I will be breaking down the plot of the comic book series by trade paperback volume. So far, Kirkland has released 112 issues, the first 108 of which are available in 18 volumes, each one containing six issues grouped by common theme. The show has so far adapted material from the first 8 volumes or 48 issues.

Volume 1 – Days Gone Bye:
WD_Volume_1-Days_Gone_ByeThe story begins in Georgia with the story’s protagonist – Rick Grimes, a sheriff – being wounded in the line of duty. He awakens sometime later to find the hospital apparently deserted and comes to a set of barred doors. Inside are a mess of zombies that try to bite him, and he is forced to flee. Once outside, he realizes the chaos has effected the entire town, and finds more examples of reanimated corpses as he heads for home.

Once he gets there, Rick can find no trace of his family and it appears as though every house is deserted. He is then nearly killed by a young boy who hits him in the head with a shovel but is saved when the boy’s father sees that he isn’t a zombie and takes him in. This good Samaritan – Morgan – tells Rick that he and son son Duane have been held up since the trouble began and explain to him what they know.

Rick learns from them that the zombies are basically reanimated corpses that are the result of some new type of virus, a virus which spreads through bites and scratches from the afflicted. He also learns that the government, before all TV and radio broadcasts went dark, urged citizens to converge on major cities where the armed forces would be doling out services and providing protection.

the-walking-dead-002-days-gone-bye-v1-12-page-11After going to his old police station and dividing up the weapons that remain, Rick decides to head out in search of his family, who he assumes will have gone to Atlanta. After quickly running out of gas and finding the local stations tapped out, Rick procures a horse and rides to the city limits. He quickly realizes the city has been overrun and is beset by hordes of zombies which kill his horse and try to eat him.

Rick attempts to flee and is once again saved when a young man named Glenn pulls him into an alley. After escaping, Glenn explains to him that the cities have all been overrun, and he only ever goes in to do supply runs for his camp. He proceeds to lead Rick to it on the outskirts of the city, where he is shocked and relieved to see Lori and Carl – his wife and son.

walking-dead-headHis best friend and ex-partner Shane is there with them too. After the disaster struck, they feared the worse and assumed he was dead and came to Atlanta. But having found the city in a state of crisis, they formed a camp with some others. This includes Dale, a retired man who owns an RV and who has been keeping company with two sisters, Andrea and Amy; Allen and Donna, a married couple and their twin boys, Ben and Billy; Jim, a distant man from Atlanta who lost his wife; Carol, a woman who lost her husband, and her daughter, Sophia.

Rick is greeted by everyone but is warned by Dale that Shane is not as happy to see him as he would like to think. As the days come and go, Rick and Shane hunt while the women do laundry, and everyone tries to maintain some degree of normalcy. It isn’t long before the camp is attacked by a single Walker and Dale manages to take its head off. But this fails to kill it and they quickly realize that taking out the brain is the only way to kill them.

the-walking-dead-004-days-gone-bye-v1-12-page-13Rick begins to accompany Glenn on supply runs into the city, hoping to find guns and ammo to outfit the camp. This proves difficult as the city is choked by Walkers and the two have to get creative to survive – which includes smearing themselves in the gore of dead Walkers. Back at camp, Lori and Shane discuss Rick’s arrival and the subject of a romantic liaison between them comes up. Lori tells him it was a mistake, and Shane is heartbroken.

Having made it back with guns and ammo aplenty, Rick and Shane begin to teach the camp how to shoot. That night, as they sit around the camp fire, they are attacked by Walkers that bite Amy and wound Jim. Andrea shoots her dying sister in the head to keep her from turning, and Jim is asked to be left on the outskirts of the city to await his fate.

Back at camp, Shane and Rick get into a confrontation and Shane begins to lose it. He almost shoots Rick, but Carl fires a shot through Shane’s neck, killing him instantly.

Volume 2- Miles Behind Us:
WD_volume_2-miles-behind-us
The second volume opens Lori having flashbacks to the night she and Shane slept together. Apparently, it happened on the night that they came to the outskirts of Atlanta, and between thinking Rick was dead and fearing for their safety, she took comfort in his arms. She also remembers that he told he’s always had feelings for her. Coming back to the present, we see them having a service for Shane, where she curses him and spits on his grave.

Afterward, they pack up Dale’s RV and decide its time to move on. With winter now upon them and no signs of help coming, they seek out in search of more permanent shelter. While on the road, they run into another group of people – Tyreese, his daughter Julie and her boyfriend Chris. They ask to join Rick’s crew, as they are also in desperate need of food and a place to stay.

They quickly integrate with Rick’s camp, as Tyreese proves adept at killing Walkers with his hammer, and he and Carol begin to hit it off as well. After clearing a field of Walkers, they sit around a fire and enjoy some supplies Glenn picked up. Things seem to be going well, but Lori tells Rick in private that she’s pregnant. Worse yet is the fact that it may not be his.

the-walking-dead-wiltshireAfter days on the road, killing Walkers hand-to-hand fashion, siphoning gas, and grabbing whatever they can from abandoned vehicles, they come upon a suburban development called Wilshire Estates. The gated community appears to be deserted except for a few Walkers. After clearing them out, they settle in. It also become clear at this time that Andrea and Dale have started a relationship. Tyreese and Carol appear to be getting closer too.

Things appear to be looking up, until Rick notices a sign at the front gate that says “All Dead, Do Not Enter”, which had previously been obscured by snow. Rick runs back to alert people, but is too late to stop them from being attacked by Walkers who begin emerging from one of the houses. Donna is killed and her husband Allen fires off his gun, which alerts more Walkers.

the-walking-dead-carl_shotThey throw everything and everyone back into the RV and head for the road, stopping many times along the way to try and pick up food. Finding most places picked clean, they decide to pull in near a wooded area and mount a hunting party. However, while in the woods, Carl is shot by a hunter who mistakes him for a Walker. Rick nearly kills the man, but stops when Tyreese tells him Carl is still alive.

The man tells him his name is Otis, and that he lives on a nearby farm owned by a veterinarian who has some experience dealing with bullet wounds. He and Rick begin carrying Carl to the farm while Tyreese doubles back to let the others know what’s happened. They meet up at the farm where Herschel, the farm’s owner, goes to work and is able to save Carl. With everyone together, introductions follow…

Herschel introduces his six children – his oldest daughter Lacey, son Arnold, Maggie, youngest son Billy, Rachel and Susie. Otis and his girlfriend Patricia are their neighbors who moved in when the trouble began and have lived with them ever since. Rick’s crew begin to settle in, Andrea attempts to speak to Allen, who is despondent after Donna’s death, and Carl soon wakes up.

the-walking-dead_herschelsfarmIn the days that follow, the two groups begin to bond. Glenn finds a willing partner with Maggie, who is about his age and also feeling lonely after being surrounded by nothing but relatives for so long. Meanwhile, Rick begins to talk to Herschel about his farm and learns that they have a special barn where they keep their dead… their living dead!

He’s naturally appalled by this, but Herschel is similarly appalled that Rick and his crew have been killing the them at every encounter. After a heated fight, Herschel storms off, but in the morning, they talk it out and Rick agrees to respect his rules while they stay on his farm. However, this proves difficult, as Rick’s crew begin doing practice shooting again which draws a Walker.

Herschel attempts to stick it in the barn rather than let Rick shoot it, but this allows several Walkers to break out. Pandemonium ensues as Arnold tries to save his father and is bit, forcing Herschel to shoot all the Walkers and Arnold himself. He tries to shoot himself next, but Rick stops him. They bury Arnold and Herschel tells Rick he was right. Everyone is given their own gun to carry from this point onward, and Julie and Chris agree to a suicide pact.

walking_dead-prisonIn the aftermath, Rick appeals to Herschel to let them stay on, but Herschel is determined to see them go the moment Carl is healed. Lori confronts him and things become very heated, and Rick agrees that they’ll leave to prevent violence from breaking out. They hit the road shortly thereafter and drive for days. They then spot a prison not far from the road and Rick tells them to stop. He tells them they’ve arrived home.

Difference to AMC’s The Walking Dead:
Even at this early juncture, the difference between the comic book and miniseries are very noticeable. For the first few episodes, things seemed largely consistent with the source material. But by the end of the first season, there were some wide divergences that could not fail to go unnoticed. In some cases, the reasons for obvious, having to do with the vagaries of television.

Shane-and-RickFor starters, Shane and Rick’s confrontation was something was resolved relatively quickly in the comic book series. And while his eventual break was certainly hinted at in the show, it took a very long time for it to manifest itself in his decision to kill Rick. This was something I found annoying frankly. It was like, how many more episodes do we have to endure where they argue, fight, and he sneaks off to talk to Lori before they finally try to kill each other?

Shane being around for what was essentially volume two material also meant that the story in the second season changed drastically. Not only was the conflict between him and Rick prolonged, he was also a source of conflict between their camp and Herschel and the reason the barn was opened in the first place.

On top of that, he was responsible for killing Otis, a character who survived far beyond the farm thread in the comic and later returned. The fact that they had to go out to find penicillin and other medical supplies was due to Carl’s wounds being made life-threatening, which they weren’t in the comic. They also killed off Dale and Sophia in this season, which seemed rather odd since both lived on in the comic and played a rather important roles.

the-walking-dead-cdc1Second, there was the final episode in season one where the camp travels into Atlanta to go to the Center for Disease Control. Personally, I liked this episode best of the first season, so I was a little disappointed to not see it in the comic. But of course, it was easy to see how this episode was expositional. Since the CDC is in Atlanta, the show writers no doubt saw an opportunity to address the disease itself and lend it some mystery and background.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, their was the shuffle they did with characters. In addition to not introducing Tyreese until much later in the series, they also added characters who were not in the original. Daryl and Merle I could understand; these two were colorful, dynamic characters that added to the story. But Tyreese was central to the original story and its dynamic, so dropping him seemed inexplicable.

walking_dead_merle_darylThen there was also the addition of such people as Carol’s husband Ed, who was an abusive butthole, Morales and his wife Miranda, their two kids, Jacqui, and of course T-Dog. With the exception of T-Dog, all of these people died within the few episodes, Jacqui having committed suicide by the end of season one and the latter who lived well into season two but never seemed to get a back story. As a friend of mine said, “he was the highest paid extra in television”.

Between all of these characters, I have to wonder what the point was of including them. Was it just to pad the story? If so, why kill them off so casually? Why not simply incorporate Tyreese, Julie and Chris? Oh yes, and having Daryl and Merle meant there was more time spent in Atlanta, which led to the introduction of the small community of apparent gunmen who were in fact good Samaritans that were protecting a group of senior citizens. Again, a departure, but not a bad one.

Last, but certainly not least, the farm thread was also extended considerably and – in my opinion – unnecessarily. After the showdown at the barn, there was no reason to expect Herschel would allow Rick and his group to stay. But instead, the season went on, introducing a group of roamers that wanted access to Hershel’s farm the moment they learned about it, Rick and Shane’s showdown, and a massive Walker attack that divided the group in two and sent them running.

None of this happened in the original. Rick and his crew packed up and left as one group because Herschel could not bring himself to trust them. What’s more, he and his family did NOT travel with them to the prison. Glenn, however, did stay behind to be with Maggie.

Summary:
And that brings us to the end of part I of this comparative review of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. Stay tuned for the next installment which will cover volume 3 and 4 of the comic book series and the first half of season three of the show. I was hoping to wrap this up in a two installments – but hey, I’ve got to be realistic!

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 15

WD3_posterWelcome back to the Walking Dead, zombie fans! As anyone who has been following the series knows, we are now down to the last two episodes of the season. Next Sundays episode promises to be the climax of the prison versus Woodbury chapter of this story, and it just happens to coincide with the premiere of Game of Thrones Season 3. Wow… busy weekend. At least for those of us who review these shows at any rate!

But of course, this week’s episode was the curtain raiser for the finale, showcasing Rick and the prison camps contemplate averting war at the same time as they prepare for it.

The Sorrowful Life:
WD3_sorrowfulThe episodes opens inside the prison, where they are preparing for the eventual attack while Rick discusses handing Michonne over with Daryl and Hershel. After agreeing that it is a tough call, he talks it over with Merle, who seems to think that Rick doesn’t have the spine to go through with it. Daryl also speaks with him and raises the issue about fitting in with the prison folk, but Merle believes his only place there is as a potential “bad guy”.

Putting this philosophy into practice, he leads Michonne down into an uncleared cell block where they find Walkers. After letting her take out a few, he hits her in the back of the head, binds her, and begins escorting her to Woodbury. Rick meets up with Daryl to let him know he’s decided against handing Michonne over, but tells him he can’t find her or Merle. Daryl volunteers to go look for them and leave Rick behind in case they are attacked.

wd3_sorrowful2Merle and Michonne walk together, during which time she is able to talk to Merle about all he’s done. They walk until they reach a motel where Merle tries to hotwire a car. Unfortunately, his efforts trigger the car alarm which attracts Walkers. Michonne manages to creatively defend herself, despite being bound, and Merle cuts her free and drives off with her in the hijacked car.

As they drive together, Michonne and Merle continue to talk and she tries to convince him to go back. Finally, Merle stops the car and tells her he can’t. He agrees to let her go, but tells her he has something he has to do on his own. Clearly, he’s decided to settle things on his own and save his brother, and find some redemption for himself by killing the Governor instead of handing him Michonne.

WD3_sorrowful1On her way back to the prison, Michonne crosses paths with Daryl and tells him that Merle let her go. Daryl takes off in pursuit while down the road, while father away, Merle draws as many Walkers to his vehicle as he can and drives towards the meeting place where the Governor and Rick first talked about coming to terms. Caesar and the Governor’s men are already there and begin deploying to deal with all the Walkers.

Merle takes up a position inside a building and begins sniping them off in the confusion, but a Walker interferes with him taking a shot at the Governor and he is exposed. He’s then taken by the Governor’s men and gets into it with the Governor himself. After getting two of his fingers bitten off and a broken arm, a defeated Merle tells the Governor “I aint gonna beg you!” The Governor simply replies “No!”, draws his gun, and then shoots him.

Wd3_sorrowful4Back at the prison, Glenn decides he wants to marry Maggie before the worst comes to pass. He secures Hershel’s blessing, and after taking two fingers off a Walker, procures a ring. Before a general counsel session called by Rick, he asks her and she agrees. They then sit with the rest while Rick tells everyone the truth of about his meeting with the Governor and how he was willing to sacrifice one of them for the sake of peace.

In the course of it, he lets them know that he doesn’t believe they can function as a dictatorship after all, that no can be sacrificed for the greater good since they are all that very thing. He leaves it with them to decide what they want to do, whether they want to run or stay and fight. He returns to the wall to stand watch and is just in time to see Michonne coming back.

Daryl comes to the meeting place and finds Walkers preying on the bodies of all those who died in the firefight. He is heartbroken when he finds his brother who is now amongst the former. After a short fight, he manages to get him to the ground and puts his brother out of his misery…wd3_sorrowful5

Summary:
Well, this episode was good for a number of reasons. Naturally, I expected it to provide some pacing before the final showdown, but they managed to go beyond that and provided some adrenaline and commentary as well. Basically, the entire episode revolved around the idea of terrible purpose, how in a crazy world, people have to sometimes do things that are ugly and unpleasant for the sake of the preserving lives and the greater good.

Much of that came down to Merle choosing to do what he always does – i.e. look out for number one and use the greater good as an excuse. But he turned that around when he realized that instead of sacrificing Michonne to save Rick and the prison camp, which included his brother, he could sacrifice himself. Ultimately, he fulfilled his role as the necessary bad guy, but did so in a way that showed that he wasn’t so bad.

And I liked that about this episode. Ever since his introduction in the first season, Merle stood as the ugly, uncouth, redneck, racist SOB who only ever looked out for number one. While that worked just fine for him, it was known to get others in trouble. Particularly his brother,  who stood in contrast as the redeemable son who could do great things, if only he could get free of his brother’s influence.

So in a way, this was a fitting sendoff for him. Not only did he die trying to do some good for once, it fell to the “good brother” to show him some mercy and put him down after he turned. It also showcased the Governor’s madness and cruelty that he wasn’t willing to shoot Merle in the head and keep him from coming back. By administering the fatal gunshot to his body, he ensured that Merle would live on as a hideous creature, the ultimate punishment for his disloyalty.

And finally, there was the significance of everything Rick decided in this episode. After realizing he couldn’t hand over Michonne, he went a step further and told the camp that he couldn’t be calling the shots anymore. This puts him at odds with the Governor who controls Woodbury as a defacto dictator, appearing as a benevolent father figure to most but showing his true colors to those closest to him. He even said as much when he claimed “I’m not your governor”.

Basically, after declaring that their group was no longer a democracy after they left the farm, this reversal now sets them as the ideological opponents to the Governor and his town of willing supplicants. So this impending fight is not just about survival and competition, it’s also about philosophies of leadership and governance in the post-apocalyptic age.

And yes, there was the side plot involving Maggie and Glenn getting married, which was nice, if somewhat diversionary. It was poignant to see how and why that happened, since as Glenn said, he wanted to have something beautiful before the worse came to pass. And Michonne, always the ass-kicker, was pretty damn awesome in this episode. Even thought she was bound and being used as barter, she managed to keep a cool head, talked a lot of sense, turned Merle around, and even killed some Walkers in some very cool ways. Seriously, the way she decapitated that one with just the string of wire? Shazam!!!

Which now brings things us to the end of all the build up and sets the stage for episode 16 and the season finale. Personally, I hope Rick and the others decide not to make a run for it and get out before the Governor and his people attack, because that would blatantly contradict what took place in the comic book. Without giving away any spoilers, let me just say that this chapter is meant to end in blood, anger, and terrible pain! After all the changes they’ve made so far, is it too much to hope for a little loyalty now?

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!

The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 11

WD3_premier

What a week! Its been a busy one on my end, and there have been subsequent delays. Times like this make me think I need an assistant, or that this blogging thing needs to pay more and more frequently! But I can’t complain… because it’s Friday, which means catching up on sleeping, schmoozing, and all the reading and writing I meant to do sooner!

Which brings me to last Sunday’s episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead. As the third episode in the latter half of season 3, things are once again beginning to pick up and, regrettably, drag out. There’s been plenty of action to be had and some twists and set-ups, but I’m also noticing a trend setting in that’s beginning to concern me.

In season 1, the story and narrative was very tight. But telling an entire first act in only six parts can have that effect. Season 2 tended to drag on inexorably, causing the whole Rick/Shane conflict and the will they or won’t they leave the farm issue a ridiculous amount of time to resolve itself. And with episode 11 now out, it seems like that may be happening here.

I Aint a Judas:
wd3_judas2The episode begins with Andrea seeing the people of Woodbury being armed and recruited for war. She attempts to talk to the Governor about it, but he insists that he and his men went to the prison and Rick’s people fired first. She asks for permission to go and speak to them, but is denied, prompting her to sneak out with Milton’s help.

Using what Michonne taught her, Andrea captures a walker and cuts off its arms and removes it teeth. Tyreese and his party find them in the woods and ask for help, and are told they can come to Woodbury where people are being taken in. After being expelled from the prison, Tyreese and his people are very receptive to the Governor and his plan to go to war with them.

wd3_judas1Back at the prison, the group discusses what to do about the impending siege and the yard that is now full of walkers. Low on ammo and supplies, they realize they can’t do anything without resupply and more trips into town. Rick also decides to delegate some responsibility to others after Carl tells him that he should unshoulder some of the burden. This is clearly out of concern for his recent mental breakdown, and he begins to let Hershel and Daryl step up.

Meanwhile, Merle begins to try and integrate with the rest, with limited success. Despite his insistence he was “just following orders”, Michonne and Glenn are unwilling to let go of the past. Hershel attempts to speak to him and get some idea of who they are dealing with over in Woobury. Merle responds by telling him that Governor is a ruthless man, and that when the war comes to their doorstep, which it will, he will take no prisoners.

wd3_judas3When she arrives at the prison, Andrea gets a cold reception and is snubbed by virtually everyone except Carol, who owes Andrea her life. She and Michonne argue since Andrea thinks she is the one who poisoned the others against the Governor, and Michonne believing that Andrea she has fallen under the Governor’s spell. Andrea is finally told by Carol that if she wants to resolve things, she’ll have to kill the Governor.

Andrea is given a car and sent back to Woodbury, where she is well-received by the Governor who believes she’s “come home”. After making love to him, Andrea wakes up and fetches her knife, and contemplates killing him the way Carol recommended. But after several seconds of struggle, she finds she can’t bring herself to do it and walks away.The episode ends with looking out the window, onto the town that she really has come to think of as home.

Summary:
Overall, this episode had plenty of good points. I like the fact that whereas Michonne was being minimized in previous episodes, she’s being brought forward once again to act in a more primary role. Her antagonism with the Governor is central to the plot in this part of the story, especially when you consider that she’s the one who took his eye and killed his zombie daughter, and he repeatedly tried to kill her!

And the reunion between Andrea and the prison people was definitely due. For some time now, she’s found herself caught between camps and this episode managed to force that issue a little. On both sides, she’s got people who are determined to fight the other and refuse to listen. And now, she was given a choice on how to end it all (i.e. kill the Governor in his sleep) buAt couldn’t. In the end, her desire to stay neutral and try and foster a compromise is very believable.

And yet, this episode kind of felt like a dragger for me, which pretty much punctuates what I said about the last episode. True, episode 10 did end with a pretty big bang after running slow for the first forty minutes. But with episode 11, I once again feel that things are destined to drag on til the end. There are five more episodes this season, conflict (we are told) is inevitable and part of the original material. So… when it’s going to happen? How’s it going to turn out? Who stands to win and who will lose?

In the first half of the season, we received a lot of build-up and some dire warnings. It was made clear that the Governor doesn’t suffer the existence of people he considers a potential threat, and that he was hellbent on finding the prison and dealing with them. After the mid-season climax, it seemed like the bear had only been provoked further and was out for blood. But when he did retaliate, it was with limited consequences and in a limited way.

And in this episode, we’re given more of the same and basically told to wait longer for the big finish. But for how many more episodes can we be told what we already know? How many more times do we need to hear that the Governor is a ruthless man? That he will be coming and there will be no stopping him? And how much longer is Andrea going to be debating her loyalties and being caught in between? Hard to say, but things need to pick up from here on in! Otherwise, I think people might start to lose interest.

Still, looking forward to next week’s episode. Stay tuned for the review, I plan to post it sooner other than later this time 😉

The Walking Dead Returns!

WD3_premierIt’s finally back! As promised, the Walking Dead has returned from its mid-season hiatus to bring us new episodes and some closure to what has already been a tumultuous and climactic season. I was a bit late in catching up with the episode this week, what with work and all. But today, I finally made some time to watch the episode, get caught up, and getting down to giving it its rightful review.

Picking up where the last season left off, we are presented with the continuance of the story’s two main threads. In one, the town of Woodbury is up in arms in the wake of the attack by Rick, Michonne and his people as they attempted to rescue Glenn and Maggie. At the same time, they lost Daryl in the heat of battle, who was captured and brought face to face with his brother Merle. Not the best of circumstances for a reunion, but what can you do?

Meanwhile, over at the prison, everyone is a little on edge due to the arrival of a new group of people led by a man named Tyreese and a woman named Sasha. Having been put through the grinder themselves, they are able to understand that they must be patient and respect the prison camps rules. However, trust does not come easily in this world anymore, and as we’ve seen in the past, new arrivals always come the chance for renewed infighting.

So here’s what happened this week!

The Suicide King:
WD3_suicide_kingsThe episode opens in Woodbury, with a close up of the Governor’s face as he stares angrily at Daryl and Merle with his one good eye. He orders them to fight to the death, over Andrea’s desperate pleas that he let them go. But the town has spoken, and Merle attacks his brother, stating he will do what he has to to prove his loyalty. The fight is on, but the Governor quickly orders that some Walkers be tossed in as well, and not the toothless kind from the gladiator fights!

However, it seems Merle has a plan. Standing back to back, they start fighting with the Walkers hand to hand. And within seconds, gunfire erupts as Maggie and Rick show up to save them. While Maggie starts sniping from the gallery. Rick tosses in a smoke grenade to cover their escape. Making their way through the town wall, they fight off some more Walkers and head for the forest. As they escape, a Walker notices the hole in the fence and starts peering inside…

wd3_oneeyeAfter meeting up with the rest of their group, tempers flare as Michonne and Glenn noticed that Merle is with them. Naturally, Merle can’t seem to keep his mouth shut and Rick is forced to knock him out so they can discuss what to do about him in private. After coming to no agreement, Daryle decides to take his chances with his brother rather than turn his back on him.

Rick let him go and tells Michonne she is to leave too once they get back and she gets herself checked out. None of this sits well with Glenn, who takes his frustrations out by stomping in the head of a Walker they come across while searching for another vehicle. He then lets loose on Rick for letting Daryl go, and for letting Maggie go back with him to save him when it should have been him. Maggie interrupts, not wanting what happened to her to be aired just yet, and tells them to head home.

wd3_tyreesecamoBack at the prison, Tyreese and his crew begin to bond with the others. Hershel tends to Allen’s injuries while they share stories about their trials. Naturally, they are surprised to see a baby, and explain how they originally came from Jacksonville and found each other along the way. Arrangements are also made to bury one of their dead, but of course Hershel tells them not to get too comfortable since Rick and the others will be returning soon.

Naturally, this leads Ben and Allen, the other members of the group, to suggest that they take matters into their own hands. They way they see it, they could easily take out the current prison population before Rick and the others return, a move which Tyreese and Sasha are vehemently opposed to. For the time being, at least, he is determined to earn the trust of the prison camp, whom he believes are good people.

wd3_woodburyAt Woodbury, pandemonium ensues as people try to escape town and the Governor retreats into isolation. A group of Walkers appear in the middle of town and begin attacking a man. Andrea and Jose gun them down but are unable to do anything for the bitten man. The Governor then appears to put a bullet through the head of a wounded man and then ducks back inside.

Andrea tries talk to him afterwards, but can’t seem to reach the Governor anymore. As far as he is concerned, they are at war, and he is unconcerned about the people’s bellyaching. Faced with a possible shootout, she chooses to step in and try and calm people’s tempers. She calls to the people to “dig deep” and persevere, and they seem to respond. The Governor hears her too and seems to take solace in it.

wd3_loriOnce back at camp, Rick meets with Hershel and discusses their new problems. On the one hand, there’s the Governor, a brutal man who is clearly the product of their new world. On the other their are the new arrivals, who they need to come to a decision on. Given that the its only a matter of time before reprisal comes from Woodbury, and that they are outnumbered and outgunned, they think it would be good to get some fresh blood.

Unfortunately, Rick seems to be losing his marbles once again and experiences flashbacks and visions of Lori. In the midst of talking with Tyreese’s group, he begins to have a vision of Lori and begins babbling and screaming. He then draws his gun and orders Tyreese and his people to go, forcing them to run and leaving everyone else seriously spooked.

Summary:
Personally, I was very pleased with this episode. As the mid-season opener, it had its work cut out for it, especially with the way they left things off. After such a big build-up and the promises of plenty of action and a few deaths, I went in expecting some consequences, but was happy to see that it didn’t all end in a huge bloodbath either. Got to save something for the season finale 😉

To start, there was the title itself: The Suicide King. For those who don’t know, this is a reference to the King of Hearts card since the suit shows the king holding a sword to his head. In a poker game, this card is often declared wild, and so the theme of this episode becomes clear from the get-go. For one, it focuses heavily on both Rick and the Governor, the kings of both camps in their own rights, who are both beginning to show signs of breaking.

In addition to that thematic nuance, there were plenty of symbolic tidbits which I enjoyed. For example, the opening scene, where we are put face to face with the Governor as he stares menacingly at Daryl and Merle while his other eye bleeds through the bandage. Could there be a more perfect image to express what’s coming? It was like the preview poster said, “an eye for an eye”. The Governor is going to war and is out for blood! All bets are henceforth off!

And there was also the issues of loyalty, trust and choosing a side which came up a few times in this episode. In previous episodes, the overriding theme of the Walking Dead – that it is our fellow humans that we need to be most worried about – has been made abundantly clear through the struggle between Rick and Shane and how they had to fight off the other group of men who found out about the farm.

But the way it’s now being escalated as a fight between two well-established camps, the prison and the town, has really deepened it. Andrea, someone who has a foot in both, was the perfect case for illustrating how loyalties can be strained. On the one hand, she wants to help the people of Woodbury, but on the other, she feels compelled to stand up for her old comrades and try and prevent a war. Which side will she be forced to choose?

Merle and Daryl also served as examples of this too, men who are torn between loyalty to their camps and loyalty to their kin. In their case, a third option presented itself as, as  they chose to go their own way together. Andrea had a similar option earlier when Michonne could no longer abide living under the Governor, but Andrea chose to stay. The parallels are clear, and it will be interesting to see how things shape up for all of them.

And of course, the way Rick is once again losing his mind was beautifully rendered. After so much grief and loss and the constant pressures of being leader, he was once again having a psychotic break in this episode. And of course, we are reminded that the last time they had outsiders coming in, the attack that took Lori’s life was a direct result.

How else for him to react then, except to see his dead wife before him and feel it all come rushing back. And all that yelling: “What do you want from me? Get out! Get out!” Just who was he talking to? The image of Lori? Tyreese and his crew? Everyone who’s been making demands on him? Hard to say. Most likely all of the above, since he’s got to feeling that the world is crumbling around him. Because for him, it is!

Whoo! Heavy stuff! Looking forward to next week and the rest of the season. Also looking forward to the grand climax between the Governor’s people and Ricks. At this point, they are pretty far off scrip vis a vis the original comic book, so it will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

Oh, its on!
Oh, its on now!

The Walking Dead Season 3 (Episode 8)

the_walking_deadWelcome back Walking Dead fans! Last time, it seems I made a bit of a mistake and would like to rectify it first. According to updates from IMDB, season 3 will be running for a full 16 episodes instead of ten. However, this was the last episode before the mid-season break, so it did have its share of climaxes and more cliffhangers. When they come back in February, we can look forward to another 8 episodes!

Okay, moving on to what happened this week. A lot of thrills, kills, and chills as the two camps collide, new players are introduced, and some serious shit hits the fan!

Made To Suffer:
WD3_sufferThe episode opens with a new party fighting their way through the forest. After fighting their way through a slew of Walkers, one of their party is bit and they come upon the prison. Finding a collapsed wall, they make their way inside one of the uncleared cell blocks. Over in Woodbury, the Governor continues to try and reach his daughter Penny, relying on the techniques Milton was using to try and trigger memories. After his attempts fail, he becomes angry and throws her back into her cell.

At the prison, we see tension growing as Axel appears to be taking an interest in Beth and Carol tells him to back off. He explains that it’s just that she is the only available woman since Maggie is taken and Carol is a lesbian, or so he thought. She corrects him on this, and laughs when he begins making some clumsy advances towards her.

Shortly thereafter, Hershel, Carl and Maggie hear screams coming from down below cell block and realize they have company. Carl goes down to investigate alone, and finds the new arrivals in the midst of a fight with many Walkers. He tells them to follow him and covers their escape while they head up top, bringing their bit friend with them. When they reach a cell, Carl locks then in and tells them to take care of their friend. They reluctantly agree and kill her with a hammer before she can turn.

WD3_suffer_carlOver at Woodbury, Rick, Daryl, and Oscar make their way into town with Michonne’s help. Once they reach the heart of town, they realize that she has no idea where Glenn and Maggie are being kept and things begin to stall. However, they are alerted to their location as an escape attempt by Maggie and Glenn goes south and gunfire erupts. Merle and his henchmen take them prisoner again and prep them for execution, but Rick and his party manage to show up just in time.

Using smoke grenades, they steal Glenn and Maggie away and head for the wall. Daryl narrowly misses seeing his brother in the confusion and the party falls back to a nearby house. Michonne then wanders off to sneak into Governor’s apartment, as she clearly has some unfinished business with him. The Governor meanwhile begins deploying his men once words get around that they have intruders. Naturally, Andrea wants to help but he forbids it, since he knows that any contact with her old companions will go sideways on him. At the same time, Daryl learns that his brother is out there and wants to find him, but Rick refuses him.

WD3_suffer_reunionHowever, both fail as a gunfight ensues in the streets and everything hits the fan. Using more smoke grenades to cover their escape, Maggie, Rick and Glenn make it over the wall, but Oscar is killed. Rick also has a flashback as he shoots an approaching man who reminds him of Shane, and Daryl stays behind to provide covering fire but gets cut off from the rest. Andrea is also caught in the fight and begins laying down fire with her pistol, and pursues the Governor to his apartment where they both run into Michonne.

Before they arrive, Michonne finds the Governor’s private room and sees his collection of Walker heads and his daughter Penny. When she realizes what Penny is, she draws her sword and prepares to kill her. However, the Governor shows up then and pleads with her not to hurt his daughter, but Michonne kills her and the two get into it.

WD3_suffer_pennyAfter much struggling, during which the aquariums holding the Walker heads are smashed, Michonne grabs a shard of glass and stabs the governor in the eye. She is about to kill him too when Andrea shows up and stops her. Michonne runs out, leaving Andrea with the mess of heads and the Governor as he clutches the body of his dead daughter and sobs.

Afterward, she and the Governor talk while he recovers in bed, but he doesn’t have much in the way of answers. Outside of town, Rick pulls his gun on Michonne and demands answers. The Governor calls a town meeting and tells them they were attacked by “terrorists” and that Merle was working with them. He’s taken prisoner and reunited with his brother, and the townspeople begin to call for blood! WD3_suffer_dixons

Summary:
The mid-season finale was quite the climax/cliffhanger. On the one hand, we got to see the first of many confrontations between the Governor and the prison-folk, which was been building up since season 3 began. And now that he’s missing one eye and been deprived of his daughter, the stage is now set for the one-eyed Governor of the comic fame to lead an assault on the prison itself. All the teasers for the rest of season three point towards this, and I for one look forward to it!

Also, there were two key reunions in this episode which deserve note, and which were well-timed to coincide with one another. On the one hand, we get to see Merle and Daryl reunite after two and a half seasons apart. On the other, Andrea and Michonne meet up again and nearly come to blows in the Governor’s private room. In both instances, we have a cases of friends and family finding themselves on opposite sides in the course of a civil war. And Maggie even goes so far to characterize it for us: “All this time running from Walkers… you forget about what people do.”

This is a central theme to the story of The Walking Dead, which is how human beings inevitably turn on each other when the going gets tough. Already, we’ve seen cases of this with Merle and Shane, how one proved too unruly and dangerous to have around and the other went insane with jealousy and had to be killed. Now, it will reach fruition as the Governor’s camp and the Prison camp go to war, both in the name of protecting their own.

Once again, it was really nice to see Michonne kicking some ass! For a long time now, a fight has been brewing between her and the Governor and it finally happened. I was surprised the Governor held his own for as long as he did, but white hot rage probably had something to do with that. In the end though, Michonne got the upper hand on him and would have removed his head, had Andrea not shown up to save his ass. Damn you Andrea! Michonne tried to warn you, but you just wouldn’t listen! And you’re STILL getting in the way! But of course, that’s what keep the plot going so I can’t criticize too much…

At the same time, we got a little plot development on the quieter side of things, that being back at the prison facility. First up, Axel is beginning to show signs that he might have been a sex offender in his previous life. Though he claims he’s just a desperate man looking for love and is limited in his options, one can’t help but feel that he could become dangerous before long and will have to be “dealt with”. Again, I’ve got some insider knowledge on this, having read some of the comics, but I’m anxious to see how that pans out.

And of course, the prison group has received an infusion of new blood with the arrival of four new people. After being rescued by Carl, there was the usual standoff moment as he was forced to lock them in a room after they finished off their friend. Not much in the way of explanations were needed, as its clear than any newcomers in this world have to earn the trust of others before being welcomed in to their community. Luckily, Tyreese, the de facto leader of the group, seems to understand and is willing to play ball, if only because they have no other options.

But of course, the cliffhangers… First off, we’ve got Daryl and Merle who find themselves reunited under the worst of circumstances. The Governor has labelled them “terrorists” and clearly means to kill them. Meanwhile, Rick and his party are torn of what to do, whether they should beat it back to their own camp or try and mount a rescue. Me, I’m guessing they’ll head back to the prison while the Governor tries to get what info he can from Daryl. And in the end, Merle will defect and try to free his brother, just in time to stop the Governor’s armies for attacking the prison.

And of course, as soon as Rick and his bunch return, they will have to decide the fate of the newcomers. Once more, we can expect the usual process of back and forth where everyone wants to trust each other, but no one is willing to lower their guard until they’re sure. And I imagine, Rick, Tyreese, and everyone in between will find they have no options once conflict with the Governor’s people becomes inevitable.

But of course, all that’s speculation. Mainly, I’m just looking forward to see what they do with it and am pretty pleased with the direction it’s all been taking so far. Here’s to the second half of Season 3, coming in February of 2013!