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 (Season 3 Episode 10)

WD3_premierWelcome back to the Walking Dead. With the second episode in the latter half of the third season, things are coming down from the mid season climax. All the major characters have been introduced and the two main threads – that of the prison and the town of Woodbury – are now fully intertwined. And with blood drawn and both sides aware of the others presence, things seem to be settling in for a bit of a lull.

Last time, during the mid season opener, we saw Rick go crazy, the Governor go into isolation, and other people step in to fill their boots. Daryl also took off with Merle to face his fortunes alongside his brother rather than abandon him a second time, and Glenn and Maggie were beginning to crack due to the torment they suffered in the Governor’s captivity.

Which brought us to last night’s episode entitled…

Home:wd3_home6We start with the prison, where Rick is reconnoitering after losing his mind, keeping watch on the field and Michonne. That ends when he sees Lori again standing before him in white dress, first overlooking their graves, then standing out beyond the fence. After coming to her, he spends time in an imagined embrace. Meanwhile, Glenn decides to step up and talks about their next move, whether they should assassinate the governor or fortify and wait.

Back in Woodbury, the Governor thanks Andrea for the way she stepped up and tells her she could lead the town. She asks him if he’s abdicating, which he seems ambivalent on at the moment. He also tells her they will leave the prison alone as long as they do the same. Privately though, he asks Milton to monitor Andrea since he doesn’t know where her loyalties lie. Later, he and others seem to vanish from the town, and Andrea asks where they are. The best she can learn is from Milton, who says he’s “on a run.”

wd3_homeIn the forest, Daryl and Merle come upon a group of survivors who find themselves stuck on a bridge and beset by Walkers. After saving them, Merle tries to rob them but Daryl intervenes. This leads to a fight between the two of them, during which time Daryl accuses his brother of never being there for him and for the loss of his own hand. After the fight turns physical, Daryl tells Merle he’s leaving and begins heading back to the prison.

Glenn and Maggie have a fight over what happened to her in Woodbury and he decides to head out on a mission. Hershel comes to him beforehand to ask him if he intends to kill the Governor. Glenn says no, but Hershel suspects he is going off the deep end too, and urges him to come back since he is effectively in charge. Glenn still leaves and Hershel finds Rick out in the woods, wandering aimlessly. He explains how he’s been seeing Rick and Lori, to which Hershel replies that they need him back.

wd3_home4

In the yard, Carol and Axel are talking and having a laugh, when suddenly a bullet hits him in the head. The entire camp looks up to see the Governor and his men shooting from the treeline! Rick and Hershel are both pinned down, and Michonne grabs a gun from the bus and begins shooting from the inner area while Carl and Maggie start shooting from the prison grounds.Things appear locked in stalemate until the Governor’s men drive a big truck through the gate and release a whole slew of Walkers into the yard. They then fall back, just as more Walkers are drawn from the treeline by all the shooting. Michonne begins cutting her way through the Walkers while Glenn drives in and grabs her and Hershel. Rick seems trapped outside, but is saved when Daryle and Merle show up to protect him.

 

wd3_governor_war

All told, the prison has lost one man – Axel – and the governor one of his. What’s more, its now clear the Governor is intent on wiping Rick and his people off the face of the Earth. And that’s where things end for this week…

Summary:
wd3_home3Initially, I felt like this episode was a pacing chapter, where things slow down after the big climax so people can catch their breath and other parts of the story can be resolved. However, the surprise ending pretty much shot that impression to hell and left me hanging big time! Too bad too, I was all set to complain!

Basically, this was a good ending because it let us know that the Governor wasn’t going to simply roll over and be the subdued “live and let live” shell of himself. Everything’s been done this season to make him seem like a split personality, benevolent and stalwart on the surface, ugly and crazy beneath it. I’m glad they’ve kept that going with him because that is who he is. Making him stand down at this point would only seem like a shameless way of dragging things out, which is something I hoped they wouldn’t do this season.

wd3_home1Daryl’s return to the prison, so soon, had me a bit surprised. Between the two main threads, it seemed like they were introducing a third just to make things more interesting. However, after a brief romp in the woods, Daryl already decided he was sick of his brother and decides to head back. Naturally, this is good timing since the Governor attacked them, but I thought we could look forward to more of a side story where it was just the Dixon brothers.

I did enjoy how they gave Michonne some ass-kicking screen time this week, but I did think there ought to be more. She’s been downplayed so far this season, relegated to the background as a wounded bird instead of the usual independent badass she was earlier on. I hope she recovers soon and becomes the Governor’s worst nightmare, because that was her apparent role in the comic book.

wd3_tyreeseAh, which brings me to Tyreese and his companions. Again, this is something that is starkly different than the comics. There, Rick and his people met Tyreese and his family early in the comics and lost them before they ever found their way to the prison. His late introduction at this point was clearly due to other changes they made – i.e. keeping Shane alive so long. Given the way they did not appear in this episode, it’s unclear if they are gone for good or coming back. Peron sally, I will be disappointed if it’s the latter.

And as for the assault, no complaints there. Again, it was a scaled down version of what happened in the comics and was clearly just a raid, not the all-out offensive the Governor committed that left the prison shattered and took the lives of both Lori and “Little Ass Kicker”. Yep, that’s how she died in the comics, and the same death claimed Rick’s daughter. Which in turn was how he really lost his mind.

All in all, it’s clear at this point that the show has diverged heavily from the original comic, but seems committed to remaining true to spirit of it. The war between camps continues, it is unclear at this time who will die in the process!

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!

The Walking Dead Season 3 (Episodes 6 and 7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

____

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Walking Dead, Season 3 Episode 5

Hello all and welcome back to my ongoing review of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Season three has now reached the halfway mark, and the two-prongedstory is beginning to really drop some bombs on us, the viewing public! After last weeks’ hefty dose of trauma – i.e. Lori dying and Rick finally snapping – I was curious to see how this week’s episode was going to lighten things up again. What’s more, I had to know if they had really killed Lori off, or that was just a screw to the audience to get them to tune back in for this week’s episode. Needless to say, they were messing around…

In short, the midway mark in this season saw the resolution of the prisoner situation inside the jail. After killing Andre, the escapee who vowed revenge, Axel and Oscar seem to be merging in with the rest. At the same time, the loss of Lori, Carol and T-Dog was mitigated somewhat by the arrival of a new member – Rick and Lori’s baby girl.

Meanwhile, over the in the town of Woodbury, the divide between Andrea and Michonne finally results in a break, with Michonne leaving and Andrea staying behind. However, after witnessing an evening of special festivities put on the Governor, Andrea begins to question her decision to stay. And it’s also abundantly clear from what the Governor has going on behind closed doors that he has not accepted the loss of his family and that that is what drove him to madness in the first place.

Say the Word:
The episode opens on Rick, who is virtually catatonic after receiving the news that Lori is dead. His grief quickly turns to rage and he grabs an axe, proceeding inside to kill whatever remains of the Walkers who entered the prison. Meanwhile, Hershel tells them that the new baby needs formula or she can expect to die within a few days. Maggie and Daryl hop on his motorbike and make for a nursery which they observed in the nearest town. There, they find some diapers, formula, and a possum hiding in one of the closets. Daryl shoots the possum and declares they now have some fresh meat for dinner!

Meanwhile, Rick busies himself with cutting through all the Walkers that are still down below. Glenn tries to talk him down but fails, as Rick seems borderline psychotic and unreachable. After throwing him aside and going off to kill more, he finally finds his way to the room where Lori had her C-section and died. He finds a bullet in the floor and a blood trail leading into a passageway nearby, realizes that Carl couldn’t bring himself to shoot her and that she turned. After putting a bullet through the head of her bloated Walker corpse, he begins stabbing her swollen belly over and over…

Over in Woodbury, we find the Governor combing the hair of a small Walker, who apparently used to be his daughter. Her name was Penny, and it seems that he is keeping her secured in his office where no one can find her. Meanwhile, Michonne continues to investigate, hoping to find some evidence that the Governor is not who he appears to be. After retrieving her sword and reading some disturbing entries in his diary (which seem to involve the name Penny) she overhears the Governor and his men talking about holding some festivities. His lead researcher seems opposed to the idea, but eventually concedes.

Michonne then finds her way to where some Walkers are being kept in a cage and kills them all. When the Governor’s men catch up to her, he once again extends an offer to join him, but Michonne pointedly refuses (i.e. she points her sword into his chin)! At the mention of the name Penny, the Governor becomes quite concerned, as he thinks Michonne found her in his office, instead of simply reading her name from his diary. She makes one final attempt to convince Andrea to come with her, but fails. To her surprise though, they open the gates and let her go, leaving a saddened Andrea behind.

The Governor tells her to cheer up, as they are going to be having a special event that evening to cap off the celebrations that have been going on for days. However, she is horrified to find that the festivities are a bare knuckle fight between Merle and one of the other sentries, and the fight takes place in a ring surrounded by chained Walkers. The Governor explains its all staged and designed to make the people unafraid of the Walkers, but she is still incensed by it and leaves in a huff.

Glenn digs some graves for the dead, which accounts for one-third of their group. The deaths of Carol, T-Dog, and Lori are felt all around, but Glenn gets some unexpected help from Axel and Oscar who offer to help him dig graves. The baby also appears to be doing well, and Carl suggests naming her after those they’ve lost, eventually settling on his mother’s name. Daryl lays a flower on Carol’s grave, the same one he showed to her when they were looking for Sophie which commemorates the Trail of Tears and all the children that went missing there. And down in his cell, next to Lori’s corps, Rick is surprised to hear (amongst other voices in his head) the phone ringing, and picks it up…

Summary:
This episode excelled for a few reasons. For starters, we finally see the break between Andrea and Michonne occur, the timing of which couldn’t be better (or worse, in Andrea’s case). After finally telling Michonne she thinks her fears are groundless and she intends to stay, she gets a firsthand preview of the Governor’s madness. In time, she’s likely to get more, and her relationship with the Governor is likely to become strained, as Michonne’s was. This in turn is likely to lead to an escape attempt or a rescue attempt by Michonne. Needless to say, it won’t be pretty!

Second, this episode, picking up where the last left off with the prison debacle, showed that no one in the cast is safe. The loss of Carol and T-Dog was not too devastating since neither were main characters, but the death of Lori was nothing if not surprising. Rick is now experiencing a psychotic break, Carl is without a mother, and the group is reeling from the loss of a third of its members. This is in keeping with the spirit, if not the letter, of the graphic novel where no one in the cast is safe!

And I also liked what they did with the gladiator fight. It was an effective way of showing the Governor’s dark side, without being too over the top. Had she found the room full of heads, or simply been thrown into a dank cell full of corpses, that would have been too much. It’s much more entertaining and suspenseful to see the Governor turn bad as a result of an escalating situation between him, Andrea and Michonne. It also fits with his motivation, which is to keep his own safe from any and all threats, as he sees them.

Based on the previews which also came at the tail end, it has been hinted that Michonne will meet up with Maggie and Glenn while they are out searching for supplies, and that Andrea will attempt to flee Woodbury. I’m also looking forward to seeing just what the phone call was about, as it’s not entirely clear if Rick’s being contacted by the other members of the group, or if he’s experiencing a psychotic episode. Could go either way…

Walking Dead, Season 3 Episode 4

Welcome back to the Walking Dead! Today’s review, episode four entitled “Killer Within”, which as you may notice is a double-entendre. After last weeks introduction of the Governor and his walled town, things are once again shifting back towards the main group in the story, focusing on events in the prison and their ongoing struggle to build a safe haven.

Attention is still given the growing mistrust Michonne feels towards the governor, and the conflict between her and Andrea over the issue of trust. But by far, the biggest events took place within the prison complex, and I mean biggest! Some seriously big curveballs were hurled in this episode, which included the birth of Rick and Lori’s child, the death of T-Dog, and the death of Lori herself.

Killer Within:
Things open up on the prison, where we see someone opening the gates and laying bait for the Walkers to come. The identity is left a mystery for the time being, all we know is they are intent on sacrificing everyone within. Shortly thereafter, we see Rick, Glenn, Maggie and Daryl in the yard where they are moving their vehicles and discussing clean-up. They intend to plant crops in the field soon, and don’t want the litters of Walker bodies contaminating the soil.

Hershel comes out to see them on crutches, accompanied by the other members of their group. They are joined by the two prisoners, Axel and Oscar, confront them and ask to be allowed to join them in their side of the prison. They decide to give them supplies and send them on their way, but the send-off is cut short when Walkers show up in the yard and begin attacking them.

A fight ensues, and things are made worse when the prison sirens go off, attracting more Walkers. The group must split up, with Rick, Glenn, and Daryl fighting to clear the yard and get inside to shut off the sirens. Oscar, who used to work in the power room, escorts them to it after Glenn shuts the gate to keep more from coming in. Hershel and Beth manage to get to safety, but T-Dog is bitten while trying to protect Carol and get her inside. Maggie escorts Lori and Carl inside but they find Walkers have infiltrated the prison interior and flee to the basement.

Over in the town, Andrea continues to get to know the Governor while Michonne pursues her suspicion that there’s something “off” about him. Andrea learns that his true name is Philip, and that he had a wife who is now dead. Michonne inspects the army trucks they procured and notices traces of blood and bullet holes and suspects the Governor’s cover story was false.

At the same time, Merle learns of the location of the farmhouse where Andrea was staying, and asks the Governor for permission to go there and begin searching for his brother Daryl. The Governor believes its a wild goose chase, but agrees to go with him if he finds more concrete evidence that his brother could still be alive. Andrea and Michonne are set to leave and Andrea says goodbye, but is told she and Michonne are always welcome back.

Back at the prison, things are going from bad to worse. When they reach the power room, Rick discovers the identity of their betrayer. Turns out it’s Andrew, one of the prisoners who was believed to have died at the hands of the Walkers, is alive. After Rick is knocked down, Oscar grabs his gun and points it at the two of them. He then shoots Andrew and gives the gun back to Rick. Apparently, trust has now been established between their two groups, and the sirens are shut down.

Elsewhere, T-Dog and Carol are rushing through the tunnels and are cut off by a group of Walkers. T-Dog makes his final stand by rushing the group, and dies screaming while Carol makes it back to the yard. In another room, Carol begins to go into labor and experiences serious bleeding. She asks Maggie to perform a C-section and tells Carl she loves him, and does not appear to make it through the process. However, the baby is alive and well, and Carl tells her to leave so he can shoot Lori before she becomes a Walker. A gunshot is heard and he joins Maggie, and the two go back to the yard. There, they meet up with the rest, and Rick is broken when he sees the baby and realizes Lori is dead.

Summary:
Needless to say, this episode was a real nail biter. Granted, it wasn’t too much of a mystery who the saboteur was, though I did suspect it might have been Oscar for a short while. His knowledge of the power room seemed to me to be an indication that he might be the one behind the whole thing. But at the same time, we never really saw Andrew die so… yeah, not a big mystery!

No, the real tension here came in the form of the split which took place inside the prison. Thanks to the arrival of the Walkers, the group was split three ways, with each one facing its own particular crises. For Rick and his group, there was the task of shutting down the sirens and finding out who betrayed them. But Lori, Maggie and Carl, there was the challenge presented by her imminent delivery. For the rest, it was all about staying alive and getting back to the others. Between all of these perspectives, the full range of the show was displayed. You had betrayal and desperation, life in the midst of death, and terrible sacrifice. All of it was poignant and effective.

Also, the slow build-up of tension over in the town thread is something I really approve of. It’s pretty clear at this point that Michonne’s distrust  of the Governor will bear fruit in time, and that the Governor is likely to take her and Andrea prisoner once the cat’s out of the bag. What’s more, they are letting on that Merle’s efforts to find his brother are likely to lead the Governor to the prison. And we all saw what he did with those army men. Clearly, he believes anyone who doesn’t reside within his walls is a threat that must be dealt with. Clearly, these two threads are destined to collide, and sooner other than later.

But above all, the biggest thing in this episode was the deaths of T-Dog and Lori. In the former case, I wasn’t particularly surprised. As a friend of mine recently pointed out (hi Khaalidah!) T-Dog has remained an underdeveloped character in the series. Since we know nothing about his past and he’s got no one he’s particularly attached to in the group, his loss could not be considered a terrible tragedy. Lori, on the other hand is an essential character, the wife and mother of two other main characters.

Personally, I am entertaining the notion that she is not really dead, mainly because her death at this point in the show goes against material from the comics. However, there have been plenty of diversions from that material already, and who’s to say what the writer’s have planned. Perhaps I’m in denial…

Oh yeah, and there is the matter of the title itself, which as I said earlier I believe I to be a double-entrendre. On the one hand, you have Andrew who is busy at work plotting the demise of the group. He is the literal killer within the walls of the prison. However, the other meaning I believe lies within the Governor himself. Whereas he seems like a stable and caring fellow on the outside, the kind of man who projects a positive image to Andrea and the townspeople, we know him to be a cold-blooded murderer and insane man. This side, however, he keeps tucked away from prying eyes. Make sense? Just one man’s interpretation.

More to follow from this series soon enough. Don’t venture too far…