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 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 (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…