The Walking Dead – Season Four, Episode Four

The-Walking-Dead-Season-4-RenewalWelcome back for more of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Last time around, due to a combination of inexcusable procrastination and excusable travel plans, I had to review all three episodes of the season in one go. Henceforth, I hope to be more studios and cover episodes as they come. And with that mind, I was sure to watch this week’s episode just as soon as I could.

Indifference:
the-walking-dead-indifference0Picking up where things left off, this episode opens with Rick still looking into what Carol did to Karen and David – aka. the people she killed and immolated to protect the others. After talking to Lizzy, Rick takes Carol on a supply run, in part because they lost supplies after the initial outbreak of the flu, but also because Daryl and the others have yet to return.

A third reason Rick has chosen to bring Carol along is to keep an eye on her, as he clearly doesn’t trust her anymore. They come to a small town and begin combing houses, and find two young people – Sam and Anna – held up in one. They learn they are survivors from a refugee center who have been on the move ever since. The couple ask to come with them and help them search the neighborhood, and Rick reluctantly agrees.

the-walking-dead-indifference4While searching the nearby houses, Rick and Carol get a chance to talk about what she did, and she remains unrepentant. When they return outside, they see Anna’s remains being devoured by several Walkers. Carol dismisses it and suggests they go back to wait for Sam, but when he doesn’t show, she recommends they leave.

After loading up their car with everything they’ve found, Rick tells Carol that she needs to move on. In addition to Tyreese wanting blood, he knows the others in the prison won’t accept her once they know the truth, and that she’s now strong enough to survive on her own. After securing a car for her, Carol gives Rick the watch Ed gave to her on her their anniversary and drives off.

the-walking-dead-indifference2Meanwhile, Daryl and company have managed to find their way to autoshop that’s been overgrown by vines. After clearing it, during which time Tyreese nearly dies again, Daryl and Bob begin searching the store for supplies while Michonne and Tyreese clear a minivan they discover within the vines. She chides him for his anger, telling him that while understandable, it will get him killed.

With minivan working, they drive the rest of the way to the veterinary college and find all the medicine and supplies they need. On the way out, they are spotted by a group of Walkers that also died from the flu strain and begin running. After taking cover in a storage room, they find that the door to the exit stairwell is chained and there are many more Walkers on the other side.

the-walking-dead-indifference3Reasoning that the Walkers in the stairwell might not have died from the flu, they break open the doors and start fighting their way out. However, all exits up above are cut off as well, and they are forced to break a window and climb out. Bob nearly loses his bag to a herd of Walkers but manages to pull it up, and Daryl sees that it had a bottle of liquor inside. Daryl tells Bob that he if takes one sip before they get back, he’ll kill him himself.

They load up their minivan and leave, and Michonne tells Daryl that she’s decided to let the Governor go and move on. They and Rick both head back for the prison.

Summary:
Clearly, this episode was all about moving on. In addition to Michonne telling Tyreese that he needed to let go of his anger, and her taking her own advice and letting the Governor go, Rick sends Carol on her way as a means of resolving their moral dilemma. But of course, there was also the aspect of the episode from which it derives its name.

the_walking_dead_carolRick’s moral dilemma arises from the fact that Carol appears to have become indifferent to death and the suffering of others. And then there was the issue of Bob’s alcoholism, how he was willing to risk everything for a bottle of booze while the others were fighting to make sure they got out with the medicine they needed to save their people’s lives.

Taken together, these threads once again stress the larger theme of the story. On the one hand, people are forced to do what they have to to survive. But in the end, there is only so much which can be sacrificed before staying alive becomes meaningless. This episode managed to capture that quite well.

Carols_deathHowever, there were also a lot of things which were kind of annoying. For one, the way they’ve now written Carol out seems kind of weak, especially when one considers how she really died. In the comic, Carol tried to commit suicide after losing Tyreese, her lover, to Michonne. After that, she became somewhat erratic and dependent, and felt increasingly isolated as a result. She then let a Walker bite her and died tragically.

And let’s not forget that they’ve done this once before, let us think Carol was gone when in fact she wasn’t. But if this is indeed the end of her thread, I would have to say that it’s not too surprising. Given what they’ve done with her in the last two seasons, minimizing her role and then turning her into a sociopath, I’d say the decision to drop her makes sense.

thewalkingdead-TyreeseMichonneHowever, there is another point of interest that fans of the original could not fail to notice. In this episode, Tyreese and Michonne began chatting and seemed to find they had something in common. Given their relationship in the original comic, one can’t help but wonder if this will evolve into something more. But of course, this could be simple projection, since she also appeared to be flirting with Daryl at one point. Not sure where their going with that…

But above all, I mainly got a bad feeling from this episode due to the fact that it kind of felt like filler and portends of how this season is likely to drag on like the others. I foresee next episode being a race to try and save all the infected, with lots of talking and introspection! And when all that’s done, I’m thinking the Woodbury people – save one or two new additions to the cast – will be dead and the core will finally decide to leave the prison behind.

Maybe then, they’ll finally get back on script! Sigh… Oh well, at least Issue 116 will be out in a few days!

The Walking Dead: Season Four (Episodes 1-3)

Well, its been three weeks, and season four of one of TV’s top rated shows right now is back in full swing. And while I wanted to get on the episodes soon as they started coming out, circumstances kind of got in the way. First I was away for a week, then I took the time to write about other things, and then the episodes began piling up. That’s when the procrastination started settling in…

However, now that we are three full episodes into the season and I’ve finally managed to watch them, I feel I’ve gotten a pretty good take on what the story arc for season four is so far. And having recently read all issues to date of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, I was able to spot all the big differences, and you can bet I will be pointing them out! So without further delay or ado, I give you season four of AMC’s The Walking Dead!

https://i1.wp.com/i2.cdnds.net/13/14/618x374/ustv-the-walking-dead-s03-e16-3.jpgTo recap a little first, I would reiterate that last season’s finale was a big letdown to me. Myself and many fans lamented the fact that after many episodes of building up to a climactic clash between Woodbury and the prison camp, the final battle was quite the fizzle. Not only were the Governor’s people routed rather easily from the prison, but the Governor himself then went batsh*t crazy, shot everybody, and then ran off into the wilderness.

This, plus the fact that Rick and his people then traveled to Woodbury and brought the remaining townspeople back to the prison to live with them represented a major departure from the original comics. As a result, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the new season. On the one hand, it held the promise of the unexpected; but on the other, it would certainly be more of a departure from the original material.

30 Days Without An Accident:
https://i0.wp.com/comicbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/the-walking-dead-season-4-rick-grimes-walkers.jpgThe season opens with a look at a seriously changed prison, which has been augmented with new buildings in the courtyard to accommodate the new people. The new arrivals appear to have been integrated, teams comb the fence to kill Walkers, and Daryl is getting ready to make another run to town for supplies. He is joined by Glenn, Tyreese, Sasha, a young man named Zack and a former army medic named Bob.

They set out for town to check a major department store called Big Spot, the parking of lot of which had been turned into an army checkpoint. The camp was since overrun by Walkers which they managed to lure away with loud music, and they go in to sweep the store. Unbeknownst to them, the roof is crawling with Walkers and was the site of a chopper crash.

https://i2.wp.com/wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/screencrush.com/files/2013/10/Untitled.jpgAfter Bob causes some shelves to fall over and pin him down, Walkers hear them inside and begin converging on a weak spot in the roof. They then begin to fall through, and Daryl in the others are forced to fight them off while trying to free Bob from where he was pinned. Zack (Beth’s boyfriend) is bitten, but the rest manage to escape before the wreckage of the chopper falls through the roof and causes the building to collapse.

Meanwhile, Rick heads out to the forest to check their snares for dead animals. He is convinced by Hershel and the Council to take his gun for his own safety, and find a woman on the other side who appears to be uninfected. She tells him she and her husband have been on their own, and asks permission to join Rick’s camp. He tentatively agrees, but only after he meets her husband.

https://i2.wp.com/images.amcnetworks.com/amctv.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/twd-s4-first-look-590.jpgWhen they arrive at her camp, she tries to kill Rick but fails. He realizes her husband is now a Walker and she was simply luring him back so she could feed him something living. She then begs Rick not to kill once she’s turned, and stabs herself in the stomach. She dies saying that “you can’t come back from the things you’ve done”, and Rick leaves her and her Walker husband behind.

Back at camp, Carl is left with the other children, much to his chagrin. Car overhears Carol telling them a story before moving on to how to use a knife. When Carol sees Carl watching, she asks him not to tell Rick, and he leaves. The others return to camp, Glenn and Beth talk about having a baby, and Beth is told of Zack’s death. She goes to a chart she’s made that says “Days without an accident” and resets it to zero.

https://i2.wp.com/scifi.grande-caps.net/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_twd401.pngRick returns and talks to Hershel about the woman he encountered, and how she reminded him of how far he came to losing it as she did. Hershel assures him that “you do get to come back”, and reminds him of how and Carl have. In the prison showers, one of the new arrivals – a boy named Patrick – succumbs to an illness that’s been effecting the livestock and comes back as a Walker.

Infected:
https://i0.wp.com/i2.cdnds.net/13/43/618x411/ustv-the-walking-dead-s04-e02-7.jpgThe episode opens with Karen (a new arrival) and Tyreese having a romantic evening, before she decides to head back to her room. Patrick, now a Walker, follows her from the shower room to D block. He hears a man coughing from another cell, enters his room and kills him in his sleep. The man then turns, and begins stalking the Block with Patrick and attacking others.

Rick and Carl are outside tending to the pigs and crops while Michonne is about to make another sweep for the Governor. Word then reaches them that Walkers are inside the perimeter and they run to D Block to kill those who are have turned while getting the others out. Maggie and Carl fight to get Michonne back inside after she hurts herself dealing with several Walkers.

http://i1.wp.com/nerdbastards.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/the-walking-dead-infected-2.jpg?w=450Afterward, they examine Patrick’s body with the help of Dr. Subramanian and notice that he died of an illness that causes bleeding from the eyes. Having seen this before, with Walkers along the fenceline as well as pigs and birds in and around the camp, they reason that it is a flu strain that it is transmitted from swine and birds, and that it’s loose in the prison.

As they bury the dead, the Council begins to discuss what to do since everyone in D Block has been exposed. Karen is one such person, and she and the others are quarantined in Death Row while Dr. Subramanian tends to them. One of the fathers who died left two daughters behind  – LIzzy and Mika – who Carol has promised to look after, and worries that they have been exposed to.

https://i2.wp.com/geeksmash.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/The-Walking-Dead-Infected-Wall.jpgMeanwhile, the commotion caused by the outbreak draws more Walkers to the wall and a section begins to give.  Sasha noticed that someone has been leaving bait in that section to lure the Walkers to it. The wall nearly collapses, and Rick and Daryl drive out and drop all the pigs in the field to lure the Walkers away. This gives them the time they need to reinforce the wall, and disposes of the pigs which may have brought the flu.

Afterward, Rick sets the pig pen on fire and Carl tells him that Carol has been teaching the kids to use weapons without their parents knowing. He also tells him that he agrees with it, and asks his father to let her continue, which he does. Rick gives Carl back his gun, which he had been keeping away from him since he shot the boy from Woodbury.

While clearing the fence, Inside, Tyreese goes to visit Karen and finds a blood trail that leads outside. He realizes that she already succumbed to the flu and was placed outside with one other person, where they were both doused in gasoline and burned.

Isolation:
https://i2.wp.com/s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibtimes.com/files/styles/v2_article_large/public/2013/10/25/walking-dead.jpgRick, Daryl and Carol join Tyreese in the courtyard where he found the charred remains of Karen and David. He demands the Rick find out who did it and then let him deal with them personally, and he and Rick get into a terrible fight. Afterward, Rick is tended to by Hershel who tells him that they’ve lost 12 people from the flu, plus the two who were burned, and an outbreak may be likely.

Sasha and Dr. Subramanian have also become infected, and the Council begins turning into Cell Block A into an isolation area. The administrative area is set aside for the most vulnerable, which includes the children and the elderly. Hershel tells them they need to go to the local veterinary college for antibiotics, and Daryl agrees to take a search party out to check on it.

https://i1.wp.com/i2.cdnds.net/13/44/618x399/ustv-the-walking-dead-s04-e03-infected-11.jpgRick apologizes to Tyreese after the latter if finished burying Karen and David, and they agree to bury the hatchet. Tyreese once again reiterates that Rick needs to find the guilty party, and decides to look on his own since Rick appears to be dragging his heels on it. Carl joins the other kids in the sequestered area, and Glenn realizes he’s been infected too.

Carol helps the infected move to the quarantine zone and begins to crack after she is forced to admit Lizzy. Hershel goes out into the woods with Carl and collects elderberries to make medicinal tea. Rick and Maggie try to prevent him from going into the quarantine zone, but he insists that he would rather risk his life and help people rather than sit idly by.

https://i1.wp.com/tibs.threeifbyspace.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/TWD403_ZombieCrowdWide.jpgRick begins investigating Karen and David’s deaths and determines they were still alive when they were burnt. Carol discovers that their water lines have become clogged and defies Rick to go out and clear them. In time, her activities draw the attention of Walkers and Rick runs out to help her. She narrowly makes it back and Rick asks her if she killed Karen and David, to which she says yes.

After visiting with Sasha, Tyreese decides to accompany Daryl, Michonne and Bob as they make their run. They take a car and drive to town, during which time they hear a voice broadcasting on the radio. Unfortunately, the distraction causes them to drive into a herd of Walkers and the car becomes surrounded. Tyreese is enveloped and fights it out with his hammer, giving the rest time to flee. They run into the forest, and are followed shortly behind by an exhausted Tyreese.

Summary:
Okay, so three episodes in, and I’m already beginning to notice a bit of a pattern. At the tail end of last season, the prison camp emerged victorious from the fight with the Governor and several dozen extras were added to the cast – which as I’ve said represented a major departure from the original comics. This season, the goal appears to be to find ways to kill the extras off and make the core cast leave the prison behind.

That much was already hinted at from the previews released over the summer. And it makes me wonder just why it was necessary to end season three the way the did. Why give the characters a big happy ending that’s way off script if at the beginning of next season, you’re just going to hit them with a thousand and one calamities and make their lives miserable again?

https://i1.wp.com/i.imm.io/XpTj.pngWhat’s more, there’s the issue of who they’ve chosen to kill off versus keep alive. I can understand the decision to pad the cast with extras so they can be killed off and the core characters kept alive, but that’s not even what’s happening  here. At this point in the comic’s story, Andrea and Dale were still alive, but in season two and three of the show, they were both killed off.

Tyreese, Hershel and Carol were dead at this point too, but the former had been around since very early in the story. Now, we are just getting to know the man, and he really doesn’t seem much like his comic book self. Sure, they decided to keep his dark side which comes through in occasional explosions of violence. But otherwise, he seems like a real soft touch, not wanting to kill Walkers and hoping to stay away from it.

https://i1.wp.com/wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/screencrush.com/files/2013/10/0-Main.jpgSome things they did manage to get right about Tyreese though. The way he fought off an entire herd of Walkers using only his hammer is reminiscent of the scene from Volume Four: The Heart’s Desire where he cleared the entire prison gymnasium by himself. And the way he and Rick fought in the same episode echoes what happened later in that same volume.

However, Carol’s character arc is going weird places. After being relatively marginalized last season, she has now taken on a weird dimension, becoming obsessed with protecting the others to the point that she is willing to immolate two living people. While she does possess some of aspects of the woman from the comic, I feel like they are just trying to pad her character now.

https://i0.wp.com/www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/thumbnail_570x321/2013/09/twds4_key-art.jpgBut all in all, I think its pretty obvious where things are going this season. Soon enough, the entire Woodbury crew, minus a few people – like Bob, who they seem intent on developing – are going to die off, they will find a traitor in their midst (possibly the Governor himself sneaking in at night), the prison is going to start falling apart, and they are going to have to relocate.

And I think that’s kind of a waste. After saving the place and building it up, they are going to simply abandon it? After adding all those new people to their community, they’re going to just die off? Kind of seems contrived to me. But at the same time, its kind of necessary if they are going to bring the plot of the show and the comic into parity again.

They’re into Volume Nine: Here We Remain territory now, where the prison was no longer their home and they had to take their chances in the wild again. And with that, I remain interested to see what they’re going to do with the rest of this season…

Walking Dead Issue 113 Is Out!

walking-dead-113After many months of waiting, and doing as many comparative reviews between the comic and show to pass the time, the latest issue of the Walking Dead is finally out! And I’m looking forward to this and the next issue, as they provide the thrilling conclusion to yet another action-packed volume! This volume is entitled March to War, the 19th in the ongoing series, and it will be interesting to see just how much father he goes with it…

Without giving too much away, I would like to share with people what happens after the story involving the prison and the Governor ended. In terms of the comics, this would mean everything that took place after Volume 8 – Made to Suffer. In terms of the show, this covers all the material that is to come after season three, though there are likely to be some big time departures. So perhaps the spoiler alert is premature…

the_walking_dead_48In any case, after the prison fell in the comic book and Lori and their baby was killed, Rick and Carl stumbled around the wilderness for some time. They eventually made their way back to Hershel’s farm, where they found the members of their crew that had left after the Governor’s first assault. Andrea and Dale were there too, which brought every surviving member of their crew back together.

After being joined by some wanderers, they began working their way to the East Coast (for reasons that shall remain a secret). After realizing the journey was not going to work out (secret!), they eventually found there way to another settlement and began to make a life for themselves again. Naturally, complication ensue, but all seems relatively good until they meet a new enemy, one that (as Khaalidah said) made “the Guv look like a little girl in a tutu.”

the-walking-dead-112-coverBoy was she right! People died, main character people, and all hope seemed lost. But of course, Rick had a plan and they began putting it into action. And after many issues of  trying to buy time and get ready, the stage is finally set for a big showdown. No telling how it will go, and as of the last issue, Rick found himself in some serious hot water with their newfound enemy.

This is also important to me because I’m thinking that as of issue 114, the conclusion to Volume 19, I might hang up reading the series for awhile. It’s been a blast, but its like watching an entire series on DVD and then being forced to wait a full year for a new season to air. It’s frustrating! Far better to get into something else and come back to it later, am I right?

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part IV

walking-dead-7-the-calm-before-billboard-600x300Welcome to the fourth and last installment in my review of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead series. Today, I will be coming volumes 7 and 8, which were adapted to create the second half of season three, for the most part anyway. Basically, everything that happens between the confrontation at Woodbury and the assault of the Governor’s people on the prison falls into these two volumes.

These included Rick and the prison people’s attempts to get ready, their procurement of weapons, and the whereabouts of the Governor after Michonne’s little revenge party with him. And whereas that conclusion was rather abortive in the show, it was both startling and bloody in the comic! But as usual, I like to save the differences between the show and the source material for the end.

Bring on the mighty conclusion!

Volume 7 – The Calm Before:
the-walking-dead-Volume_7-The_Calm_BeforeThe first issue of the volume opens with Lori thinking back on her experiences with Shane. Her baby is almost due, and she decides to tell Rick that it may not even be his. He stops her and let’s her know that he already suspected, and that it doesn’t matter since he’s planning on raising the child as his own. With Hershel officiating, Glenn and Maggie have their wedding in the prison’s cafeteria and everyone attends.

Afterwards, Rick, Tyreese and Dale do an inventory of their weapons and ammo and determine they don’t have enough of either. They decide that a run will have to be made to the National Guard station where Woodbury got its weapons from. A party is formed with Tyreese, Michonne, Andrea, Axel, Glenn and Maggie and they take the RV.

Back at the prison, people continue to integrate with each other, their garden continues to produce, and people talk about all the members of their crew that have been lost. This includes Allen, Otis, Shawn, Lacy, Arnold, Rachel and Susie now. It seems that after so many deaths, people have grown numb to loss.

the-walking-dead-nationalguardpostOn the way out, they chance upon a fallen sign that tells them where to go and find the National Guard station. After grabbing all the fuel and ammo they can and commandeering a troop truck to load it up, they set fire to the place so no one else will be able to visit it later, and proceed to take off. They stop at a local Wal-Mart to stock up on food too, but are found by a bunch of armed men who were drawn by the explosion.

They discover the men are from Woodbury, and they recognize Glenn. After shooting him, Andrea opens fire and kills two of them while Michonne takes out the others with her sword. Glenn, luckily, was protected by his body armor and only suffered some cracked ribs. They load up what they can from the Wal-Mart and leave.

the-walking-dead-lorisbabyLori begins to have contractions and is brought to the infirmary where Rick and Alice begin delivery. However, the generator is about to go out and Billy and Dale rush to put more gas in it to keep the power on. Realizing they are almost out, they run to the lot to siphon more from the vehicles, and Dale is bitten on the leg by a Walker hiding beneath the cars. Andrea and the others arrive and find Billy and Dale, who is still alive.

In the infirmary, Lori gives birth to their daughter, a healthy girl. But their joy is short-lived when Andrea and the others burst in carrying Dale. Holding him down, Rick takes the saw and cuts the lower half of his leg off. He survives, and Rick reflects on how screwed up their world now is. Lori tries to restore some happiness to the moment by telling Rick they should name their daughter Judith.

In the coming days, Rick and Lori tends to their new baby, they unload the supplies, begin training in how to use the weapons they procured, and continue to plant and till their fields. Carol seems to have recovered from Lori turning down her offer for a poly-amorous relationship, and Andrea gives Dale some crutches and he is able to get out of his bed.

Everything seems to be getting back to normal, though Dale now feels useless and worries Andrea and Tyreese are sleeping together. However, his fears prove baseless, as Andrea reveals that they were working together to make him a prosthetic leg. While leading a shooting party outside the fence, Andrea is asked by Alice to procure her a living Walker for study.

the-walking-dead-carolsdeathWhen Rick learns about it, he grabs a gun and prepares to shoot it. However, Alice talks him down by saying that this having one could help them immensely, both in fighting them and perhaps finding a cure. Carol meets with Lori again and asks that she take care of Sophia if anything happens to her. After Lori agrees, she goes off and has sex with Billy. After that, she goes to the chained Walker and lets it kill her.

the-walking-dead-governor-killthemallWhen they find her, Andrea shoots the Walker and then Carol. In the coming days, people try to come to grips with her death. Tyreese is mainly angry at her for killing herself, and finds comfort in the arms of Michonne. Slowly, everyone begins to recover again. And after several months of preparing, they begin to think that the feared confrontation with the Governor isn’t coming.

Suddenly, a large convoy of trucks and an armored vehicle pulls up at the fence line. A one-armed, one-eyed Governor emerges from the armored vehicle and declares “KILL THEM ALL!”

Volume 8 – Made to Suffer:
the-walking-dead-Volume_8-Made_to_SufferThe volume opens with a recount of what happened to the Governor after Rick, Michonne and the others escaped from Woodbury. After finding him mutilated, but still alive, his men brought him to the infirmary. Realizing that doc Stevens and Alice were gone, they pulled Bob – a former medic and alcoholic that they had been keeping in a cell – out and told him to save the Governor’s life.

Though he was not able to save the Governor’s eye, reattach his arm, or his manhood, he was able to stop the bleeding and keep him alive. Of course, much of the work had already been done by Michonne, who cauterized his arm with a blowtorch after severing it. In any case, the Governor woke up even crazier than before.

the-walking-dead-governor-speechAfter his men find Martinez’s remains, he orders the head removed and presents it to his people, claiming Rick’s party murdered Martinez and left it on their doorstep as a message. After whooping them into a frenzy, he went about the task of sending his people out to find the prison.

This proved easy after they found the National Guard post destroyed and followed their tracks. However, having found it, the Governor ordered his people to wait and so as to give Rick and his people a false sense of security. After a few months had passed, he ordered his people to load up and prepare for war.

In addition to guns, two troops trucks, and about half a dozen pickups, they also deployed an Infantry Fighting Vehicle they snagged from the Nati0n Guard base. When they arrive, fifty some odd men come behind the Governor, and he orders them to open fire and kill everyone inside. They oblige him, and the bullets begin to fly.the-walking-dead-governorattacksLuckily for the prison camp, a slew of Walkers are standing outside the gate and are poised between the Governor’s army and them. Rick orders everybody to find cover and tells Andrea to get up in the guard tower and start sniping. Running inside, he alerts Lori and tells her to get Patricia and the, and load up a truck with supplies and go without him.

He returns outside where the Governor orders his people to stop firing and issues an ultimatum – for their weapons, he will let them live. When no answer comes, he orders his men to resume firing, but Andrea starts shooting them. She manages to get a shot on the Governor but since he’s armored, he survives. She takes off her helmet to get a better shot and then takes out several of his men.

the-walking-dead-Andrea-ShootingUnfortunately, a bullet grazes her now unarmored head. The Governor’s men suggest taking down the fence, but the Governor knows the prison will be useless without fences. He orders the armored vehicle to start plowing down the Walkers to clear a path for their shots. They then open fire again and hit Axel. Andrea recovers and starts sniping multiple targets, and the Governor’s forces retreat.

With their attackers pulling back, the prison crew begin to come out of cover and take stock of their wounded. Axel’s arm is hit, but he’s otherwise unharmed. Andrea suffered a graze to the head and falls unconscious. Worse though, is Rick, who was hit in the stomach and collapses. All three are brought to the infirmary, and Rick’s condition doesn’t appear too good. Alice tells them Rick needs blood, and Patricia tells her she’s a universal donor, so she volunteers.

Dale speaks to Andrea and tells her they need to start thinking about getting out of dodge before they die. He asks Lori to come too; she refuses, but Dale insists that they take Sophia, Ben and Billy with them. Maggie and Glenn agree to go with them, and pack in the RV and drive off. Rick wakes up from his coma and takes stock of their situation. Having learned that people have left, he begins to think they won’t be able to deal with another attack.

Meanwhile, Michonne discusses a reprisal attack with Tyreese, hitting the Governor and his crew before they can make it back to Woodbury. He agrees, they put on riot gear and head out. Up the road, they find the Governor’s convoy and take out his sentries. However, things get sticky when more show up and start shooting. Tyreese is eventually captured and brought before the Governor, who’s men tell him that Michonne is dead and they present her sword as evidence.

the-walking-dead-tyreese-dies1Back at the prison, Rick overlooks their defenses and decides to reposition their cars and trucks to offer barriers. They also load up an escape truck with supplies, and bring out all the grenades they have to use in a hurry. He also gives Carl his gun and tells him to keep it on him at all times, and tells the watch to wear their remains riot suits at all times. They hear a gunshot and run to the front yard.

One of the governor’s trucks has come back. The back opens to reveal the Governor standing over Tyreese, and holding Michonne’s sword. He once again demands they open the gates, and threatens to execute Tyreese and Michonne, who he claims he’s got stashed away in the cabin. Rick won’t oblige, and the Governor proceeds to cut Tyreese’s head off. Billy opens fire, but the truck makes it away.

the-walking-dead-governor_michonneBack at his camp, the Governor is angered that his plan didn’t work, but he’s interrupted when Michonne shows up pointing a gun at his head. She is shot at and has to slip away, but manages to wound the Governor and grab her sword. The Governor, extremely pissed, orders his men to turn around and head back to the prison to finish their assault.

The shooting begins again, and Axel is hit in the head and killed. Rick’s people take cover beneath their trucks. Billy is pinned in his tower and begins lobbing grenades. Andrea and Dale show up again, with her sniping from the roof, and one of the Governor’s trucks slams into it, sending her to the ground. Still, the Governor’s people are dying faster than they can stand, and he commandeers the armored vehicle and drives it over the fence.

Rick runs back to find Lori, and sees her on her knees with a gun to her head. However, he’s relieved to see its Alice, and they were staging it since they thought Rick was one of the Governor’s men. They run to the front yard and prepare to load up and leave, but the front yard is now being overrun by the Governor’s people and Walkers. As they run out, they are hit by a hail of bullets and Patricia is killed.

the-walking-dead-lorisdeathBilly is killed and Hershel falls to his knees, crying over his body. Alice tells Rick, Lori and Carl to run and covers them from a doorway. She takes out a few men, but is shot and then finished off by the Governor. Rick, Lori and Carl are near the edge of the fence now, but Lori is hit by a bullet that kills her. She falls over and lands on Judith, killing her too. Rick is traumatized, but tells Carl to keep moving…

The Governor puts a gun to Hershel’s head and kills him. The woman who shot Lori sees her body and that of her baby and loses it. She slams her gun into the Governor’s face and sticks the barrel in his mouth. The group manages to stop her from shooting him, but is then overrun by Walkers. The Governor frees himself and tries to rally them, but the woman who shot Lori pulls her pistol and shoots the Governor in the back of the head.

the-walking-dead-governorsdeathHis body crumples to the ground and is eaten by Walkers. The rest of their group is surrounded by Walkers and they are either consumed or run off into the wilderness. On the nearby hillside, Rick and Carl finally make it to safety. Carl realizes that his mother and little sister didn’t make it and tries to run back. Rick holds him and they both begin to cry.

Differences with AMC’s The Walking Dead:
We find ourselves at last at the ending of season three of the Walking Dead, and with all the cumulative changes they made from the original story. And it was by this time that the biggest change in the show’s history took place, one which has made season four likely to be very different from any of the volumes that follow. But first, I want to cover the small stuff and things they didn’t change.

the-walking-dead-governorgunFirst off, the show did contain some commitment to the spirit of the comics in how the Governor and his men assaulted the prison on two separate occasions. In the first, they shot up the yard, killed Axel, and unleashed some zombies into it. The second was where the decisive battle happened, with the Governor and his people crashing through the gates and attempting to storm the prison in force.

And Axel and Lori did die in this general area of the story, but in different ways. Whereas Axel was killed during the Governor’s raid in the show, he didn’t die until the end when the final battle took place. Also, Lori’s death wasn’t due to an emergency C-section performed in a boiler room that saw her die and her baby live. Both she and the baby died in the final fight, terribly!

wd3_morgan1Also, the intervening period between these two battles took so much longer in the show, which I find annoying in hindsight. Much like with everything else in seasons two and three, the producers were determined to drag the confrontation out, what with Andrea trying to pick a side and brokering peace talks between Rick and the Governor. No such process ever took place in the comics. After Rick, Michonne and the rest escaped Woodbury, the Governor simply took his time in attacking, and then did!

What’s more, the buildup happened differently. Rather than show how the first assault had split the camp and people began to leave, the writers used this time to reintroduce Morgan and explain how his son died. A good episode, but once again, a case of shuffling. Morgan did not get reintroduced until after the prison assault, and he chose to join Rick and the others since Duane was now dead and he had no reason to stay behind. Also, they didn’t get their stocks of weapons from him.

wd3_oneeyeAlso, I should take this opportunity to point out that at no point in the original comics did Rick and his people assault Woodbury. Their initial confrontation didn’t involve an attack to rescue their own people who’d been taken captive (Glenn and Maggie), it involved Rick, Michonne and Glenn being taken captive and tortured. There was no ambiguity about the Governor’s motives or the fact that he was an evil, malicious bastard.

In the show, they presented things in a more ambiguous way. While they certainly kept to the script by showing the Governor to be a psycho who treated all foreign groups as a threat and killed them, the way they had Rick and his crew attacking his town first kind of made it look like he was a sort of victim. Psycho or not, hitting him and his people where they lived was a lot like poking an already angry bear.

At this point in season three, Milton also begins to turn against the Governor and sabotages his plans. This might be a good opportunity for me to point out that in the comics – as Doctor Stevens – he was never a friend of the Governor in the first place. What’s more, he died a long time ago. Having yet another character struggle with their loyalties – a la Andrea and Dale – seemed like they were harping on an overly-familiar theme.

wd3_tyreeseAh, and another weird case of plot shuffling – at this point in season three we are FINALLY introduced to Tyreese, a character that was supposed to be with the show from the beginning. And in addition to his late arrival, his companions were completely different from the comic. Instead of his daughter Judie and Chris her boyfriend, he came with his sister Sasha and father and son duo who didn’t exist in the original.

On top of that, there was no case of him experiencing a crossover with the Governor and Woodbury or a conflicted sense of loyalties. Also, I couldn’t see why it was necessary to have Rick chase them off and then have them learn that the Governor’s camp were the actual bad guys. Wasn’t Andrea, Milton and Merle enough on that front? All of this seemed like a very weird case of late introductions followed by an inexplicable plot mashup.

And, most importantly, he was supposed to die at this point in the story. Not only is he being introduced late, he’s being introduced at a point in the story when his original was killed off. Seems weird. And I should also point out that Carol was also dead at this point, the victim of tragic circumstance after her attempted suicide left her feeling without friends or respect. But as usual, she’s still alive in the show despite not having much to do.

the-walking-dead-season3endBut alas, the biggest and most disappointing change came in the final battle and its outcome. In the comic, it was a devastating event, resulting in the deaths of Hershel, his son Billy, Alison, Patricia, Lori, Judith, and Axel. Rick and a handful of others managed to make it out, but only by the skin of their teeth, and the Governor himself died in the assault. The only other people who could be alive at this point were the ones who’d already left.

It was not the abortive event they made it out to be in the show, with the Governor’s people fleeing at the first sign of trouble, him gunning them all down, and then leaving with his henchmen to be heard from at some later date. That I found pretty lame, and I was hardly alone in that. He shot twenty-some odd of his own people and his henchmen – who were supposed to be dead at this point – had nothing to say about it. Then they simply drove off… weak!

And of course, after the battle Rick and the others traveled to Woodbury, collected all the people there and brought them back to the prison. This was so far off script that I wasn’t sure how to respond. So now, instead of Rick and Carl wandering around in the wilderness looking for other survivors, battling hunger, Walkers, and their own grief, they are back at the prison with more people than before and trying to integrate them. Night and day, man. Night and day!

All in all, season three was a watered-down, convoluted version of the original comics. It took its time and tried real hard to get its audience emotionally involved, but instead turned into a big build-up towards and ending that was a big letdown. Not only did the whole thing fizzle at the end, the way they left it open-ended seemed a bit trite and commercial too. But of course, its television. What can you do?

Summary:
If it wasn’t clear from all of that, reading the comics really had a dire impact of my view on the show. But then again, after the season three closer, I was already kind of disenchanted. Season two was not my favorite by any stretch due to the slow pace and the way the conflicts dragged out. And after what I thought was a good first half to the third season, the second half began to feel like more of the same.

And perhaps I’m being unfair, but being able to see how they changed things has only made that worse. It’s not the fact that they made changes, mind you. To fault for them just for doing that would be a terrible act of geek-inspired snobbery! No, it was how they made these changes and why. Between leaving some people out, pushing others in, and shuffling plot elements around, I really can’t see the logic here.

Why did they choose not to introduce Tyreese until this late juncture? Why did they choose to make the Governor’s assault on the prison so incompetent? Why did they feel the need to humanize this evil man so very much? Why did Andrea have such a hard time accepting he was evil when all the evidence was there? Why did they choose to replace well-developed characters from the comics with some of the “highest paid extras” and then just proceed kill them off?

Who knows? Who cares? At this point in the show, they can do what they like. And from the trailers, it seems like they might be veering back towards the original plot anyway, having Rick and his people abandon the prison and head off in search of a new home. Doesn’t really make sense, when you consider the hell they went through to find the place and hold it.

But whatever, more changes aren’t going to hurt at this point. And frankly, I am curious to see what happens next. And you can bet I’ll be doing comparative reviews, since I’ll be doing them anyway in my mind and will probably want to share my observations. Consider yourself warned people!

Until next time, thanks for reading and remember…

zombie_keepcalm

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

walking-dead-rick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Walking Dead Season 4: A Look Ahead

The-Walking-Dead-Season-4-RenewalIt’s no secret that fans were a little surprised with the season finale of The Walking Dead. What with from the rather abortive assault on the prison, the way the Governor just up and disappeared, and the way the people of Woodbury were then incorporated into the prison community, there appeared to be a lot of unanswered questions, unfinished business and untied loose ends.

Perhaps in response to this, Robert Kirkman, the cast and producers of AMC’s The Walking Dead have released a preview video of what lies in store for season four. Through the course of clips, snippets, and interviews, it is revealed that the new season will have plenty of surprises and promises that the various threads that were left open in season three would ultimately be tied. Given my disappointment with how season three ended, I certainly hope they are telling the truth!

[Spoilers Ahead! Cease reading if you haven’t seen the finale or don’t want to know what’s coming!]

First and foremost on people’s minds is the issue of the Governor. After snapping and shooting his own people, he kind of just took off into the sunset, didn’t he? And then there’s the matter of Carl Grimes, the budding psychopath who’s latest exploits include shooting a man in cold blood. Where is he heading? Toward redemption, or straight to the loony bin? Co-executive producer Denise Huth had this to say on those subjects:

The Governor is still out there. The war is not over. Rick and our group here won the first round and scared him off… Carl’s changing. It’s a huge wake-up call for Rick. And it’s a big fear for him moving into the next season. Is Carl going to be Rick, or is Carl going to be the Governor? And right now Carl could go either way.

In addition, Hurd was sure to indicate that there would be plenty of problems on the home front as well, not the least of which would arise from the way Woodbury and the prison had integrated at the end of season three:

What’s going to happen as these two groups who literally were at war with each other moments before, how are they going to integrate?

In an interview with IGN, Kirkman also had much to say, claiming that the prison will remain a major part of season four, but that there would also be some major changes. For starters, Rick will be facing some of the same issues the Governor dealt with since he now has to lead a larger group that needs more food and supplies than their tight-knit team. And of course, he let viewers know that the Governor would remain a threat.

A bigger group brings with it bigger problems. They are certainly going to need a lot more resources, and they already have a lot of rebuilding to do, just from the things that happened in this battle between Woodbury and the prison. I don’t think there’s going to be a shortage of conflict and danger coming into the fourth season, despite the fact that they are still in the prison…

I’ll say that there are a lot of familiar elements that are remaining. Michonne is still around, Rick and his group are still in the prison, the Governor’s still out there… so there are a lot of things that are carrying over from Season 3 to Season 4, but I can’t stress how different things are going to be.

There are going to be some radical changes to those elements that are going to bring in a lot of new storytelling. While [Season 4] does seem somewhat familiar, it’s going to be vastly different from Season 3.

In addition, Kirkman indicated that in the next season, the world will be expanded well beyond that of the familiar settings established in season three:

We will be getting into more world building, more civilization being brought back. A little bit more of a bigger sense of community.

Well, for those of disappointed in the ending of season three, but generally impressed with the direction the show has been taking since season two, I think it’s fair to say the intrigue level has gone up. Rest assured, there’s plenty of material to be adapted from the original comic, and even without the source material, the zombie apocalypse is some pretty fertile territory! Just seven months to go before the October 2013 premiere, people!

Sources: insidetv.ew.com, blastr.com

The Walking Dead – Season 3 Finale!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Walking Dead – Season 3 Episode 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Walking Dead – Season 3 Episode 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!