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?

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 Three, Episode 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three episodes to go!

The Walking Dead – Season 3 Episode 12

The-Walking-DeadWell I’ll be damned. Just last week I was complaining that the season was getting a bit stagnant. Then they go and pull one of these! An episode that really gets you in the gut and excites the hell out of ya! And to accomplish this feet of keeping fans interested and roped, they’ve gone back to the beginning of things with the series.

Last week, hints were given as to what was coming. Fearing diminishing supplies of guns and ammo, Rick, Michonne and Carl made plans to head back to Rick’s old hometown to see what they could dig up. And with the threads involving the prison and the town of Woodbury pretty much tied for now, what they find on their mission is the basis of this week’s entire episode.

Here’s what happened:

Clear:
wd3_clear
The episode opens with Rick, Carl and Michonne on the road together as they drive into town. On the way, they pass an uninfected man who begs them to stop, but they continue on. They come to a set of abandoned cars and stop to take on what they can find, and are set upon by Walkers. With barely a concern, they begin dispatching the Walkers, take what they need, and set off again. Once again, they are beset by the uninfected man and leave him behind.

From this opening scene, were are once again told a tale in very few words. After so much time spent being forced to fight and survive, they are immune to the pleas of outsiders looking for help and are free from fear. The habits have become so engrained that they come easily, as does turning a deaf ear to those they do not know or trust.

wd3_clear1They come to town and begin inspecting the police station, which appears somewhat low on guns and ammo. Rick then decides to get a hold of the town’s gun registry, which they will then use to chase down all the firearms remain in town. When they reach the main road in town, they find a series of booby traps, sharpened stakes, and signs warning them to leave. Michonne observes that it looks like someone else has already made this place their home.

Without warning, they are spotted by a man on a roof who tells them to drop their weapons and get out. Not wanting to lose their weapons, or lives, they attempt to take him down with a little misdirection. Rick and Carl run and shoot while Michonne circles around to outflank him. However, the gunman is a step ahead and makes his way down to the street. Before he can shoot Rick, Carl pops out and shoots him in the stomach.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????After a quick search, Rick learns two important things. First, the man is wearing a vest and is only unconscious. Second, and more importantly, the man is none other than Morgan, the one who saved him after he woke up and wandered back from the hospital. They proceed to take him inside, noticing several booby traps, a massive arsenal, and tons of disturbing messages scrawled on the wall. Over and over again, the word “Clear” appears.

Carl says he’s going to make a run to the nursery store in the hopes of finding a crib for Judith. Michonne reasons he will need help and comes along, but Carl tries to get away the first chance he gets. When Michonne catches up to him and notices they’ve passed the nursery store, he reveals that there’s something else he wants for his sister first.

wd3_clearcarlHe takes Michonne to cafe which appears to be filled with Walkers. After sending in a diversion, they run in to grab a picture from above the bar – apparently of Carl, Rick and Lori. However, the Walkers soon notice them, they have fight their way out, and the picture is left behind. Michonne does him the favor of retrieving it on her own, since Carl wants  a photo so Judith can know what their mother looked like, and this is the only photo left.

Back in his home, Morgan wakes up and uses a stashed knife to cut his bonds. He then attacks Rick and wounds him, but Rick manages to get the upper hand point his gun in Morgan’s face. He begs Rick to shoot him, but Rick pleads with him to remember, which Morgan finally does. The key is the old walky-talky which Rick gave him, and Morgan begins to remember. He tells Rick he looked for him on the radio, but he wasn’t there. What’s more, he explains to him that his son is dead, and that it was his wife who did it.

wd3_morgan1Rick invites Morgan to come with them, but Morgan refuses. He can tell Rick’s situation is less than ideal since he needs some of his guns. Rick assures him things will work out and he can get better, but Morgan is intransigent, saying he has to “clear”. Carl and Michonne rejoining him, carrying a crib. Carl pauses to apologize for shooting him, to which Morgan tells him to “never be sorry.

At the car, Carl let’s Rick know that he thinks Michonne might be one of them. She asks Rick if he sees people, to which she adds that she too used to talk to visions of her dead boyfriend. On the drive back to the prison, they pass the remains of the man they saw twice along the way, and stop to take his backpack.

Summary:
wd3_clear3In case the intro wasn’t clear, this episode rocked for me. Even though it involved the reintroduction of an old character, it felt very much fresh and new and offered a much-needed diversion into the season. It was also nice that they brought back Morgan, considering that his character played a prominent role in the story at the beginning and was left very much unresolved.

After finding him and seeing what’s become of him, Rick also learns that he couldn’t bring himself to shoot his infected wife, and this is how Duane (his son) died. Because of this, he has become convinced that its only a matter of time before everyone will die. Many times over he says to Rick that “no one gets clear”. It’s not specified what he means by this, but if I were to guess, he means free and clear, as in safe and sound.

The Walking Dead - Season 3, Episode 12 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMCBetween that, the scene at the beginning where they twice turn away a man in need, and the final scene where they find his body and take his things; all of that manages to wrap the most predominant theme of the show up in a nutshell. That have been few episodes with this kind of tight narrative and consistency, demonstrating so succinctly that in this world, survival trumps morality, and sentimentality can mean death.

Yet, at the same time, they do their best to restore some degree of humanity and compassion through kind acts. Rick invites Morgan to come back with them, Carl struggles to get a photo of his mother for his sister, and Michonne helps him to recover something sentimental even though it means risking her life. And the way she begins to bond with Rick shows that human connections remain important in this world.

wd3_clearmichonneAnd of course, it was exciting throughout, especially where Morgan’s traps and arsenal were concerned. After all this talk of shortages and supplies running low, it was good to see so many guns, sharpened steaks, grenades and bullets in one place. It is what I’d want to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse and he pulled it off. So… yeah, you go Morgan!

It also was nice to see Michonne get back to her cool, ass-kicking self. The way they humanized her was nice, though I thought it was a little out in left field. Yes, they’ve done this before, like how they revealed how hurt she was when Andrea chose to stay in Woodbury rather than go with her. And after all she’s been through, she deserves a little kind-heartedness. I just hope it doesn’t last long and she gets back to kicking ass soon!

And of course, with all the weapons and ammo they grabbed, they are sure to be that much more ready when the inevitable war comes. Next week promises to be confrontational, so it’s sure to be coming soon!

The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 11

WD3_premier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Walking Dead (Season 3 Episode 10)

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

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

Which brought us to last night’s episode entitled…

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

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

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

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

wd3_home4

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

 

wd3_governor_war

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Walking Dead Returns!

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

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

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

So here’s what happened this week!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, its on!
Oh, its on now!

The Walking Dead Season 3 (Episodes 6 and 7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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