The Walking Dead – Season Four, Episode Six

wd_season4And we’re back with more of AMC’s The Walking Dead. This week, the sixth episode aired, with just more to go before the show takes another mid-season break. And it’s clear that they are working up to something climactic, given that the story involving the flu that’s sweeping the prison has finally come to an end. And it’s pretty clear at this point who’s going to be involved.

As expected, this week’s episode was all about the Governor, addressing what happened to him after the events of the last season. This would be everything that followed from the abortive attack on the prison, his subsequent breakdown and summary execution of his people, and his fleeing into the wilderness. And in all honesty, it was kind of interesting…

Live Bait:
wd4_livebait_govThe episode begins with a recap of what happened since the Season Three finale. After shooting his own people, the Governor and what was left of his henchmen drove to a spot in the wilderness where they set up camp. In the morning when the Governor awoke, he realized he had been abandoned by the last of them and drove to Woodbury. Finding it abandoned, he set the town ablaze and began walking the road.

After wandering for quite some time, he comes upon a community where a family is held up in an apartment complex. This consists of Lily (a former nurse), her daughter Megan, sister Tara (a police academy student), and father David (a former truck driver). After meeting with them and telling them his name is Brian, he takes the apartment across the hall and begins helping them.

wd4_livebaitEventually, Lily asks for his help in obtaining more oxygen tanks from the nearby senior care center. Her father, who is dying of lung cancer, is running out, and she fears what will happen to her daughter if he dies. Brian goes to the center and finds a large stash, but is quickly set upon by a dozen or so Walkers and has to retreat with what he can carry.

Afterward, Lily begins to attend to his injuries and tells him that Megan initially thought that Brian was her father, who disappeared three years back. Megan is left to watch over him and asks what happens to his eye, and the two quickly begin to bond. He teaches her to play chess, and she draws an eye patch on the king to make it look like him.

wd4_livebait2Afterwards, he and Megan learn that David has died, and may have been dead for some time. He tells them to leave, but David comes back before they can, and Brian crushes his head with an oxygen tank. After burying him outside, Tara tells him that they understand what that their father had turned, and forgive him for what he did.

That night in his room, Brian burns a picture he has been keeping of himself with his wife and daughter and tells Lily that he’s leaving. Lily tells him they are coming too to find something better, and that he’s stuck with them. Grabbing the truck David commandeered, they begin to drive off. While on the road, Brian and Lily make love while the others sleep.

wd4_livebait3The next day, the truck won’t start and they begin walking. On the road, they are spotted by a herd of Walkers and are forced to ditch their gear and run. After clearing the forest by the side of the road, Brian and Megan fall into a trench and are set upon by several more and Brian manages to kill them with his bare hands. After reassuring Megan, he looks up and sees Martinez looking down at them.

Summary:
Well, that’s part I of what happened to the Governor down. And judging from the sneak peak, part II is all about him and his new family being introduced to a new community, one which is run by Martinez himself. And of course, things go awry, and I’m guessing the Governor deciding to oust Martinez as leader has something to do with that.

wd4_livebait5But getting back to what happened this week, I would reiterate that it seemed interesting. After all he’s done and been through, it was kind of neat to see what the Governor got up to after his sudden disappearance. It’s always good in a series when a character who is considered evil and irredeemable is given a second chance at life and finds a way to carry on.

However, I would have to say that things began to fall apart for me when it became obvious that Lily, Tara and Megan are becoming his new family. The indications were many and obvious, and it seemed like the moment David died, it would prove to be the case. And if all those hints weren’t enough, he even burns the picture of his old family just to make it abundantly clear.

wd4_livebait4I did suspect that there might be some tension after Lily and he hooked up, but they pretty much nullified that with the 11th hour revelation that Tara is a lesbian. Kind of seemed a bit awkward and forced, but whatever. I guess they had their hands full with finding a way to both fill in the missing pieces of the story and bring it back to the point where he begins messing with the prison crew again.

Some things I did like is where the Governor takes out several Walkers with his bare bands. Not since Michonne had her hands bound and her sword confiscated have we seen such creativity at work. And I was also surprised to see Martinez at the end, and was intrigued by the idea of the Governor being forced to endure his leadership for a change. I imagine some interesting scenarios occurring in the episodes to come.

wd4_livebait6On the other hand, I do kind of worry that the Governor’s role in this season is going to last to the end. With just two more episodes before the season halfway mark, I’m thinking that the next two episodes will both involve the Governor, in full or in part. That way, he can remain in the background for the rest of the season as the prison crew’s antagonist, thus ending the season with a final battle.

Which means it won’t be until season five that they’ll be getting back to anything resembling the original plot. Still, should be interesting, and the prospect of a little action where the Governor is no longer in charge and fighting for some other than brutal, backstabbing revenge will certainly be worth watching! Until next week…

The Walking Dead – Season Four, Episode Five

WD_season4-5This past week, the fifth episode in The Walking Dead aired, and we got treated to some interesting developments. Not only did the plot advance as far as the epidemic was concerned, a rather important tidbit involving the larger story (which, for the sake of those who haven’t watched this episode yet, I shall save to the end) was finally revealed.

But what I found interesting about this episode was the structure. After four episodes where the story was split between the prison (with one or two things going on there) and the crew that was out looking for supplies, this episode was entirely focused on the prison itself. Here, we had two threads – one involving Hershel and the infected, and the other involving the situation in the yard.

Put together, these two threads were both extremely chaotic and mirrored each other in every respect. In truth, this episode should have been called “Pandemonium” rather than “Internment”. Given all the action and the palatable sense of panic, that name would have made a hell of a lot more sense!

Internment:
WD4_internmentThe prison people continue to die from the flu and Hershel, Glenn and Sasha struggle to deal with it. Outside the quarantine zone, Maggie works alone to deal with the Walkers that are still converging on the fence and is there when Rick returns, alone. He explains that he had to let her go because of what she did to Karen and David, and asks her to keep it a secret for now.

Rick meets with Carl, who asks to help him outside but is again refused. He tells Rick that he cannot shield him from the death and insanity of the world forever, but Rick is determined to try. Hershel meets with Doctor Kaleb Subramanian, who is also sick now and near death. Rick comes to see him and is told that they are losing more, and are trying to dispose of them quietly to safeguard morale.

wd4_internment2Sasha and Glenn get worse, the one collapsing from dehydration while Glenn begins coughing up blood. More people die and go unnoticed, which allows them to turn. Hershel is attacked by one of them and chaos ensues as others emerge and an uninfected woman is shot and killed by accident. Lizzie foolishly tries to talk a Walker down from attacking them. It tries to bite her and Hershel narrowly saves her.

Maggie runs into help while Rick grabs Carl and asks him to assist him in reinforcing the fence. Their supports begin to break, however, and another section completely caves in. Rick and Carl narrowly escape to a nearby guard tower and make to the second line of fences. Desperate, Rick and Carl load up with assault rifles and begin mowing them down!wd4_internment1Back inside, Hershel is forced to arm himself as well almost everyone in the block appears to have turned. Grabbing a shotgun, he begins shooting Walkers as Maggie shoots her way into the quarantine zone. Hershel finds Glenn choking on his own blood and is forced to retrieve a tracheal tube and air pump from the last patient to have it, who is now a Walker.

Maggie comes to his aid and takes out the Walker with a well placed head shot. Hershel removed the device from his throat and comes to Glenn, fixing the bag to a fresh pipe and putting it down his throat. Glenn begins to breathe again and is saved. Outside, Carl and Rick go through the killing field they’ve made and dispatch the last of the Walkers.

wd4_internment3Daryl and the search party return at last and Rick lets them in. Tyreese runs in to find Sasha alive and they begin administering the antibiotics to all those who are still alive. Hershel is told by Maggie to go rest now that the others are back and he’s no longer solely responsible for the sick and dying. He checks on Dr. Subramanian, who he was forced to stab after he turned, and cries as he holds his Bible.

The next day, the entire crew collects the bodies for disposal and puts the fence back up. Rick and Carl check on the gardens and see that the first of their vegetables are starting to come in. Hershel tells Daryl to talk to Rick about Carol, and then goes off on patrol with Michonne. Outside the gate, the Governor is seen watching…

Summary:
Much like last week, I have to say that I was generally impressed with this episode. While it did advance a few things that I suspected were coming and wasn’t really looking forward to, it was still cool to see how they played out. And I could really appreciate the action that was involved and the way the episode was very tightly written.

wd4_internment5As I said already, panic and chaos run through this episode like a coiled snake. For some time now, they have been building up in this show how the prison is threatened from both inside and out. Outside their gates, there is a growing horde of Walkers who are being lured by someone, and the walls are beginning to buckle. Inside, they have an infection which has been spreading like wildfire, and the dead quickly turn into more Walkers.

In this episode, all of that hit the fan as the infection became out of control and a section of wall finally came down. And it was only by the desperate actions of those who were still inside the prison that they came through. Especially Carl and Rick, who chose to say “Screw all this keeping them out crap. Let’s just shoot the bastards!” Tell me that scene wasn’t totally boss! I dare ya!

wd4_internment4However, the episode also played to a few things I was expecting without much enthusiasm. At this point, it looks like everyone who came from Woodbury, save for Lizzie and a handful of others are now dead. What’s more, its now been shown that the mysterious person luring the Walkers to the wall is indeed the Governor. Who saw that one coming? Everyone?

And according to next week’s preview, episode six – titled “Live Bait” – is going to be all about him. While I’m sure some fans are stoked about this, I can’t help but think the same thing I do every time I see him: “He’s supposed to be dead! Why are you dragging this out?” But of course, that goes for a lot of things this season. And clinging to the comic book isn’t really helping things much.

wd4_livebait_govAnd so I’ve decided to put all that aside and start enjoying these episodes on their own merits. After all, they’ve done a good job so far this season, and them writers really know how to structure a good show! I can’t keep faulting them for the fact that they’ve chosen to deviate from the original plot, or trying to inflate the plot a little.

It’s television after all, and studios will do more of the same until audiences stop caring! So I plan to keep tuning in, and am interested to see what they do with the Governor at this point. I wonder if they’ll kill him off quickly, or keep him around to season’s end and make him part of it’s culmination. Only time will tell…

“Zombie Story”

Zombie_StoryCame across this video crossover not too long ago, and I have to say I was impressed. Drawing parallels between AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Toy Story franchise, creator John Wray uses video clips to illustrate how these two franchises – which could not be more different in terms of target audiences – really aren’t that different.

Rzombie_story1anging from the main characters (Sheriff Woody vs. Sheriff Rick), to the boy’s they love (Andy vs. Carl), to the conflict over who’s their primary caregiver (Woody or Buzz vs. Rick or Shane), to the dangerous hordes they routinely face (little kids vs. Walkers), the benevolent leader who turns out to be a psycho (Lotso vs. The Governor), there really are a lot of similarities to be found.

Granted, none of this is to be taken seriously, but it is very well made, right down to similar events in the story and bits of footage. Who knew Disney and Robert Kirkman could be of similar minds? Then again, ol’ Walt is rumored to be frozen somewhere, a living dead entity awaiting the day when he can be thawed and begin walking the Earth again.

Enjoy the clip!

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…

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

walking-dead-rick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Walking Dead – Season 3 Finale!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Walking Dead – Season 3 Episode 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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