Review of “The Walking Dead” 316 – “Welcome to the Tombs”
Weeks and weeks of well-written, tension-building episodes brought us to this week’s explosive conclusion. The problem? The only explosion came from a round of unnecessary shooting and grenade launching. Emotionally the episode was a bit of a letdown. There were far too many plot lines left dangling, with no tension to carry them over into the new season. The only thing we were left to look forward to was a potential emotional downslide for Carl, of all characters. Let’s see what went down in the season three finale of “The Walking Dead.”
***Caution, there are spoilers below. If you have not watched the season finale, turn back now!***
Three weeks ago it was reported by Andrew Lincoln in an interview with Rolling Stone that the show would be killing off twenty-seven characters in the season finale. What he couldn’t say was one of the deaths would be beloved underdog and sole geek in the Zombiepocalypse, Milton. We can’t say his death came as a huge surprise. Milton did his best to do the right things in the latter half of season three, putting him at direct odds with his old friend, the sociopath Governor of Woodbury. Unfortunately, Milton’s efforts were a handful of branches trying to stop the flood of Phillip’s determination to be the biggest, scariest leader in a ten-mile radius. It takes a lot of bravery to stand up to a man like Phillip. Milton knew one miscalculation would cost him his life. In the end, he realized the only way to make an impact was to draw Phillip’s wrath and sacrifice himself in order to save the masses. By torching the walkers intended for use against the group in the prison, Milton saved a lot of lives. His death was not in vain, though his loss will be felt if/when we ever see the Governor again, this time without his glasses-wearing conscious at his side.
The person Milton wanted to save most of all wasn’t himself, or even Phillip. Somewhere along the way, Milton saw potential in Andrea to be the savior Woodbury needed in order to escape the Governor’s insanity. But their plans were constantly plagued by ill-timing and Phillip’s ability to be three steps ahead of everyone. In the end, no matter what Milton did, Andrea still paid the ultimate price. There’s a sad irony in those two being the eventual cause of each other’s deaths just when they thought they’d found the one other person left alive who understood what drove their particular brand of hero complex.
Andrea’s constant efforts to do the good and right thing only ended up costing others their lives, including Merle. Her scheming nearly landed Michonne in a torture cell. When faced with a threat like Phillip and his army of true believers, doing the right thing is suicidal. Andrea knew that in the end, but still couldn’t make herself take a human life. Her conscious (not Milton-shaped) got the best of her time and time again. How much heartache would have been spared if she did as Carol told her and stabbed Phillip after one last goodnight kiss? Possibly the hardest part of Andrea’s death wasn’t that she’d been gnawed on by a man who could have been much more to her if not for Phillip’s involvement in their lives. No, the part that truly sucked was seeing her determination to not burden anyone else with dispatching her before she turned. It brought fans back to the end of season one when a distraught Andrea wanted to stay in the CDC when it blew up and Dale emotionally blackmailed her until she gave in and made a run for it. Only now, she wasn’t taking the easy way out. Andrea faced the reality of her situation and wanted to be in control until her last breath. If given more time, she could have been a capable leader for Woodbury. Andrea just wasn’t strong enough to overthrow the Governor.
Speaking of Captain Crazypants, what the heck was up with him unloading a clip into his own people? Some people take failure poorly, but jeeze. The Governor only allowed two of his men to live, and they looked about two seconds from running into the woods to get away from him. There was nothing human left in his eyes . . . eye . . . when he gunned down the people he’d taken on the failed mission to take over the prison. How would he feel if he knew the truth? Five people total inside the prison overwhelmed and dispersed his army. Where did Phillip go to lick his wounded pride? We have no clue. It is unlikely that we’ve seen the last of him, especially if Rick and his newly expanded crew decide to stay inside the prison.
Carl is on a slippery slope to psychoville via the Shane path of surviving the Zombiepocalypse. We’ve known for a while that some vital part of Carl was broken the day he was forced to put a bullet in his mother’s head to spare her from returning as a walker. However, after he seemed to bounce back from it, he’s flipped off his emotion switch again. What happened? Was he shocked by what happened in King County when they ran into a clearly insane Morgan? Did he feel coddled when Rick told him to wait in the woods during the lack-luster battle with the Governor and his forces? It is really hard to tell what triggered this lasted spiral for Carl. What we do know is the kid is really creepy after pulling the trigger. Instantly, he rationalized a story to tell his father so he wouldn’t get in trouble. The worst part was seeing how little shock and remorse was on his face when the kid he shot crumpled to the ground. Someone needs to step in and save Carl before he becomes the next Governor. Or is this a case of too-little-too-late? Only time will tell.
Do you think we’ve seen the last of the Governor? What is in store for Rick and his crew at the prison next season? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Review of “The Walking Dead” 313 – “Arrow on the Doorpost”
Occasionally, the non-stop action of a show has to take a backseat in order to allow characters a chance to build toward something spectacular, like the epic clash on the horizon between Rick’s group and the people of Woodbury. Unfortunately, these “talking head” episodes are full of inaction, intrigue, and contests of wit and strength as characters measure each other for what will surely come in the next episode or two. With only three episodes left in the season, was it wise to allow an entire episode to be spent talking? We’ll see.
**Warning, there be spoilers ahead!**
It’s taken thirteen episodes for Rick and the Governor to share more than bullets flying past each other and angry words spread through third parties. Sadly, the encounter was predictable. Rick stood on his high moral ground and Phillip dug it out from under him. The Governor twisted Rick’s words around, trying to make him the bad guy, taking advantage of Rick’s fragile mental state in order to plant seeds of doubt in his opponent’s mind. Phillip used several tactics to get under Rick’s skin. He tried to play humble, saying he hadn’t appointed himself as governor, but the people chose him to lead them. In the next breath, he went from humble to sadistic. Before we could recover from his evil streak, Phillip flew into a story about how his late wife died before the zombie outbreak happened. But how much of the story is true? How much of his emotions were true? Phillip is a textbook sociopath. He mimics emotions he sees in others, but they never last long. He can charm the pants off everyone. He has absolutely no remorse for the death and destruction he’s caused. It was difficult to keep up with Phillip’s rapid-fire subject changes in his parlay with Rick—which was the point. He was feeling Rick out, getting a bead on his foe to see if he’s mentally capable of out-maneuvering him. Phillip’s power is smoke and mirrors, with a dash of pure intimidation thrown in the mix. Without his intelligence and taste for blood, he’d be just another guy trying to survive.
Rick, for all his mental shortcomings since Lori’s death, managed to keep up with Phillip’s ever-changing conversation. But whereas the Governor talked, bragged, and played his mental games, Rick brooded in silence. He did what so many people fail to do, he listened to the person he is at war with. And through listening, Rick realized one important thing—no matter what deal they strike, Phillip will never allow the people in the prison to live. When Rick did speak, he played right into Phillip’s hands. Only on one occasion did he gain the upper hand, when he told Phillip killing Michonne was beneath him—it wasn’t worth his time to kill one woman. Rick is way out of his depth. The wars he’s fought within his group and the emotional trauma he suffered from the death surrounding them every day, they’ve left him with little resources to deal with the current threat. It wasn’t until Rick returned to the prison that we caught a glimpse of how he planned to play out the war. Rick lied to his group about the Governor’s intentions. And despite what he said to Hershel later, I think he did it to keep a leash on the wildcards in the prison. How quickly would Merle turn around and try to give Michonne to the Governor in order to save his baby brother from the battle ahead? Sure, Rick wanted his people scared, honed for the war, but he also wanted to make sure he was the one holding all the aces so no one could surprise him later on.
Andrea’s part in the war is changing. What it is changing to, I have no clue. She had her chance to kill Phillip and she didn’t take it. Hershel invited her to come back to the prison, she got back in the car with the Woodbury folks. How long can she play monkey-in-the-middle before someone (Phillip) gets tired of her indecision and disposes of her for good? Playing both sides of the fence is dangerous. Mostly, it is stupid. Andrea’s little bubble of reality has burst. The man she’s been protecting wants the blood of the people who kept her alive. The only ally she has left is Milton. He knows most of what goes on in Woodbury, but Phillip has been keeping him ill-informed just to throw Andrea off. Yet despite everything, Andrea thinks she alone can prevent the clash between the two survivor groups. I’m not quite sure if she’s been hit on the head one too many times or has allowed the little bit of power Phillip gave her to go to her head. She does not want to be caught in the middle of this conflict. If Andrea were smart, she’d move on and get far away from Woodbury and the prison.
In better news, Glenn and Maggie kissed and made up. Every episode since they were rescued from Woodbury, they fought their own personal war. A war bred from the intensity of the emotions dredged up during their torture and interrogation. Sometimes, no matter how painful it is, a person needs to talk through what is plaguing them. Maggie did her talking, but Glenn was so wrapped up in his inability to protect her and the guilt it raised, he couldn’t let go of the control he’d blanketed himself in to cope. It is refreshing to see them together again. Love is rare in the world they live in. More often than not, it turns into betrayal that is more likely to kill a person than the undead at their doors. Just ask Shane. He thought he loved Lori and his betrayal to Rick morphed into the actions which caused his death.
Is one life worth more than many? Will Rick play the ace up his sleeve and give Michonne over to the Governor in order to save his people? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Talk about jerking on our heartstrings. This episode was chalk-full of teary moments. We really need a warning before the episode airs, along with the violence warnings, telling us to grab a box of Kleenex before emotional episodes. For the first time since Rick’s group arrived at the prison, the entire episode took place outside the prison gates nor on the streets of Woodbury. Most notably, there were only four main characters involved. However, the ghosts of many others lingered at the edge of every conversation taking place.
**As usual, there are spoilers below. You’ve been warned.**
In “Clear,” Rick and Carl come full circle as far as their travels go. They’ve been on the run for over a year, yet when things are dire and they need a hand up to get ahead of the Governor’s scheming and army-building, they go home to King County, Georgia to find what they need. The only problem is, the sheriff’s station has been completely cleaned out. There’s nothing left, save a single bullet for Rick’s Colt Python.
Before they even reach King County, Carl questions Michonne’s motives about every single thing she does. At one point, I expected him to ask why she breathed the way she did. Carl is hyper-vigilant. All of the betrayals they’ve suffered warped his growing mind. He’s paranoid, watching everyone they encounter for signs of malice. His paranoia makes him ruthless. He is becoming more and more like Shane, Carl’s mentor before he was forced to put him down like a rabid dog after Shane’s violent encounter with Rick. Carl takes the tough shots and is beyond taking orders from Rick, who he no longer views as a viable leader for the group. However, Carl is young. His emotions range from cold to molten rock at the drop of a hat, much like his father’s. He is still ruled by a child’s lack of impulse control. It could land him in serious water. Again. Hey, is Carl in the house?
Thankfully, Michonne has the presence of mind to keep an eye out for Carl, despite knowing his misgivings about her intentions toward the folks living in the prison. For the most part, we only hear Michonne speak when spoken to, or when she’s laying into Andrea for everything wrong she’s done since walking into Woodbury. However, with Carl she speaks up and gives him someone to connect to when he’s obviously so, so lost without his parents. Daryl did something similar right after Lori died. Why is it the most broken people know how to treat an emotionally fragile child better than his father? We get to see a softer side of Michonne here, not only because of her time alone with Carl. You know what? She’s got a sense of humor on her. The woman is also apparently a ninja, as they observed on Talking Dead after “Clear” aired. It took her seconds to climb a building and just as long to walk around the restaurant to recover the item Carl dropped. Forget rednecks and their prowess with crossbows and automatic weapons, I’ll take Michonne and her sword for the Orange Brigade.
At long last, the number-one question asked by Walking Dead fans can be put to rest. Morgan didn’t end up a footnote lost in the madness of everything that happened after Rick met up with his family outside of Atlanta . . . and there was much rejoicing. Kinda. See, Morgan is nuttier than a basket of kittens. When someone makes Rick and his hallucinations of Lori look sane, there needs to be some serious medication put to work ASAP. Possibly shock treatment. Something, anything to recover Morgan’s wits. It is painfully obvious early on that Morgan is alone. His son Duane’s death is revealed in a scrawled note on the walls of his home, “Duane turned.”
The walls of Morgan’s home are as chaotic as his mind. One word is scribbled over and over again amongst the rambling, “Clear.” We could spend days discussing what this word means to him. Morgan doesn’t use it in a normal sense—all’s clear. The word haunts him, taunts him. He failed to clear the dead from around his house, namely the reanimated corpse of his wife, and it cost him dearly. “Finally was too late,” he says. His failure to clear the way destroyed Morgan’s life as he sees it. He is trapped in King County, not by the dead walking the street, but by the dead walking around in his mind whispering, “Clear.” Was the word one of the last things he said to Duane before he went on the ill-fated search for food? We may never know why everything and everyone must be “cleared” in Morgan’s mind. His lucid moments are few and far between.
Rick cannot cope with Morgan’s mental breakdown. He sees too much of himself reflected in his one-time friend’s eyes. Rick works himself into a panic as he watches the snatches of sanity Morgan regains slip away. If Morgan cannot overcome the grief consuming him, does Rick have any chance at all of resuming his life or is he doomed to wait for the day the rest of his family perishes, slowly losing his mind? His grip on reality and the interpersonal relationships keeping him grounded are slipping. He has no control over Carl, though they have begun speaking to each other again. Rick leaves Judith’s care to the women in the camp for the most part. Carl is the one to think of finding something as simple as a collapsible crib to bring back to the prison. Morgan’s insanity is proof there are depths to which Rick can fall if he doesn’t start fighting to keep his mind in check now.
Morgan claims weak men like him have inherited the earth. With everything happening between the prison group and Woodbury, it’s easy to see what he is talking about. The powerful men, the ones who know how to take charge and organize others into action, make it pretty far in the apocalyptic lifestyle. People need someone to listen to sometimes. Someone who thinks rationally and quickly. But for all of the power the leaders wield, they want more and get caught up in mad power struggles to prove they are the only one worth following in a time of dire need. Rick had this problem with Shane when he joined the group at the quarry. Shane stationed himself as the leader and in walked Rick, doing what he always does—helping folks in need. Shane couldn’t let that stand. He started an emotional war with Rick. What did it cost Shane? Several pints of blood and a huge portion of his skull. And now Rick finds himself embroiled in another war, this one with Phillip. The new war is violent and will consume everyone in its path—including the two powers driving it on. Morgan may have a point. The weak can hide. They hunker down, gather supplies, and fortify their safe haven. For the weak, the only power struggle comes when they must venture out amongst the dead to forage for food. And if they are as well-prepared as Morgan, they have all the power in that war.
Was this broken shell of a man what you were expecting when Morgan finally returned to the show? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
This episode in particular had a lot of anticipation built up around it long before it aired. Heck, people were excited back before filming began and producers confirmed what the main story arc of the third season would be. Fans were anxious to meet the Governor and see Woodbury outside of the confines of paper and ink. Not to mention, watch an entire episode devoted to Michonne and Andrea. Oh and there was a certain returning character fans begged and pleaded to have back on The Walking Dead. We’ll get to them later.
For three seasons, we’ve been teased with glimpses of a helicopter. In the apocalypse, something like a helicopter builds hope that somehow, some way people are surviving and thriving. At the very least, survivors begin to think there is still some sort of government force at work to keep them safe. It is a false hope, really. But there we were again, watching a helicopter hover over the earth and wondering, “How on earth did any military personnel survive? They were on the front lines when the walkers rose.” Obviously some would make it as long as Rick and his original crew. Seeing them, though, was a little strange. Any sort of government figure is a foreign concept now. Even Rick dropped his sheriff uniform. What point is there when most of the people you swore to serve and protect are dead?
There was very little time wasted introducing the Governor. On first impression, one looks at the way he leads his men and realizes, this is the sort of leader Rick wishes he could be. Unfortunately, Rick has an overwhelming sense of guilt and morality hanging over his head at all times. The more we saw of the Governor in this episode, it became quickly apparent he had neither of Rick’s downfalls holding him back. Can Andrea and Michonne trust the Governor? The answer is a double-edged sword. He fully believes his efforts alone will be what saves humanity and made it perfectly clear he’d do anything necessary to do so. When you know someone’s game plan, you can trust them to follow through. But to rely on him for their safety when he lies about his intentions in other matters? They’d be foolish.
Michonne is more than ready to leave town and make her own path to survival. She is a woman determined to do things on her own. Trust is a huge issue with her, except when it comes to Andrea. However, trouble could be brewing in their friendship if Andrea insists on staying in Woodbury much longer. Michonne’s spidey-senses are tingling. She’s pacing like a caged tiger waiting for someone to get too close to the bars. Danai Gurira is amazing in this role. Michonne rarely speaks, unless she is alone with Andrea, but her misgivings about Woodbury and the Governor are very, very clear thanks to Danai’s stellar performance.
Caution: There may be spoilers below.
The pets. It was difficult watching Michonne dispatch them in order to keep the walkers from giving away their location. It became even more difficult to let them go after seeing her dodge around the question—the one question that’d give everyone a deeper insight into what makes Michonne tick. Who were the walkers she disfigured and kept by her side at all times? It is easy to assume she found a couple random zombies and fashioned them into her personal pack mules/cloaking device. However, once the question was asked, we knew there was a story there. Maybe one day, we’ll even figure it out.
Woodbury seems too good to be true. It has the same sort of vibe as the prison and Hershel’s farm—if the survivors get too comfortable and settle in too deeply, the place will become their grave. Who on earth would even think of utilizing solar power during the Zombiepocalypse? Yet, there it is. Along with well-manicured flowerbeds, gardens, clean sidewalks, hot water, electricity—the works. What of oneself does it cost to live in Woodbury? For the men, they’re conscripted into the Governor’s private militia. We haven’t met many of the women, yet. They simply seem happy to have a safe place to call home. Because of that, they’re not asking the questions nagging at the back of their mind before they go to sleep each night.
Helpful tip: Don’t ignore the nagging voice when your safety is on the line.
Let’s see…was there anything I forgot? Hey, stop throwing stuff! You know I couldn’t forget good ol’ (rotten ol’) Merle Dixon.
The reintroduction of Merle was perfect. Even without showing him, we knew right away who’d snuck up on Andrea and Michonne. This isn’t the same Merle we saw handcuffed to the roof of a department store. His time in Woodbury has given him a clear head. With the Governor calling the shots, directing Merle’s every move, he has no leeway to dive back into his vices. At least, that’s how it seems so far. Who knows, Merle could flip a gasket and start talking to rocks for all we know.
Lesson number one of The Walking Dead fandom, never attempt to predict what any of the characters will do.
I’ll close this out with one last note:
Fish tanks. Eww.
What do you think about the goings-on in Woodbury? Let us know in the comments below.