The Walking Dead: Accidents Happen

Review of Episode 401

From the edge of RC Murphy’s chair

walking-dead-401It has been far, far too long since we’ve had the opportunity to sit and catch up with our favorite band of zombie apocalypse survivors. “The Walking Dead” returned to AMC this week with a whopping 16.1 billion ravenous viewers, crushing every other show airing Sunday night with their ratings. While we at the ZSC know we love this show, it is staggering to see how many others are out there watching, and screaming at the TV, alongside us. So, what have Rick, Daryl, Carol, Glenn, Hershel, Maggie, and all the others been up to in the time they’ve been absent from our televisions?

Caution: There may be spoilers below.

Apparently Rick fancies himself a gardener nowadays. As Hershel said, all he needs is a pair of overalls and a piece of wheat to chew on. Rick spent the weeks since bringing in the survivors from Woodbury transforming the yard in the prison into a small farm, complete with vegetable garden and livestock—although the pig, Violet, keeled over for unknown reasons. From what we were able to glean from Hershel’s talk with Rick, the former sheriff’s deputy has taken the passive road since the Woodbury showdown with the still-missing Governor. Rick was resistant to orders to take his iconic Python pistol with him when he goes outside the fortified fences of the prison. All of the violence, and his tango with insanity, turned Rick into a new man. He hesitates to draw his gun. He’s isolated himself from the community for the most part. It seems he’s content to be the absent caretaker for all of these people—the true number of which we’re not sure. Rick’s new take on life is tested when he finds a lone, starving woman in the woods while checking the snare traps they use to gather rabbits for food. It’s hard to say if he passed or failed the test. A lot of the ugliness inside his head was reflected in this woman’s circumstances, giving viewers an all too clear look at how bad he could have gotten after Lori’s death.

An unlikely savior, Daryl has stepped into the savior role Rick abandoned. He’s still rough around the edges, keeping everyone at arm’s length. However, there’s a gleam in Daryl’s eyes when he’s thanked for finding someone and bringing them into the safety of their prison community. His relationship with Carol is unclear. They seem to have found a comfortable rhythm with each other—which is adorable to watch. This will be the season when we see what truly keeps Daryl going. He’s lost Merle for good. There’s no longer the off chance that he’ll be reunited with the only remaining survivor in his family. Perhaps that lack of blood family has Daryl reaching out for connections with others. Even the most solitary person needs a touchstone to remind themselves they’re human, that they matter in the grand scheme of things. It is far too easy to drown in the miserable existence in the show’s world without human interaction.

That interaction is what keeps Michonne around. She seems to spend most of her time outside the prison, with her gorgeous horse, searching for traces of the Governor and other things that’ll keep the few people she considers family happy. Michonne is far from soft and cuddly, but it spoke volumes when she brought back a stack of comic books for Carl and a beard trimmer for Rick. She’ll never find the closeness she had before with Andrea. That line of trust has been severely damaged. But she won’t leave these people who fought by her side, took her in when she surely would have died on her own. Michonne’s code of honor is warped, yet functional.

Glenn and Maggie are still the strongest pair from the original group of survivors—though plenty of others have found love in the weeks since season three ended. Unfortunately for Maggie, Glenn’s need to protect her lingers at the edge of their relationship. Maggie was the one to step up and become the protector, the backbone, for her family after the disease took the majority of them. Hershel did what he could, but he lived with the belief that there was a cure, something Maggie dismissed long before her father. She has to be an active part of the community in order to feel like everything is okay. She’ll never, ever sit back and be the little lady. However, she knows when to pick her battles. Stepping back from going outside the gates protected Glenn from worry. They feed on each other’s emotions. If he were upset, she would be too. They’re still finding a balance after the Governor threw them for a loop. Maybe they’ll even find a way to settle down. Once Glenn feels it is safe enough to start a family. Judging by what he said toward the end of the show, it is a ways off.

“How can you say that after today, after Lori?”

Maggie responded with, “Because I don’t want to be afraid of being alive.”

And that is the theme for these two, staring Death straight in the eyes and refusing to step back because they have each other and a small, strange family of people they’ve chosen and trust.

The season premiere tackled the psychological issues hitting the survivors. There’s plenty of walker action, no doubt, but it wasn’t anything on par with the mess inside everyone’s heads. Tyrese grows increasingly uncomfortable with killing walkers. Some of the new folks want to help, but may find themselves in Tyrese’s shoes, or dealing with deeper, darker secrets. Poor Beth is so accustomed with death, she can’t cry when they add another death to the growing tally. And Carol worries so much about the children they’ve brought in, she’s been secretly teaching them how to fight walkers.

We weren’t left without a mystery to solve at the end of the episode. What do you think happened to Patrick? Could it be connected to the pig’s sudden, unexplained death?

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Review of The Walking Dead 303 “Walk With Me”

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.