If you haven’t seen this episode, don’t read this… I will spoil everything… seriously… everything. Luke Skywalker’s father… yeah, Darth Vader. Rosebud? It’s his fricking sled! And Bruce Willis… dead the whole time! So don’t read any further.
Last week I was caught up in the maelstrom that is the Thanksgiving holiday and the horror that is trying to squeeze five days of work into three. I didn’t get a chance to write up my review of S3E6: Hounded… so my quick summery review: I thought it was a solid episode that allowed us to slow down a little while still setting up what is to come. With Michonne’s arrival at the prison and Glenn and Maggie’s capture by Merle, we at least now know how these two groups, Rick’s Penitentiary Pals and The Governor’s Woodbury Wackos, will come together. I would say that chances are good that the meeting will not be all wine and roses. Plus, Michonne’s “bitergram” was awesome.
This week, we open with a good old fashioned interrogation. Glenn, haplessly duct-taped to a chair (is there anything duct-tape can’t do?), is taking it like a man… not giving up anything and getting a good head butt in. That could not have felt good… I imagine Merle’s head being like a chunk of granite. Granted this leads to Merle treating Glenn’s face like Rocky treats a side of beef, but he still never talks… although, when he does, he lists off the names of those in his group that will come to get him back… including Jim and Andrea, whom Merle knows is no longer part of the group. Oops. Oh yeah… if there was any doubt that Merle is still a racist asshole, that question gets answered quickly in this scene. Yes, yes he is.
Back at the prison, we return to Michonne standing outside the fence with her basket of formula, a slathering of zombie guts, and a bleeding gunshot wound. The smell of the blood from her wound begins to cut through the scent of undead and she begins to draw attention to herself. Rick doesn’t really look too interested in letting her in, and she begins to do some battle before passing out from blood loss. Fortunately, Carl has become a wee little alpha male and doesn’t wait for permission to help her out. Way to step up little man!
As Rick and Carl assist Michonne into the prison, we get some interesting parallels between Rick and The Governor… Michonne, tight lipped as ever won’t even give her name, and Rick immediately takes her sword, won’t let her into the cell block, and essentially takes her prisoner. Basically… he behaves exactly like The Gov, only far more harsh. At one point he squeezes her wound in order to get her to talk… not quite a “hero’s” move. The difference though, is that Phillip was all smiles and made it seem as though she were welcome… Rick is cruel, straightforward, and protective… she can’t have her sword, she has to leave, and she is not welcome…
Like Say the Word, we get another episode where we get to see how two leaders deal with their positions. In Say the Word, we got a glimpse of both men’s madness… in this episode, we get to see how they both use their power and position to get what they want. Rick wants to protect what he views as his… his family, his friends, his prison… Phillip uses his position to gain… more information, more territory, more women, more power.
Michonne eventually tells Rick about Woodbury and The Gov after seeing the interplay between everybody when Daryl reveals the still living Carol. This was the scene that worked best for me… the exchange between Rick and Carol, and Carol’s reaction to the new baby and the unspoken news of Lori’s death brought at least one or two tears to my eyes. After seeing this emotional reunion, Michonne must see that these are not the same type of people as The Gov and Merle. I was left wondering though whether or not she realizes that this was Andrea’s old group… and whether or not she realizes who Daryl is. She may be keeping this info close to her chest, or she may not know this yet…
Back in Woodbury, my least favorite element of this episode… Andrea is put to work with Milton. He is able to experiment on an older dying man in order to determine whether or not the undead retain any former memories. He uses a rote memory technique of repetition in order to see if once someone dies and comes back, do they retain any of their humanity. I didn’t like the pseudo science of the CDC plot, I don’t much like whatever this is that Milton is doing… I can’t even say I care much for Milton. All this scene did for me was to inform us that Andrea is still quick with a weapon, and Milton has been very sheltered during this apocalypse. There is also a lot of speculation out there that there is something about his tea… mind control perhaps… but I don’t buy it. I think all of this with Milton is a great big MacGuffin designed to distract us. I don’t know… but I want him to get eaten in a very grisly way.
Back to Merle and Glenn… Merle’s getting pissed. He brings in a zombie and releases it onto a still bound Glenn. Best zed fight scene yet! Glenn manages to knock the hell out the zombie before finally crushing his chair against the wall and using a splintered chair leg to skewer the zed from under it’s chin and out it’s right eye… and the eye just dangling there! Zombie kill of the week for sure!
Once that doesn’t work, The Gov decides to deal with Maggie himself. This is were things get truly chilling. He comes on all nice… giving her the exact same line he gave to the helicopter pilot… just tell us where your people are and we will take you to them… or better yet, they can come here. Maggie doesn’t go for it, he then asks her to get up, remove her top, then her bra… and during a moment of holding my breath, comes up behind her and slams her face to the table with the apparent intention of raping her. This is the scene I asked my daughter to leave during… fortunately, after she still defies him, telling him to just do it then go to hell, he relents and does not take it there.
The Governor is a master of heinous fuckery most foul. Something about a villain who smiles and has that sweet southern drawl is terrifying. Mustache twirling is one thing… but this is a beast of a completely different feather… subtle, creepy, and always up to something. You know this is not a stupid man… stupid men are easy to defeat, but an intelligent evil is always more compelling. At one point with Maggie he threatens to bring in Glenn’s hand… ugh, what is it with severed hands in this series? At least it wasn’t the threat of any other body part being brought in.
Now that Rick knows about Woodbury and Glenn and Maggie’s fate, he begins to assemble a strike force. Beth and Axel cutely volunteer, but Rick simply says no and picks Michonne, Oscar (who may be a red shirt), and Daryl to head over to Woodbury, infiltrate the town, and rescue Mr. Nice Guy and his sexy girlfriend. Before Strike Force Delta heads out, Rick and Carl have a great little exchange where Rick finally talks about how Carl should not have had to shoot his mother in the head and they finally come up with a name for the baby… Judith, named after Carl’s third grade teacher. What is it with third grade teachers? My oldest daughter’s third grade teacher was awesome. Must be something about that grade. As for the name Judith… meh… it’s the same name they give the baby in the comic, but I didn’t like it then, still don’t care much for the name. (I’m being a bit pissy today… sorry)
On the way to Woodbury, Strike Force Delta runs into a whole lot of walkers and begin to get overrun, until they see a cabin. Now, this scene is odd… and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but frankly, I loved it. It felt like a strange non-sequitur in the midst of this bloody battle. They break into this cabin and find a dead dog… then they discover an old hermit who doesn’t seem to know that the dead have risen. He says he will call the cops, but his cabin is boarded up and his dog is dead inside the cabin… doesn’t make much sense. He is about to run out the door (which is boarded up, supposedly by him), and Michonne stabs him through the back and the group throws his corpse to the walkers so they can make their escape out the back door. Why didn’t they just let the old guy run out the front, get chomped, then run out the back? Why kill him? This is the third living person Michonne has killed in the last two weeks… I don’t want our heroes to be too comfortable with murder. Sure Rick killed Dave and Scrawny Tony… and Tomas… and should have made sure Andrew was dead… wait a minute… our heroes commit a lot of murder! Damn.
Regardless, that scene was odd… and it was like a strange little campy version of Evil Dead in the middle of this tense episode. I liked it, and look forward to more one-off moments like this in the future.
Wrapping up (again, this is going on too damn long, sorry), Phillip brings Glenn and Maggie together finally… putting a gun to Maggie’s head, Glenn won’t talk… a gun in Glenn’s face, Maggie cracks and spills the beans! She’s a stooly, see! A rat, see! Now The Governor and Merle know where they live… and they know of the prison, and The Gov is shocked to discover that a group of ten took out all of those zombies, because big bad Merle said it couldn’t be done. This was a moment in the show with another example of amazing dynamics, and another amazing parallel… we saw Rick & Co. coming together and interacting with Carol and Judith in a way that melted at least some small corner of Michonne’s icy heart… and here in Woodbury we get a glimpse into the relationship between Phillip and Merle, and it’s not quite as heart warming. Merle said it couldn’t be done… Merle robbed him of a secure home… do you think that will have consequences?
Another great moment from this scene, before Phillip (I hate writing The Governor or The Gov all the time… I just need to mix it up) throws Maggie back to Glenn, he strokes her face and hair in a very suggestive and molesting fashion in front of Glenn… he does the same with Andrea later, and ewwwwww… he’s just gross. And Michonne, much earlier with Rick, refers to him as a “Jim Jones type”… very astute observation. Definitely has that cult leader vibe about his, and I love that she picked up on that. That Michonne is a smart one… I wonder if she used to be a lawyer or something. (yes, that’s a joke… sort of)
Strike Force Delta (or Zed Team 4 perhaps?) arrive at Woodbury and begin to survey the lay of the land and how they will infiltrate this fort of a town. Unbeknownst to them, Andrea is just on the other side of that wall. What will happen when our teams collide? Who will Andrea side with? What will happen when Merle and Daryl reunite? Will Daryl jump ship? Will Merle? Plus, The Gov has sent a group of his own to check out the prison… there aren’t too many people left behind. Carl, Hershel, Beth, Axel, Carol, and Judith… will they all survive a visit from the Woodbury Research Team?
So many questions… and this is how this episode ends… with a beautiful lead up to the mid season finale next week. Since the deaths of T-Dog and Lori, the show has slowed down somewhat, but it has always kept the story moving forward… and this episode is an incredible segue into what will be coming next week. Our two groups are set to clash… and many allegiances will be put to the test. Who will live? Who will die? Who will be the next person to join the group? I can’t wait… sucks that I have to.
I will do a separate Comic vs. Show segment a little later this week… this post is more than long enough.
Crazy old hermits rule,
Cornelius J. Blahg