Editor’s Note: These blog entries are meant to be a discussion of the most current episode of The Walking Dead, so we recommend you watch said episode before reading to avoid spoilers. Keep your eyes peeled for them every Monday morning.
On last week’s episode, Rick wasted some prisoners, he and Lori pretty much got a verbal divorce, and that pesky Carl slipped away without anyone noticing to get medical supplies. Oh yeah – and Hershel is still kickin’.
A recap of last week has little to do with this week’s installment, however, seeing as we are completely taken outside of the prison milieu as we follow the ongoing adventures of Andrea and Michonne and how they become entangled with The Governor (well-played by David Morrissey of Basic Instinct 2 fame). While Michonne and Andrea remain flawed, this week’s episode – “Walk With Me” – succeeded on many levels where last week’s did not. New and very interesting characters were introduced in The Governor and Dallas Robert’s Milton, Season One’s Merle came back to serve up some redneck badassness in his brother Daryl’s absence, and some of the principle characters actually came off as multilayered. This episode also does it darndest to deliver the desired gore factor. The Governor is also a more-than-formidable foe for Rick down the line – he also is aware that everyone is infected – and perhaps has the advantage of being somewhat of a sociopath.
Andrea and Michonne come together with The Governor as they both notice a National Guard plane crash. Michonne and a still-ailing Andrea hide behind bushes with the “zombie pets” as they observe The Governor and crew swarm the crash site. The pilot is still alive, but his two men are bloody torsos on the ground – one of them “turns,” and The Governor stabs him in the head. After all, he’s no fool. They collect any weapons they find. Michonne ends up cutting off the zombie pets’ heads off with her samurai sword to avoid getting noticed. Too late, ladies – Merle’s got ya!
Ever since Season One, there has been this corny “cliffhanger,” since Rick handcuffed Merle to the roof of the building in Atlanta and came back to find only the handcuffs and Merle’s hand. Is he alive? Why yes – Merle has since replaced his stump with a metal shaft outfitted with a blade. Merle has also morphed into in effortless killer in this time ellipsis (we learn that The Governor saved him from bleeding out) – he kills zombies with his bionic arm, almost as an afterthought. He also seems quite resentful of Rick and even Daryl for leaving him for dead, which promises to be an interesting confrontation when it eventually happens. Michael Rooker as Merle is a lot of fun, and it’s great that he is back!
The Governor et al bring Andrea and Michonne back to their secured compound – Woodbury – where Andrea is taken to a hospital to recuperate. Their weapons are taken away and they are observed by a guard at all times. Michonne plasters on her “bitch face” throughout the episode and instantly starts to question The Governor’s motives. Are they prisoners? Andrea is more trusting and wants to linger in Woodbury. After all, Woodbury is seemingly a fully functioning community with 73 inhabitants, barrier walls that haven’t been breached in over a month, and a bevy of food and medicine – all due to The Governor’s strict rules and curfews.
Things start to get really interesting with the introduction of erudite Milton, who does experiments on the zombies. A bit of a nancy, the tea-swilling Milton makes the important discovery on Michonne’s zombie pets (after analyzing their still-twitching severed heads) that without the ability to eat, they became docile. Milton is a real addition to the show – he is both refined and menacing – somewhat of the Josef Goebbels of Woodbury. At a civilized breakfast with The Governor, Andrea, and Michonne, Milton breaks Michonne’s stoic exterior when he asks if she knew the zombie pets before they “turned.” Clearly, she did – were they family members? Michonne puts the “bitch face” back on and continues to be skeptical. Andrea, instead, even finds the occasion to flirt with The Governor later, asking him what his real name is… he replies that he will never tell. Shut down, Andrea!
The women in this episode are quite one-dimensional – Michonne is “strong and silent” and Andrea tries to affect some of Michonne’s strength but remains pretty clueless. We get it already. Michonne is given a brief moment of being more complicated – when the zombie pet relationship comes into question – but remains annoyingly static. It’s cool, Michonne, you can have more than one facial expression.
As anyone could have predicted (and many already know from reading the graphic novels) The Governor is not a “good guy.” He uses the National Guard pilot to find the location of his crew so he and his crew and go there to kill them and snake their military equipment. When all the National Guard members are wasted, he asks with glee, “Let’s see what Uncle Sam brought us, shall we?” Though unlike Michonne, for instance, The Governor is not static. While he is posited as the villain, he has created a successful community and, yes, he kills, but what differentiates him from the rest of the scavengers that the world has become?
In the last sequence of the episode, The Governor is at home. There is a naked woman in his bed and a picture of him with his wife and two children on the dresser, who are presumably dead. He goes into his “mancave” and gazes upon many stacked fish tanks, all filled with zombie heads. The top tank holds the head of the chopper pilot. This last shot is really heavy-handed – The Governor’s mental instability could have been highlighted in a slightly more subtle, sophisticated way.
The Upside: The Governor, Milton, and Merle are all great additions to the show. David Morrissey is impressive as The Governor and his eventual faceoff with Rick promises to be something.
The Downside: Andrea and Michonne remain pretty flat characters – hopefully being at Woodbury will shake them up a bit. Also, the zombie head fish tanks veered a bit far into the ridiculous.
On The Side: John Hawkes was in early talks to play The Governor. Wonder how that would have went down?