Just when I thought this was going to be a dull episode….
And a good chunk of it was. Honestly, I can’t decide if I liked this episode or not. On one hand, the whole Woodbury nonsense is just last week’s leftovers reheated, while the prison stuff feels forced and undeserving of the sympathy it demands. On the other hand, Woodbury is moving some important pieces around the board to set up for November sweeps, while the prison scenes are tragic and devastating. After watching the ep twice, I still can’t decide on which side of the fence I sit.
I’m starting to get Michonne’s frustration with Woodbury. Looks like a seriously boring place. Residents seem to have nothing better to do than walk up and down Main Street. No one is ever doing anything in particular except aimlessly wandering around. But that’s neither here nor there. Of greater import are the murky relations between Merle, the Governor (aka Philip), Andrea, and Michonne. Tensions flare as Michonne wants to get the hell outta Dodge and Andrea wants to settle down and have all the Governor’s evil babies (can’t blame her, he is drop dead sexy).
What I don’t understand is why Michonne doesn’t ditch her and take off on her own. Her plan to wait out the end times on an island sounds like heaven—I have the exact same plan for when the zombie plague hits—but isolation isn’t Andrea’s thing. I get that. Living alone in a tropical paradise isn’t for everyone. Woodbury fits perfectly with her world view, in that she can live somewhere nice and clean, where men do all the hard work and she gets to sleep with the hottest guy in town and pretend the end of the world didn’t really happen. It’s not a fantasy that will last; the Governor’s dictatorship will eventually squeeze the life out of the town and the whole thing will crumble. Might take a few years, but with or without Michonne and Rick’s help, the town will fall. Michonne’s smart enough to know she doesn’t want to be around when it does.
Not that any of that went on in the actual show. What really happened was Michonne and the Governor had a staring contest to see who would flinch first. Andrea got hit on by creepy perv Merle after she told him everything that ever happened to her because no hard feelings, man. Andrea then put the moves on the Governor who, in turn, put the fake moves on her and got her to vomit out even more important clues. And the Governor stood around looking damn fine in those tight pants while planning out all the horrible things he wants to do to Michonne and Andrea. The way David Morrissey shifts incrementally from good guy to bad guy…dude, this guy is so much better than the show he’s stuck on. He inhabits his character in a way no one else does. Gives me the chills.
Woodbury may have a menacing undercurrent, but the real hellscape is Rick’s newly polished up prison. The whole gang made their way into the yard where they enjoyed two whole minutes of sunshine and happiness before it all went awry. And here’s where my biggest issues with this ep lay. I get what the writers were going for, and, as I said above, sometimes I think it worked. It was fraught, visceral, and gut-wrenching—literally. But at the end of it all, T-Dog’s death is kinda pointless. He was killed off for the same reason he was kept on in the first place: just ‘cause. He never held a vital role in the group beyond token black guy. He had some choice lines he delivered with witty aplomb, but never developed much in the way of a personality. In the short run, killing him off buys Carol a minute or two to crawl into an air duct until the chaos dies down. In the long run, they’re one good fighter short when they’re eventually set upon by the Governor (which looks like it’s finally gonna happen next week). But group dynamics wise, his death is about as meaningful as Jacqui’s.
Worse still is Lori’s death. I couldn’t watch a single frame of Lori’s impromptu C-section. Hell, hearing it was bad enough. Now I feel kinda bad about Lori. She was a terrible character, sure, but even she didn’t deserve to go out like that. But, of course, that was the only way her pregnancy was ever going to turn out. And Carl having to pull the trigger on her corpse to prevent her from rising later on was absolutely horrible. She got her tearful farewell, her closing monologue, and went on her merry, bloody way. From a story point it was terrible and wonderful all at once. But it was also frustrating.
The show is veering very close to misery porn territory. The comics reached a similar spot a few volumes in where I couldn’t take anymore pointless, violent death. It never stopped coming. Yes, that’s what the world would be like if we were trapping in a zombie hellmouth, but you know what? I’m not stuck in a zombie hellmouth. I live in sunny California where I can go to the beach when I want and eat candy for dinner and not have to worry if that guy I’m on a date with wants to rip the flesh from my face to get to my juicy, delicious brains. The deaths at the end of the prison arc were my tipping point in the comics, and if the TV show decides to keep piling on gruesome death after gruesome death without justification I might have to bow out of it, too. The downside to a never-ending apocalypse is that it all starts to become meaningless. We’re not even mid-way through the third season and all hope seems well and truly lost. If there are no stakes, if there’s no hope, then what does it matter?
- “You coming?” “What?” – Daryl’s 10 year old boy giggle at this joke was adorable.
- “Whose blood would you rather have on your hands: Maggie, Glenn, or theirs?” “Neither.” Fare thee well, T-Dog. We hardly knew ye.
- It’s a good thing Carol wore that scarf today that she’s never worn before, otherwise how would they identify her?
- It’s been almost a year since the zombie outbreak yet the prison has cut grass and Mr. Drug Bust has a perfectly coifed handlebar moustache.
- Goddammit, Andrea. Shut your frakking mouth. Stop spilling out every little personal detail to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who asks you for the time of day.
- I don’t know that I take Merle’s definition of “good” as something worth staking my life on.
- Andrew Lincoln is an awful fake cryer. Give that man the Tobey Maguire Award for Overly Dramatic Sobbing.
- Sorry about the lack of interesting photos. Last few seasons AMC was so good at uploading stills that they ended up spoiling future eps. This season I’m lucky if they post 2 the night of.
Alex Brown is an archivist, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.