Nov 12 2012 1:30pm

The Walking Dead, S3 E5: “Say the Word”

A review and recap of The Walking Dead, season 3 episode 5: Say the Word

Once again, The Walking Dead pulls off another solid episode in “Say the Word.” This is definitely a show that gets better with less dialogue. I don’t think the writers are ever going to figure out what subtlety means—every conversation is about as literal as it gets, what with everyone speaking exactly what’s on their mind without an ounce of metaphor between them—but when they stop acting like they’re taking a freshman philosophy class and get down to the zombie killing, the quality goes up.

The one good thing about killing off a character (or, in last week’s case, two to three) is that the ramifications of such loss gives the survivors something to do. There are the practical things like grave digging and cleaning up the mess, the urgent things like tracking down baby supplies and naming the newborn, and the contemplative things like “what do we do now?” and “what does it all mean?” The remaining convicts try to make themselves as useful as possible, to stave off being punished for their late prisonmate’s crimes, by distracting walkers away from Maggie and Daryl and helping Glenn dig graves for Carol, T-Dog, and Lori. Funnily enough, everyone except Rick seems more upset over losing T-Dog and Carol than over losing Lori, which I’d argue puts them more in line with the audience.

A review and recap of The Walking Dead, season 3 episode 5: Say the WordMaggie and Daryl got the most action this week with their field trip to the abandoned day care. As per usual, Daryl won the episode simply by being in it. That brief, quiet moment when he noticed the little heart pinned to the wall with the name “Sofia” written on it in a child’s handwriting was so sweet and tragic, and the look on his face as he remembered the little girl they fought so hard to find, as he considered that Lori died for her child, that they’re all now risking their lives to make sure her death wasn’t for naught, is heartbreaking. In the case of Maggie and Glenn, it’s nice to see a couple who respect and trust each other. When Maggie decided to go with Daryl to find formula for Lil’ Asskicker, Glenn didn’t beg her not to go. No, he knows her strengths and weaknesses and trusts her to be able to handle herself. A strong, functional relationship is sadly a rarity on television these days.

Rick, on the other hand, goes full on crazy town banana pants. For a man who up until very recently couldn’t even stand to sleep in the same jail cell as his estranged wife, he takes her death exceptionally hard. Nothing, not Glenn’s words of solace nor the lamebrain who gorged himself into a Lori coma, could snap Rick out of his grief stupor. How out of it does he get? The poor boy doesn’t utter a word the entire ep save the very end, when he hallucinates the phone ringing. (Side note: Yes, I know that’s in the comics, but I can’t remember what happened with that so don’t spoil it for me, okay? I’m actually kinda looking forward to the next ep, and that isn’t a state I’m used to experiencing with TWD. I’d like to make it last.)

Michonne is becoming a problem. and not just for the Governor. We’re 5 episodes in and she still has neither personality nor motivation. Her perpetual glower is grating on my nerves. She’s one step away from Dean Winchester playing Jensen Ackles playing Dean Winchester (you’re welcome, Supernatural fans). Woodbury may have creepy undertones, but from what little Michonne has witnessed, there’s nothing to give her pause. Her gut may be telling her Woodbury’s milk is curdled, but you can’t sustain long-term empathy on the audience’s part with a gut feeling and some creepy background music. Even the zombie cage fighting is somewhat understandable, if off-putting. The Governor’s right: the townsfolk do need to blow off steam and learn not to fear the walkers. But Andrea’s also right in that they’re going about it the wrong way. At least, that’s what she would’ve said if she wasn’t so busy thinking “Oh shit, Michonne was right!”

Final Thoughts

  • “So today we celebrate how far we’ve come.”
  • “People with nothing to hide don’t usually feel the need to say so.”
  • “She’s all personality, that one.”
  • “This place is not what they say it is.”
  • “You’re teaching them that walkers aren’t dangerous.” “We’re teaching them not to be afraid.”
  • So, wait, Carol’s dead? I thought she was just hiding out in the prison somewhere.
  • Of course Daryl is the baby whisperer. Also, Lil’ Asskicker equals best name ever.
  • Speaking of baby names, anyone remember who Patricia was? I could IMDB her, but I’m far too lazy.
  • Whoulda thought an interrogation in a kindergarten classroom would be so disconcerting?
  • Michonne, you are so gonna regret not killing the Governor when you had the chance.

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.

1. shp2109
patricia = Otis' wife/sister something. Blonde who got walker-eaten while still holding on to Beth's hand.
2. JBHedgehog
Carol...I must of blinked. How did she die again? I saw her screaming with that wonderful head wrap 'round her noggin' and then...nothing. T-Dawg being Mr. Sacrificial.

I didn't even see her get munched?!?!?

Jessica Reisman
3. jwynne
Actually, extra freaking out/losing it on Rick's part precisely because he hadn't worked things out with Lori seems pretty spot on, psychologically speaking, to me.
David Thomson
4. ZetaStriker
I'm kind of curious to see how the introduction of the phone pans out . . . not to spoil anything, but I don't feel Rick has earned the phone the way he did in the comics. I feel like he broke a little too easily here, and unless they handle it differently, it'll probably feel pretty forced.
Alex Brown
5. AlexBrown
@shp: Sounds about right.

@JB: We never actually saw her die, hence my belief that she's trapped herself in an airshaft or something. But I guess the rest of the group decided she died and gave her a funeral.

@jwynne: I don't think that's the root of his Hamlet-level freak out. I think it's supposed to be that proteting Lori (and, by extension, Carl) has long been his main goal and now all meaning is lost. He has nearly died repeatedly to protect her (he almost always knew where she was yet no one gave a flying fuck where Carl was) and now she's gone and he's alone and all hope is lost. Her death should've affected the audience more, and would have if 90% of us couldn't stand her and were glad to see her go.

@Zeta: Yes to all of that.
6. dhg
Yeah we don't know if Carol is dead or not.I urge folks to read various recaps online like at EW and TVLine etc.They have interviews with Kirkman.You'll discover the phone thing,if you want to know.

I sure hope there is more to Michonne than what she has been so far or else I'll be calling for her to get eaten.She has officially fallen to second best character behind John Reese on Person of Interest.
7. sofrina
herschel swore. and i almost shattered waiting for mischonne to walk through that gate. and though i began the hour wondering where the gov's legendary zombie arena was it full-on startled me when they cut to it. to borrow a line from farscape: the peacekeeper wars: "this. is. madness..."

@3 - i agree. those unresolved issues are tearing him up, along with his utter failure and massive culpability. he and carl have a lot in common these days. i still don't buy that andrew was in on tomas' plan. i think rick killing tomas scared andrew and locking him out obviously made andrew hate him.
8. Improbable Joe
I'm sort of completely checked out at this point. I don't feel much of anything either way, and I found myself fast-forwarding though the episode.
John Ginsberg-Stevens
9. eruditeogre
Governor: good. Maggie & Daryl: OK. The rest. . . meh.

I am with Alex on Michonne. They are doing a disservice to the character with this pouting. And that's all it is. Andrea is just as blinkered in her own way but she gets to act, not just trot out one expression.

There were moments that could have been good that fell short. The arena scene just felt ridiculous.

And the phone: too soon, too forced.
10. Adelle Locke
'As per usual, Daryl won the episode simply by being in it.'

I agree completly.
nicole rich
11. nrich
I was seriously expecting Carol to show up and save Lori after she spent an entire episode learning how to perform a C-section. Also, if they hadn't even gone in to get Lori's body yet, then what the fuck did they bury in those graves? When they cut to the graves at the end, there were three all mounded up, but if Lori was devoured by the Zombie (let's not even get started on the fact that that zombie couldn't possibly have devoured every piece of Lori to the extent they showed even given his swollen gut cause where the fuck did all her bones go (?) and whatnot), then what was left to bury? Why go through the trouble of digging a grave for no body? Fuck, I hate inconsistencies and wasted moments like this.

And seriously, Michonne is supposed to be the coolest character on the whole damn show. Why are they making me hate her so much?
Alex Brown
12. AlexBrown
@dhg: Judging by the previews for next week, Carol is hiding out in the prison, though why she'd feel the need to keep secret that long is beyond me.

@Improbable: David Morrissey has me hooked enough to ignore Andrea's blatant stupidity. He and I both get the same look of deep annoyance whenever she opens her mouth.

@erudite: I'm starting to recall more of that phone sequence, and from what I remember, yes, this iteration is way not deserving of it.

@nrich: Yeah, Carol was a wasted Chekov's gun. I was also wondering about digging the graves. Why not wait until you know if you even have bodies to bury? Now they're just going to have to fill them all back in. Inconsistencies like that are right up there with "who the fuck has been cutting the prison grass all these months?" and "why doesn't every man in Rick's group have a Sam Beam-esque beard by now?"
13. Molybdenum
I think you are (and you are not the only one by any stretch) contradicting yourself on Michonne. You say she has no personality to speak of, but you also say she has no real reason to believe Woodbury and The Governor are pure evil, but is going with it anyways. Her inherent untrustworthiness is revealing the most important part of her character.

Michonne is one of those people, like Daryl, like The Governor, who flourishes in the zombie apocalypse. The survival of the fittest thing plays to her strength main strength, that of being really fit. Woodbury is an environment where she will not thrive and she knows she will not thrive. It appears to be mostly safe, and there's no real opportunity for zombie beheading.

The truth is, Michonne would rather Woodbury be not trustworthy. She would rather go back into the wild, where she thrives, and the excitement of the fighting adrenaline. That is who she is and that is what she wants to be a part of. And that is more important to her than any relationship with any of these people.

That is what the TV show tells me Michonne . So I consider that not bad character development.
Alex Brown
14. AlexBrown
@Moly: Gonna have to disagree slightly with you here. Untrusting is not a personality, it's a single aspect of a personality. Yes, she's untrusting. But that and a glower does not a character make.

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