Feb 25 2013 11:35am

The Walking Dead, S3 E11 “I Ain’t a Judas”

“I Ain’t a Judas” is another in an increasingly long line of wheel-spinning episodes. It fares slightly better than the last few, but mostly just because three (!) black people have more than one line and don’t get killed immediately thereafter. Please bear with me. I’ve spent the last few hours having my brain melted by the Oscars ceremony, then sat through another hour of people standing aimlessly around talking about things that don’t really matter. I’m not in the best frame of mind right now, but I’m going to try and run through the pain. And I do it all for you.

Tonight, like the last few eps, mostly consisted of people standing around talking at each other, then moving to a new location to talk at a different group of people, interspersed with flashes of gross-out violence. Granted, we did score a conversation between Merle and Hershel, but it was also an ultimately fruitless discussion which neither furthered the plot nor did a great deal of character shading except revealing both men really dig the Word of God.

The show opened with talk about turning the keys to the Ricktatorship over to someone else, but then everyone seemed to suddenly forget that the day before he was running around in the weeds chasing after his dead wife and went back to deferring to him. Andrea went ahead with her colossally dumb plan to go to the prison. She honestly thought she could get everyone to lay down their arms and sing Kumbaya, like Rick and the Governor weren’t arch enemies but two 12-year-old boys who both wanted to play with the same toy. Tyrese and company were sort of rescued by Milton and Andrea. They’re either going to end up being the death knell for Rick’s group or be used by Andrea to foment insurrection in Woodbury. It all depends on how long it takes the writers to realize they have three black people on the show and start killing them off. Carol got two great scenes, one made even better by the welcome addition of Daryl. They are one of my favorite BrOTPs on TV right now. Spinoff idea: they take Carl, Lil’ Asskicker, Maggie, and Glenn prior to his assault at Woodbury and run off to build their own commune somewhere.

Andrea is genuinely shocked and upset that the Governor lied to her, and then is dumb enough to buy into his rather obvious lies yet again. Also, if you want to make a secret escape plan, don’t do it by having a loud, public argument in the middle of the street. And showing up at the prison all defensive like isn’t helping her case. This whole “we have to work this out!” thing is quite possibly the dumbest thing Andrea’s ever done, and she’s already plumbed the deepest, darkest depths of idiocy. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and smells like a duck, the next thing out of your mouth shouldn’t be “Is it a zebra?” Andrea had one job: to sex up the Governor something good then shank him. ONE JOB. And she couldn’t even do that. Here’s hoping the season ends with her bloody, painful, scream-filled death.

Okay. Taking a step back for a moment. Andrea, like Lori before her, has the tendency to whip me into a frenzy. Let me explain why I hate her so much. It’s been three and a half seasons and we still don’t know anything about her (or any of the other characters, really). For a while, her role was laundry washer. Then she turned into a loose cannon who made life-threateningly rash decisions (remember when she almost accidentally killed Daryl?). Now she’s half-cipher, half-blind fanatic for whomever she’s sleeping with, with a dash of heavy-handed moralizing for good measure. She’s basically become the bastard lovechild of Dale and Lori.

And that’s the problem. Andrea’s situation—friend turning on friend, being betrayed by your lover, etc.—should be tragic, or at least dramatic. But without the personality to support it, the tragedy just becomes irritating. Moreover, rather than exploring her as a person and letting her personality define her reactions to the painful experiences she’s suffering, they have her spew unfounded judgements, poorly crafted Big Speeches, or shout out whatever opinion opposes whoever she’s interacting with. Don’t believe me? Rewatch the scene between her and Michonne where she accuses her former friend of “poisoning” the prison group against Woodbury. Who the frak does that? (This scene didn’t help Michonne’s rep, either. That she went back to Woodbury just to rub salt in Andrea’s wounds doesn’t make her anymore sympathetic or relatable.)  I hate that they’ve ruined a great character from the comic, I hate that they’ve turned one of the few badass chicks on TV into the worst thing ever, and I hate that Andrea always does the dumbest, worst, most awful thing anyone could ever do in any situation.

To quote myself from last week’s comments: “I don’t hate The Walking Dead, but I do hate when it pulls something as lazy and half-baked as the last few episodes. I’m disappointed in the show because I know it can do far better than what’s been on screen recently. I keep watching because when it does do better, it blows me away (see my review for“When the Dead Come Knocking”). And even it’s worst episodes are still better than, say Zero Hour or Do No Harm.” This is a show that, for whatever reason, refuses to live up to its own expectations. I can’t tell if it’s because of budget reasons, if AMC picks crappy showrunners, or if the Powers That Be just wants to play to the lowest common denominator, but I suspect it’s a combination of all three. Not to keep harping on stuff I’ve stated in the past, but TWD has a nasty habit of having amazing premieres and finales and really sucky middle bits. I was equally as frustrated with the plot-suck that was Hershel’s farm in season 2 as I am with Andrea and the time-killing of season 3. There are only 5 more eps left, and they’re going to have to tie off this prison/governor arc by the end of it. There’s great potential for how this season plays out, but right now I’m more concerned about how badly they’re going to throw the game.

Final Thoughts

  • “You should stop.” “Stop what?” “Being the leader."
  • “She asked for help. Help her.”
  • “There’s nothing to work out. We’re gonna kill him. I don’t know how or when, but we will.”
  • “Tell you what. Next time you see Phillip, tell him I’m gonna take his other eye.”
  • “Chose a warm bed over a friend.” Uteruses before duderuses, Andrea.
  • Are you telling me the redneck hillbilly racist sexist pig Merle is both a fervent Bible reader and a supporter of public libraries?
  • Cutty (aka Tyrese) has this wonderful facial expression of “What the hell is up with all these crazy-ass white people?”
  • There is some serious soap opera-level directing and cinematography going on in this ep.

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. Bobobob
Err, lots of redneck hillbilly racist sexist pigs are also fervent Bible readers. It's called "the Bible Belt", or just "the south".
2. Eric Saveau
They're going to waste Chad Coleman in this, aren't they? They're going to do to his character exactly what they did to Michonne and Andrea. And they probably won't even give us a cute L4D2 allusion from him, either.
Jan Kafka
3. JanKafka
To me, it seems as if one of the writers, reading Andrea's bio, decided this was how a lawyer would act in the apocolypse - that they would treat any conflict as inter-office one-upmanship hi-jinx. Something that could resolved by a nice grown-up talk. I had the same thought about Michonne - they destroyed her character. And now, oddly, I want to see her hook up with Merle.
4. Herb9999
@1, this is a common misconception and almost entirely untrue. The Bible Belt has both a lot of redneck hillbilly racist sex pigs and a lot of fervent Bible readers, but there is very limited overlap between the two. The former have always been highly irreligious (and when not, less "reader" and more "fervent").

"I thought you were teaching people to defend themselves, not to fight."

--Andrea, a moron

Andrea perfectly demonstrates one of my primary gripes with Hollywood. In the comic, she is a former paralegal who is a smart, uber-capable character. In the show, she is a former (civil rights!) lawyer who is a raging idiot. We don't know what Michonne did before in TV land, but it says something very sad that I would be pleasantly surprised if she only got demoted so far as paralegal.
Alex Brown
5. AlexBrown
@Bobobob and Herb9999: There are Christians lviving in the Bible Belt, and then there are characters like Merle who have never shown any interest in religion or spirituality or reading for personal enjoyment who - in an epic twist of plot contrivance - suddenly likes going to the library on such a frequent basis (despite the whole end of the world thing going on) that he can quote random passages of the Bible verbatim. I don't buy that Merle gives one flying fart about the Bible, and I buy even less the notion that he has ever willingly set foot in a public library.

@Eric: Yup. Just like they did with Michonne. And it really bugs me...for a variety of reasons, only some of which are race related.

@JanKafka and Herb9999: I TOTALLY forgot Andrea was a civil rights lawyer. Not that they need to keep referring back to what they did before the apocalypse, but it would be nice if she utilized some of those very expensive skills for which she sat through all that schooling. Actually, now her idea of talking it out makes so much more sense (because that's precisely what lawyers do), but her method of execution is still excruciating.
7. Shadazar
I am saddened by all the hate michonne's character has gotten in all the forums. In recent interviews, gurira, who is an accomplished actress and award winning playwright, indicated that she went to the writers regarding the direction of michonne's character development, and was told by them that michonne does not talk. The actress unfortunately has to make due with the script handed to her. The writers don't know how to write for a female character of color. Btw, the GN had its own flaws, but michonne and andrea were much more fleshed out in a positive way.
Alex Brown
8. AlexBrown
@Shadazar: Laurie Holden (Andrea) and Danai Gurira (Michonne) are much more accomplished than their TWD characters make them out to be. I've been very careful about how I talk about the actors. If something is the fault of the actor (such as Andrew Lincoln over-reacheing in his melodramatic "Rick Goes Crazy" mode), then I'll point it out, but otherwise I assume the fault lies with the writers, directors, and showrunner. Gurira and Holden do the best they can, but there's only so much redemption with crap scripts.

I'm also more willing to forgive flawed storylines and scripts when the characters are more developed, hence my adoration of Daryl, Carol, Maggie, and Carl (and formerly Glenn). They've shaded out nicely, albeit subtlely and not as much as they should be this far into the series. If we knew more about Michonne, if we understood her personality better, we'd be able to interpret the meanings behind her silence. Right now, all her standing around glowering portrays is a woman who likes to stand around and glower.
Jan Kafka
9. JanKafka
@Alex Brown - I'm not defending the way Andrea is written - far from it. I agree with you completely. Just a guess as to where this silliness originated. After all Andrea's been through, she should be way beyond any sort of "office madcaps" thinking.
And yes, Michonne doesn't seem to be acting much like a former professional, and she's had far less trauma, so far, then her comic counterpart. The only theory I have for why she's being written this way is that it's to stir controvery.
10. M Collins
"It’s been three and a half seasons and we still don’t know anything about her (or any of the other characters, really)..."

Since they are in just the second half of Season 3 wouldn't that be "two and a half seasons"?

But I agree, besides the portrayal of Michonne's character, I am most disappointed in how they have portrayed Andrea.
Alex Brown
11. AlexBrown
@M Collins: Whoops! Yep, you're right. That's what happens with a Seth MacFarlane overdose.
Bill Capossere
12. Billcap
There isn’t a single scene with Andrea where I’m not hoping she ends up dead. If she’s fighting zombies, I want her eaten. If she’s facing off against gun-toting people, I want her shot. If she’s eating, I want her to choke and everyone around her to have forgotten the Heimlich; getting out of bed—trip over sheets and hit her head on the endtable; holding the baby—brain aneurism. It is a dream I have.

I am going to complain once about the actor though—I think she has gotten to rely too much and overstate the physical “I’m tough” body language, with the cocked hip etc. Drives me crazy because it is every single time.

Again, we’re presented a world that is just like ours save there are zombies in it. So people still just step in and kill a zombie attacking two complete strangers because that’s what we would do in this world (no matter they’ve said already how bad people are out there and they’ve just run away from one bad one). And two people will tell strangers of their just-attacked-by-strangers town because that’s what we would do in this world. And then one of them, outnumbered four or five to one (I don’t care), volunteers to escort the nice strangers (totally not like those other strangers) back because it’s what we would do in this world. And people are upset about handing guns to teenagers with asthma because in this world they would be. And T’s group (why use a full name when there’s a good chance he’d soon done for) just ups and leaves sanctuary when one crazy guy goes against the majority trying to get them to stay cuz in this world, who’d put up with one crazy guy with a gun? And on it goes. None of this, none of it, makes sense in the world they inhabit. Do the writers have such a paucity of imagination that the only thing they think is different is dead people walk around and people aren’t as sickened by gore as they normally would be?

Thank god for the handful (lil’ asskicker’s size hand) of characters that are making it somewhat palatable. At least Merle adds some humor. Now if only he would have killed Andrea. It’s a dream . . .
13. JimmyMackey
I like your review here because you touched on some of the irritating parts of the episode, mainly Andrea’s “whip-me-into-a-frenzyability.” She’s really great for irritating me and making me wish she didn’t exist. I usually miss “Dead” on Sundays because I’m visiting with my in-laws. I have a lot of friends I work with at DISH who like the show too. We all have a DISH Hopper so we can watch commercial free the next day, then we talk about it on Tuesday. That way I save time by not watching commercials and have enough time to watch another show that night.
Alex Brown
14. AlexBrown
@Billcap: I second everything you said. Particularly, I'm glad I'm not the only one who is bothered by Laurie Holden's swagger-walk thing. I like to pretend her boots are giving her callouses because they're too large and that she's one of those walkers who swing their arms a lot but she can't because of the hip hoslter, hence the weird bow-legged thing.

@JimmyMackey: Andrea is a longstanding problem, much like Lori, and I suspect she'll end up equally as dead. In all probability, during the Governor's inevitable attack on the prison.
15. Darth Touma
My REAL problem with Merle is that EVERY time I see him, I keep expecting Carl to offer him a chocolate-covered pretzel..
16. tigeraid
@15. Darth Touma

Kevin Smith movie reference! HAH! Now I CANNOT UNSEE....
17. darthsumo1
I would like to see Merle turn, and afterwards walk around smacking his lips, muttering "MEAT!"

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