Mar 18 2013 12:00pm

The Walking Dead, S3 E14 “Prey”

The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 14 Prey TV

Despite this episode being almost entirely centered on Andrea, it surprisingly didn’t suck. Talk about the shocker of the season. She is still the worst, though. No jumping over that hurdle. She does everything wrong in the most obvious ways and it’s no surprise she ends up in the torture chamber built for Michonne. Rick didn’t get a single line the whole ep, just a quick pop in to him actually guarding things while on guard duty instead of having sexy fun times like some couples I could mention….

Before I get into one of my patented Andrea rants, let’s talk about Milton and Tyreese. Milton, honey, sweetheart, babykins, you’re supposed to be the smart one in the bunch, the one who looks to the future with hope in his heart and trust in his eyes, and yet you’ve turned out to be little more than a frightened mouse running between the feet of battling elephants. He’s the worst kind of coward, the kind that will cling to his evil lord no matter what goes down because he’s more afraid of the unknown than of dying at the right hand of his master. He wants to do the right thing but his fear of the Governor will always win out. I’m sure when the final hour comes, he’ll betray el jefe in some small yet ultimately significant way, but only because he’ll recognize his death is inevitable, and he’s the kind of guy who will want to die doing the right thing. Right now, he knows war is looming but he’s holding out for Andrea getting Rick and co. out of harm’s way. He doesn’t believe there has to be a fight to the death, but once he realizes it’s coming, he’ll do the honorable thing. But only because he’s going to die anyway. As I said: coward.

Tyreese had a beef with White Dude #1, something about some chick named Donna. I couldn’t give two flying farts about what any of them have to say about anything that’s not Rick or Woodbury. Tyrese and Sasha aren’t much more than hastily outlined characters, and the other two guys they hang around with for some inexplicable reason haven’t managed to be anything more than overpaid extras. The obvious point of that stupid argument over a dead character the audience never got to know was to drive a stake between Tyreese’s group, but unless the audience cares about the group, the wedge is a moot point. For about three seconds, the audience thought Tyreese might be the firestarter that took out the pit zombies, but his sincere confusion about the gasoline made it clear that he didn’t burn the biters (he thought he was being chastised for fighting with White Dude #1 at the pits). The Governor’s chat with Milton immediately after ruined what little mystery was left.

<em>The Walking Dead</em> Season 3 Episode 14 Prey TVWhich brings us to Andrea. Milton showed her the Governor’s playroom (then prevented her from killing him) and finally—FINALLY!—she decided enough was enough. In the most awkward escape ever, she made up some half-assed lie to Tyreese and Sasha who were monitoring one of the walls. When they called her on it she left anyway with a cryptic warning about the Governor not being who he claimed to be. Here’s where I, if I were unlucky enough to be in this show, would’ve thrown up my hands in frustration, stolen a bag of guns and supplies, and lit out of Dodge. I get wanting safety in numbers, but they have to know something’s coming. Why bother sticking around for what will surely be a bloodbath?

But back to Andrea. She is the Governor’s titular prey, and spends most of the ep running from him down the middle of the road and through open fields. Around sunset he corners her in an abandoned warehouse and the hunt gets serious. What Andrea should’ve done was wait until he got out of the truck to inspect the buildings, then popped his tires with her pig sticker and kept running, or, if he left the keys in the truck, stolen it and drove off. That would be the smart thing to do. Since she insisted on going into the abandoned warehouse, the least she could’ve done was find a quiet spot and hide instead of walking around making a ruckus. But no, this is Andrea, and she always has to pick the dumbest option available. Granted, she made it out alive by employing a neat trick of releasing a stairwell full of biters on him, but because we still have two more episodes left, the Governor couldn’t die quite yet. He caught up to her in the split second before Rick could spot her waving at the prison border. (For those playing along at home, that was also the same location where Rick went looking for Lori when the Governor did that Trojan zombie truck sneak attack a few eps back. Might explain why he dismissed seeing something move out there.)

Despite the show’s inability to adequately define the geography, it has done a pretty good job at showing the progression of time. The landscape and buildings deteriorating more and more, the biters getting more desiccated. However, we did get a little clue as to how close/far Woodbury and the prison are from each other. This sounds like a middle school math problem, but if Andrea leaves Woodbury no later than noon on the first day, runs/jogs/power walks the next 24 hours, then that puts them within about 30 miles from each other. Where they are in relation to Rick’s hometown and Hershel’s farm I’m still not clear, but at least I have a better sense of the inevitable collision between the prison and Woodbury. The groups are large enough and close enough that they would’ve run into each other eventually, Merle or no Merle.

After my complaints last week about the Governor’s inconsistent character, it seems like the writers have finally settled on psychopath, Max Cady setting. When the Governor posed with the chains in the cold open, I’m sure it was creepy for those who never read the comics, but for the rest of us it was damn near terrifying. And in case you weren’t disturbed enough, the first “tool” the Governor removed from the tray were forceps. It’s becoming clearer now how AMC has decided to deal with not dealing with what happens between the Governor and Michonne in the comics. Without veering into spoilerage, let’s just say that shit goes down and it’s more than a little unpleasant. Watching him hunt Andrea is how they’re working around it. He still gets to be horrific, but none of his actions are inflicted upon his intended target. The writers have substituted one act of direct violence with several acts of indirect violence and hints of things to come.

Of course, now that he’s got Andrea, he’ll definitely torture her. But he’s also running up against a clock. He’s got to meet Rick and launch a full-scale war, so there’s only so many hours he has to “practice” with Andrea before acquiring his heart’s desire. Even though Michonne hasn’t been given nearly as much character development as needed for the Governor’s threat against her to mean as much as it’s supposed to, I still don’t want to see her hurt. Andrea? Meh. I’m supposed to be gravely concerned about her being tied up in that chair, but at this point it’s like when the writers tried to force me to feel bad about Lori having to die to save her unborn child. Tragic, yes. Do I care about the worst person ever having something bad happen to her? Not especially. I mean, I care in general, because I’m a human being with empathy and symapthy, but I’m not getting especially worked up over Andrea’s fate. Live or die don’t really matter to me as long as she shuts up and goes away.

“Prey” was another in a long line of wheel-spinners, but what makes this episode work as opposed to eps like “Home” is the focus. The writers picked a character, in this case Andrea, and told a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. It seems simple, but basic story structure has been missing from much of this season. Heck, from much of the series as a whole. Andrea had a goal, encountered conflicts, and suffered setbacks. The two B-plots (Milton’s cowardice and Tyreese’s growing concern) intersected with hers in ways that didn’t feel too forced, and the C-plots surrounding Tyreese at least attempted to better define that group as individuals.

Normally I hate flashbacks. Like prologues in fiction, they’re generally overused and often indicative of lazy writing, especially when used as info dumps. I’ve complained about TWD’s abuse of flashbacks before, but after tonight I take it back. We could’ve used the first half of the cold open with Michonne and Andrea about 14 episodes ago. Would’ve made Michonne more understandable if not relatable. Not necessarily likeable, but more human, more emotional. By this point in the season, the scene doesn’t do anything for either character. In fact, flashbacks about Milton and pre-Governor Phillip would also fill in a lot of the blanks with those characters. It’d be helpful to see how far Woodbury has fallen, how much chaos went on in the 18 months since the outbreak. That makes what’s about to happen all the more powerful.

Final Thoughts

  • “What is that?” “My workshop.” “How does that help Woodbury?”
  • “Killing the Governor won’t save your friends.”
  • At this point, the Governor isn’t even attempting to lie well, yet everyone still eats up his stories like it’s manna from heaven. I can’t decide if everyone in Woodbury are idiots, extremely gullible, or some pathetic combination thereof.
  • Again with ending the show on a freaking power ballad. What the hell, man.

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.

Eric Saveau
1. Eric Saveau
We've been in Woodbury so long that I had almost stoppped expecting "the workshop" to show up. I really really really hope that the show doesn't actually go through with any of that.
Sky Thibedeau
2. SkylarkThibedeau
Yeah but still I think they are never going to hand it off to the Governor and Rick so to speak on the TV show like they did in the comics though that makes the emnity between the Governor and Mishonne more compelling..
Eric Saveau
3. Eyeless621
I liked how Milton told Andrea she wouldn't be able to get close enough to the Governor to kill him, and she replied by saying "only if he hears me coming"... and then she follows that up by hiding in the warehouse and running into absolutely everything that makes noise... she sucks.

I agree that I think we were supposed to be more concerned for Andrea being in that chair at the end of the episode, but I really wasn't worried either. I saw it as an opportunity to get her off the show, which is probably not what they were going for.
Jan Kafka
4. JanKafka
I actually turned off my TV after the cold open, sensing which way the wind was blowing. I can't unread the comic (which I stopped reading at about that point) but I can avoid subjecting my senses to more of the same. I may be done with the show, actually. I was hoping that, with the scene of the Governer and Maggie (which I also didn't watch), that they had circumvented going down this road.
One of my complaints with the handling of Michonne in the show has been that she's been portrayed as the glowering, taciturn post-Woodbury Michonne from the start. The cold open at least made some effort to ...retcon that situation. If it hadn't felt like such a bandaid, I might have appreciated it more. (Not sure I liked the onus being placed on her pets - the comic made more sense to me in this regard.)
My other complaint is that this is the only show I've ever seen where you have to watch the after-show or interviews with the actors to get any glimpse of the characters' motivations. I may be old fashioned, but I think that stuff should be in the script.
The last thing I have to talk about is the torture scene being threatened (and yes, I hope they don't go there too.) I think, post Abu Garib, you shouldn't put a sexual spin on torture in entertainment - even to show how bad the baddie is. (Laziest characterization ever, for one thing.) On the Talking Dead some of the guests and host were very open about how excited they were about the torture chamber, yes, in that way. I'm not really into political correctness but, jeez, folks. If you go there, I feel you should have a damn good reason beyond titillation.
Bill Capossere
5. Billcap
My problem with this episode is that I couldn’t get by the basic premise of so much of it. The Gov. collects arms from folks, but not from the people they just picked up out of nowhere whom they know nothing about? Not only that, but knowing people are on edge and knowing Andrea might take off and knowing there might be an attack, he puts them on the wall? And the most isolated one to boot? And then, when someone is so desperate to get out they’ll risk getting shot and risk walkers (“most awkward escape attempt ever” is a great description), the folks who know nothing at all about this town don’t ask more questions than they do? Then, the gov sends them out so that they’re not only armed, but outnumber the gov’s loyal duo. And sends them to do something that many people would have at least an initially hard time with. And after they’ve just been told the gov is creepy evil and they’ve just told Mr. Creepy Evil they did a bad, bad thing and he says—“No problem—just go with my heavily armed men away from anyone who can see anything to do some ‘special’ job we won’t tell you what” they don’t get even a little nervous? None of that is plausible to me. And it just keeps coming.

He doesn’t have eyes on Andrea? And when he goes after her, pissed and worried she’s going to screw his plan, he goes alone? He takes nobody on this uber-important mission? Even though we regularly see him take people with him on important missions, even when they’re “personal,” as in the last time he visited the prison. He nearly runs her down in the car, she’s just sprinted and is exhausted, and rather than get out of the car 40 yards behind her to follow her into the “I can easily see you” woods, instead he drives down a road and hopes she’s dumb enough to go someplace the road goes?

Speaking of which, Andrea runs down the road and in open fields and then even after she avoids the gov by going into woods she goes someplace the road goes? And then into a building where she has no idea of entrances/exits? And after using the walkers, she just strolls away because of course the gov is dead, right? I mean, how could he get away from walkers? After all, they walk. And he only has a gun. And a shovel. And a car. And experience. And a nasty survivor turn of mind. So of course she’ll stroll away as if it’s all over (and as if she’s never seen a movie). And it keeps coming

Rick, the guy who sees dead people (well, I guess they all see dead people, but he sees fake dead people), is the one on watch when they expect an attack? And the gov get Andrea down but we have to cut away after Rick looks away (assuming he saw fake dead people) because they can’t figure out how to show us the gov actually getting her away and back to his car without being seen.

And Milton can take out a car and not have that register with anyone? A car? Really? And this gov is now so clearly pycho, so clearly lying, but, oh well, shrug. And yes, I’m really supposed to believe that Milton believes that the underling is going to be exactly as bad as the biter-using, gladiator-encouraging, severed-head-watching, chained-up zombie babysitting, Marathon-Man loving, Gov? Really? And how come there are only people around in this town when they need to be but there is never anyone around otherwise?

The entire episode was predicated on everyone doing the stupidest thing they could do or upon the most implausible acts. Which meant it never felt real and it felt wholly disrespectful to me as a viewer. The same with the attempts to make me care about what happens to people you haven’t bothered to make me care about until you want to do something to them (you nailed where that flashback should have gone and you’re right that others would be a better use of time than much of what we’ve gotten).

Hated this episode. Hated it.
Sky Thibedeau
6. SkylarkThibedeau
@#4. I'm with you. i drifted away from the comic after Woodbury and I will probably do the same with the show when this plotline is done. After Woodbury it got tedious.
Alex Brown
7. AlexBrown
@Eric: They can't go through with it. What happens in the comics is waaaay past NC-17. They couldn't even do it if it was on HBO. Hence all this dancing around it.

@Skylark: I'd be very surprised if Rick and the Governor meet up before the final ep. I'm sure they'll spend much of next week's ep focusing on the prison gearing up for war and the Governor torturing Andrea. And then the finale will be the actual fight. (Where Michonne will probably find Andrea and kill the Governor in retribution. Or she'll get captured and Rick will save her before anything too unsavory happens. Either or.)

@Eyeless: Yep. Andrea sucks.

@Jan and Skylark: You're not the first person I know who's said that this season. It is deeply frustrating to have to sit through The Talking Dead or scour Hollywood Reporter articles to figure out what's going on. I don't do that, and I'm sure that means I'm missing a lot of "nuance," but you know what? It's not my job to have to do homework to figure out the story. It's the job of the writers to tell a compelling story.

As for the torture, not to play too heavily into gender stereotypes, but I think there's a large portion of the viewing audience that only sees what's about to happen to Andrea (and what happens to Michonne) as violent entertainment. And in some ways it is. But as a woman, the look of glee on his face when he pulls out the forceps, and the camera continuously lingering on them fills my heart with dread. There's only one thing he could use them for, and that goes way beyond violent entertainment.

I've said it before, but this is right about where I dropped out of the comics altogether. I read the resolution of the Governor arc and decided I was done. That was enough misery porn for me. I reviewed "Rise of the Governor" for last year and the violence was even worse than I remembered. It stopped being entertainment when he held Michonne hostage and became something awful. There's a fine line, but personally I feel Kirkman gleefully ran across it then kept going. That being said, I'm very interested in how AMC deals with that line-crossing without alienating the majority of the fanbase.

@Bill: There were a ton of plot holes, almost all surrounding Andrea being a frakking idiot. She had to go into the abandoned warehouse because the show relies on horror tropes more than it does its own creativity, but I get why she stuck to the main road even though it was far riskier. She'd only been from Woodbury to the prison once before, and it was by car. It's an impressive sense of direction to be able to recreate that journey under massive stress, but there's no way she could've found her way cutting through the woods. And Milton burning the zombies. Geez, what a stupid plot device. Ugh.
Alex Brown
7. AlexBrown
Sorry, accidentally double-posted. Nothing to see here...
Bill Capossere
8. Billcap
Having not read the comics, I have to say this isn't sounding very appealing going forward . . .

Alex--I get why she'd stay in sight of the road, or at least, close enough to go back and check the sight of the road (which really isn't tough to do)--absolutely. Just not why she'd actually take the road. Or, once chased by a car, return to it right away. Of course, what she realy should have done was take the invisible car through the unmanned super secret gate like Milton did . . .
Alex Brown
9. AlexBrown
@Bill: She should've stayed within sight of the road, but she's Andrea, so.

Also, "invisible car through the unmanned super secret gate" is my new favorite thing. That was bugging me all night. How did Milton get out there? The pit has to be far enough from the town so as not to spook the locals, close enough for easy access, but clearly it's also far enough to necessitate driving (and far enough away that the townsfolk couldn't see or smell the smoke or burning flesh). If it was around the corner they wouldn't waste fuel driving there. SO HOW THE HELL DID MILTON GET TO THE PIT? How did he acquire gasoline, a truck, a lighter, and get all the way to the pit unseen and back again? If next episode he says "well, I had a key," so help me...
Eric Saveau
10. Eric Saveau
Also, when you're out on the run and you hear the sound of a vehicle, you instantly drop flat! None of this BS about standing straighter and peering anxiously until the vehicle is in plain sight. There's simply no way she could be that stupid.
Alex Brown
11. AlexBrown
@Eric: But how else would you know if it's the Governor driving after you or just some random dude in a loud truck driving through the middle of an open field? She also missed a great opportunity for hitchhiking while she was running down the middle of the highway.
Michael Johnston
12. JohnstonMR
I'm not so sure it was Milton; the show clearly wants us to think it was, but they could be bluffing.

I get that people hate Andrea. I don't. I do question her staying in Woodbury for so long, but at the same time, she's not a cop, not a hunter. She's a lawyer thrust into a nightmare. While she's clearly adjusting, and has become pretty badass when it comes to zombies, she's still trying to see the good in people until she hasn't got a choice anymore. While we see EVERYTHING about the Governor, she saw only a small amount of his creepiness, and much of what she did see, he explained in ways that would be plausible if you hadn't seen him take down the Military officers in his early appearances. If she'd known about that, she'd have left with Michonne.

Michonne's mistrust of the Governor in the beginning makes sense--she was obviously not a happy person in the world before the fall, and she was predisposed to looking for the hidden motives and truths Andrea wasn't ready to see.
Jan Kafka
13. JanKafka
I was hoping the Maggie sexual assault (and yes, it was sexual assault) was their way of dealing with the comic subject matter, honestly. I'm truly disappointed in the show, probably permanently.
I think they only way I'd come back as a viewer is if they begin to leave the graphic novel far behind and come up with something engaging and original, and made the characters people I could care about. I don't see that happening, sadly.
Alex Brown
14. AlexBrown
@Johnston: Problem is, Andrea, like Lori before her, is little more than a cipher. The show has stripped her of what little personality she garnered in the first two seasons to turn her into what she is now. Andrea has willfully and routinely ignored all the of the manymanymany warnings about the Governor she was privy to. The fact that she almost killed him and then decided to keep sticking around makes her the worst. The fact that she chose a guy she wanted to sleep with over sticking with the person who saved her life, who kept her alive, who befriended her even if it wasn't in a cheerful Leslie Knope sort of way is what makes her the worst.

@Jan: I think you're right about Maggie. AMC won't let them show all of what occurs in the comics, and by divying it out between Maggie, Andrea, and Michonne (if nothing other than threat-wise) makes it less vile in a way, because only bits and pieces are being inflicted on several people.
Eric Saveau
15. RobinM
I am so glad to find that my daughter and I weren't the only ones watching and thinking (yelling at the TV) how stupid Andrea's actions were. It was ridiculous -- for all the reasons already given above by others.

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