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.
Which 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.
- “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.