We spent one week meeting a psychotic Andy Griffith in Woodbury, Georgia. We spent the next in a truly harrowing prison zombie fight. The first one was kind of slow, but the second was quite the ripper. All in all, it was entertaining, but I wonder how long a show can go on like this. Short seasons are a big help. Sixteen straight weeks of this might burn out even the old Fangoria readers.
“Walk With Me”
This episode opens with an army chopper having equipment failure and going down. Michonne and a sick Andrea head toward it, only to double down in the bushes after they see cars drive up. This new group of survivors saves the still living pilot while dispatching his deceased comrades before they rise as walkers. Well, not entirely before. We do get one of gratuitous gore moments when a guy severed below the torso begins to wiggle. Nice.
Andrea and Michonne are ultimately caught by our old buddy Merle. You remember, Darryl’s brother? The redneck chained to the roof, the one who cut off his own hand to escape? He’s got a crude but effective little knife-prosthesis thing going now.
Back in the town of Woodbury, Andrea wakes from fever-induced delirium. She’s been medicated up and gets quizzed by Merle. He’d like to find Darryl. He’d also like to find Rick, but I don’t think that reunion would be quite as friendly. Andrea does tell him that Darryl and Rick went back for him. That scores some points for Darryl. I don’t think Rick can score points in the Merle game zone.
Woodbury is basically Mayberry behind really tall walls manned 24/7. Its Andy Griffith is a guy called the Governor. Seems like a good guy, but Michonne just scowls at him. She’s seen enough horror movies to know the plot twist coming. So do we, which is this episode’s primary weakness—it ambles its way toward a twist no one ever doubts is coming.
The Governor gets the injured pilot to tell him where his stranded National Guard unit is by promising to save them. He ambushes the unit instead, killing everyone and taking their supplies. He also does a pre-walker rising put down of one dead guy that’s excessive even by overly wrought dramatic standards. You see, he’s psychologically disturbed. And just to really rub our face in it, the end shot is the Governor sitting in a private room filled with heads in jars.
Yep, heads in jars. Kind of clichéd even if one of them is that unlucky National Guard pilot who survived.
So much for subtlety in character development with this particular villain. I actually found such a blatant gesture off-putting. I felt like I was being hammered on the head like that dead National Guard guy the Governor went psycho on earlier.
This is one wicked episode. A relentless life and death struggle after the obligatory happy fake out, one that claws its way to the bitter end. And it is engrossing. But by that end, the very idea of a group seems rather fragile anymore.
We open with a bad omen even by this show’s standards. Someone has killed a deer and is dragging the carcass toward an open gate. He uses its various portions to lure a couple of walkers inside, then leaves the heart at the open gate. It doesn’t strike me as a housewarming present.
Now it’s fake out happiness time. Glen and Maggie are making out like bunnies in a guard tower. Herschel eventually gets up and starts ambling around on crutches. Some verbal strife occurs with the two surviving prisoners who don’t want to stay alone in their charnel house cell block (and who can blame them?). But then we’re off to a nice little jaunt outside to find wood for burning walker bodies. If that doesn’t say spring is in the post-apocalyptic air, what could?
Back at Woodbury, Michonne continues to demonstrate two things. First, she’s got a world class scowl. Second, unlike Andrea, she’s not one of the worst judges of character on the face of the planet. She notices bullet holes in those National Guard trucks the Governor brought home last week. She also notices some blood. Her subsequent chat with the Governor is nicely barbed. Michonne wants to split from Woodbury, head toward the coast and find a boat.
Back in the prison, Rick is wonder struck by the heartwarming sight of Hershel ambling about on his crutches. So of course tons of walkers suddenly appear in the yard from out of nowhere. That sets in motion a truly wild cascade of events as unexpected as they are ultimately shocking.
Everyone in the yard scatters into small groups on the run. Rick, Darryl and Glen frantically race back to help. While trying to close and lock a gate, T Dog gets bit from behind, so he’s done for. About that time, the prison’s siren starts going off to attract more walkers. It would seem that individual with the deer in the opening has been busy.
Back in Mayberry, Andrea gives Merle directions to Hershel’s farm. She then gets hit on by Merle, who has some of the worst make out lines you could imagine. Something tells me that he’s going to have a hard time scoring even in a post-apocalyptic Mayberry. Anyway, Merle wants to find Darryl, the Governor puts some more grown up moves on Andrea (his name is Phillip), and nobody cares because we want to know what’s happening in the prison.
They dying T Dog is trying to lead Carol to safety. Carl, Lori and Maggie are also on the run in the prison when Lori suddenly goes into labor. That’s pretty unfortunate. Out in the yard, the men folk are killing walkers; Glen wins on style points with a leaping 180 slash that takes the top half of a walker’s head clean off. But they need to know where the utility room is to turn off the siren. Oscar, our African American prisoner from the gross cell block, offers to show them the way. So it seems clear enough that we’ve already got poor T Dog’s demographic replacement lined up. It’s a shame they didn’t let Mr. Dog do more first. He seemed like a decent enough actor.
T Dog and Carol run into walkers. T Dog hurls himself into them, pushing them back as they gnaw on him in order to open an escape path for Carol. See, he was a good guy. We should have gotten to know him better.
Lori starts delivering the baby in an abandoned utility closet. Of course there are complications, and she starts bleeding. She’s not going to make it. Lori tells Maggie to cut her open to save the baby. In a real wincer of a scene, she says goodbye to Carl, tells him to be strong, then screams as Maggie… Well, you get the idea. It’s an effective scene, dramatically speaking, but I’m not sure how many more like it I can take.
Rick, Darryl, Glen and Oscar reach the generator room. Darryl is holding the door shut against walkers when “Andrew” jumps Rick. And who is Andrew, you may ask? Why he’s the guy Rick locked out in the yard with walkers two episodes ago. Andrew escaped and obviously didn’t take the whole experience well. Fair enough, since it seemed a form of unconstructive criticism at the time. Andrew was the guy with the dead deer in the opening. Given the choice of killing Andrew or Rick, Oscar chooses Andrew, thus earning his spot on our constantly depleting team of survivors.
Rick and company find T Dog’s body. They also find Carol’s scarf nearby, but I’m not buying for a second that she’s dead. A show this gross wouldn’t allow anyone to die off camera. I’m confident we’ll see her again.
Everyone meets up in the yard. Maggie has the crying baby and Carl in tow, who became a grown up man shooting his mother’s corpse to keep her from coming back. Take that Old Yeller, you simpy girly man movie. Rick sees them, figures it out, and collapses in grief.
Adrenaline fueled depression. This show mainlines it.
Will Conservatives Like These Episodes?
I don’t know. Gore fans certainly well, and the second one draws you in like a bear trap, but it’s a very acquired taste. This one left me wondering if I have it, which I suppose is a tribute to good, gory writing.