Andrea is finally reunited with the prison gang in an effort to resolve the situation between them and the Governor.
Obviously, with five episodes still to go of the series, Andrea was hardly going to get Rick and the Governor sitting down to a nice cup to tea any time soon. This was always going to be one of those filler episodes, treading water and buying time until the next exciting twist. As a result, this was one of the worst episodes of The Walking Dead in a long while.
I don’t have a problem with talky episodes. Most of my favourite shows are 90% talking. But in this episode people talked without actually saying anything. The episode just seemed to be ticking off conversations. We had the Carol/Daryl conversation, which brought up the Merle issue in a far less eloquent way that Carol’s musing on abusive relationships did in the previous episode. We had the Merle/Michonne chat. The Andrea/Michonne confrontation. Hershel telling Rick some home truths. None of these came as a surprise.
The show seems to be turning Michonne into a petty, unlikable character rather than the damaged, righteous presence she should be. It continues to struggle with its female characters. Also, they never bothered explaining just when exactly Rick started trusting Michonne – he was threatening to send her on her way before his breakdown, and now he’s planning on taking her on a run with his son. When did that level of trust happen? I’d have actually liked to see the conversation that brought that about.
The only conversations with any real power in this episode were Carl shocking Rick into reclaiming control of his life by suggesting that he step down from his leadership. The fact that his remarkably well-adjusted son was telling him that he “deserved a rest” was enough for Rick to see his actions clearly, and soon he’s holding his baby daughter and making plans for their stand against Woodbury. Rick’s back! The other highlight was Carol, of all people, telling Andrea to give the Governor “the best night of his life” and then kill him in his sleep. As always, Carol surprises by being the most pragmatic of the entire group. We’ve seen her practice C-sections on walkers and use corpses as bullet shields, and now she’s advocating cold-blooded murder in order to save lives in the long run. Maybe Carol should be the group leader – she seems to know what she’s doing.
Things picked up at Woodbury this week, as the Governor adopted his famous black eye patch and started raising an army out of the Woodbury citizens. Milton is becoming ever more interesting in his desperate efforts to please the Governor, happily selling Andrea out. Milton also got roped into the most disturbing scene of the episode, as we discover – graphically – exactly how armless, jawless zombies are made. Eek.
Woodbury got four new residents this episode too, as Tyreese’s gang arrive in town. The Governor is all too happy to welcome them into the community once he hears that they had a run-in with Rick. It’s a shame to see Tyreese on the wrong side, given that he was Rick’s second-in-command in the comics, but hopefully the series will develop him into the sort of vital, charismatic character he should be – and which Chad Coleman is more than capable of playing.
It’s telling that, in a week when Andrea goes from Woodbury to the prison, Woodbury suddenly becomes more interesting. Does Andrea really drag scenes down that much? I had hoped that a return to the prison could make her more interesting, that she could become their inside guy in Woodbury, but the end scene made it clear that her feelings for the Governor – and possibly a desire for a simple, zombie-free life – are clouding her judgement.
So by the end of the episode we’re exactly where we started, except Rick is now slightly saner. Next week’s episode looks like it’ll shake things up a bit, with Rick, Carl and Michonne out on a run and a much-needed change of scene.