Previously on The Walking Dead: Shooting! Walkerbombs! More crazy Rick!
Let’s face it: one can only watch so many hours of a TV show that features soulless flesh-eating zombies before fatigue sets in.
But enough about last night’s Academy Awards! * Let’s talk about The Walking Dead.
Actually, I’m feeling a bit fatigued over AMC’s zombie drama. And it’s because of the “drama” part. Last night’s episode had a pretty promising title, implying as it did some sort of heated blowup between/caused by one of the beloved Dixon brothers over loyalty and treachery. But no. We didn’t come any closer to knowing if Daryl really ain’t a Judas, or if Merle ain’t not a Judas. Instead, we got about 50 minutes worth of Andrea, which is about 49 minutes more of Andrea than anyone really needs. The show is starting to stall out, and “character-focused” episodes like last night’s aren’t helping.
The ep started out in a promising manner. Merle (who’s rapidly becoming a really interesting character, thanks in no small part to Michael Rooker’s gleefully calculating performance) is talkin’ some truth to Team Prison: they need to GTFO, and quickly, because the Gov is not playing around. He has the numbers, the firepower, and the tactical advantage; his first attack on the prison was a probe, and he will be back in force. Or he could choose to surround the prison and just starve the gang out. This line of thought – you know, actually thinking strategically instead of yelling – is a reminder that Merle is a former soldier, a fact that comes into play when he tries to call a truce with Michonne. “It wasn’t personal. I was just following orders,” he tells her. “Like the Nazis,” she responses. “Yeah! Exactly!” he say, feeling that they’ve had a breakthrough. Not too quick on the uptake, is our Merle.
Later, Hershel has a sit-down with Merle, to try to figure him out. The two compare limb-loss stories, as one does when one has to have a forced amputation thanks to a zombie bite or when one saws off one’s hand thanks to one’s own inability to control one’s mouth. Hershel produces a Bible because of course he does. But if he thinks he’s gonna win a game of Dueling Scripture with Merle, he’s sadly mistaken, as Merle finishes Hershel’s Bible quote AND adds the chapter and verse. PWNED. And again, Merle lays it out: the Gov is coming, and he’s got killing on his mind. What to make of Merle? Is he really having a change of heart? Or is he playing both sides, with the thought of jumping back into the Gov’s camp once the shooting starts? Who knows?
Rick, meanwhile, seems to slowly be coming out of his fog. He catches a quick flash of white while on watch – Lori the Friendly Ghost’s dress – but doesn’t go a-wanderin’ after it. Baby steps, but still. It might be too late for Rick, though; Hershel is losing faith and patience, and tells Rick that if he’s going to be the leader he needs to, you know, lead or something. Well, at least Rick has Carl. “Dad, can I tell you something? You should stop being the leader. Let Hershel and Daryl handle things.” Et tu, Carl? Et tu?
All of this is fairly meaty stuff, but then we go back to Woodbury, and Andrea. The Gov is building an army – ok, more like a platoon – rounding up every able-bodied person and getting them armed and trained. Including kids. This upsets Andrea, who doesn’t see the need to train the young people to shoot guns, which is funny, because she didn’t really seem to mind hanging out with Quickdraw McCarl and also seems to have forgotten that there are walkers around who aren’t picky when it comes to eating kids. Why is she here again? Anyway, she’s not at all happy (SHOCKER) and looks to Milton to help her sneak out of Woodbury. She’s also not at all…what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh, yeah. “Smart”. Because of course Milton immediately goes and tells the Gov, who then tells Milton to help her. He’s a crafty one, that Gov. And so off they go. Taking a page from Michonne’s playbook, the two make a zombie decoy – tonight’s excuse for some Zombie Butchering Gore – which of course attracts other walkers because of the all of the noise (See: Andrea – not smart). And that of course attracts Tyrese, because if there’s one thing this show does well, it’s deus ex machina. Milton offers to take Tyrese and his folks back to Woodbury, and Andrea presses on to the prison, which by my calculations based on time lapses in the show is about 500 yards from Woodbury.
Of course, Rick’s not exactly happy to see her. “ARE YOU A JUDAS?!!” he yells. “I AIN’T A JUDAS!!!” she yells back. Ha ha! Not really. Instead, there’s a sort of awkward reunion in which Andrea learns that Shane is dead. Andrea tries to talk some sense to the group, but this is war: Daryl, Glenn and Rick all make it pretty clear that “Philip” is a dead man. “THAT’S! MY! BOYFRIEND!!! I WON”T LET YOU KILL HIM!!! I AIN’T A JUDAS!!!”, Andrea doesn’t scream. Instead, she tries to make nice with Michonne, but that doesn’t go so well when she pretty much accuses Michonne of causing all of this by convincing the group that the Gov is evil. Michonne isn’t having any of it: “You chose a warm bed over a friend.” Ouch. Sensing a pattern here, Andrea goes to see the baby and Carol for some girl talk. Carol tells her that Rick killed Shane. This doesn’t quite jibe with Andrea’s worldview. Carol then tells Andrea that she can end this all by giving the Gov a good rogering and then killing him while he dozes off in the afterglow. Girl talk is fun! Andrea then makes her decision, and Rick lets her go, giving her a car and weapons and wishing her good luck.
Back at Woodbury, it’s Advantage: Governor. Tyrese and his band have been welcomed with open arms; the Gov’s found out from Tyrese that Rick’s possibly gone insane, and he’s gotten confirmation from Tyrese that there’s a big hole in the prison’s defenses. Worse, Tyrese doesn’t seem to have any qualms about joining the Gov’s army: “Whatever we gotta do to earn our keep.” Tyrese seems to be a decent guy; wonder if he’ll change his mind when he sees the Gov playing Michael Buffer at the Walker Cagematches. And when Andrea shows up, it’s Game: she tells the Gov that her friends are all screwed up, the prison is a hellhole, and he finishes the rest by telling her she belongs in Woodbury. Then they get to knockin’ boots. But! As a Tom Waits song plays in the background (“Hold On”, first sung by Beth, the original track closing out the show), Andrea gets out of bed, grabs her knife, and makes like she’s gonna give Philip the business end. But of course such is his power over her that he ain’t going out like that. Set, Match, Governor.
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*Thanks to special guest jokewriter Bruce Vilanch for that one.