If there was ever a night to skip The Walking Dead in order to, say, watch The Academy Awards, last night was it. It was a snoozer, an episode that made very little narrative progress. The engine was running, but the car didn’t go anywhere. There’s too much time between now and the season three finale and not enough to do, so last night was essentially a stall episode, though perhaps it was designed to be as much, since AMC knew that the episode would likely suffer a drop in viewership up against the Oscars.
Each season or half season is designed to take The Walking Dead up to a certain point. The first season brought them to the farm. The last of Darabount’s episodes brought them to Sophie. The second half of the second season got them to the prison, while the first half of the third set up the war between Woodbury and The Prison. The back half of the third season is obviously leading toward a final battle, but with eight episodes to get there (and five more after last night), there’s not enough material to work with to fill those episodes. So, instead of moving the action forward, Glenn Mazarra seems to be moving around the pieces, trying to put them in position for the showdown. What’s kind of sad is that, in the process, the zombies are being ignored.
Here’s a rundown of the episode.
1. The Prison — After the shootout with The Governor and his men, the leadership hierarchy returned to normal at the prison. Rick — who suffered no episodes of crazy last night — resumed his position at the top of the ladder, although his place there is definitely beginning to come into question. In fact, his own son, Carl, took Rick aside and suggested that he step down, get some rest, and allow Hershel and Daryl to take on the leadership roles. Rick did not immediately relinquish his Ricktocracy, but neither did he shoot down the idea.
2. Merle — Merle found himself in an awkward position last night. After saving Rick, he was allowed into the prison, although he was sequestered in a cell for some of the episode, although there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to when he was allowed out and when he was imprisoned. Glenn continued to object to his presence, while Daryl and to a lesser extent, Rick, lobbied to spare him. Merle also offered a half-ass, Merle-esque apology to Michonne. She wasn’t exactly amenable to it, but she didn’t spit in Merle’s face, either. Glenn also suggested that Merle could be used as a bargaining chip with the Governor, although that suggestion seemed to fizzle. Mostly, though, Merle stood around last night and warned the prison gang of the dangers of The Governor, and talked about missing Woodbury’s library.
3. Daryl and Carol — Let the shipping resume.
4. Woodbury — Meanwhile, in Woodbury, Andrea was pissed off at The Governor for attacking the prison, though The Governor insisted that he was only defending himself. Andrea didn’t buy it. The Governor seemed to have lost faith in Andrea, while Andrea lobbied to take a trip to prison to negotiate on behalf of Woodbury. The Governor objected. He also began raising an army — consisting partly of armed teenagers — to attack the Prison.
5. The Governor’s Eye — Jesus, dude. Get that thing looked at before it gets infected. Put some Bactine on it.
6. Milton — Milton is a weasel. Andrea confided in him to help her seek passage to the Prison, and Milton ratted her out to the Governor. The Governor, however, decided to allow Andrea to leave. Milton seems to be sympathetic to Andrea, but his fear and loyalty to The Governor trumps that sympathy. Interestingly, in order to get to the prison, Andrea Michonne’d a walker to get through the walkers surrounding the prison.
7. Zombie Kill of the Week — It wasn’t an actual kill, but Andrea reminded us a teensy bit of her old, season two self by kicking that walker’s teeth into a rock.
8. Andrea’s Visit to the Prison — Like Rick’s non-answer to Carl’s request to give up control, and like Michonne’s non-response to Merle’s apology, the Prison Gang didn’t exactly welcome Andrea, but they didn’t turn her away, either. She tried to convince Rick to negotiate with The Governor, but Rick’s pride refused to allow it. Andrea got a lay of the prison, and returned to The Governor packed with a knife, a gun, and a warning to be careful provided by Rick. Honestly, though, she made no headway as far as negotiations went. A war between the Prison and Woodbury is still all but inevitable, and Andrea is still stuck in the middle.
Meanwhile, Tyrese and his gang, after an episode away, returned, running into Milton and Andrea on their trip to the prison. Tyrese’s foursome returned with Milton to Woodbury, and Adan immediately threw Rick under the bus. It’s hard to say, exactly, where The Governor stands in regard to that gang. He clearly wants to exploit what they know about the prison, and Adam will be all too happy to provide assistance. It’s not entirely certain how welcome Tyrese really is to Woodbury, and and I expect that, in the inevitable battle, the more reasonable Tyrese and Sasha will part ways with Ben and Adam, who are clearly already intoxicated by The Governor.
9. Michonne and Andrea — Maybe the best exchange of the night was between Michonne and Andrea, who accused her old parter of poisoning the prison gang against her. Michonne insisted she was only telling the truth, and betrayed a deep sense of hurt in the way that Andrea treated her. “You chose a warm bed over a friend.”
10. Andrea Pusses Out — Although The Governor had told Andrea that if she went to the prison she wouldn’t be welcome back, he was willing to quickly and easily forgive her once it became apparent that he still had control over her. He’s clearly got some kind of Jim Jeffries voodoo magic. In bed, however, Andrea seemed to briefly snap out of it and made to kill The Governor in his sleep. She ultimately decided against it because she is gutless.