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.