TV Review: The Walking Dead [SPOILERS]
The Walking Dead – “Walk With Me”
Season 3, Episode 3
This was the second consecutive episode where the series focused on only one story to let things breathe for a while. The method worked just as well this week, where The Walking Dead had to balance introducing the new characters and setting, a bit of an info-dump about the state of the world outside of our previously limited view of Rick’s crew, and still have fun eliminating a few dozen zombies.
All of this was fine with me, since it was an excuse to see more of David Morrisey as the Governor. Probably best known to American audiences from the Doctor Who Christmas special, The Next Doctor (seriously America, you need to watch the original State of Play or The Deal), Morrissey’s casting was a terrific coup for the series.
[Warning: Comic spoilers as well.] In the comic books, the Governor was bad news from the start, with his biker haircut and crazy fascist rule over Woodbury. We barely knew anything about the character before he was showing off his zombie-filled gladiatorial arena. Morrissey plays things much closer to the vest. He immediately established himself as a tough character worthy of respect from how his crew effeciently handled the helicoptor crash site. And while harsh and slightly egotistical (as Laurie Holden‘s Andrea pointed out, “Governor” isn’t a nickname), he was sincere and welcoming enough that his brutal murder of the National Guard group was shocking for viewers not familiar with the comics.
It would be nice if the Governor, while clearly an antogonist for the show’s main characters, remained more relatable than his comic counterpart. Sure, while the zombie head collection wasn’t exactly screaming “Sane Guy Here”, the picture on his mantle spoke to a loss he suffered to become this hard man. And his actions were at least understandable given the Us vs. Them mentality that Rick was taking on last week. At the end of society, the supplies of the guardsmen, and the psychological effect it would have on making his own people dependent on Woodbury’s walls, far outweighed the risk of negotiating for the supplies or welcoming a large, well-armed and unknown force into their town. Vicious and brutal, sure. But at the end of the day the innocent people the Governor was responsible for protecting were more secure than when they got up that morning.
It was also nice to see Dallas Roberts pop up as Woodbury’s doctor/scientist, whose experiments on the undead border on some Frankenstein-like territory. Roberts was one of the best parts of AMC’s tragically short-lived Rubicon and I enjoyed seeing him pop up again.
It wasn’t all new characters though. The return of Merle in non-fever dream form for the first time since episode two of the series was our first clue that the Woodburians weren’t as sweet and cuddly as they seemed. I definitely approved of toning down Merle’s abrasive and racist attitude from what we saw in season one. Michael Rooker shined with a deeper role that had a lot more to it than the caricature he played before.
He was still an angry man, but the loss of his hand seemed ample justification for that anger, and the fact that he could offer Andrea some sympathy for her sister’s death was an unexpected bit of kindness. Of course, it didn’t hurt to turn his stump into a knife for more efficient zombie destruction. Evil Dead’s Ash would certainly have approved.
With so much screen time devoted to the new bad guys, the character we understand the least so far was Michonne. Not that it’s any fault of Danai Gurira, who effortly pulled off the combination of cool uber-bad ass when offing her own walker pets and the underlying damaged human unwilling to open up to Andrea or anybody else.
So much of Michonne was hidden by that admittedly awesome exterior. From her chained zombies to her samurai sword (which is the go-to cool character weapon) to her quiet and reserved demeanor, there wasn’t much chance to understand or relate to her as a person yet. She was fun slicing zombie heads left and right, but I looked forward to future episodes that utilize her as more than just the quiet one with a cool weapon.