TV Review: The Walking Dead [Spoilers]
The Walking Dead – “Home”
Season 3, Episode 10
It’s usually tough to follow an episode of an action-oriented show, one that is incredibly reliant on zombie slaughter, when the main character becomes rudderless. And, while I understand Rick’s retreat from the prison/reality is a response to some pretty serious trauma, it doesn’t help that Carl has been handling arguably worse things and dealing with it far better.
At least they manage to wow us in the end.
Both Rick’s journey and Darryl and Merle’s time on their own failed to be convincing because they were brief, and clearly designed just to leave the prison especially weak for the Governor’s assault. Andrew Lincoln did a fine job with Rick’s earlier breakdown (and the whole episode with the phone call last fall), but it came off as too heavy-handed and manipulative here. It wasn’t about exploring Rick’s emotions, it was about getting him to the location the writers needed for the episode’s finale.
Merle’s revelation that he and Darryl had planned on simply robbing the quarry gang at the first opportunity was interesting, but it doesn’t redefine Darryl for anybody because we’ve seen him evolve from the less racist/sexist/jerk-ish version of Merle to the second-in-command of the prison gang. (On a side note, we really need to agree with something to call our main characters that’s better that the prison gang or Rick’s group. Any suggestions?)
As an action set piece, however, the attack on the prison was terrific. Let it never be said that the show’s directors can’t stage shocking violence fantastically (this week it’s Seith Mann, a veteran of The Wire and Fringe). And, while the death of Axel wasn’t as affecting as someone who has been with the crew since season one (man, that little group of prisoners sure didn’t last long), the sheer terror and helplessness of Rick’s crew really made the event click. Crashing through the prison gate was a terrific moment, and I absolutely bought the terror it caused in everyone up to and including Rick. The whole reason to hold on to the prison so hard against other people is what terrific protection it presents to the undead. Think about how much trouble one of the prisoners caused by opening a gate. It certainly is a clear statement on how insanely vulnerable they really are, even without considering the one building with an open wall that Tyrese’s group came through.
Whereas the comic version of the prison arc was the place where storytelling and momentum went to die, it hasn’t grown stale nearly as fast on the show. Part of that is the more in-depth diversions to Woodberry, where I’m honestly anxious to see Andrea stop being so passive and take a larger role — perhaps causing more friction for the Governor down the road. We’ve seen far more normal people the last few weeks than just guards or the Governor’s men, and they don’t seem the type to engage in the wholesale slaughter of other groups just for personal gains.
One thing I struggled to accept is: why was the Governor so cautious in dealing with Rick’s group in this week’s assault? Why didn’t he make a more coordinated hit-and-run attack rather than just overrunning the place with his far superior numbers. It helps that he didn’t know that the three most dangerous men in Rick’s group are all missing in action. And, why he resisted using more of his people and the guards from Woodbury was strange especially since many of them were clamoring for Darryl and Merle to tear each other to pieces less than 24 hours ago. It certainly makes me think he is simply taking a backseat to running things at the city for now, rather than turning his back on them totally. I’d honestly enjoy a more consistent version of the town, perhaps clearly defining how many are just survivors and how many are going along with the Governor’s activities — from assaults on the National Guard to war against the prison group.