Next week is the midseason finale of The Walking Dead, which means that the setup episode this week is full of maneuvering of pieces. By the end of the hour everyone’s in place for the big showdown that’ll leave us hanging until 2013. It could have been a boring episode, and there really wasn’t much going on. But true to The Walking Dead’s modus operandi we saw some outrageous character development. Including a Governor who went rapey, but held back on the horrific exploits seen in the comics. I think this Governor gives me the willies far more than the violent sociopath in the comics, akin to The Warden in Shawshank Redemption.
Michonne has finally met up with the prison team, carrying along the baby formula Glenn and Maggie left behind last week when they went on an adventure with Merle. It was interesting to watch Michonne swing and slash her sword at the walkers who swarmed around, only to be unable to continue on. Carl and Rick rescued her, a state of survival the woman is not used to.
Revived by Rick in a cell, Michonne is asked who she is and how she found the prison. There have been hints about how important it is that people who know about the prison can’t be allowed free, otherwise the safety of the group is put at risk. It’s at the heart of this season, and while I’ve noticed these moments I wonder how important viewers perceive the prison. It’s a defensible position that would be coveted by any group of survivors.
”Pretty boy, charming. Jim Jones type.” – Michonne
Michonne watches closely as Daryl shows Rick a still alive Carol, who apparently passed out in a closed cell. Here’s this world of despair and disrepair, so different from the trim and tidy Woodbury, but the genuine sorrow Carol feels and shows when she realizes Lori has died hints at the goodness within the prison walls. Life sucks, but humanity continues on.
Now a little more trusting Michonne reveals that Glenn and Maggie were taken to a nearby town, and that she might be able to get them in. As Rick, Daryl, and Oscar prepare to embark on a rescue mission Rick takes Carl aside. They decide to rename the baby Judith, but I still think AssKicker is a better name.
Michonne leads the three men, and when they’re near Woodbury they get out of the vehicle to sneak up to the gates. Unfortunately a swarm of walkers show up, giving us one of the few zombie action sequences of the episode. The group retreats to a cabin, where they find the owner under the covers in bed hiding. Perhaps the gentleman was under the impression that kids have it right, blankets are boogie man deflectors. The group approaches the perimeter of Woodbury, and now the battle is ready to begin.
”AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!” - Glenn
For me the real part of this week’s story is Woodbury, specifically Glenn and Maggie’s interrogation and torture. Merle begins by beating on Glenn, asking where the group is, while Maggie listens in the next room. Glenn won’t talk. In fact, he goes a little Bruce Willis and head butts his torturer. I thought that made me love Glenn. But then Glenn gets too bold and bluffs about how the whole team will be there soon to rescue him and Maggie. He includes Andrea in the list of people on their way, which would be difficult as Andrea is currently sexing up the Governor.
Fed up with Glenn, Merle unleashes a walker and a racist remark. This is where things got interesting. Glenn is bound to a chair, with no hope of defense. But he manages to kick and scrap his way to survival. And then smashes the chair against the wall and stabs the walker with the chair arm. Season 1 made me appreciate Rick; season 2 made Daryl an unlikely hero; and now season 3 has made Glenn the breakout hero of the show. It’s not just how badass the moment was, but that he did it for Maggie. He did it to survive for her, and it only happened because he refuses to give up his friends.
”One of you is going to give up your camp.” – The Governor
The Governor chooses to interrogate Maggie, and in the process gets his creepster on. Telling her to take off her shirt, then her bra. Then he clearly threatens some rape, and knowing the horrible things that happened in the comic I was honestly concerned the show would go that far. And it really could have worked, but I don’t think it’s necessary. She succumbs to the Governor’s commands initially because he threatens Glenn, and that’s all the information the Governor needed to know.
So Maggie and Glenn are brought back together, and Glenn is outraged when he sees Maggie topless. But it’s not Glenn who the Governor is interested in. He turns his gun on Maggie for a moment, and then points it at Glenn. “Prison,” Maggie tells them. Revealing the location of the survivors, and how many are there. I wish Maggie had been stronger, but she was outwitted and emotionally tortured into giving up the information.
On the side were Milton and Andrea working with a dying man to test if some form of the subconscious is still around in the walkers. The findings are clear that there’s nothing left of the former human when they turn, but I think Milton’s a little unhinged. In any case, I’ve now lost all respect for Andrea. She wants things to be good in Woodbury, and so she makes them so. I think that’s how it is for the general populace there, but that makes them weak. I thought she was stronger than that, but it appears that she needs a Shane or Michonne around to derive strength. She relies on someone else to give her a direction; right now that’s the Governor.
Everything is in place for an epic midseason finale that’ll be heavier on character than zombie action. The real question is what are Daryl and Merle going to do when they find each other? Who has the stronger allegiance to their team? We’re about to find out.