The Walking Dead: Arrow on the Doorpost

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“We have a lot to talk about.”

If Andrea’s the one brokering deals for the safety of survivors, then you know things aren’t going to end well.

For whatever reason, Rick parlayed with the Governor. The two clearly have a lot to talk about, the most important thing being what’s going to happen at the prison and Woodbury. Rick wants boundaries, while the Governor wants surrender. The two entrenched positions are no surprise, although Rick’s willingness to go after Woodbury if pressed was a rather quick jump from offering peace (and space). Considering there are still a few episodes left in the season, things didn’t get resolved here.

The thing about the whole encounter is that Rick failed to rely on some of his basic training. It’s easy to forget previous roles in the world of Walkers, but Rick was a cop. Why he neither patted the Governor down or had the forethought to scope out the site early is a little strange. While he may have been an officer in a somewhat sleepy town, he had to have taken some hostage or undercover trainings regarding situational advantage and the like. You don’t need to be a cop to know that drinking with the man trying to kill you isn’t a good idea, but that’s Rick for you.

And even though Rick has been through so much, he still manages to get played like a fiddle by the Governor for most of the conversation. His story about his wife and the voicemail started off as sympathetic, but by its end you realized he was only telling it to prod Rick. The Governor is so calculating that he’ll even leverage the memory of his wife if it helps his cause. Not a surprise for sure. Rick turns the tables by the end, playing to the Governor’s self-aggrandizement and rapidly inflating sense of ego. Still doesn’t stop the Governor from making one demand of Rick: Michonne.

The foreshadowing was there in the last episode, with Carl telling Rick that Michonne may be one of them. That kind of comment starts solidifying her as a member of the group and she’s clearly proved her worth. Rick was very, very guarded with her at first, only changing his opinion slowly after seeing her in action and how she helped Carl. The fact that he considers the option is typical of Rick, although it’s hard to see him consenting, even if it could save his group.

The concurrent conversations among the supporting crew were quite interesting and further explored the contrast between characters in the world. Herschel and Milton are sharing civilized stories of the new society, such as surviving zombies bites, recording events for history and generally being amiable. Daryl and Caesar meanwhile are sharing war stories, respectful of one another’s talents but sober to the fact that they’ll likely face each other with their lives on the lines. The mini-episode of zombies kill of the week was a nice touch though, with the two competing for the more dangerous kill.

For the second week in a row, Walkers took a backseat to all the action. That is, the episode wasn’t about killing Walkers for any survival reasons. Sure there were some, but the episode still managed to maintain the atmosphere of eeriness. There were tons of creaks, groans and moans of the building Rick and the Governor were meeting in, shattering the tense silence between the two. The structure itself was dilapidated and has clearly been just as weathered as the survivors, so it was a fitting spot for the sit-down between the two leaders.

Back at the prison, Merle still manages to be a complete villain. Even when he’s right (about killing the governor) he still manages to come across as completely coarse and unrelenting. Michonne even refers to him as an assassin–which he is–and his love for his brother maintains. The fact that he’s willing to bulrush in is really no surprise; neither is the fact that no one wants to join him. He shares Carol’s sentiment about flat out killing the Governor and he’s more likely to do it than she is.

The best part of the episode was probably the fact that both Rick and the Governor played their games against the other and neither bought it. Both realize the threat the other poses and only Rick even remotely considers the offer. Granted, the Governor pretty much refused Rick’s offer, so there’s only one way out of it in Michonne. Rick knows that the Governor will still likely kill them anyway, prompting them to ammo up and prepare to wage a bloody war for everyone’s safety.

There are three episodes left and anything short of a war at this point would be a tremendous letdown. It’ll likely finish out the season, presumably with the Governor either killed or badly wounded. There was some ominous foreshadowing for Glenn and Maggie, with one of them likely being killed in the battle or events leading up to it. The conflict will not be without some casualties and it’s probable that season four will start being established in terms of plot. In the meantime, all you can do is prepare for war and start wagering on a side. It’s going to be a messy battle.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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