The Walking Dead: Say the Word
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.
“People with nothing to hide don’t usually feel the need to say so.”
Nothing like a good old-fashioned picnic set against a post-apocalyptic world for some family fun. While the town focuses on music and revelry, the Governor spends time with his deceased daughter. Not to mention the fact that his journal screams The Shining. He has an entirely different motive for the town of Woodbury, something that the citizens don’t see. While Woodbury may be all sunshine and lollipops, it counts the Governor as he who runs Bartertown.
That’s right. The town features street fight lumberjack matches, where the zombies are the lumberjacks. The Governor pitches it as a way for the people to blow off steam, but it shows that the more sadistic and barbaric never quite leaves humanity, even if humanity itself leaves. Andrea’s look of realization that she should’ve left with Michonne is priceless.
Michonne proved beyond proficient with the blade. Sure, we’ve seen glimpses of it before, but her reckless desire to free zombie pets for the sake of wrecking them tells a lot about her character. And she’s fast with the sword, as the Governor can attest to. How the Governor dealt with the affront was actually interesting. He offered complete honesty to Andrea, counting on the fact that her love for the city would convince Michonne that things aren’t as suspicious as they seem.
There’s a wedge to be driven between Andrea and Michonne, which sort of had to happen. Five episodes into the season and Michonne knows something is amiss; having her snoop around every week would get sort of old. The added drama of the perceived split from Andrea raises the stakes just a tad, but proved to be something that the Governor knew he could capitalize on in bringing Andrea closer to him. The Governor is still on a collision course with Rick and the gang and their meeting will likely rely on Michonne and Andrea in some way or another.
Watching Glen and Hershel have a moment was actually quite refreshing. After all, Hershel is potentially Glen’s father-in-law (in more ordinary times). They share the moment shortly after Maggie leaves with Daryl in search of formula for the new baby, a trip that presents them with the possibility of the truly terrifying concept of zombie babies. Fortunately, the episode didn’t go the Silent Hill route. It’s a less than eventful trip, the highlight of which was Daryl seeing a handprint cutout on the wall in a daycare with Sofia’s name on it.
Seeing Sofia’s name might have been the catalyst for Daryl’s interactions with the baby, making them seem heartfelt. He took to her quickly, as if trying to make up for the loss of Sofia. Of course, naming her Lori was a little too easy, as was his ability in soothing the crying baby, especially considering he’s shown no inkling to this point that he knows how to care for one. Daryl is being presented as a man haunted by the loss of both Sofia and Carol (who hasn’t been confirmed dead), giving him something to work with until the inevitable reunion with his brother, Merle.
Starting Rick in the flashbang state was actually pretty powerful. Reeling from the backlash from the recent overrun, he also proves living in a zombie world is a great way to blow of steam when extremely angry and equipped with an axe. He’s clearly on the path to completely losing it; especially after all he’s invested emotionally in seeing the group survive. Sure, he and Lori were on the outs as of late, but she was still his wife and the mother of this child (children).
It’s completely understandable that he’s on the verge of going insane, punctuated by a rather testy exchange with Glen. Rick is the leader of the group—elected or not—and for him to break down so spectacularly will send shockwaves throughout the group. Andrew Lincoln turned in one of his best performances to date as Rick Grimes in this episode, punctuated beautifully by a single line of dialogue at the end when he answered the phone and said only “hello?” Who was on the other end and whether or not the call was coming from inside the prison remains to be revealed.
The third season of The Walking Dead has departed from looking at just zombies and fighting against them. It’s become much, much more, where the heroes are faced with an onslaught of just about everything. Rick is shattered, the group dynamic is unraveling, Michonne is weary, Andrea is blinded by optimism and the Governor is sadistic. And that’s all with the zombies merely playing bit parts in the background, dropping in bites and attacks here and there for good measure. “Say the Word” was a lot calmer (believe it or not) than last week’s episode, but that was expected in dealing with the aftermath of the devastation suffered by the group.
Rick’s group has bonded so tightly and hides nothing from the others. Andrea and Michonne have also bonded and generally hide nothing from each other. The governor hides everything from everyone, keeping all his rationale close to the vest. It’s a sliding scale of secrecy that forces brokered trust on everyone’s part. How each character approaches the concept of trust will lead to a great next episode, starting with whether or not Rick trusts himself enough to continue leading the group in spite of all the damage his psyche has taken.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars