The Walking Dead: When the Dead Come Knocking

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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.

“You came here for a reason.”

Merle is sadistic. The entire episode could be summed up with that statement and you’d get the gist of it. He’s so sadistic that he uses a zombie as part of his torture session. And boy, Glen. He handles himself like a boss, fighting off the zombie torturer and tapping into a primal rage that he’s yet to show. It was very visceral, punctuated by a rather poetic finish that even Merle would be proud of. The thing is that Merle’s not even the most sadistic in Woodbury.

No, that distinction belongs to the Governor. He realizes that Merle’s heavy hand with Glen won’t achieve the desired results, so he decides to try a different tact with Maggie. The nice guy routine doesn’t seem to work, prompting him to amp things up a bit and pretty much degrade Maggie. The fact that he didn’t do anything is probably worse than him actually doing something to her. The fact that he consoled Andrea almost lovingly the same way he “consoled” Maggie was just plain twisted.

Michonne blends in well, shocking Rick and the others. She proves that even half-hobbled she’s capable of holding her own, but eventually the gunshot gets the best of her. Rick helps her out only to lock her in a cell, which is somewhat surprising considering how reluctant he was to help the other prisoners.  She’s an outsider with a really big sword who has found the prison, a potential threat to the group. She is who she is though, always on the defensive and in full-on self-preservation mode. How she dealt with the lonely cabin owner when her safety was threatened was ruthless, garnering what appeared to be a look of both respect and fear in Rick.

Carol being alive and well vindicated Rick and it showed. He’s had the responsibilities of leadership thrust upon him (fairly or unfairly) and for her to be alive proves to him that he’s doing the best he can. Likewise, Rick takes charge of the situation with Michonne, showing a more intense side by forcing Michonne to tell him the information about where she came from and what happened to Glen and Maggie.

Carl continues to grow as a character. His exchange with Rick regarding Lori was something that really speaks volumes to how important he is now. He’s definitely growing up and is no longer relegated to being the subject of an Amber alert in a post-apocalyptic zombie world. He’s Rick 2.0 and continues to follow in his father’s footsteps. He’s the figurative man of the house when Rick’s out and the Season 3 version of Carl can be trusted to hold things down. It’s a nice change.

Andrea is tasked with a new assignment in dealing with a  “volunteer” resident of Woodbury. An older gentleman has decided that he’ll offer up his death as a case study in consciousness after the turn. A lot is revealed in the scene, especially regarding Milton. He was a loner, with little contact with the outside world or family to care for. He’s also not one for the reality of a zombie world, with Andrea proving that walkers have no consciousness to speak of.

What Andrea doesn’t know is that Rick and a small team are just outside the Woodbury walls, waiting to breach. Meanwhile, the Governor is preparing to send his own team to find the prison and take on the ten people who did what was previously unthinkable in clearing the prison. The two groups are set to collide in a big way, as evidenced by the firefight-laden preview for next week’s episode.

Rick has his own method of leading, through trust and some form of democracy. The Governor that relies on unpredictability to an extent; that is, he wants people to not really know what to expect at all.  They’re two completely different styles that both have their advantages and disadvantages and, depending on how the Woodbury war goes, could go a long way to showing whether the town or the prison survives in the end.

Another juicy subplot is Daryl and Merle. Daryl was livid with Merle being left behind at first, showing little interest in being a team player. The disappearance of Sofia though gave him something to find hope in, bringing him closer to the group and finding true, loyal friendship with Rick. When Merle’s loyalty was questioned by the Governor, the hesitation in his response was telling. Blood is blood as the Governor said and when push comes to shove, what happens when the two brothers meet will be interesting.

One more episode until the midseason break, which is an absolute shame. Not in a bad way, but because the season has just been so good. All the characters are relevant and it feels like the season has trimmed all the fat, which has helped the story progress exquisitely. This was another solid episode in an all-around solid season, proving that The Walking Dead is really worth all the fuss.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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