Members of Woodbury finally intersect with some of the Grimes gang this week on The Walking Dead, and the winner of most hated character is decidedly cemented.
Let’s bitch it out…
The Walking Dead fires back with a well-rounded episode, after last week’s obligatory transitional piece allowing us some breathing room from the shocking events that preceded it. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) slowly comes back to reality but not without a stopover in nutsville beforehand. We quickly find out who’s calling Rick from last week’s cliffhanger: ex-survivors from the Grimes gang starting with Andrea’s sister Amy, some guy name Jim (clearly a significant cast member…), Jacqui (umm who?) and finally Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies). Well they’re not actually calling: they’re projections of Rick’s mind as he deals with the heavy burden of taking the role of leader. It functions as a wonderfully clever device in that Rick vocalizes what plagues him most: the pressure of keeping the group alive, the guilt over the people he’s had to kill (and the justifications he’s telling himself to make it okay) and finally (and most heartbreaking) his regret in pushing Lori away.
Perhaps I’m a softie, but I felt Rick’s final conversation with Lori (even if it takes place in his imagination) gave some semblance of much needed closure (which I thought we’d never get with last week’s cruel denial of Rick seeing Lori’s body). As I’ve said, I was never Lori’s number one fan, but I’ve never doubted the love that she shared with Rick. It was painful to know that he wouldn’t get the same closure that Carl (Chandler Riggs) got, even though the trade-off resulted in the poor kid putting a bullet in his mom’s head. Lincoln delivers another Emmy worthy performance as he explains why he needed to distance himself from Lori in order to keep his head in the game and ensure everyone’s survival. He just assumed he’d have the chance to reconcile once they found a secure place. The way he moves from “I loved you” to “I love you” with repeated declarations of “I should have said it…” – was one of the most genuine depictions of grief and regret that I’ve ever seen. With this imagined conversation, it’s made explicit to us that Rick did indeed love Lori deeply, despite the hate-on he displayed in the season premiere, and that he knew that she loved him as well.
At the production level, the execution of the phone calls is excellent. From the suspense built-in as we thought the calls were real, to the shoddy reception all the way to the overtones of the afterlife. It’s almost as though Rick is so close to death when the calls’ reception is clear, but as Lori starts to break-up during the tail end of their conversation and Rick is saying the equivalent of not going “gentle into that good night”, this marks the moment he comes back to reality and the remaining survivors that need him. It’s a brilliant example of an effective cinematic technique. The phone conversation also makes it feel a bit more plausible than if Rick were to conjure up a physical manifestation of Lori.
The conversation is followed by Rick finally accepting his little baby girl, cradling her in his arms as the sun symbolically shines through the bars. It’s a moving sequence and a beautiful and respectful way to close the Lori/Rick arc.
Bringing Rick back is a definite victory during the episode, but surprisingly, we get another ‘winning moment’ (especially in a season that has consistently delivered one horrible predicament after another). Daryl (Norman Reedus) finds Carol (Melissa McBride) alive and unbitten (!), albeit exhausted and dehydrated. The discovery of Carol is brought about in an ingenious way: initially Daryl & Co. mistake her quiet door banging as a sign of a walker to be taken care of “on the way back”. When Daryl finds Carol’s knife jabbed in the neck of a passing walker, we all assume that she died somewhere along the way. Daryl puts the pieces together quickly and deduces that Carol is likely the walker stuck behind the door that he encountered earlier. Daryl sits outside, trying to muster up the courage to kill Walker-Carol in a sequence brilliantly perfomed by Reedus, only to find out that she’s still human when he opens the door. Huzzah! Again, I can’t say that Carol is on my list of favourite characters, but at this point, finding any member of the Grimes gang intact feels like a victory.
And just as I say that, I almost want to take it back because Andrea (Laurie Holden) has quickly taken the coveted position of my most hated character EVER. I’ve never liked Andrea, but when she was paired with Michonne (Danai Gurira) my hatred was mostly assuaged But her behaviour during this episode literally makes me want to gag. First, her arrogant display at the Woodbury wall is almost laughable. She scales the wall to jab a walker in the face because she gets off on it, before bobbing up and down like she’s the sh*t. (Side note: If you want a Walking Dead drinking game, take a shot every time Holden does a bob while delivering dialogue – you’ll be trashed in a matter of seconds).
Let’s compare this to when Michonne took out walkers last week. The same sentiment of “loving the fight” was shared, but Gurira brought a kind of legitimacy to it. Let’s face it, Michonne is bada**, whereas I think we all collectively wished Andrea would promptly get knocked off her undeserved high horse. And, of course, the icing on the cake comes when she beds the Governor (David Morrissey). The flirting between the two is painful to watch (almost as painful as Jeremy Renner’s appearance on Saturday Night Live this week – ZING!). They have absolutely zero chemistry and their romance plays out like two disinterested actors awkwardly blocking a scene rather than sharing any kind of genuine intimacy. Yes, I’m calling it: Andrea is. the. worst. Unfortunately with all the deaths we’ve already encountered, she’ll not likely to kick it for quite some time, if ever. (Sigh).
Despite the Andrea-nonsense we have to sit through, we do get a significant development by way of Michonne finding her way to the Grimes’ prison digs. Initially pursued by Merle (Michael Rooker) and the Governor’s band of lackeys, Michonne gets shot in the leg but manages to take out all but Merle and Garguilo (Dave Davis). In what will likely be the one and only moment I actually agree with Merle, he decides it’s best to leave Michonne to fend for herself – opting to tell the Governor that the Woodbury team was successful in killing her but couldn’t bring back her head.
When Garguilo is adamant about pursuing Michonne, Merle promptly shoots him in the head. I never thought a satisfying kill would come from Merle, but there you have it. More significantly Merle stumbles on Glenn (Steven Yuen) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) while they’re on an ammo/formula run, kidnapping them in the process. Michonne hides nearby, seeing the whole thing transpire. The episode ends with Michonne bringing the baby formula to the prison gates and is spotted by perplexed Rick. It’s an intriguing end to a very satisfying episode.
- In a close call with a walker, Michonne ends up slicing his innards all over her. Later, a group of walkers fail to detect her sweet human flesh, passing right by. We’ve seen this before, back when Rick and Glenn (Steven Yeun) slathered themselves in walker guts in S1. Back then, however, some walkers were still able to detect them, whereas in Michonne’s case, the walker innards serve as an invisibility cloak. If this is the case, it makes sense that every survivor be soaked in walker blood 24/7. Something tells me this isn’t going to happen, but I’m wondering why the show decided to revisit this ‘walker camouflage’ notion.
- As if the Woodbury wall scene with Andrea’s overinflated ego isn’t bad enough, we are introduced Haley, played by the horrible Alexa Helen Nikolas. If you want to see what cardboard acting looks like, look no further. I hope we never see Haley again, but since Nikolas found ‘fame’ on Nickelodeon, she’ll probably show up again. Let’s hope one of those crappy arrows that she can’t aim anywhere accidentally finds its way into Andrea’s head.
- I love how Michonne stays true to character when she decides not to intervene when Merle takes Glenn and Maggie. She’s always adhered to her cautious survival instinct, but you can tell by the clenching of her jaw that she’s struggling not to jump in and take Merle out. This could be because she’s wincing in pain from her bullet wound, but I choose to believe that she knows Glenn and Maggie are the “good guys” and doesn’t want to see them fall into the Governor’s clutches.
What did you think Dead fans? Were you satisfied with the way Lori and Rick final interaction played out? Do you think Michonne will be automatically accepted into the Grimes gang? Have we fully bought into Axel (Lew Temple) and Oscar (Vincent Ward) being stand-up members of the group? What do you think will happen to Glenn and Maggie? Will Andrea ever get a frickin’ clue and realize her va-jay-jay is a douche magnet? Sound off in our comments section below!
*A gentle reminder that we adhere to a no-spoilers policy for our comments that includes what happens in the comics or any tidbits you’ve heard online about upcoming episodes.
**UPDATE: Finally confirmation regarding the science behind what turns you into a walker! Kirkman explains that swallowing zombie blood isn’t enough to turn you, however if you’re bitten by one, you’re exposed to the “toxicity in the zombie’s mouth”. This in turn will cause you die and promptly activate the walker within.
The Walking Dead airs at 9pm EST, Sundays on AMC.