The Walking Dead extinguishes any ambiguity regarding character motivations as we get nearer and nearer to what promises to be an explosive season finale. As much as we’ve groaned about Andrea’s (Laurie Holden) stupidity, does she really deserve to be bound and gagged in The Governor’s (David Morrissey) torture chamber?
Let’s bitch it out.
Sigh. Another Andrea-centric episode. So close to the finale, I can’t say I’m surprised that ‘Prey’ wishes to clear some of the proverbial weeds the show has been building over the past few episodes, and what to do with Andrea is front and center. As much as I’ve ragged on Andrea, at the very least I can understand her motivation for being a complete idiot over this latter half of the season: she wants to believe the best in people and ultimately, she’s looking to fight the real threat – the zombies. For Andrea, it’s inconsequential whether it’s Team Woodbury or Team Grimes, she’s focusing on the survival of Team Humanity.
What’s frustrating about this (admittedly noble) sentiment is that it has absolutely no place at the tail end of S3. After everything that we’ve seen transpire, the characters have evolved (and necessarily so), which means Andrea’s naivety functions simply as an annoying plot point rather than a true counterpoint to the rest of the characters. It’s the kill or be killed world that Shane predicted, and as much as we were resistant to that back then, we’ve long moved past that. Andrea needs to get real instead of sticking out like a sore thumb.
It’s not surprising that reality finally catches up to her and she spends most of this episode trying to get back to her true home while being pursued by the completely psychopathic Governor. Which is another thing this episode seeks to do: paint the Governor as the ultimate baddie. There will be no ambiguity regarding his motivations from this point onward. The good ol’ Gov is as batsh*t crazy as they come.
I don’t feel this is a particularly astute observation, after all we’ve seen the Governor become increasingly unhinged (arguably from the moment we met him), but I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that originally there was some complexity behind his actions. Is he really just a sociopath? What exactly happened in his backstory to make him the power hungry bastard that he is today? Compare this guy to Walter White from Breaking Bad whose descent into the dark side is a fascinating and intricate story. I can’t help but wonder if the Governor had an equally intriguing journey. All of those questions are adequately quashed as he stalks Andrea through the abandoned warehouse like a true villain – creepy whistling and all.
The sequence itself is masterfully shot, well acted and brilliantly executed overall, but I can’t say I was on the edge of my seat in suspense. It had all the trappings of a great predator/prey scene, but adhered so closely to horror tropes that I knew Andrea would get away at the end of it. Although I will say it was satisfying to see Andrea cower in fear from her beloved Phillip. I’m sure I’m not the only viewer smugly sitting by thinking “You should have knifed that guy when you had the chance…”
I also had a problem with The Governor Superman-ing it by inexplicably popping up in those final moments to capture Andrea just as she was signaling Rick (Andrew Lincoln). Despite being literally overtaken by a heard of zombies, it’s completely unbelievable that he would be able to a) escape with only a few scratches and b) outrun Andrea in order to surprise her at that junction. Perhaps I’m being overly nitpicky, but one of the things I love about The Walking Dead is its ability to make completely preposterous situations seem believable. The Governor’s appearance in those final moments feels too convenient and perfunctory – like most of this episode – as it serves to get everything in place for the finale.
Now Andrea is likely going to be tortured in The Governor’s funhouse as a stand-in for Michonne (Danai Gurira). But not to worry, someone will save her (my money is on Dallas Roberts’ Milton, who will likely perish in the attempt, thereby redeeming himself for his complacency in The Governor’s dastardly deeds thus far). This will enable Andrea to join Team Grimes just when they need her most.
As much as I hate Andrea, do I really want to see her be tortured? Of course not. I don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen in the final battle, but I’m really hoping Andrea doesn’t end up as a helpless victim. Wouldn’t it be nice if she could be as complex and layered as the rest of the characters? I don’t feel the writers have given Andrea enough of a chance. Heck, even Carl (Chandler Riggs) has become more interesting than Andrea. I may be completely wrong about Andrea and Milton’s fates, but the very fact that I can plausibly picture what will happen next takes some of the fun out of the show. Here’s hoping I’ll dine on humble pie come finale time.
- I believe that this is the only the second time we get a flashback in the show (the first is Sarah Wayne Callies’ Lori learning of Rick’s shooting last season). During the cold open we see Michonne and Andrea share a moment during their winter together (between S2 and S3). It’s revealed that Michonne actually knew her zombie pets when they were ‘human’. It’s clear that their history isn’t sunshine and lollipops as Michonne growls that they were ‘never human’ in the first place. It’s intriguing to get some backstory especially on a character as cloaked as Michonne. Unfortunately the flashback doesn’t tell us anything particularly new, so chalk it up as a missed opportunity.
- That being said, the flashback transitions beautifully into The Governor’s torture chamber as we follow a chain from past to present. The match-on action is a masterful way to suggest that The Governor is as ‘inhuman’ as Michonne’s pets were. Just in case you don’t get the connection, he eerily strokes his various torture tools.
Cutty’sTyreese (Chad L. Coleman) is back! Unfortunately, in order to paint Tyreese as the good guy (as if we already didn’t know this) we also get some groan-worthy scenes with Allen (Daniel Thomas May). From the moment Allen suggested overtaking the prison while Rick was away, it was clear that he was going to die a very satisfying death by the end of the season. At this point it’s just a waiting game before he’s disposed of, which makes his scenes tedious and momentum stalling.
- I have to compliment the amazing make-up/effects work done on the walkers this week. The charred ‘biters’ writhing in that pit are incredibly effective.
What did you think Dead fans? Did you enjoy this Andrea-centric episode? Do you think this is the end for her, or will some one come and save her? Or will she be able to save herself? Do you think Milton will make it to S4? Sound off in our comments section below.
A gentle reminder that we adhere to a SPOILER FREE zone here, so please keep any plot points from the graphic novels or online tidbits to yourself.
The Walking Dead airs at 9pm EST, Sundays on AMC.