The Walking Dead Watch: Pulling Back the Curtain

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Gene Page/AMC

Shortly after Glen Mazzara took the reins of The Walking Dead from Frank Darabont–midway through the first season and in the middle of the “Sophia Watch” blowback–he promised that the new pacing model would propel the show forward as writers figured out the plot along the way. The change was remarkable, and the show continued to crackle forward at a steady clip through the first four episodes of this third season.

Given the rapid developments and big body counts, there was a good chance we were in for a bit of a breather last night. At the very least, the audience needed to catch a quick breath after an episode where a third of the core characters (at least two with one missing) exited the stage. Mazzara granted that, with an opener featuring a tranquil barbecue in placid Woodbury. Then just as we thought it might be a bit of a slow hour, we were introduced to Penny, The Governor’s zombie daughter. There was a clear signal: break’s over.

The Governor is, of course, the character most desperately in need of development. He plays a central role, and yet after three episodes we still don’t know very much about him. Let’s recap what we’re sure of: He’s a charismatic politician with a hell of a golf swing, he once had a lovely wife and daughter whom he clearly misses, and he has a penchant for whiskey neat and decapitated heads.

(MORE: The Walking Dead Watch: Infiltration)

We already knew that The Governor was keeping walkers (sorry, this is Woodbury so we shall call them biters) for experiments. But we learned that, like Hershel, he lost loved ones that he can’t let go. The image of The Governor tenderly brushing his daughter’s hair before accidentally tearing out a piece of he scalp was a vicious, but effective way to introduce his humanity. Then, just as we learned he’s not as sadistic as we imagined, we caught a little bit of what he considers “entertainment.”

Early in the episode, when Woodbury’s resident mad scientist tells Andrea, “Mere words cannot adequately describe the festivities ahead,” I thought there would be some kind of human sacrifice as someone was fed to the walkers. Then I realized they’re trying to expand the population, not contract it. In the end, The Governor’s “entertainment” didn’t quite live up to its billing. Sure, gladiatorial combat with chained, defanged biters is a bit inhuman, but Andrea exhibited outrage best served for an R-rated show when the fight was PG-13 at best.

In the end, as with any good mid-season episode, we were left with more questions than answers. When will we see Michonne again? (Please let it be soon!) Who exactly are the people in The Governor’s ledger, and what’s the deal with the floating decapitated heads? What’s the big experiment they’re running and why is the doctor so keen to finish it so quickly? And finally, for a brief mention of the action back at the prison, who is on the other line when Rick picks up the phone? Only seven more days to until we can find out!

(MORE: The Walking Dead Watch: The Governor Commeth)

Zombie Kill Report: By my count, this is the first episode yet this season where we didn’t break a dozen (it’s close; I saw 11). Michonne displayed some smooth katana swings taking out The Governor’s first plans for entertainment, but the kills of the episode belonged to Rick and his axe.

And the Emmy goes to… Last week I contended that Lincoln’s acting in the scene where Rick learns about Lori’s death and is presented with the new baby was over the top. Several readers disagreed and found his performance poignant and stirring. That’s precisely the point of this forum–a place where we can debate such differences. If Rick’s reaction last week moved you, then he did exactly what he was supposed to. I may be cynical, but I didn’t buy it. I did, however, think Lincoln more than made up for last week’s antics with his performance last night. As he made his way through the bowels of the prison, slicing, grunting and screaming his way through several walkers, it was the perfect rendering of a man possessed. Lincoln managed to convey powerful emotions without uttering a word–that is until right at the 43-minute mark when he picked up the phone and said, “Hello?”

We are indeed in the South. The Walking Dead takes place in Georgia, and the crew shoots in the rural part of the state. Last night we saw two dynamite clues that reinforce the accuracy of the location. The first (and more subtle) was the case of beer The Governor retrieved for the party–Georgia Brown ale from Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company. In a post-apocalyptic world, a case of SweetWater beer might be the most valuable commodity around. (NOTE: If you happen to visit Atlanta, I recommend trying as many SweetWater brews as you can. If you only have time to try one, make it Blue, an ale made with real blueberries. A great friend of mine refers to it as a breakfast beer.)

The second indication that we are, in fact, in Georgia, is the blaring of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Mr. Saturday Night Special” before the zombie cage match. Until next week, we bid you adieu with that little ditty from perhaps the most famous sons of the South.

13 comments
rtivery
rtivery

Waitaminite... no mention of the walker with the distended stomach  full of Lori?? That...was...disturrrbing

Bayne
Bayne

Agree with everything you said, except for Andrea's reaction to the barbaric entertainment. While it wasn't overly violent, I felt the exact same way she did about the 'festivities' and felt her response to what she was witnessing would be almost exactly how I would react also. And I'm a 26 year old guy who should love that UFC crap! I don't. 

Loved Rick's man possessed rampage through the prison where the camera was just on his face. That was badass and great acting.

I'm not a reader of the comics and perhaps that makes a difference to how you interpret certain characters, but is it just me or is Michonne really annoying? I don't buy her character's over-the-top suspicion and cynicism towards everything. I wish her performance had a few more  subtle moments so that when she is on edge (like she always is in every scene) it's more interesting.

MatthewGerardKnauer
MatthewGerardKnauer

I thought the way Carl began listing names and then trailed off into "I don't know..." was really good. The kid is growing on me. Andrea is becoming increasingly annoying, but I think any character would in her spot. Somehow I COMPLETELY missed the Penny part. Good episode all around. Glen was surprisingly short with the two prisoners whose names escape me at the moment. (I know one is Axle)

anon76
anon76

I thought that the strong implication was that Rick was going nuts and just imagining that the phone was ringing.  Certainly it makes more sense than to imagine that some unknown caller would just happen to ring the boiler room at the local prison yard right at the moment that Rick happens to be there.

IPFletcher
IPFletcher

Not ONE mention of what Michonne saw in that notebook?!? "All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy", anyone?  lol

I was one of Lincoln's defenders last week and am just as impressed this week- rampage is a 100% legit reaction in this situation, absolutely. 

As for Andrea's reaction to the "entertainment", I was right there with her. I'll concede it's probably snobbery on my part, but that's the kind of stuff (along with the UFC and the like) that is just base audience bloodlust-feeding masquerading as entertainment. Hoo-boy, lemme take my kid to that, yes indeed- maybe if we get close enough seats, some of the blood'll get on us! Cool!....not.

PlumbLine
PlumbLine

Ephesians 2:1-3...........2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

mcreadyblue
mcreadyblue

At least they are trying to make it a tad more Southern after the Catholic Church in season 2.

Why or why did they not think to pick up a few containers of baby formula during the past 6 months?

And the fight was pretty boaring...

MarkAlstonGravesJr.
MarkAlstonGravesJr.

There was also Redbrick Brewing Company and Terrapin Brewing Company in the scene as well! Both stellar Atlanta brands.

PatrickMarshall
PatrickMarshall

Right before he grabbed the case of Sweet Georgia Brown, he grabbed a case of Red Brick's Hop-lanta, also made here in town.

QuietLunatic
QuietLunatic

"Reins", not "reigns". Is it really that hard to verify the words you're using?

Mr.357
Mr.357

@mcreadyblue that's a great point about the baby formula, maybe they figured they weren't going to make it...