One of the central story threads of the film Lincoln, which failed to win the best picture Oscar last night (I was a bit heartbroken), is the presence of Confederate negotiators, who wish to strike a bargain and end the Civil War. Knowing that Congress would never pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery if there was a chance to negotiate an end to the war, Lincoln delays the negotiating party’s entry into Washington and even denies their presence to satisfy certain Congressmen.
The bit of history is worth remembering, because it highlights the crucial role negotiators have often played in war. Even the possibility of a party that may sue for peace could be enough to change the political calculus of a conflict. In last week’s Walking Dead episode, The Governor started a war, not between two nation-states, but between two groups of apocalypse survivors. But the political implications are similar, and even though last night’s episode was an incredible slow burner, there were several developments that could drastically change our story in the coming weeks.
First, there’s Andrea, our would-be negotiator who travels the perilous route to the prison with an armless, jawless walker to gauge Rick’s intentions. It’s easy to forget, given all that’s happened, that Andrea hasn’t seen most of these folks since the battle of Greene Farm. Her questions (Where is Shane? among them) remind us just how long she’s been separated from her old crew.
While very little came from her meeting with Rick and Co., it’s important to think about the motivations of each character. The Governor let her go, possibly to test her loyalty; Andrea herself wants to see peace between the factions, both because of her blinding infatuation with The Governor and her affinity for the ordinary people of Woodbury. Rick, to his credit, coming out of his Lori-seeing stupor (a running gun battle tends to do that) sees right through any peace overture and sends Andrea packing, having rejected any idea of peace between the two factions.
That may have been where we left the whole situation if not for the oh-so fortuitous meeting in the woods where Tyrese and his small group stumble upon Andrea preparing her walker companion for travel. Milton leads them back to Woodbury where, surprise, they let it slip that they’ve been inside the prison and can help The Governor and his militia infiltrate the catacombs. It’s not that we didn’t see this coming (we did), predicting that Rick’s penchant for tossing strangers back into the wild would one day come back to bite him in the ass. How great would it be to have Tyrese and his crew on their side instead of leading The Governor’s forces in a clandestine infiltration of the prison?
In the end, it may be that Rick gets what he deserves with this coming battle and learns to trust people again. Don’t count on it, but it’s a possibility. As for the episode’s title, we could debate (and please do in the comments below) which character the writers are referring to when they allude to the biblical story of Judas. In the Christian Gospels, Judas Iscariot was one of Jesus’s most trusted apostles—ultimately betraying him with a kiss. Since loyalties have shifted over time in our story, it’s hard to know sometimes who’s being betrayed and who’s being used and who basically had it coming. Over the next few weeks, we should know for sure.
Zombie Kill Report: Single digits (only one, unless I missed a couple). Last week saw dozens upon dozens of Walker-slayings during the battle at the prison and the Dixon boys’ fight on the bridge. The award for most creative (and disgusting) kill of last week went to Daryl for his clever and splattering use of the back door of a station wagon. Last night’s episode was light on the walker kills, but Andrea gets extra credit for emulating Michonne’s armless, jawless zombie-pet force field. I don’t care if he was from a zombie, when the guy bit down on the rock it was a squishy, cringe-inducing sight.
Most potential, biggest-miss scene: Andrea’ aborted assassination attempt of The Governor. I don’t think anyone actually thought she’d go through with it–as the title says, she ain’t Judas–but Andrea clearly struggled with the decision. She had to weigh her allegiance to her old group, her emerging leadership in Woodbury and her feelings for The Governor. What we got was an almost comical shot of a naked Andrea standing over the sleeping Governor holding the knife straight out, ensuring that if he awoke she’d be toast. He didn’t. We weren’t surprised.
The end of innocence: One of the long-running themes of TWD has been the effect on the children of living in a post-apocalyptic world. We’ve seen Carl grow up from a whiny kid into a confident adolescent, and even his father now acknowledges he’s ready to step up and take on some responsibilities. But is this a good thing? While The Governor was raising his militia, he ordered that anyone capable would holster a weapon and man a post. When asked if that included the town’s young teenagers, he replies, “Adolescence is 20th century invention.” The chaotic, survival of the fittest life the survivors must navigate has mitigated things like childhoods and safe havens. It’ll be interesting to see what effect that has on kids like Carl in the future.