The Walking Dead Watch: So Close…So Far

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Gene Page/AMC

Ever since we first saw Woodbury earlier this season, the narrative of most episodes has jumped back and forth between the group in the prison and those in this seemingly placid town. The stories tap-danced around each other until they slammed together in a gun battle, then bifurcated again as both camps retreated to their own lines. Most of the chapters after the battle of Woodbury featured some scenes from A and some from B, but last night’s focus was squarely on Woodbury — and, more specifically, on Andrea.

Ever since Andrea stopped just short of killing the Governor while he was sleeping, we’ve been curious about when she would have to finally pick a side. After doing her best to be an emissary in the middle, Andrea made her decision only after finally seeing the Governor’s torture chamber (nicknamed the Workshop). Taking advantage of the fact that Caesar and his henchmen were gearing up for battle, Andrea leaps the Woodbury wall armed only with a knife and strikes off on an odyssey to the prison.

We saw a small bit of foreshadowing in the episode’s cold open, a flashback to Andrea and Michonne wandering through the countryside. When Andrea asks Michonne about her “pets” — the armless and jawless walkers she used to ward off other zombies — Michonne tells Andrea they were barely human to begin with. It was only a brief glimpse back into those days before our characters settled into small tribes, but it reminded us how hard things were out on the road and portended the struggles Andrea would have out among the walkers.

The real thrill of last night’s episode was that we got to follow Andrea as she was hunted, both by the Governor and his henchmen, as well as an army of walkers. When she runs into the woods and hides behind a tree, we can almost see the zombie coming over he shoulder, and sure enough, first comes an arm, then a mouth, and then a whole walker horde. She fights them off, of course, because she’s a badass (and because there’s a lot more plot left for Andrea), but it was a great example of how thrilling a scene can be even when you know what’s coming.

What we didn’t see coming when she ran into the warehouse was how she would escape. It was a brilliant move, opening the door to the stairs and unleashing dozens of zombies on the Governor. As he battled them off one by one, she stood calmly behind the door, utterly emotionless. I’m sure she thought she had finally killed him, but we know better than that because the Governor has a lot of plot lines left for him as well. And while it wasn’t exactly a surprise that the Governor caught her before she could get Rick’s attention, you had to feel bad for Andrea, who made it so far only to fall back into his evil hands. Plus, she knows she’s headed straight to the Workshop.

In the episode’s penultimate scene, the Governor and Milton square off in the street. The Governor knows that Milton torched the biter pit, but he can’t kill him in public lest he incite a revolt among his residents. The scene is, perhaps, a preview of a final showdown between the Governor and his former advisor. There is the Governor, covered in blood after spending the night fighting off zombies. He hasn’t slept. He has more lingering issues that even he would probably care to count. But when he sees Milton’s true colors, and realizes that his trusted advisor has finally turned against him, the Governor replies to Milton’s greeting with a simple answer: “Never been better.”

Zombie Kill Report: At least a couple dozen, but it’s hard to tell how many biters the Governor had to slay to make it out of the factory. He also earns the kill of the night with his calm dispatch of a walker by slamming a flat shovel through its head. As he repeatedly lifts and drops the shovel into the pile of goo that used to be a zombie, we were treated to the overpowering sound effect that accompanies every walker kill, a noise that our very own James Poniewozik perfectly described as “like someone’s pulling a rubber boot out of a bucket of Jell-O.”

One Hell of a Barbecue: Since the beginning of the show, we’ve been wondering about the walkers’ state of living. (A friend who watches the show asked if walkers could ever starve.) Until this point, the only way to kill a walker is to pierce his or her brain with a bullet, knife, arrow, shovel, etc, etc. Now we know that you can’t burn zombies to death. After Milton’s clandestine arson mission, we saw the piles of charred walkers, gravely wounded, but still very much animated.

More Peeks Into the Past: Last week, we speculated that that TWD‘s writers have been delivering backstory on certain characters in case they’re killed in the coming battle. In the previous episode, we learned a bit more about Milton and Caesar; this time, we got a peek at the history of Tyreese and Sasha. We learn that early in the apocalypse, Tyreese saved Sasha’s life. That doesn’t sit too well with Allen, who apparently had his sights on her. Now that we know more about this crew, who do you think will be the casualties in the coming conflagration? Tell us in the comments below.