Nov 012012

[Note: Post-Sandy Walking Dead will resume its normal schedule next week, with posts going up within 24 hours after episodes air. –Deborah]

AMC’s been showing a lot of ads for their Halloween horror movie marathons. A lot of Jason, some Chuckie, this and that… It strikes me that in your standard horror film, you’re scared of the monster. Oh, it might not be a “monster.” It might be a serial killer, or a living doll, or an alien, something other. The thing you put on the box, maybe name the story after. This sounds so obvious, doesn’t it?

But the only horror I really watch is Walking Dead, and the occasional zombie film for my own edification regarding the genre. You’re not scared of the walkers. They’re a threat, but a known one. Not the real threat.

The real threat is the other survivors.

This is something I’ve probably said before, because the show deals with it again and again. With Walk With Me, we meet the Governor, who is probably the epitome of this. Here he is, setting up a little piece of formerly-known-as-normal in the post-apocalypse, giving people a reason to keep living, providing hope… And he kills people and puts their heads in jars. I wasn’t sure until I watched it a second time, but the head we focused on at the end was the soldier from the helicopter. I know some of you are going “Duh,” but we saw him for about a second, not long enough to really recognize him in that state. I also didn’t notice until the second view that the tour guide was the naked woman in Gov’nuh’s bed. I thought she was some random.

The helicopter makes me think of the one Rick saw flying over Atlanta early in season one. Talk about an unsatisfying solution to that mystery. “The army didn’t fall apart 100% right away, and some of them had ‘copters for a while.” I was hoping, I dunno, we’d learn that there was some group of people with enough civilization to fly ‘copters over Atlanta for some reason which they’d explain when we met them. This as the answer to that long-standing mystery is a bummer.

Anyway, wall full of heads. Some of them are clearly undead, but it looks like not all of them are. Maybe he started taking trophies from kills and decided at some point that he’d do the same for the living. Either way, he’s probably the only one who knows about that room.

But his whole crew knows about his methods. Merle and the squad took out the army guys like a well-oiled machine. They knew exactly what they were doing. Makes me wonder exactly how many other survivors got killed so the Gov’nuh could raid their supplies. Some of the townspeople probably suspect a few things, but I doubt anyone knows what goes on except the people doing it.

See, Merle said something interesting: “Hell, I think I’d piss my pants if some stranger come walking up with his mitts in his pockets. That’d be the son of a bitch you’d really want to be scared of.” He was describing the Gov’nuh. Governor Mitts-in-His-Pockets. Merle didn’t mean it that way, but the writers did. Speaking of Merle, his entrance would have been awesome and dramatic and quite the surprise if it wasn’t in the Previously On. It’s interesting to me that Merle fears and respects the Gov’nuh, in fact he seems generally calmer. Maybe now that he isn’t hopped up on drugs all the time, he can be. His love for Daryl is also clearly there, abusive and violent though he is.

Woodbury isn’t the only settlement around. We heard about army guy’s group, how their camp went to hell. There are a whole bunch of survivors out there. All over the place. It seems like the world is ended, and it mostly is, but we’ve encountered a whole lot of survivors. It makes sense. You’re gonna have solos or pairs like Michonne/Andrea, groups like Rick’s, each kind can be nomadic or stationary. Around the world you’ll also have small settlements like Woodbury. There are many ways people can survive. Groups usually come in two forms: Led by people like Rick, and led by people like Governor Prettyboy.

We know from her romp with Shane that Andrea is attracted to power. She really seems to be buying this guy’s line, and her attraction to him is likely influencing her decision-making. Neither she nor Michonne have any subtlety, but Michonne is a combat-oriented character in a situation that requires social skills, not combat skills. Subtlety. Indirectness. None of the things she’s such a badass at. Michonne is hard all around, a thick protective outer shell and no trust for anyone.

Especially not Mr. Creepy Scientist Guy, with his talk of Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? If Andrea was following the science that the guy in the CDC gave her at the end of season one, she’d know that no, they don’t, because it’s only the reptile brain that’s still functioning. Creepy Scientist Guy’s mention of a tool kit was reflected in Gov’nuh’s reliance on him to be smart and question him… Except not really question him, or I’m sure it would be a death sentence. But he wasn’t the right tool for the job either, although there’s no doubt that he’s a tool.

The question I keep coming back to is: Why shoot the soldiers? Why not bring them in, have them be part of the town? Let’s speculate. Maybe Gov’nuh is cautious not to let anyone in who’ll question him if he can avoid it. Maybe he doesn’t want to risk them not giving over their supplies and weapons. Maybe he thinks they might be a threat, and decided on a pre-emptive strike. Maybe he just likes killing people and taking their stuff. Yeah, that sounds about right.

A couple of final thoughts: Nice job with the exposition of Michonne’s pet walkers, whose use as pack mules I found hilarious. The guy who took out the zombies with the aluminum baseball bat realized that the walking dead aren’t so scary in an open space if they can’t walk. Kneecaps are a good target.

That’s about all I’ve got to say this week. Apologies for the late post. See you next week, brain trust.


  5 Responses to “The Walking Dead—Episode 3.03: “Walk with Me””

  1. Great recap! There were a lot of new elements in this episode, so I broke them down by what I liked and didn’t like. Here goes:

    Things I liked:

    1. Woodbury: Sweet Merle’s Missing Hand, y’all! Location change! In the first season, the main characters (starting with solo Rick) didn’t stay in the same place for too long, and the constant change of environment kept the show interesting. This is where S2 failed in my opinion, as the farm got boring and they had to make the characters do stupid, risky nonsense to continually change up the scenery. It looks like Woodbury and the prison will be the two main settings in S3, so hopefully that means a smaller chance of getting bored/having the characters act dumb to keep us entertained.

    2. The Governor: From what little I’ve seen, I like this new villain, particularly in the ways he differs from the comic version. Basically, he’s a bad guy in a black hat in the comics, and here he’s a bad guy in a white hat. I hope they don’t simply end up neutering the character and making him “Governor Lite” (or “Diet Governor?”) for the show, but we’ll see. Judging by this one episode, it looks like they just added a veil of gentility to him that makes him even more terrifying. He’s well written, and well acted by Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility. If the rest of the season is anything like this episode, the Gov is well on his way to becoming the first character on this show that I find truly compelling…in a Hannibal Lecter sort of way, of course.

    3. Milton: Finally, we see a survivor systematically running experiments and trying to figure out practical ways to deal with these zombies! This was always a major problem for me in the show: Why aren’t the survivors a little more curious about how these new superpredators work? Why aren’t they capturing and experimenting more with these things to figure out new ways to kill them? It makes perfect sense that the place to do this is in Woodbury, which is secure enough to house a person like Milton and allow him to just sit and think about zombies. I don’t care if he’s a creepy tool, Arthur! Only good can come of this!

    Things I didn’t like:

    1. The predictable plot: This plot had no surprises and really just served to set up the Governor/Woodbury storyline. You could tell the Governor was shady from the get-go, so the reveals with the soldiers and his aquariums weren’t really surprising. My enjoyment of the episode came more from the introduction of new characters and the change of setting than from the plot. And as Arthur said, the helicopter storyline was deeply unsatisfying too.

    2. Andrea and Michonne: I like that they have two different reaction to the Governor, but the differences were played so one-dimensionally that it quickly got old and boring. Michonne just had that perma-scowl, and Andrea just flirted with the Gov every chance she got. It’s a shame, because I think Michonne is supposed to be really smart in this show (e.g. she figured out how to use zombies as camouflage), and a smart person wouldn’t act quite so angry. Rather, you’d bide your time until you get a chance to escape, acting somewhere between neutral and fake-nice in the meantime. On the flipside, Andrea is acting like a school girl in love, and I think Andrea is too smart to let her guard down quite that much, quite that quickly. She’d be cautiously optimistic at best. A wasted opportunity, because I like the prospect of the two differing reactions: Michonne is right to be suspicious, and the audience know it. However, it’s also understandable that the ability to keep a town of 75 secure and well-fed in a world defined by terror is pretty seductive to someone like Andrea. And “It’s the post-apocalypse, baby! Psycho is the new sexy!” would be an interesting avenue to explore if Michonne and Andrea were written with a little more nuance. (What was it Milton said about a hammer?)

    Things I’m concerned about:

    1. Andrea’s knack for falling for sexy psychopaths. At this point, the other characters should use her as a canary whenever they meet a new guy. “Oh, we’ve encountered an outsider? Hey Andrea! Come here a minute. Look at this guy; you into him? No? Okay, he must be cool. Welcome to the group, buddy!”

    2. The Governor’s cable package. He must use Comcast.

    3. The Governor’s beverage intake: It’s always tea or whiskey/scotch/whatever the brown stuff is. Slow down, Gov! It’s not like they’re making more!

    4. If it wasn’t Merle, who the hell was spying on Carol during the zombie C-section?!

  2. I think the biggest reason why the Governor killed the soldiers was to retain his own power.

    Imagine you’re the Governor: A platoon of well-armed, organized, and capable (they’d have to be to survive that long out there without looking like the Ricktatorship) soldiers appear, eager to connect themselves to a group. They are also one of the last remnants of a long-since vanished government. You are a self-appointed leader who might or might not have military training, but are not as well-equipped to maintain control over a populace which is first and foremost concerned with personal security and probably intimidated by the use of men who are less-than-respectable (i.e. Merle), as opposed to soldiers who typically garner respect and trust.

    If given the opportunity, who would likely win that fight? The attack was a win-win for the Governor: Eliminate a potential threat to his control and get some nifty new weapons in the process.

    I have some suspicions regarding the type of society the Gov wants to build, as well (“We will rise again” and derisively wondering what “Uncle Sam” provided through the dead soldiers), but I can’t speculate too much, only say that his ambitions seem bigger than they were in the comics.

  3. Now we know what the Gov is made of.

    Now we know what Rick & Co. are up against when they run into him.

    I think the Gov kills because he’s a psychopath, but also because resources are finite and he wants them all for Woodbury. Those soldiers were sitting ducks. And so will be Rick & Co. if they don’t catch on very quickly. I look forward to that all playing out.

    • I believe the heads are trophies just like some serial killers keep. Psychopath was my thinking. Soldiers were killed b/c they were a threat to the Gov’s power and his sole control of Woodbury. He only allows people in that he can use and control. Michonne is given a pass b/c she is a kick ass warrior who isn’t interested in running Woodbury or any place else.

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