It’s hard to believe, but there’s only one episode left of AMC’s The Walking Dead before the show goes on a mid-season hiatus until February. The break is going to be unbearable enough without what is sure to be one hell of a cliffhanger on next week’s episode. And while tonight’s episode was a set up of the coming conflict, it was done with style and substance; I only wish more shows were as solid week-to-week as The Walking Dead.
Starring Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Laurie Holden, Danai Gurira, Michael Rooker, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson, Dallas Roberts and Emily Kinney, AMC’s The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9. Hit the jump for my review of “When the Dead Come Knocking.”
The lines separating Woodbury from the prison have finally begun to blur, but we’re not quite there yet. Glenn and Maggie suffer through a variety of torturous interrogation techniques at the hand(s) of Merle and the Governor, only to have Maggie give up information on Rick’s group. Andrea and the Gov continue their tryst and Andrea helps the resident scientist Milton (Roberts) perform an ill-conceived experiment. Meanwhile, Michonne has made her way to the prison and is brought in by the gang to tend to her wounds. An uneasy truce is reached when Michonne informs them about Glenn and Maggie’s kidnapping, the Woodbury compound and the psychopathic Governor who runs it. Though they’re attacked by a pack of Walkers during their scouting mission, Rick’s recon party makes it to the walls of Woodbury just as the Gov is about to send out his own scouts to survey the prison.
For an episode that’s setting up the mid-season finale, this one was pretty damn good. The whole season so far has been really solid and has also been slowly building to this inevitable climax. Perhaps the most interesting facet of this conflict is the fact that there are questionable loyalties on both sides: can the Governor trust Merle if his brother Daryl comes to storm Woodbury? Will Michonne continue to be a team player or will she go off on her own mission, either of revenge or of escape? What about Oscar and Axel? Will the former prisoners stand with Rick’s group or switch sides if presented with a better offer by the Gov? And what exactly will Andrea do?
Andrea is arguably the most interesting question mark in this whole mess. She hasn’t exactly gotten along with Rick’s group in the past, choosing instead to go off on her own. She has no loyalties to them. Then again, her loyalties to the Governor may only be mattress deep and it’s hard to say which way she’ll turn if/when she finds out the Gov has been interrogating Maggie and Glenn. Plus, Michonne’s presence with Rick’s group would certainly go a long way towards influencing her decision. Andrea clearly still has her head on her shoulders where her own survival is concerned, as her reaction to Mr. Coleman’s reanimation certainly showed. But in the heat of what appears to be quite a pitched battle, just which way will her allegiances swing? (The look ahead at next week’s episode showed Andrea firing a gun, I believe, but at who/what, I don’t know.)
Speaking of Mr. Coleman, I really thought The Walking Dead was going to land this “mad scientist” angle, but sadly it’s come up short. Milton is rather bumbling and squirrelly, even after all of the exposure to Walkers that should have desensitized him by this point. I liked the fact that Milton is curious about a person’s ability to retain any of their humanity after turning, but whether this is his own interest or only that of the Governor’s remains to be seen. I’m guessing the latter considering the Governor’s daughter, who is way beyond help. I also didn’t appreciate the fact that good ol’ Milton is smart enough to be Woodbury’s “scientist” but dumb enough to unstrap a freshly turned Walker. This has been the only glaring “Glenn in the Well” moment so far this season.
Ah, Glenn. Did the guy show up for this episode or what? Yeun had so few lines but didn’t need any of them because his performance spoke volumes. You can’t help but admire Glenn’s resolve, whether in the face of a brutal beating by Merle, a life-threatening Walker attack or even a gun to his half-naked girlfriend’s head. But it was all for naught as Maggie spilled the beans as soon as Glenn’s life was extra-threatened. (You have to feel bad for Maggie in one sense for being sexually assaulted. On the other hand, I hear that what happens to a different character in a similar situation in the comics is much, much worse. Compared to Glenn and that character, Maggie didn’t fare too poorly.) For as smart as Glenn is, he slipped up when he told Merle that Andrea was still with Rick’s group. As for Maggie, the Gov doesn’t know whether she’s lying or not when she tells him they only had 10 people in their party that cleared the prison. For some reason, this seems to strike the Governor as an impossibility. I guess we’ll find out why next week!
- “You were an asshole out there.” ~Merle to Glenn, referring to him leaving Merle handcuffed to a roof in Atlanta.
- Nice to see that Merle is still incredibly racist.
- The reunion with Carol was bittersweet, but chock full of heartfelt emotion. Here’s hoping that Michonne recognized the sincerity of it.
- “I’ll bake a cake with pink frosting.” ~Merle to Glenn, who says that Rick and the others will come for him.
- “Daryl’s been calling her ‘Ass-Kicker.’” ~Carl to Rick about the newest addition to the Grimes clan
- Baby Ass-Kicker gets a real name! And it’s…Judith. No offense to any Judiths out there, but it was a bit odd how they settled on that name. The dialogue between Carl and Rick was in the vein of “man talk,” in which you say what you need to say without really saying anything. I get that. I also get that Rick wanted Carl to have some say in his baby sister’s life. But one of Carl’s teacher’s names? That was just a little off (unless I missed something here).
- “Take off your shirt or I’ll bring Glenn’s hand in here.” ~The Gov to Maggie. Worst pick-up line ever, Governor.
- “Do what you’re gonna do and go to Hell.” ~Maggie to the Gov
- “Remember the Alamo?” ~Daryl
- “Blood’s blood, right? Makes me wonder where your loyalties lie?” ~ The Governor. “Here.” ~Merle
- Props to the musical cues this week! There was a distinct and building pulse that picked up within the last few minutes of the show that really upped the tension in the final scenes.
1 – the random guy living in the shack in the middle of the woods
Glenn’s “chair fragment to the temple” move.
Best Zombie Effect:
The herd of Walkers feasting on the recently deceased man our heroes tossed out of the shack. Was it high tech? Nope. Just good old fashioned, old school sloppy gore. Romero would be proud.
Check back with us next week when we review the mid-season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead.