Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: The Walking Dead "Walk With Me"

Non Spoiler Review:
The narrative shifts to Andrea and Michonne, who witness a military helicopter crash, and the subsequent arrival of a new group of survivors from the town of Woodbury. Can they be trusted, especially their strong leader known only as the Governor?

With a longer season, it's refreshing to be able to leave Rick and the crew to focus on Andrea and the still mysterious Michonne, who, even after this episode, doesn't get a lot of new insight. The arrival of the Governor to the cast is a geekout moment for fans of the comic, but also a very ominous and interesting one for those just watching the series. There are other additional characters, the return of an old face, as well, including one background character that is sure to raise some suspicions as to his identity (or at least it did with me!). 

Walk With Me was an intriguing episode for the mysteries it's set in motion, as well as the focus on two of my favs—Andrea and Michonne. Lots of revelations no doubt are to come.

Spoilers Now!
A military helicopter with three men on some sort of patrol malfunctions and crashes in the Georgia wilderness. Andrea and Michonne witness the impact and go to investigate. Andrea is still battling the flu, so Michonne checks out the wreckage and finds one dead body. But they're suddenly alerted to vehicles pulling up and they watch from the woods as men take a look for themselves.

They appear organized and well-versed in the proper way to dispatch with the walkers without making a ruckus. They watch them pull a man out of the helicopter while the dead one begins to animate as a zombie and the leader kills it. Michonne's walkers start to get antsy and threaten to alert them of their position, so Michonne has to kill them both. It looks like they've gone unnoticed but one of the men (with a very familiar voice) comes up behind them and tells them to put down their weapons. Andrea lays eyes on Merle (with suitable zombie killing prosthesis). Andrea faints.

Delirious and blindfolded as they're driven away, she hears the leader talking on the radio with his home base. A soldier was found alive and is being brought back, too. Through her blindfold she gets a glimpse of Merle.

They arrive at a walled town. The doctor treats Andrea but gives them little information before being ordered to see to the soldier. Merle comes in to explain how he survived—he was bleeding out when they found him. Andrea informs him she hasn't seen Daryl in a long time and that he and Rick went back for him. He seems to show some sympathy when he hears about Amy's death. But she doesn't know what happened to everyone given they were separated for seven months. She knows what it feels like to be left behind.

Merle would like a thank you, so Andrea says as much, but Michonne just watches in suspicious silence. The leader comes in, whispers to Merle, then asks how they are. He tells them they're being cared for, not locked up. They're under guard to protect his people. Andrea then asks why he drove a knife into the skulls of dead men, and he reveals that they all turn however they die, and he put them out of their misery. They're welcome to leave, but he suggests Andrea get some rest, and to come by in the morning to get their weapons and be sent on their way. 

They walk outside to the peaceful town of Woodbury. He shows them the walls and she asks if they're military. They're mostly self-trained but they have heavy artillery scavenged over time. Merle calls him the Governor. He takes them to some comfortable quarters. Andrea asks about the pilot and he just says the doctor is working on him.

In the morning they're escorted around by a woman who explains they have 73 people in their community and there have been few casualties in a long time. The Governor has enforced a strict curfew but it works to maintain order and keep everyone safe.

The pilot is conscious and tells the Governor that their camp was over run when one got infected and his team abandoned their post and escaped. Ten in their group are on the highway in a convoy. He took the helicopter up to scout ahead. The Governor explains he'll go and find his men.

He then goes to visit Merle and a man named Milton and asks about the girl, Andrea. Merle explains she's from the group in Atlanta. He wants him to find out more from her. Milton, the brains in the group, shows the Governor the two zombies Michonne had—their arms and jaws were removed to take away their ability to eat—which made them become docile. They also acted as repellent from other walkers...walk with the biters, they think you're a biter. The zombies are also starving, but they're doing it slower than humans. Milton wants to talk to the women to learn more. 

He takes Milton's advice and has the girls over for breakfast with them. Milton has a theory that there might be a trace of the person lingering in the zombies. He asks Michonne who her walkers were, which makes things awkward. The Governor goes on to explain the secret of his success is restoring a sense of community and he plans to retake civilization. Michonne wants to leave. He says they can leave whenever they like but he urges them to take a look around and rest first.

Walking alone with Andrea, Michonne says she doesn't trust him, but Andrea wants to stay for a couple of days to fully recover. She also brings up that she feels she hardly knows Michonne even after seven months, and also wants to know who those two walkers were, especially since she took them out with no hesitation. Michonne refuses to answer and walks off.

On the road, the pilot's army buddies are camped out as the Governor arrives in a car bearing a white flag. He explains he found their man, Lt. Wells, who told him to bring them to him. They appear relieved but the Governor pulls a gun and begins shooting, as do his men in the woods, killing them all. Then they look over what Uncle Sam brought them.

The army convoy pulls into Woodbury to much curiosity. Andrea notices Milton seems a bit disconcerted. The Governor addresses the town, explaining the National Guard survivor had told them about his men, but they found them all dead. They had trucks with essential food and medicine, and he advises them not to take what they have for granted.

Afterwards, Andrea asks the Governor his real name. He makes it clear he will never tell her. As night falls, the Governor has a drink in his home. Andrea's female tourist guide is sleeping in his bed. He looks at the photo of his family, then heads into a dark room where he sits on a couch in front of an illuminated assortment of aquariums full of heads, one of whom is Lt. Wells. 

The Verdict:
This was an interesting diversion that really worked (and continues a string of great episodes). An extended season means we can have a whole hour without Rick and the crew and focus on introducing this major storyline and its characters. That gives the audience the reveal of the Governor before Rick even gets to meet him and sets up a lot of foreboding of what might be coming.

Michonne remains a mystery, so I'm anxious to see more of this character. I'm still a bit torn about this seven month gap and the fact that Andrea and her aren't besties yet? What did they talk about all this time? Even a few months with Lori and the others got them all pretty familiar with each other.

What I did overlook was that Andrea and Michonne would not be privy to the walking dead aspect of the virus, so that was an interesting addition, as well as Milton's explanation of why the two walkers were dismembered. I hope Milton turns out to be one of the good guys. The awkward glances he sometimes gives betray a bit of a conscience at what he knows about the Governor.

Merle's back! How will Daryl react at the inevitable reunion? Will he find himself changed so much that he won't see eye to eye with his brother anymore? Merle has already commented that he sees his younger brother as weaker than him.

Finally, David Morrissey presents a different Governor than we're used to in the graphic novels which I quite like. The literary version was obviously a crazy the moment we saw him, but Morrissey conveys a very subtle psychopath who has some attractive elements (that even Andrea might be taking a shine too?). Of course, the post-apocalyptic utopia is never what it seems to be.

Who is that large Tyrese-looking fellow in the Governor's entourage? Dare we hope that this character may be getting introduction via Woodbury?

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