Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: The Walking Dead "When The Dead Come Knocking"

Non Spoiler Review:
Maggie and Glen suffer a brutal interrogation by the Governor and Merle, while Michonne brings information about Woodbury to the prison. Andrea helps Milton with one of his experiments.

And so the penultimate episode of the first half of the season begins to put a lot of key players in place. As such, it played out a little more slower than we've been used to since the beginning of the season. That's not to say there wasn't a few action bits and surprises, but it was a much more psychological and emotional hour this time as we see further into the twisted psyche of the Governor. Things are certainly feeling ominous for next week.

Spoilers Now!
In Woodbury, Glen is tied to a chair, beaten and interrogated by Merle, who blames him for escalating the situation, and for leaving him in Atlanta. Merle is pleased to hear T-Dog is dead, but when no other information is forthcoming, he suggests Maggie will help him out. 

At the prison, Michonne stairs down Rick as the others come up to the fence. The walkers begin to take notice of her so she sets about killing the group around her. She finally passes out from her injury but Rick manages to get her inside and retrieve the baby formula. He sees she's got a gunshot wound, not a bite. As she's being tended to, Daryl brings Rick aside to show him Carol alive and well. Michonne watches the happy reunion from her cell.

Michonne reveals the supplies were dropped by an Asian guy and a girl she saw in town, both of whom were taken by the man who shot her. She fills them in about Woodbury and the Governor, and thinks they could slip their way through the town's defences to rescue them. She had overheard Glen mention a prison, so that's how she found them.

Rick organizes a search party with Daryl and Oscar. After Hershel sows up Michonne's wound, she joins them, too. Rick says good-bye to Carl, sorry that his son had to carry out the task of shooting his mother. They discuss what they should call the baby and Carl wants to name her Judith.

The group parks on the road and walks the rest of the way on foot to Woodbury. The woods are full of walkers so they take out as many as they can without guns before being forced to flee to a cabin. As the walkers pile up outside, Rick discovers someone is sleeping there. Startled, the man appears crazy and demands they leave or he'll call the cops. Rick manages to get his gun away from him, but then he rushes for the door, forcing Michonne to kill him. Rick opts to throw the body out the door to distract the walkers while they flee out the back.

Merle brings in a zombie to torment Glen, who is still strapped to his chair. Glen is forced to fight it off and manages to kill it with broken pieces of the chair. Merle brings the Governor up to speed about their identity and relationship with Andrea. He decides he'll talk to the girl himself instead of Merle.

The Governor cuts Maggie free and takes a seat. He explains they'll take her back to her people and dismiss it as a misunderstanding. He just needs to know where they are but she won't give them up. He suggests her people are dangerous (forcing Merle to cut off his own hand). She won't cooperate, so he asks her to stand up and take off her shirt or he'll bring Glen's hand in to her. She does so. And after a tense few moments when she thinks he's about to rape her, he leaves. 

The Governor has Andrea help out Milton with one of his experiments. An old man dying of prostate cancer has agreed to help Milton in testing if memory survives the reanimation process. It's Andrea's job to terminate the walker when he's finished. Milton hasn't witnessed a transformation—he was an only child and his parents died when he was young, and he telecommuted with work when the outbreak happened.

The old man dies and eventually begins to reanimate so Milton begins his experiment, including removing the restraints so the man can use his hands to signal that he understands. But the walker immediately tries to eat him. Andrea saves Milton and kills it.

The Governor brings topless Maggie to see Glen. Unless they give up the camp he'll shoot him, so Maggie confesses and reveals they're from the prison and number ten. The Governor is aware of it and is impressed the few of them managed to clear the whole place.

By nightfall Rick's group arrives at Woodbury's gates. The Governor now wonders where Merle's allegiance would lie if Daryl is out there searching for Glen and Maggie. Merle confirms it's with Woodbury. The Governor sends two of his men to scout the prison, while Andrea comes home and explains Milton didn't find what he was looking for. 

The Verdict:
Maggie's near rape was one of the more disturbing things to watch so far this season, and I'm happy they didn't go there. It was enough to see the pleasure the Governor was enjoying by inflicting such emotional damage on her and Glen. It contrasts wildly with the tenderness he appears to show Andrea, but hammers home how much danger she's in should she find her loyalties at odds with him. The writers have done a good job creating a mystery of just how crazy the Governor is, and which aspects of him we've seen are real or put on.

The death of the poor guy in the cabin was an interesting moral snapshot on Rick and Michonne's survival skills, and also an interesting contrast with the Governor. I wonder if Rick will feel any guilt about causing his death. It all happened so fast that no one really had a chance to consider what they did.

Are Milton's experiments leading to any pertinent information about the walkers that we don't know already? Morgan's wife (episode one) appeared to retain some sense of memory to continue to come her old house. Whatever the case, was this the experiment that had required the use of the generators?

At this point it seems everyone is overdue for a big sit down to discuss everything they know. I'm unclear how much Michonne is aware that she's now with Andrea's group, much less that Daryl is Merle's brother. Surely she overheard enough of that in Woodbury and now at the prison to make some connections. Andrea also knows enough about the zombie infection to make Milton's head explode, considering she got the big PowerPoint presentation at the CDC, but she didn't even bring that up to him.

Apparently the Governor took Merle's word for it that the prison couldn't be cleared out. That's a bit of  tenuous logic, if that's all that kept them from taking it over. But it might reflect on how well Woodbury can defend itself against actual aggressors. Perhaps all that wandering in the wilderness has actually given Rick and his crew the tactical edge to lead a successful assault against Woodbury.

Next week is bound to be an intense one, with several meetings and reunions raising questions of potential loyalties—Merle and Daryl, Andrea and her old friends, and very likely Rick and the Governor. Given the way events unfold in the graphic novels, this cliffhanger could go several ways, all of which should prove to be a very intense finale.

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