Sunday, March 17, 2013

Review: The Walking Dead "Prey"

Non Spoiler Review:
Prey takes a break from the prison and focuses on the rising unease within Woodbury. Andrea, Milton and Tyreese are faced with difficult decisions as it's evident an armed assault against the prison is imminent despite the talk of negotiation. That leads to a tension-filled stand off as the Governor opts to personally deal with the dissension in his ranks.

For the most part this was a prison-less episode, giving Andrea a much-needed spotlight to digest the recent developments and revelations about her lover. Add to that mix the increasingly interesting Milton, as well as Tyreese and Sasha for a riveting Walking Dead that included more than a couple of jump-out-of-your-seat moments.

Prey kept me guessing until the last scene. The pieces all appear in place now for the final two episodes of the season. What's interesting is things could play out in any number of ways, with the fates of an equal number of characters hanging in the balance.

Spoilers Now!
In a flashback, Andrea and Michonne are camped out in the woods with their disarmed roamer guardians chained to a tree. Andrea asks her where she found her two companions, but realizes Michonne knew them. All she says in answer is they deserved what they got—they weren't human to begin with. 

In the present, the Governor is in his chamber of horrors preparing the place for a future occupant. Milton finds Martinez arming up a truck in preparation for attack. Milton goes to the Governor's warehouse where he sees him assembling his tools and confronts him about his plan. Milton understands his vendetta against Michonne, but the people at the prison are innocent. The Governor replies that if there is still a spark of humanity in the walkers like Milton suspects, then that was Penny who died. 

Milton goes on to tell Andrea that the Governor has asked for Michonne but will kill them all at the prison anyway. Andrea thought there was a deal on the table. He takes Andrea to look in on the Governor's lair and tells her to go warn the prison. She realizes she has to kill the Governor, who happens to walk in. They secretly watch him lay out a needle and thread and whistle into a tape recorder. She takes out her gun to shoot him but Milton stops her. After they get back home Milton maintains that the Governor is a good man deep down, and even if she kills him it will be Martinez who takes over. Andrea decides she has to warn the prison and Milton will come with her. She assures him he'll be fine there, but Milton is adamant he belongs in Woodbury. Andrea tells him if he stays he can't keep looking the other way.

Andrea gets stopped by Martinez to collect her weapon as ordered by the Governor for the coming attack. She reluctantly hands it over. The Governor apologizes for not telling her earlier. He wanted to keep her safe. He wants her with them when they go to meet Rick the next day.

Tyreese and Sasha are on the back wall, taking practice shooting roamers. Her father isn't the best shot. Andrea tells them a pack of walkers have been seen approaching the main gate and they need to go help. Tyreese won't leave without Martinez's approval, so Andrea comes clean, telling them she's leaving. Tyreese won't let her, but she pulls a knife. Andrea explains the Governor is not who he seems to be, he's done terrible things and planning worse. She warns them to leave, too. Tyreese lets her climb over the fence and she runs off.

They go to warn the Governor, who assures them they did the right thing not to confront her. He appears worried that she can't take care of herself as, according to him, she was out there all winter by herself. He realizes she'd been alone too long and asks if Andrea said anything else. Tyreese doesn't have any information to offer, and worries that he complicated things by letting her go. The Governor asks him to go help Martinez.

The Governor then crosses paths with Milton, who asks if Andrea is gone. The Governor's going after her. Milton asks him to let her go. The Governor realizes he talked to her and knew she was leaving. Furious, he demands to know if Milton compromised their secrets and realizes Andrea also knows about Michonne. He storms off. 

Martinez orders Tyreese to meet them at the truck to be ready to roll, but won't say to where. Allan and Ben are there, too, and seems to think Andrea is crazy to begin with, but Tyreese wonders why she said so much against the Governor. They warn Tyreese not to make waves. Allan has plenty of issues with Tyreese, especially because Donna apparently fell for him. Martinez interrupts their argument to get going on the road. Allan warns they aren't finished with the matter.

Martinez takes his group to the pit they've used to capture walkers. Sasha and Tyreese realize they're bringing them to their meeting at the prison. Tyreese thinks it's all sick and refuses to do it. Martinez suggests he explain himself to the Governor when he gets back. Allan warns Tyreese he doesn't speak for them and he can look after his boy just fine. Like he looked after Donna, Tyreese shoots back, and the two come to blows. He holds Allan over the open pit but Sasha calms him down. Martinez orders his other man to take them all back to town.

Andrea makes her way down the highway and hears an approaching vehicle, forcing her to run off into the trees. She watches the truck pass but is grabbed by a walker as several others approach. She frees herself and gets away. Exhausted, she runs across an open field when she hears the truck again. Spotted, she's forced to sprint as the Governor drives after her. She reaches the safety of the woods and continues as night begins to fall, where she finds a warehouse. But the truck is close behind. 

She seeks refuge inside but sees the Governor pull up. He starts whistling as he enters, and Andrea is forced to kill a walker that's heard them. He calls out to her and asks her to come back to Woodbury. When he gets no response he begins smashing the windows. He approaches her hiding place but is drawn away by more roamers. Andrea impales another on a hook and when she tries to flee through a door finds another room packed full of the undead. That leaves her to face the Governor. 

He tells her it's time to go home. Instead she opens the door and pulls it safely in front of her while allowing the herd of walkers to file out after the Governor. She flees upstairs as the Governor fires at the roamers, and hears his yells as she leaves the warehouse.

At the walker pit a truck drives up and someone douses both the zombies in the pit and those loaded in the trailer with gasoline, then sets them on fire. In the morning Martinez's man finds the smokey remains.

By morning Andrea finally reaches the prison. She waves to Rick who is on watch, but the Governor takes her down. The Governor returns to Woodbury and tells Martinez she got away. He's advised of what happened in the pit, so he instructs Martinez to get more biters. 

The Governor goes on to see Sasha, Tyreese, Allan and Ben about the incident at the pit. Tyreese wants to know why they're gathering walkers, but the Governor tells them the whole thing is a bluff. Tyreese asks why Martinez never said that in the first place. The Governor explains they don't discuss tactics with those they don't really know. Tyreese is contrite and says they want to stay. He won't make trouble again. The Governor is glad to hear that, but asks where they got the gasoline. They don't know what he's talking about. 

Milton confronts the Governor and asks if Andrea is dead. He says he hopes not. Milton says it's a shame about the pits and hope he finds out who did it. The Governor says he already has. Meanwhile, Andrea is very much alive, handcuffed and gagged in his torture chamber.

The Verdict:
Prey was incredibly intense and produced at least two jump-out moments (Andrea being grabbed by the walker in the tree and the Governor at the prison). Finally all the Andrea-haters out there (and there seems to be plenty) can take some solace that she's acting (and no thanks to Milton, failed). Viewers need to realize that Andrea has spent more time among Michonne and the citizens of Woodbury than she ever did with Rick and their group.

The flashback between Michonne and Andrea on the road was long in coming. It implies that Michonne's reaction to the Governor comes from a familiarity with his ilk from the beginning. The writers seem to be making a big deal about keeping the identities of her roamers a secret for as long as possible, but I imagine we'll find out before the finale.

I confess, only now did I realize that Allan, Ben and Donna are the Allan, Ben and Donna from the graphic novels, or at least The Walking Dead television versions (and a vastly aged Ben from his comic book counterpart). But the scene never really made it clear what exactly happened between them. Is Allan just jealous he was made to look weak, or did Donna indeed start to show feelings for Tyreese? It came out of left field and just seemed to be there as a plot device.

Does whistling attract walkers? The zombie pit which we've seen before employs the windmill/whistling thingie to lead them in. But we also see the Governor making a point of whistling as he enters the warehouse. Was it to draw out any biters that might be hidden, or was it just to torment Andrea? Add to that the mysterious tape recorder we saw him whistling into earlier.

I do have a big quibble about the Governor catching up to Andrea, much less finding her in the first place. Having grown up on the prairies, I can be pretty confident I could keep hidden in the woods from someone in a truck. And unless your last name is Dixon, I can't imagine the Governor tracking Andrea in the first place, much less getting away from the zombies and catching up with her at the prison.

I'm relieved Andrea didn't meet her end in Prey. There were several moments when I was certain the Governor would bring her down. Now she needs to be rescued by Milton and the two can then hopefully make their escape with Tyreese and Sasha to save the prison, and maybe even Ben if Beth needs a potential love interest in season four.

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