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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Walking Dead 3x03: Walk With Me


As I've said before, I have yet to read any of the Walking Dead comic series, yet even before the show aired, I was aware of two significant characters from the comics: Michonne, who was some kind of fan favorite badass, and the Governor, who was some kind of post-apocalypse dictator. We've met Michonne (though we still know very little about her), and this episode was handed over more or less to introducing the Governor, and Woodbury, the community he's built. To the show's credit, they don't play coy when it comes to the Governor's true nature. What could have been a drawn out, multi-episode question of whether the Governor was truly a benevolent leader or the pleasant face of something more sinister was put to rest before the end of the episode.

Furthermore, while I have issues with "we have met the enemy, and he is us" stories in post-apocalypse narratives, the Governor and Woodbury give this show something it desperately needs: a place, however small, however tentative, where the zombie threat has been contained and pushed back enough to let some semblance of normal life return. By creating a place where simple survival isn't the entire end goal of daily existence, the show is allowed an opportunity to do some much needed world building and start asking (and answering) questions about how the zombies work and how society can (and could) function in the aftermath of such an apocalypse. The scenes of the Governor and his scientist discussing the nature of zombies, and the episode-ending image of the Governor's room full of Futurama-style zombie heads, were an intriguing glimpse of what a place like Woodbury, and a character like the Governor, can bring to the show.

Other Thoughts
It also helps that, like all good villains, the Governor is charismatic as hell and fun to watch.

I honestly thought it was fantastic that Michonne almost literally spent this entire episode doing nothing but glowering.

Making it clear from the get-go that the Governor isn't as benevolent as he appears has the added effect of making Andrea look like an idiot for buying what he's selling, but we already kinda saw her that way.

Nice touch that while the Governor and his crew have figured out that everyone who dies comes back a zombie, Andrea and Michonne still didn't know that.

Whenever a character refuses to give his real name, or a show goes out of its way to keep it a secret, I start thinking the real name will have some greater meaning. However, I have a feeling that the Governor's name will either go the way of the Man in Black on Lost and never be revealed, or will end up having no significance at all. 

Similar to how I'm not a fan of "we have met the enemy..." stories, Merle's return bothers me simply because it will lead to an inevitable reunion with Darryl, at which point the show's most fun-to-watch character will revert to his season one form and likely betray Rick and the others in some capacity, all because of his dumb ass brother. 

That said, Merle and Andrea's discussion of what happened since they last saw each other was good. Something else the safety of Woodbury gives the show: a chance to reflect on its history. 

So take away a zombie's ability to feed and eventually it'll stop being hungry? Interesting. Also, it seems Michonne was using her chained zombies as camouflage (and pack mules), though her reaction to the Governor's questions about them suggest they were also people she once knew.

The helicopter which crashed at the beginning was part of a National Guard unit; was that the same helicopter Rick saw flying through Atlanta back in the beginning of season 1?

Your philosophical question of the day: is it the narrative demands of the genre which require that the vast majority of people who survive an apocalypse be enormous dicks, or is humanity just so messed up that most otherwise-decent people would become dicks in the wake of catastrophe?   

8 comments:

  1. I really liked this episode, although some of my coworkers did not because it took us away from the main group. I think you nailed it on the head when you said it provided a place that could help them do more world building.

    The episode really made me think of the video game series Fallout. One of my favorite parts of those games was exploring post apocolytic towns and trying to figure out the secrets of the leaders and townspeople; which more often than not turned out to be disturbing.

    Also, as far as I'm concerned, no zombie material is complete without a good questionable doctor character.

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  2. @Mr. Shabadoo: I really liked this episode, although some of my coworkers did not because it took us away from the main group.

    Yeah, I don't mind the occasional break from the main group, especially if the break is as compelling as this was.

    Also, as far as I'm concerned, no zombie material is complete without a good questionable doctor character.

    Ditto. And I really liked the doctor.

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  3. Just watched this last night. I was surprised how much I enjoyed what was essentially an Andrea-centric episode, with no sign whatsoever of the main group.

    Also, I'm impressed that the producers were willing to use one of their precious few episodes to move the action entirely away from Rick and the others to mostly introduce new characters.

    Anyway, my main question now is -- why does the Governer have all those pickled heads? Are they souvenirs, or are they people he knew? When we saw the photo of his family, I was kind of expecting the last shot of the heads to be the wife and daughter, but that didn't happen.

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  4. @Matt: I was surprised how much I enjoyed what was essentially an Andrea-centric episode, with no sign whatsoever of the main group.

    I know, right? I credit the Governor; if it had truly been an Andrea-centric episode, I probably would have been frustrated.

    I'm impressed that the producers were willing to use one of their precious few episodes to move the action entirely away from Rick and the others to mostly introduce new characters.

    Presumably the higher episode count this season made them more comfortable doing that. I think they have sixteen this year (as opposed to 6/12)?

    When we saw the photo of his family, I was kind of expecting the last shot of the heads to be the wife and daughter

    Me too. Which made the pickled heads even more mysterious.

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  5. I haven't read the comics yet either, but like you was aware of Michonne and the prison and the Governor.

    And for all the reasons you mention I really liked how this episode handled the latter; I was especially taken by the fact that both before and after the Governor showed his ruthless side, knowing it had to be coming and then having it confirmed, I couldn't help thinking that in such a world I might not mind being under the guy's protection. If his quirks aren't hurting anyone, and his bloodlust is hurting the right people (or, to be more morally ambiguous, not hurting the people I know), then it'd be all too easy to be trade liberty for security.

    David Morrissey as the Governor sounds like Liam Neeson doing a Southern accent, friends and I have agreed. That voice, equal parts honey and gravel, used in measured tones surely goes a long way towards getting people to follow him. For his part, Dallas Roberts, of Rubicon and The Good Wife, is more John Ritter here than I've ever seen him before in the role of the Governor's Pet Scientist.

    I honestly thought it was fantastic that Michonne almost literally spent this entire episode doing nothing but glowering.

    Same here... We don't know how much of her badass look (in both senses: how she looks to other people and how she looks at other people) is innate vs. affected after the advent of the walkers, of course, but she's hilariously out of place walking sunny streets in the town.

    the added effect of making Andrea look like an idiot for buying what he's selling, but we already kinda saw her that way

    Part of that seems to be due to her reacting, for all the bravado she's put on, to having such a big, commanding mayun around. After the Governor said "only this time we won't be eatin' each other" at the breakfast table he and Andrea spent a good while exchanging a look that I took to be them considering "eatin' each other".

    at which point the show's most fun-to-watch character will revert to his season one form and likely betray Rick and the others in some capacity

    I frankly see Darryl ultimately making the decision to go against his brother in the flip side of that cliché due to his grudging respect for Rick, his feelings for Carol, and his general acceptance of having a role within the family of the group.

    Again like you and probably like just about every other viewer I was glad to see the show address things about the zombies and fascinated by what we learned. Yet I'd never realized until now that, especially already having an oasis of civilization established and thus removing that as a goal, short of the main characters all dying the series' only endgame has to be the walker virus somehow getting reversed. I suppose that some intermediate success could make for a satisfying conclusion while life for whomever's survived at that point goes on, but since Lori's baby will probably be born before the series ends that milestone is out.

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  6. this episode reminded us that we really don't like Andrea, so i'm not really looking forward to more of her stuff- even though i like Michonne and so far am liking Merle (he seemed all nice and human when talking to Andrea about what he'd missed out on). I'm not a fan of the Governor- i was not aware of his character before this point, but i found him predictable and cliched. meh.

    Blam- we also 100% agreed that David Morrissey was Liam Neeson with a southern accent- i would've swore he was Welsh in real life.

    I am looking forward to more answers from the creepy doctor, but so far i'm not liking the results (all the talk of calories- zombies are dead- they don't burn calories- theoretically they shouldn't have any bodily processes and should just eat until their stomach bursts and they eventually rot away. I mean- if they're burning calories then there should be byproduct of that- where's all the zombie poop then? i call bullshit on that (pun intended))

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  7. @Blam: ...then it'd be all too easy to be trade liberty for security.

    That, I think, is what can make the character work, and I hope the show explores that idea.

    he and Andrea spent a good while exchanging a look that I took to be them considering "eatin' each other".

    Ha!

    I frankly see Darryl ultimately making the decision to go against his brother in the flip side of that cliché due to his grudging respect for Rick, his feelings for Carol, and his general acceptance of having a role within the family of the group.

    I hope you're right. I would enjoy that particularly cliche much more.

    ...short of the main characters all dying the series' only endgame has to be the walker virus somehow getting reversed

    I hope the show (and heck, the comic, which hasn't reached that point yet) finds SOME kind of endgame when the time comes, be it that, some kind of large and truly lawful oasis, or SOMETHING.

    @Anne: i would've swore he was Welsh in real life.

    I believe he's British, so he very well could be Welsh.

    I mean- if they're burning calories then there should be byproduct of that- where's all the zombie poop then?

    I think I missed that - I don't remember any discussion of calories. I'm no scientician, but I feel like there has to be some exchange of energy for the zombies to move about, however slow and ambling. Maybe they're just hyper efficient and don't produce waste?

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  8. @Anne, @Teebore — Liam Neeson is Irish. David Morrissey is from Liverpool, England; that is, in one of my favorite adjective conversions, Liverpudlian. On another subject, FWIW, I didn't recall talk about calories either, just something about if you take away the walkers' ability to bite they're no longer motivated by hunger.

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