Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Walking Dead 3x14: Prey



Whether intentional or not, this episode felt like an attempt to redeem Andrea's character, after she spent most of the season making mooney eyes at the Governor, refusing to see Woodbury for what it is, and then passively trying to broker a peace. Unfortunately, in finally driving Andrea to positive action, this episode also unintentionally highlighted the show's often problematic relationship with its female characters, in the process leaving Andrea worse off than ever. 

After finally waking up to the reality of her situation (thanks to some help from a similarly awakened Milton), Andrea rushes out of Woodbury on foot, determined to warn Rick and the others that the Governor is setting them up, her insipid waffling finally coming to an end when its made clear the Governor really does have it out for Michonne personally. So Andrea runs, and the Governor goes after her (for reasons that remain unclear, because a lot his post-eyepatch motivations are muddied, at best). What follows is, perhaps, the show's most overt horror pastiche yet (which is saying something on a show about zombies), in which Andrea plays Laurie Strode to the Governor's Michael Myers, a thoroughly unhinged and seemingly unrelentless and unstoppable foe.

And though Andrea gets a moment of badassery when she unleashes a stairwell full of walkers on the Governor, in the end, the dictates of the plot (which can't have Andrea succeed in her mission for fear of robbing the final two episodes of their dramatic weight) require that, unlike Laurie Strode and her other slasher film foremothers, Andrea is unable to overcome her monster, and the woman who was once forced to argue (to other women) that her place wasn't in the kitchen cookin' and cleanin', concludes her most proactive action of the season back where she began, worse off than ever, completely at the mercy of the Governor. It is clearly a by-product of the show's plotting, but nevertheless another unsettling use of a female character. Sadly, it almost would have been better for the character if the Governor had just killed her outright, but hopefully, now that she's finally stopped being such a dunce, the last two episodes will give Andrea a chance to repudiate her damsel in distress role from this episode and, really, most of her actions this season.   

Other Thoughts
In other seemingly course correcting plotlines, we see another glimpse of Andrea and Michonne's pre-Woodbury time together, learned little more about the past of Tyrese's group, as well as the fact that Milton knew the Governor before Woodbury. The show would have been better suited covering these things, in greater detail, sooner, but its still nice to see the effort being made.

We learned that Michonne's pet zombies were people she knew, and whom she believed deserved what they got, which was interesting but also largely pointless.

This was another episode that benefited greatly from its focus. Ignoring the prison (one glimpse of Rick aside) entirely and keeping the focus on Andrea and Woodbury made things all the better.

In a plotline that is all about a showdown between two leaders who are varying levels of crazy, I find Tyreese's "what the hell did I stumble into?/I just want to survive" pragmatism refreshing, so much so that he seems like a real character and not just T-Dog 3.0 any longer.  

That said, his conflict with the guy who was apparently part of his group seemed to come out of nowhere, and was hard to care about beyond the reaction it prompted in Tyrese.

Why in the world did Martinez take Tyreese and his group out to the zombie pits? That seems like a pretty "look at us, we're evil!" move to make with a group new enough they're still in the process of being hoodwinked. 

For that matter, while I appreciated the target practice scene for the way it established that not everyone in the zombie poc is a crack shot, it seemed like a waste of ammo and something that runs the risk of attracting more walkers, but I suppose the Governor has bigger things on his mind.

Once Milton mentioned he knew the Governor pre-Woodbury, I started getting an older brother/younger brother vibe off them.

Speaking of, that was Milton burning the zombies, right? I mean, that's not even supposed to be that suspenseful of a question at this point, is it? 

I'm glad that Milton is the one who prevented Andrea from shooting the Governor while she had the chance, rather than some nonsense about Andrea not being able to shoot him in cold blood or something.

As infuriating as I've found Andrea this season, it's a testament to how well this episode made me care about her struggle to get to the prison that I was so bummed when the Governor nabbed her right before Rick saw her, even independent of the dodgy gender politics involved. It's amazing how quickly you start to care about a character when she's doing something competent to complete a specific goal instead of lecturing people while ignoring the reality in front of her eyes.

That said, man, I bet Andrea wishes she could go back to standing naked over the Governor with a knife now, huh? 

7 comments:

  1. "Governor goes after her (for reasons that remain unclear...)"

    For me the reasons were very clear. The Governor knew, via Milton, that Andrea knew that the Michonne trade was bunk and that Woodbury was going to double cross the prison group. The Governor didn't want Andrea warn the prison group. (Why the Governor is choosing torture over just offing Andrea is because he's a sociopath.)

    That being said, I'm always amazed at how easily people find each other in this show. I feel like if I went out on foot and you gave me a 15 minute head start and then you searched for me in a vehicle then you'd never find me if I didn't want to be found. (Unless you had tracking experts or bloodhounds with you or something.)

    “unlike Laurie Strode and her other slasher film foremothers, Andrea is unable to overcome her monster”

    I’d like to point out that these days the monster winning at the end of a slasher movie seems much the norm. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like most modern day horror movies.

    “And though Andrea gets a moment of badassery when she unleashes a stairwell full of walkers on the Governor”

    The whole staging of that part of the scene was weird to me. I still don’t know how Andrea escaped without getting attacked by zombies.

    “Michonne's pet zombies were people she knew, and whom she believed deserved what they got”

    This certainly had the feel of the writers answering a question the viewers kept asking about but a question the writers never gave much thought to nor cared too much about. (Similarly, I never cared about much about that question either.)

    “Ignoring the prison (one glimpse of Rick aside)”

    Obviously Rick saw something but then decided to ignore it. I felt not investigating was an odd decision by Rick until I realized Rick probably figured it was a hallucination. That made me question the logic of having someone who hallucinates be on lookout.

    Beyond that, I know you say the narrative demanded that Andrea be captured before reaching the prison but I thought it might go another way. I thought Andrea may have reached the prison but at a time where the group had already decided to give Michonne to the Governor (the show would have rewound next episode to show those events to us).

    So Andrea informs every one of the double cross but by now Michonne is pissed and maybe there’s internal strife in the rest of the group as result of their debate over whether to give up Michonne. It could’ve worked…or it could’ve been a bad repeat of Season 2.

    “Speaking of, that was Milton burning the zombies, right?”

    I would give a firm yes to that question. I kind of appreciated that the show didn’t outright tell us. It gives the viewer a sense of what the characters are going through. Milton knows he burned the zombies. The Governor knows Milton burned the zombies. Milton probably knows the Governor knows that he burned the zombies. But no one is saying it out loud.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Dr. Bitz: The Governor didn't want Andrea warn the prison group.

    I guess. I mean, yeah, that's why he went after her, but it seemed odd that he'd care so much when he's been so nonchalant about their threat previously. He's made it pretty clear he believes he could wipe out the prison folks whenever he wants, so it seemed weird that he'd try so hard to stop Andrea from warning them when to me, it wouldn't matter whether they were expecting him or not.

    Though I suppose maybe he was worried about Michonne dying in the crossfire if they were warned, and that's why he wants to stop Andrea. Which is at least consistent with his current "I want revenge on Michonne" motivation.

    That being said, I'm always amazed at how easily people find each other in this show.

    Ditto. And that's not just a thing on this show. Remember how Kate was a somehow a tracker on Lost? Much like how everyone in genre fiction is a great shot, they must all also have ridiculously good tracking abilities and senses of direction.

    It’s one of the reasons I don’t like most modern day horror movies.

    Yeah, I've watched very few modern day horror movies. I was definitely thinking more along the lines of the "classic" slasher flicks.

    I still don’t know how Andrea escaped without getting attacked by zombies.

    It looked to me like she tucked herself into the corner behind the door, using the door itself as a blockade against the zombies and funneling them out into the main room.

    Similarly, I never cared about much about that question either.

    I was only ever curious about whether or not it was a question I should care about. Like, were their identities relevant to the story, or not? Which has since been made pretty clear (they are not relevant).

    That made me question the logic of having someone who hallucinates be on lookout.

    I went through the exact same thought process. I meant to mention it in the post.

    It could’ve worked…or it could’ve been a bad repeat of Season 2.

    I think you're right on both counts. This close to the season finale, though, I'm not surprised they avoided the more "talky" drama in favor of something presumably more action packed.

    I kind of appreciated that the show didn’t outright tell us.

    Me too. A rare and appreciated bit of subtlety.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree that it was Milton who burned the zombies. Who else could it have been? That last scene between the Governer and Milton pretty much confirmed it.

    Though it would be funny if it turned out to be Tyreese's pal's son or something, just to mess with us.

    Dr. Bitz -- "I still don’t know how Andrea escaped without getting attacked by zombies."

    I want to know how the Governer escaped! That was a lot of biters, they were right on top of him, and he seemed to be out of ammo.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Matt: I want to know how the Governer escaped!

    Horror Movie logic.

    Seriously though, I supposed you could argue that he was in a contained enough place that the zombies were unable to swarm, and so even after he ran out of ammo, he could have taken them out with his shovel.

    But really, he was saved by Horror Movie logic (and, I suppose, his status as the season's main antagonist).

    ReplyDelete

  5. [the plot] can't have Andrea succeed in her mission for fear of robbing the final two episodes of their dramatic weight

    You might be right in terms of the showrunners' thinking, but I disagree in principle — except maybe insofar as now Andrea's fate hanging in the balance (and perhaps her actions inside Woodbury if she gets free) makes for an added tease amidst the larger question of the looming battle. How much could Andrea have shared that would make a difference at this point? Nothing that decent writing couldn't accommodate, which admittedly is a ship that's already sailed to an extent since we know that Rick was/is actually debating the Michonne trade.

    Then again, I was expecting Rick to take her out with a head shot.

    I found that one glimpse of Rick at the prison to be a tremendous addition to the episode. Really it just reinforced how the episode was from Andrea's, or in a larger sense the Woodbury side of the plot's, point of view. Even though Rick / Andrew Lincoln is the first-billed star of the series, his crucial cameo felt like a thrilling guest appearance.

    You're dead (ha) right about Tyreese. He's so relatable in his humanity and practicality that it almost — more in retrospect, thankfully, than while watching the show — breaks the veneer of the melodrama.

    Once Milton mentioned he knew the Governor pre-Woodbury, I started getting an older brother/younger brother vibe off them.

    Huh... I hadn't gone there, but I did like the intriguing spin that them knowing one another previously put(s) on things. Like you said, though, it's a shame that we're getting such depth/color to certain relationships this late in the season.

    This whole recent batch of episodes, incidentally, has surprised me in that if we don't get a showdown between Rick's group and Woodbury it'll feel like a major punt. Although I still haven't read the comics, I got the sense that the Governor and Woodbury in general were such major elements of the saga that he'd be sticking around for more than just this season of the TV series, yet now I don't see how that's possible; sure, he could end up on the lam as a recurring threat with the prison group setting up in Woodbury or something, but I can't imagine the status remaining quo it is.

    I took it to be Milton burning the walkers, yeah. At first I wasn't sure how obvious it was supposed to come off — other than his being a more logical identity to hide from the viewer for a modicum of suspense than Tyreese's — but the Governor's thinly veiled confrontation of him seemed to confirm it.

    It's amazing how quickly you start to care about a character when she's doing something competent to complete a specific goal instead of lecturing people while ignoring the reality in front of her eyes.

    +1, as the kids say.

    Great writeup!

    ReplyDelete

  6. @DrBitz: The Governor knew, via Milton, that Andrea knew that the Michonne trade was bunk and that Woodbury was going to double cross the prison group.

    That much was clear to me too. I was a little disappointed with Milton being such a punk in giving her up, because he's clearly in favor of her getting away and sabotaging Phillip, but maybe he's just a terrible liar.

    I like your take on how things might have gone had Andrea reached the prison, by the way.

    @DrBitz: The whole staging of that part of the scene was weird to me. I still don’t know how Andrea escaped without getting attacked by zombies.

    I didn't get it at first either, but then I sussed out basically what Teebore said. My problem after that was that the walkers sure filed down that staircase and out into the room awfully quickly as the scene presented it.

    @DrBitz: I felt not investigating was an odd decision by Rick until I realized Rick probably figured it was a hallucination.

    That was my take on it too — and your point is valid, although since he's mostly seeing things that aren't there (namely, his wife in a wedding dress) it's probably not as compromising as if the opposite were true.

    @Teebore: it seemed odd that he'd care so much when he's been so nonchalant about their threat previously

    I think that the Governor has — not just literally, to echo a joke from one of my Pictogags — lost perspective when it comes to both Andrea in particular and the prison group as a whole. He seemed to think that he could mold Andrea into a lieutenant as well as a concubine, so her betrayal (i.e., coming to her senses) was a particular wound. Either because of her affiliation with them or Michonne joining them or simply their being a sort-of rival society to Woodbury, albeit much smaller, the Governor seems to just feel that there's no room in the Greater Woodbury Metropolitan Area for both groups.

    @Matt: I want to know how the Governer escaped! That was a lot of biters, they were right on top of him, and he seemed to be out of ammo.

    Jump cut.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Blam: You might be right in terms of the showrunners' thinking, but I disagree in principle

    Yeah, I was thinking in terms of the showrunners' perspective - they likely (and erroneously) believed that Andrea reaching the prison would decrease the tension in the final two episodes.

    Even though Rick / Andrew Lincoln is the first-billed star of the series, his crucial cameo felt like a thrilling guest appearance.

    Well said.

    but I can't imagine the status remaining quo it is.

    Me neither. I haven't read the comics either, but I get the feeling that while the Governor is a big deal, he's not quite the series' villain I've always imagined him to be (I've always heard talk of the Governor and pictured a villain that lasted fifty odd issues or something; from what I've gathered, I don't think he's actually that big a deal).



    ReplyDelete

Comment. Please. Love it? Hate it? Am mildly indifferent to it? Let us know!