Review of The Walking Dead – Series 3, Episode 13
This week’s instalment could easily be subtitled the ‘Cold War’ episode, so much of it is preoccupied with the revelations, dilemmas and politics that emerge in the build up to an inevitable battle. And it’s clear at this stage that the battle is inevitable. I’ve often wondered why in this season the zombies have hung around the borders of the prison and Woodbury for so long. Now it has become clear that, like vultures, they stay close because they’re aware that fresh corpses will soon be on the menu.
After last week’s accomplished detour into Rick’s past, this episode is noticeably quieter and somewhat unsettled. Many of the characters have little to do other than stand in the shadows in their role as backup, but the Governor’s ultimatum to Rick during the final act offers a degree of purpose to what could otherwise have been an uneventful parley.
The events open with another tense, engaging teaser that works well to hook the audience’s attention. Arriving at an abandoned location for an as-yet-unknown purpose, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s an incident of some significance. After all, when you see Herschel locked and loaded, you know trouble is afoot.
The purpose is a one-on-one meeting between Rick and the Governor, two rams who have had their horns locked for the better part of the season. While the two men drink, deliberate and juggle the fates of their respective camps, the Woodbury and prison residents bond, fight and otherwise struggle to accept the inescapable fight that lies ahead of them.
The episode’s central issue lies in the fact that the middle section fails to live up to the promise and horror of the opening and closing segments. The teaser is another effective and engrossing opener, plunging the audience into a hostile situation without explanation and promising a charged showdown between two ruthlessly driven leaders. It’s a promise that isn’t delivered upon until the Governor finally lays his cards out on the table.
The revelation that his chief motivation is his desire to get revenge on Michonne is deeply unsettling, played by David Morrissey with an impressive sense of obsessive malice. It helps that his revelation comes after last week’s episode, which acted as Michonne’s official initiation into the group.
Andrew Lincoln is also impressive, depicting Rick’s shifting emotional state as he struggles with the idea of betraying a central member of the group. Both Lincoln and Morrissey bring scenes to life that might have floundered without their significant talents. Of all the confrontations this season, their seated showdown is perhaps the subtlest, a macho struggle that swaps holstered pistols for whiskey tumblers.
Demonstrating yet again that impending death and comedy can function comfortably side by side, this episode offers numerous humorous pairings, with the somewhat charming interaction between Herschel and Milton (Dallas Roberts) being an obvious example.
As the most prominent Woodbury resident, Roberts has revealed several shades of Milton’s character across the season, from a spineless weasel to an idiotic (but surprisingly loyal) follower of the Governor. So it comes as an interesting surprise to see him forming a connection with Herschel, a character whose magnetic persona seems to attract all the waifs and strays.
The reconciliation between Glen (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) also works well to counterbalance the intensity of the negotiation scenes, resolving the issues between the pair following the horrors they experienced in Woodbury. It’s only when Glen and Maggie put aside their pain and rediscover a popular romantic ‘pastime’ that it becomes clear how integral their love story is to our connection with the central group. It works to reaffirm our link with the prison group, reminding the audience of the very things the survivors are fighting to protect.
After last week’s adventure, this episode showcases an hour of dark, foreboding interiors, where the ones out enjoying the sunshine are mostly the dead. Despite the gems littered throughout the episode, our understanding of the inevitability of the battle makes the central story somewhat underwhelming. The audience knows that the outcome of the conflict is likely to lead to several casualties (and probably a surge in the undead population), and at times in this episode it felt like the series was treading water in the build up to what will very likely be a breathtaking finale.
Will Andrea and Milton switch sides in the upcoming fight? Can Herschel talk Rick out of betraying Michonne? And who will get caught in the crossfire of Rick and the Governor’s power play?Tagged in: Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, The Walking Dead, zombies
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