For the last two reviews, I’ve found the new, tense, survival-heavy Walking Dead season 3 a vast improvement, and dreaded the inevitable onset of quieter episodes. That day is here already, guys. This week, we ditch the regular cast to focus on Andrea and new character Michonne encountering the idyllic Woodbury and David Morrissey’s much anticipated Governor.
So, artfully judged change of pace? Or inevitable tedious drag?
Zombies Vs Helicopters Vs Understated Governor Tension
This is an important episode, as The Walking Dead has something to prove here. Jamming the show with zombie battles to stop us crying “Boring!” isn’t going to work forever. Eventually, they need to do characterisation without lapsing into hysterical melodrama. They pulled it off in short bursts during the opening two weeks, and here they nail a longer spell.
We get action sequences at the beginning and end – one could argue the opening helicopter crash wasn’t necessary, but it drives enough plot to not feel gratuitous. Much of this, though, is Michonne and Andrea encountering The Governor, giving us layers of intrigue to pick at, as not only is Morrissey’s character an unknown, we don’t really know Michonne either.
Both Michonne’s guarded silence and The Governor’s edgy welcome are unsettling, especially in a show where the main theme is “Yes, zombies are nasty, but real people aren’t much better”. Of course, we’re given added incentive to distrust The Governor when the killing starts. It looks like he and Rick will be getting into a big pissing match over who can build the safest home whilst retaining the most sanity.
Because Rick has crossed a few lines to establish a tenuous foothold in a prison, while the Governor has built a whole town, but driven himself batshit crazy into the process.
Fan Vs Zombified Faeces
But that’s all to come later, along with the inevitable showdown with the not-dead Merle. His presence adds menace, along with another hook into unfamiliar terrain, and it’s all very understated and well-done. Obviously things will kick right off when he inevitably runs into Rick and Daryl again.
So, yes, this episode is largely set-up, but it’s tense, well-acted set-up, ramping up our anticipation for when this end of the storyline hits the other one back at the prison. We’re due a mid-season finale in episode 8, so the zombified faeces should be hitting the fan hard by then.