“We’re going out there and taking back what’s ours…civilization.” — The Governor
It’s been quite a refreshing surprise to see this new season of The Walking Dead unfold. Even though it’s just been two episodes in the change in pacing, acting and writing has been noticeable and all for the good. This fresh new start courtesy of Glen Mazzara and his crew of writers could easily revert back to the old bad habits that made season 2 of the series such an uneven and frustrating show to watch. The potential for this show to hit it’s stride was kept from happening by wheel-spinning and extended philosophical introspection that put the brakes on any momemtum a great episode had going into the next one. This hasn’t been the case for this season and tonight’s episode, “Walk With Me”, will show whether this streak of very good television continues or the bad habits return.
“Walk With Me” starts off interestingly enough as we see a military helicopter on it’s flight to who knows where, but still it is a scene that’s above the danger and not on the ground. It doesn’t take long before something goes awry and this whirly-bird crashes in the Georgia woods. It’s a scenario that doesn’t bode well for those inside and seeing all this occur in the far-off distance is our wayward Andrea and her new companion in fan-favorite Michonne and her two pets.
It’s been a long time coming but we finally see the appearance of The Governor. This character has been a huge part of the series’ comic book universe. He’s been the best symbol of what happens we those leading a group of desperate people loses their humanity and becomes as much a danger as the zombies and, at times, even more so. So, this character (being played by British actor David Morrissey) already has a built-in for it not just from the fans of the comic book, but even just the fans of the show who have heard about all the things the character has done in the original source material. It’s going to be a hard slog for David Morrissey and the writers of the show to make the character sympathetic or, at the very least, charismatic enough not to come off across as a villainous caricature.
We don’t spend any time with Rick and his group at this prison in tonight’s episode. This episode concentrates on Andrea and Michonne meeting up with The Governor (aka Phillip Blake in the comic books and novels) and the introduction of the Woodbury town settlement. It’s an interesting departure from the previous two season which tried to juggle two locations at once. Sometimes this juggling works in the show’s favor and, at times, it has been to it’s detriment. Tonight it’s more of the former than the latter. It would’ve been nice to see how Rick and the group has been keeping themselves busy since taking over the prison, but with the promise of The Governor and his group being the main antagonists of this third season the show couldn’t delay this part of the season’s main story arc to remain on the sidelines.
Tonight’s episode was much slower than the season’s first two but it made up for it in introducing the character of The Governor to the show’s audience and reuniting these same fans with one of the show’s favorite in Merle Dixon (played with sociopathic glee by genre venteran Michael Rooker). Andrea and Michonne don’t know what to make of The Governor and his safe haven of Woodbury. It looks peaceful and, most important, safe enough at first glance, but we could see that they both sense something is a bit off with their current benefactor and his Norman Rockwell-esque town. Andrea seems to be warming up to the leader of this group more than Michonne and this reaction should elicit more groans from her detractors who already see her as a character who seem to switch allegiances, or at least, jump from one leader to the next.
Andrea as written for the tv series is definitely not as fan-friendly as her comic book counterpart. Again, the writers of the show have made a conscious decision to try and make the Andrea role be more complex and earn her role as a badass through trials and tribulations. It’s going to be a tough sell the writers will need to do to try and rehab this character as the season goes along. So far, Laurie Holden has kept the character tics and habit which has made her such an uneven character the past two seasons to a minimum in tonight’s episode but it still show’s up here and there.
It’s interesting to see how much Rick and the Governor seem to share not just in how they’re leading the group, but in how efficient he’s gotten his people to become to adjust to this new world they now live in. Both are trying to recapture a piece of the civilization that’s fallen since the outbreak began and both have done so in varying degrees of success. Even though Rick doesn’t appear in tonight’s episode his character looms large as we see with each passing scene just what sort of leader The Governor is to his people. Throughout the episode we see that The Governor is not running a democracy (same as Rick) and from little bits of dialogue we get a notion that his benevolent dictator act could be hiding something more sinister.
Could we be seeing in The Governor how Rick could turn out to be a year from now if and when he loses more people? One thing for sure is that The Governor comes across as being more charismatic and in control of his situation than Rick, but at what cost and as the season plays out it’ll be interesting how the two stack up next to each other if and when they finally meet face-to-face. As both characters struggle to regain the very civilization The Governor spoke about retaking at the dinner table with Andrea and Michonne it goes without saying that the two alpha males of the series have the right ideas, but one’s methods seem to have gone beyond the pale. As the saying goes about how power corrupts it looks like it might be the case with The Governor.
“Walk With Me” is not as action-packed as the previous two episodes. There was some action close to the end and for some it probably came as a surprise, but for readers of the comic it was a sequence that was inevitable. The fact that the writer of tonight’s episode decided to reveal the ulterior motive and agenda behind The Governor’s benevolent facade so soon was the true surprise of tonight’s episode.
- Tonight’s episode was directed by series regular Guy Ferland and written by another series regular in Evan Reilly.
- The pre-credits opening says a lot about the world beyond Rick’s group. A military helicopter patrolling and looking for any signs of survivors means there’s still some sort of organized government or military group trying to save as many people as possible. Even though we find out the safety has been compromised it still shows that there might still be hope out in the wilderness.
- From the sounds leading up to the chopper’s crash it could be mechanical failure but part of me thinks it was a long-range shot that could’ve taken out the engine.
- Finally the Governor shows up and his group is just as well-organized and efficient as Rick and his people.
- MERLE! Michael Rooker’s return is as over-the-top as the character yet I have a feeling fans of the show (even some detractors) wouldn’t have any other way.
- He’s sporting the Aquaman harpoon for a hand look and he seems to have gotten pretty good at using it.
- It didn’t take long for the show to show us Woodbury and this once again I commend Mazzara and his writers for not delaying the inevitable and stretching it out for drama’s sake.
- David Morrissey has definitely done a very good job in just one episode in making the character much more charismatic and multi-layered than the comic book counterpart.
- The role of Milton (played by Dallas Roberts) is a nice homage to Romero’s Day of the Dead head scientist Dr. Logan.
- His reaction when dealing with the survivors of the military convey was quite interesting and it had no dialogue explaining why which is another of the positive things about this season. The writers are showing rather than telling every little detail of each character and scene.
- There’s definitely some unresolved issues going on between The Governor and the military.
- The roles of the helicopter pilot has been expanded to be part of the military. In the comic book the chopper was a tv station newscopter and the survivors from the crash civilians.
- I wasn’t sure how the ending reveal about The Governor would play out but it wasn’t as over-the-top as I thought it would be and actually came off as very creepy and disturbing. Once again I think this is in due part to David Morrissey performance as Woodbury’s leader.
- Danai Gurira still comes across as more of a cypher (a badass one), but her dialogue has been limited, so far. This could be a good thing as she seems to be more suspicious of The Governor and Woodbury, in general than her partner of the past 7-8 months. Her survival instincts is not just about the zombies out in the world, but of strangers she meets for the first time. Her instincts may just save both her and Andrea in the long run.
- Final reveal of the episode was chilling, disturbing and creepy as anything that has happened in the past 21 episodes of this series.
- Zombie Kill Count for tonight’s episode: 12.