Review: The Walking Dead S3E05 “Say the Word”


 

“People need entertainment.” — Phillip “The Governor” Blake

Wow has been the most heard, read and seen word regarding last week’s episode of The Walking Dead. While “Killer Within” had some flaws the episode overall continued season 3’s streak of quality tv since the season premiere. Gone, but still not forgotten, were the long philosophical debates about humanity and civilization in the face of overwhelming horror. In its place has been what fans and critics had been waiting for. A show that really showed the dangers and dog eat dog world of a zombie apocalypse.

It’s always been a criticism that the show had unlimited potential to explore just how people would react and be changed (or not) in a world overrun by the living dead. The show this season still asks those questions, but lets the behavior of the characters and the situation they’re in speak for themselves. This season has minimized extended expositional scenes while improving on the show’s pacing. The change in the show’s pace has been the highlight of the season as the show just continues to propel forward at breakneck speed though there’s now fear that new showrunner Mazzara and his writers might not be able to sustain such a pace with still 12 episodes left in the season. Sooner or later the show might have to slow down if just to give fans a breather.

Things don’t seem to look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon as we find Rick unable to cope with his wife’s death and knowing it was his son, Carl, who had to make sure Lori didn’t come back. It’s not a good place we see Rick go into both literally and figuratively as he takes his trusty hatchet and enters the prison to take out his grief on whatever zombies might be still left inside. The refuge the prison was suppose to be for him and his people haven’t turned out to b safe. With two of the group’s people gone and a third missing it falls on Rick’s right-hand man in Daryl to take charge of the situation to make sure they don’t lose anyone else.

Over at Woodsbury we find Michonne finding more and more hints that the town and the Governor are not what they seem. It doesn’t help that the episode’s opening sequence has the unquestioned leader of the town keeping what looks like his undead daughter as if she’s still alive and he can’t let her go. We’re getting a sense of the insanity lurking behind the charismatic facade the Governor puts up in front of his people yet the episode also subtly brings up the question whether the people in Woodsbury even care if their leader is batshit insane as long as they’re kept safe. The scene close to the end of the episode inside the town as the Governor provides entertainment for his people shows just how much a scared population will tolerate as long as they’re kept safe.

Even though we don’t hear one word uttered by Rick in tonight’s episode (ironic considering the episode’s title) we’re able to get a glimpse into the path Rick is treading right now. People have been wondering whether Rick will turn out to be just like the Governor. Become a leader who will abandon whatever humanity and moral principles he has left to keep his people safe. Tonight we’re close to seeing just how much Rick has gone through to try and keep his family safe yet the realization that his best (which at times means doing the worst things) was not good enough. He’s snapped and his trip inside the prison was very Kurtz-like. He’s now entered the proverbial abyss and the audience gets to see Rick prowling those dark hallways in an attempt to exorcise the demons he’s now been saddled with.

While tonight’s episode lacked some of the heavy action we’ve seen from this season, so far, it more than made it up casting a light on the mental state of the show’s two leaders. The episode ends with the two leaders now seen in better light. The Governor looks to have already gone through what Rick is going through now and come out on the other side not just amoral but with a functioning insanity that allows him to keep control of his town and it’s people. Rick looks to still be on that path that could turn him into something like the Governor. Time and the rest of the season will tell whether Rick can come out of the other side of his grief-induced insanity devoid of any humanity or finding himself back out of the wilderness and into the light, so to speak.

NOTES

  • I understand AMC wants to make money off the show especially since it looks like they’ve upped the show’s budget (two locations and all), but the channel is close to the tipping point (if they haven’t already gone past it) of having way too many commercials.
  • Tonight’s episode has Greg Nicotero back in the director’s chair with Angela Kang writing.
  • The cold opening of the episode could easily have been a flashback to better times until Andrea showed up. With Lori gone it looks like Andrea will now have to bear the brunt of most-hated character on the show.
  • Enter the Governor’s young daughter. Things really are not fine in Woodsbury or with the Governor.
  • Great to see how Daryl was able to take charge of the group for the sake of the baby when he noticed Rick was still not in his right mind. In the past two seasons this situation could easily have extended for far too long as people tried to decide what to do.
  • Rick is on a killtacular killing spree and who can blame the guy.
  • Andrea has definitely tasted the Governor’s kool-aid while Michonne just wants her sword back and out of what she suspects and believes is one fucked up situation.
  • Scene with the Governor’s notebook had a nice touch a la The Shining.
  • Michonne looked like she needed a cigarette after that little exercise in the yard.
  • Nice quite moment between Maggie’s men.
  • One could almost sense how Andrea is pretty much working on Michonne’s last good nerve and doesn’t even know it.
  • Rick looks to be in a very bad place, but he seems to be clearing things out in the hallways quite nicely.
  • Mazzara must’ve made his writers watch Day of the Dead because we get another homage to that classic Romero with the wrangling scene.
  • Daryl Dixon: Badass Nanny on top of everything else.
  • Lori’s body seem to have disappeared. Whether it’s in the stomach of the zombie in the room Rick comes across or is now walking in the prison is the question.
  • The Governor must be a student of history because he knows exactly what the mob wants and it’s games.
  • Andrea always seem to have the bad habit of realizing things too late.
  • The telephone (something fans of the comics will know well) makes its appearance sooner than expected but after seeing what Rick goes through in lately it’s understandable.
  • Zombie Kill Count of tonight’s episode: 12.

13 responses to “Review: The Walking Dead S3E05 “Say the Word”

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