Review: The Walking Dead S3E14 “Prey”


“Killing the Governor doesn’t save your friends.” — Milton Mamet

[some spoilers within]

Last week we saw what would amount as a sort of UN Summit between two warring parties in AMC’s The Walking Dead. Just like other peace summits the two parties involve would agree on something then turn around and do the opposite once they were away from each other. It neatly set-sup the last three remaining episodes this season to finally getting this war between Rick’s group and the Governor’s into full gear.

Yet, three whole episodes of just the two groups shooting it out might sound exciting but could quickly become repetitive. I mean there’s only so many people on both sides to kill and that’s only in one full episode of nonstop battle. No, what we get with the first of the final three is an episode wholly dedicated to the Governor and Woodbury preparing for what they think will be their first and only strike necessary to deal with Rick and the prison group. It’s an episode that looks to be a throwaway that literally ends right where it began.

“Prey” is probably going to be an episode that many will not look too kindly at. For one thing, it’s an Andrea-centric episode and it’s been a worst kept secret that many fans of the show have no love for the Andrea character. Yet, this episode goes a long way in helping re-establish the character as the badass that she was originally created as in the comic book. There’s no hesitation in the character to finally make the decision to abandon Woodbury and try and make her way back to the prison. She does this while alone and armed with only the small pocket knife she carries at all times. It’s a situation that most characters on the show would find daunting yet Andrea proceeds anyway if just to warn Rick and the others in the prison what the Governor has planned for them.

Of all the episodes in this series, so far, this one really relied heavily on the horror tropes of the zombie genre. Yes, the episodes actually included a lot of zombies to really heighten the danger Andrea finds herself in as she treks her way back through the Georgia wilderness alone. Yet, it’s not the zombies themselves who really make this episode a truly horror and tension-filled one. It’s the appearance of the Governor who has found out about Andrea’s plans to warn Rick and must now hunt her down to prevent this from happening. It’s what gives the episode it’s title.

The cat-and-mouse game between Andrea and the Governor had some very nice moments when the two maneuvered their way through the abandoned warehouse which was chosen as the location of their one-on-one face-off. We get to see more of the Governor’s growing sociopathic tendencies (something the show has begun to ramp up in the last couple episodes). There’s a great moment when we think Andrea has finally run out of luck and cornered between a stairwell full of zombies in one end and the Governor on the other end when she turns the tables on her pursuer. It’s a move that we might see from Rick, Daryl or, even, Glenn, but something that most fans of the show couldn’t imagine this hated character in pulling off.

The episode did well for Andrea, but overall it did have it’s drawbacks. By concentrating so much on the Governor and Andrea and very little on the growing discontent from one of the Governor’s most trusted lieutenants back in Woodbury we don’t get too excited over the apparent sabotage of the pit zombies being gathered for the next meeting with Rick. The suprise gotcha moment when Andrea was almost home was another bit of storytelling that looked to be more lazy than shocking. It detracted from the strength showed by Andrea in outwitting the Governor, but also made the latter seem like he was some sort of unkillable slasher villain who has the many lives of a cat.

It’s not surprising to see that the episode had two writers in showrunner Glen Mazzara and Evan Reilly. Most of the show’s episodes tend to stick to one writer and let them run with that particular episode’s narrative. By having two writers in this time around could be a clue in the behind-the-scenes issues producers of the show had with Mazzara to the point that he was replaced for the upcoming season. The episode had both the good and bad that has saddled the series since it’s inception. The good being more zombie action and less standing around and just talking. It had the worst things as well with letting a story lead to nowhere which this one seems to have in a narrative sense though in terms of fleshing out certain characters it did it quite well.

The final two episodes this season will tell if season 3 was an unqualified success or still a series that had flaws to work out. So far, reactions to this season is leaning to the former, but if Mazzara had lost control of the story he wanted to tell this season then the climax of the season may be more of a fizzle than a sizzle.


  • Tonight’s episode was written by Evan Reilly and season 3’s showrunner Glen Mazzara w/ series newcomer Stefan Schwartz directing.
  • From the sound of it the backstory of Michonne’s pet zombies in the series looks to be very different from the comic book. It definitely adds to some subtle hints during the season that Michonne doesn’t like to be touched in an aggressive manner by men.
  • Another change we see in this episode’s cold opening is the Governor prepping the chains he must have made specifically for Michonne. In the comic book series the set-up was already there and hinted at being used by the Governor.
  • Milton looks to be regretting the fact more and more that he has attached himself to someone who has gone over the deep end and never returning.
  • Yet, he still seems willing to protect the Governor despite all of it.
  • Tyrese may be a beast with the clawhammer but he’s awful with a firearm.
  • Andrea could easily have convinced Tyrese better if she just described what the Governor has done and plans to do instead of being all cryptic.
  • Tyrese is just too damn reasonable. I guess not spending an extended amount of time with Rick hasn’t made him cynical.
  • Wow, Allen is such a douche. I repeat, Allen is such a douche.
  • Hate the character or not, Andrea looks to h ave become very self-sufficient and a badass in her own right since the end of season 2.
  • There’s the Tyrese fans of the comic book should remember and love.
  • Andrea definitely did a lot to help repair whatever character-flaws she had that made fans of the show hate her so much. It wasn’t a full recovery but it was in the right step.
  • It was a nice homage scene with the zombies in the stairs that Andrea lets in to a scene in the original Dawn of the Dead in the tenement building where zombies in the basement breakthrough to attack the National Guardsmen and police. One can see it at the 4:57 mark
  • Seems Andrea has taken the place in the torture room that had been reserved for Michonne in the comic books.
  • Another great work by KNB EFX with the zombie make-up and kill gags. Special mention goes to the burned zombies in the pit who were still animated but looking like some very well-smoked brisket ready to be sliced and served.
  • Milton really has no skill whatsoever of being a good liar, at all.
  • Tonight might have been one of the more horror-centric episodes of the series. This is surprising considering it’s suppose to be a horror tv series. From the slasher-like way the sequence between the Governor and Andrea in the abandoned warehouse to the final gotcha moment before Andrea could make it into the safety of the prison this was an episode that worked all your typical horror genre tropes to the hilt.
  • Zombie Kill Count of tonight’s episode: 25 or more seen (another 20+ off-screen). Tonight definitely had a huge kill count.

Past Season 3 Episode Review

  1. Episode 1: “Seed”
  2. Episode 2: “Sick”
  3. Episode 3: “Walk With Me”
  4. Episode 4: “Killer Within”
  5. Episode 5: “Say the Word”
  6. Episode 6: “Hounded”
  7. Episode 7: “When the Dead Come Knocking”
  8. Episode 8: Made to Suffer
  9. Episode 9: The Suicide King
  10. Episode 10: Home
  11. Episode 11: I Ain’t a Judas
  12. Episode 12: Clear
  13. Episode 13: Arrow on the Doorpost

Review: Bates Motel S1E1 “First You Dream, Then You Die” (dir by Tucker Gates)


When I was in high school, I once wrote a short story for my creative writing class.  The story was basically about me and my friends shopping at the mall and it was full of quirky observations and funny dialogue.  I had a lot of fun writing it and, when I read it aloud, both the class and my teacher seemed to enjoy it.

However, when I got my paper back, I discovered that I had only gotten a B for my efforts.  At the top of the first page of my story, in bold red ink, my teacher had written: “As usual, you’re very observant and detailed.  However, I get the feeling that you mostly write to amuse yourself.  Why should anyone care about this story?”

At the time, I felt my teacher was being very unfair and I’m still not very happy about that comment.  Why should anyone care?  I thought.  Because I wrote it, that’s why!  However, as time has gone by, I’ve come to see (if not necessarily agree with) her point.  “Why should anyone care?” is the question that critics ask themselves every time they start a review.

“Why should anyone care?” is also the question that I asked myself every time I saw a commercial for Bates Motel on A&E.

The commercials promised that Bates Motel would be a prequel to one of the most memorable films ever made, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.  And while they were undeniably effective and occasionally disturbing, I still found myself wondering why anyone should care.  We all already know what Norman Bates is going to eventually become so is there really a need for a prequel to give us the exact details of how it happened?

In other words: Why should anyone care?

That’s the question that Bates Motel attempted to answer last night with its premiere episode.  It didn’t quite succeed.  As well-made as the episode was, Bates Motel exists in the long shadow of Psycho and one reason why Psycho remains a classic is because, storywise, it told us everything that we needed to know.  As a result of Anthony Perkins’s iconic lead performance, we ended that film feeling that we knew everything that we needed to know about both Norman Bates and how he became what he became.  The question for Bates Motel — even more than “Why should we care?” — is whether or not the show has anything new to tell us.

So far, it’s still too early to tell but I do hope that Bates Motel does find a reason for us to care because, if it does, it has the potential to be an entertaining and effective little show.

Last night’s episode started with teenage Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) finding his father’s dead body.  When he informs his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), she doesn’t seem to be all that concerned.  In fact, the attentive observer might have even noticed a small smile on Norma’s lips.

6 months later, Norman and his extremely overprotective mother are moving to a new town.  Norma’s bought a run-down motel and she says that this will be the perfect way for her and Norman to start a new life.  However, the motel’s former owner disagrees and, when he attempts to rape Norma, he ends up getting stabbed to death and dumped in a bathtub.

Meanwhile, Norman is struggling to adapt to his new life.  During his first day of school, he manages to befriend four high school girls who, needless to say, are not approved of  by his mother.  Norman sneaks out of the house to go to a party but, like a good son, he still helps his mom dispose of a dead body.  He also manages to find a crudely illustrated BDSM booklet underneath the carpet in one of the motel rooms.  Hmmmm….that’s probably not going to turn out well…

There were some promising signs for the future to be found last night.  The entire episode had an undeniably creepy, off-center feel to it.  When the commercials leading up to the premiere first started to air, I was somewhat put off by the sight of Norman Bates listening to an iPod.  As I put it on twitter, “If Norman Bates was in his 30s in 1960, then how did he own an iPod when he was a teenager?”  However, after seeing last night’s episode, I saw that the show’s creators were actually being very clever in how they mixed modern technology (like that iPod) with various retro details.  This is the type of show where people get text messages while watching flickering black-and-white televisions and it gave this episode a timeless and, at times, rather surreal feel.

Another big plus was that, about halfway through the episode, Nestor Carbonell showed up.  In Bates Motel, Carbonell plays Sheriff Andy Romero.  He shows up to investigate the new owners of the motel, asks Norma a few insinuating questions, and then proceeds to take the world’s longest (and loudest) piss without once noticing that he’s standing next to a dead body.  Carbonell’s pretty much playing the same role that he played in last season’s Ringer but no matter.  Nestor Carbonell elevates anything that he’s involved with.

Freddie Highmore made for a sympathetic Norman and, perhaps most importantly, you can look at him and imagine him growing up to be Anthony Perkins.  However, not surprisingly, last night’s episode was dominated by Vera Farmiga.  Playing Norma as a character who is both sympathetic and frightening, Farmiga finds the perfect pitch for her performance.  Farmiga is brave enough to occasionally go over-the-top but she’s also a skilled enough actress that she never allows Norma to be anything less than credible.

In the end, both Norman and Norma are monsters that you can believe in and, for that reason, I’ll be interested to see what Bates Motel does with them over the next few episodes.

Random Observations:

  • That final scene was tres creepy, no?
  • Tonight’s episode was directed Tucker Gates, who previously directed episodes of Lost and Alias.
  • Vera Farmiga seriously kicks so much ass!  I hope that, when I grow up, I’m just like her.
  • Ever since I first saw him on Lost, I’ve loved Nestor Carbonell.  I wasn’t that enthusiastic about The Dark Knight Rises but I smiled when he showed up and then I shed a tear when his character was blown up.
  • When Norman went to that party with his new friends, I tweeted, “OMG, Norman’s trapped in a Harmony Korine movie!”
  • Despite having mixed feelings about whether or not the show is really all that necessary, I’m still looking forward to watching and reviewing the next few episodes of Bates Motel.  I’m just hoping that the show doesn’t devolve into a “murder-a-week” format.
  • Speaking of which, who do you think will be the first character to be menaced while taking a shower?  Because you so know it’s going to happen…