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The Walking Dead followed up last week’s violence as emotion release in “Say the Word” with the subtle inward struggle (with possible psychotic break?) of Rick. This occurrence is utterly surprising for a show that loves dealing in heavy-handedness (the discussions between Andrea and the Governor was basic debate on exactly what Rick was going through). Unfortunately Woodbury/the Andrea and Governor subplot is beginning to look a lot like the farm in that it has become a forum for openly boring debate.
Nothing was more shocking than the phone ringing at the end of “Say the Word.” Now many of you probably thought it was all in Rick’s head to begin with but wasn’t it more fun to believe in the phone working and there actually being somewhat normal civilization out there (no matter how ridiculous this plot sounds)? As it turned out the most exciting aspects of Rick’s phone conversations weren’t deciphering if they were real or not but instead Rick’s reaction to them to the group and Hershel’s reaction to Rick.
Throughout the episode, even though Rick seemed to believe someone was actually calling him (perhaps more for the twist of calls being fake for the end of the episode), he also seemed rather guarded about what had just happened as well. When he first returns to the cellblock, saying he has to clear the bodies he just killed, he doesn’t tell anyone about what just happened. Is this because he doesn’t want to get their hopes up (at this point he is waiting for a return call once it has been discussed whether the phone people will disclose their whereabouts)? Or is it because he doesn’t totally believe they are real? This happens again when Hershel finds Rick waiting near the phone and Rick somewhat reluctantly divulges to Hershel what has happened. And then there was Hershel’s near lack of reaction to what Rick just told him. Hershel definitely used some kid gloves with Rick at this point but still, some would think Hershel would have at least been shocked by the news or looked worried at his leader’s onset of insanity.
What’s more important about this particular plot point, aside from it arising the question whether or not Rick is completely crazy or has now regained his sanity (when he rejoins the group at the end after he forgives “Laurie” on the phone), is the manner in which The Walking Dead executed this plot point. Most of the time, especially recently, The Walking Dead tends to go for the more visceral and intense, “Say the Word” being a perfect example as Rick deals with his pain by screaming at the top of his lungs and chopping zombies to bits. The phone plot might be the first time in the entirety of the series that The Walking Dead has tried an emotional storyline that isn’t explicitly evident to the viewer. Sure, it would have required a pretty big gap in the reality of this world for the phone (especially this specific phone) to actually work but there was still the slight possibility. The series also has never gone so deep into one character’s psyche. The phantom phone call was a good way for Rick to be able to deal with and, perhaps, move on from his failure with Laurie (and protecting the lost group members) while also giving some promising new tactics for the show to play with in the future.
Unfortunately the original promise that Woodbury once showed is starting to fade. While there are still some interesting things that could happen, mainly with Merle trying to break away from the Governor and these experiments Milton has hinted towards in a few episodes, it seems the show has found this season’s version of the farm. The faux-philosophical debates between the Governor and Andrea on enjoying revenge against zombies are almost as tiresome as their romantic interest in each other. The fact that about 75 percent of the Woodbury scenes revolved around Andrea and the Governor discussing the gladiator fight and Andrea’s reactions to it were neither enlightening nor interesting. Hopefully now that their relationship has consummated Andrea will finally start discovering some of the Governor’s seedier doings. Once the Governor’s darker side begins to unravel Woodbury will become interesting again but as it is being utilized now it is an absolute snooze fest.
However, Michonne continues to impress. Even though there has been less revealed about her character than the Governor’s, her storylines and stoicism help keep her interesting. Her hunting Merle and his cronies down in the forest (sent by the Governor, his reason not revealed) created some very nice action in what was otherwise a fairly transitional episode. It is clear she knows her way around a kitana and her acumen for survival in the wild rivals none. When she arrives at the prison new possibilities for her character and the story are opened. As the show inches closer to uniting the Prison group with Woodbury it should be interesting to see which Michonne chooses as the better chance of living (if either) and if more will be revealed about her character while in the Prison.
Likewise, it seems the show is setting up a choice for Merle. He is still dead set on finding Daryl, so much so that he has taken Glen and Maggie hostage (and violently interrogates them next week). It is clear the Governor does not want to lose Merle so if/when Merle finally reunites with his brother it will be very interesting to see which side Merle takes.
Kill of the Week
Michonne seems to be a fixture for the KOTW with her repeat performance this week. Michonne jumped from a tree to decapitate one living human and then impale another and then used him for a shield from Merle’s gunfire. Although honorable mention to her slicing open the zombie’s belly and having the guts cascade down onto her.