Breakdowns & Aftermath On The Walking Dead, Parts I & II


Part I:

“This not what they say it is..”

-Michonne to Andrea

In the pre-credits scene of episode five of The Walking Dead, “Say the Word”, Milton (Dallas Roberts) hands Andrea (Laurie Holden) a cold drink at an outdoor town festival; Michonne (Danai Gurira) watches from afar, suspicious. Andrea presses the tight-lipped Milton for details of the evening’s festivities, to no avail. We cut to the Governor (David Morrissey) in his den, combing his daughter’s hair, her face unseen. As the brush rips into her scalp, she suddenly turns hostile; turning around, she is revealed to be a walker. Frustrated, the Governor forces a bag over her head to restrain her, softly declaring his love for his little girl.

Post-credits, the survivors are gathered in the cell block yard, as Maggie (Lauren Cohan) holds Lori’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) crying newborn baby girl. Hershel (Scott Wilson) pronounces the baby healthy, but in desperate need of formula. Carl (Chandler Riggs) holds his newborn sister and considers names for the baby girl; suggesting those of the dead survivors, he even offers that of his mother Lori. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) – glassy-eyed and unresponsive – suddenly grabs an axe and runs back into the cell block…

Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Maggie go on a supply run for the newborn; entering an abandoned nursery school, they find formula, bottles, and other provisions. Meanwhile, inside the cell block, Rick goes on vengeful rampage, mutilating all walkers in his path. Later, after a curt reply to soft-spoken Axel (Lew Temple) and Oscar (Vincent Ward), Glenn (Steven Yeun) reveals to Hershel his wish that they should have killed all the prisoners “on sight”.

In the Woodbury town center, while a smiling Governor, glass in hand, gathers the residents and raises a toast to the sacrifices and hard work that built the town, Michonne enters his office and snoops around. Fetching her katana, she finds an odd notebook full of names, but leaves before being caught. In an industrial area nearby, Michonne finds a cage full of walkers. She breaks the lock and empties the cage. Like Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, she smirks as she rips them to pieces, but is caught by the Governor’s men. Questioned privately by the Governor, she is uncooperative, and after holding her katana to the Governor’s throat, leaves calmly.

That afternoon, Milton and Merle (Michael Rooker) drive to a nearby location, and using a net, pull walkers from an underground pit. The Governor’s crew hold down the walkers as Merle removes their teeth. At the town party that evening, Michonne reveals her dark suspicions about Woodbury to Andrea. Describing the townspeople as prisoners unable to leave, she sets out. Andrea, staying put, is approached by the Governor, who invites her for a drink; they walk away, hand-in-hand.

In the inner cell block, Glenn locates a silent Rick, who pushes him away.  Prowling the dark, eerie cell block, Rick locates a butchered mess, who he surmises to be the remains of his deceased wife Lori. Seeing a bloated, well-fed walker nearby (presumably from eating you-know-who) he attacks and savagely kills it with his hunting knife…

As the Governor escorts Andrea to Woodbury’s evening festivities, a barbaric twist on old-time, bare-knuckle brawling: Merle and two of the Governor’s other muscled thugs duke it out in an arena, while chained (though toothless) walkers lunge at them from the side. Although the crowd cheers, Lori balks at the spectacle; the Governor waves it off, assuring her that it’s harmless.

The next day, Daryl lays a flower on an unmarked grave – Carol’s? (Melissa McBride) – while Rick remains in the cell block, still in shock. As the newborn’s crying reverberates through his head, he picks up a nearby ringing phone, answering “Hello?”

“Say the Word” was an overall exciting and well-paced episode, jump-cutting like an MTV video between the different storylines. With less of the usual fighting-their-way-through-hordes-of-walkers shtick, the highlight of this The Walking Dead episode is the slow and methodical unfolding of the Governor’s story. Seeing his sad, pitiful relationship with his walker daughter, we now understand why he and Milton are so fascinated with walkers’ behavior and memories. Michonne, on the other hand, remains an enigma, but in our first glimpse of what she can do when the odds seem to be against her, she is an impressive fighter. Somewhere between a manga heroine and a Pam Grier-style blaxploitation mama – with a touch of Snake Plissken – Michonne treats killing walkers as child’s play; in fact, she even seems to enjoy it. But questions arise. Where will she go, now that she has left Woodbury? What was that notebook? What will happen to Andrea? Will she develop a true romance with the Governor, or seek to leave? Was that Carol’s grave? If not, where is Carol (there was no mention of her)? Will Axel and Oscar prove their worth and link up with the survivors? Who called on the prison phone? What will happen to Rick?

A note to readers: At this point in the season we are so used to walkers popping out from every nook and cranny that even Daryl and Maggie’s supply run kept us on the edge of our seats. This time, all they encountered was an opossum. Also,I’ve felt for a while that the show has certain Western-style undertones (Rick is a sheriff; Daryl has a crossbow and a motorcycle, akin to a Native American with a bow and arrow on a horse, etc.). Case in point – note Daryl’s poncho, a tribute to Eastwood’s man-with-no-name from the famed Dollars trilogy. Continue reading

Deadly Turning Points On The Walking Dead, Parts I & II


The measure of a man is what he does with power.” Plato

 “Compromise our safety, destroy our community – I’ll die before I let that happen” the Governor

The pre-credits scene of episode three of The Walking Dead, “Walk With Me”, shows an army helicopter flying over rural countryside. Suddenly beset by technical problems, it crashes into the forest below. Watching from afar are Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Michonne (Danai Gurira).


Post-credits, the blanketed Andrea, still recovering from her fever, and the grim Michonne, pulling her armless and jawless pet walkers like a grotesque version of pack mules, slowly hike in to investigate. Viewing the horrific crash site, Michonne chains the walkers to a tree, unsheathes her katana and moves in for a closer look just as a couple of vehicles speed in. A group of tough-looking, armed men emerge; they fan out and carefully survey the site. Their leader, the Governor (David Morrissey), orders the men to conserve their ammo where possible (instead using baseball bats and bows and arrows), as they kill all approaching walkers. The pilot (Julio Cedillo) is found barely alive, and taken for medical care. As Michonne’s gurgling pet walkers reveal their presence, she’s forced to decapitate them. However, it’s too late; they are found moments later by none other than Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), the seedy redneck racist not seen since the first season of The Walking Dead when he was handcuffed to a roof by the survivors and cut off his own hand to escape. As he recognizes Andrea, we see that in place of his hand is a bizarre prosthetic contraption. Andrea faints.

Blindfolded, Andrea and Michonne are stripped of their weapons and taken to the group’s compound, the town of Woodbury. Although given medical care, their requests to leave are denied on grounds that it’s dark and they aren’t well enough. Their questions receive vague answers, and they are heavily guarded. They are later interrogated by Merle, evidently now a high-ranking assistant to the Governor. Merle is initially cordial and asks about the survivors, including his brother Daryl (Norman Reedus), but is bitter about being left for the dead. When Merle leaves, the women are briefly introduced to the Governor, who listens to their request. Explaining that they can leave the following morning, he first shows them Woodbury’s tightly-guarded perimeter (his men quickly and efficiently pick off some approaching walkers, which they call “creepers”).  Additionally, the Governor enforces a strict curfew where no one is allowed out after dark. Although Michonne is suspicious, the Governor convinces them to stay awhile.  He shows them to their lodgings, a pleasant, spacious room with spare clothes, hot showers, and food.

In the morning, Andrea and Michonne stroll around Woodbury with an official escort, and for the first time, see the town. They gape at the trim lawns and men, women, and children walking casually though the neat streets and lounging on park benches.

Meanwhile, the surviving helicopter pilot recounts the final events before the fatal flight. As National Guardsmen, they were fleeing a refugee camp overrun with walkers; the Governor asks for the location so he can rescue the survivors. Later visiting a laboratory, we learn that his scientist/partner, Milton (Dallas Roberts) was commissioned by the Governor to experiment on walkers. In a gruesome display, we see Michonne’s beheaded walkers with their eyes rolling, still showing animation. The scientist explains that walkers act as repellant to other walkers (hence why Michonne kept them), or as the Governor puts it, as camouflage.

The next morning, the Governor and Milton join Andrea and Michonne for breakfast. Making charming conversation, the Governor extols the virtues of Woodbury and its people. Although Andrea chats away freely, Michonne remains mostly silent. In a post-breakfast stroll, the two women lay it on the line; Andrea wants to stay another “day or two” while Michonne wants out.

In a trip out of Woodbury, the Governor tracks down the surviving soldiers; although looking a bit shabby, the Guardsmen are suspicious, armed, and alert. Waving the white flag of truce, the Governor offers to help but instead ambushes them, and together with his hidden crew kill all the Guardsmen, and plunder their supplies.

Returning from the ambush, the Governor immediately gathers the townspeople in the town square. Lying to them, he gives a heroic speech about how they arrived too late to save the soldiers, and that the people of Woodbury should honor their sacrifice and give thanks for what they have. Michonne cynically listens nearby.

Later, the Governor enjoys a relaxing, late-evening drink in his mansion. Passing by his sleeping concubine, he retires to his den, where we glimpse a pre-apocalypse family portrait. Removing a key from around his neck, he enters a locked room off to the side. Then relaxing on a comfortable chair with his drink, he stares at the wall opposite him, covered wall-to-wall by a grisly aquarium full of decapitated walkers’ heads, including that of the pilot.

 “Walk with Me”is an odd duck of an episode for The Walking Dead; however, coming from a series where freakish and nightmarish scenarios pop up like mushrooms after the rain, that’s not bad at all. Eschewing the slam-bang action of the season’s first two episodes, “Walk With Me” alternates between surprises and character development, mainly the slow and methodical introduction of the crafty, sadistic Governor and his fiefdom, the town of Woodbury. Ultimately, it waves the true flag of serial TV by leaving more questions than it answers. Who is the Governor? What did Merle do to acquire such a high and trusted position with him? Will Andrea and Michonne stay? What will they discover? Why is Milton so fascinated with walkers’ possible memories? What is the true nature of Woodbury? Is it a ruse to lull newcomers (notice no one entered any of the “stores”), or a Prisoner-style village where everyone is treated well but forbidden to leave?

 In any case, due to the Governor’s increasingly pointed interest in the survivors, we can expect an eventual showdown with Rick Grimes; as with other movies or comics where two badasses lock horns, it will be a true “clash of the titans”. One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to be there when it happens. Continue reading