“What you all did – leaving me up there – people wouldn’t do that to an animal…”
Merle to Glenn
In the pre-credits scene of episode seven of The Walking Dead, “When The Dead Come Knocking”, Merle (Michael Rooker) is brutally interrogating Glenn (Steven Yeun). Still bitter about being abandoned in Atlanta (in season one), Merle demands to know the survivors’ whereabouts. When Glenn refuses, Merle reacts savagely.
Post-credits, Michonne (Danai Gurira) is standing at the prison gate, her walker-blood-drenched shirt serving as camouflage to the surrounding creatures. Before Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) can act, her open gunshot wound reveals her presence and the walkers attack. Michonne’s limp and fatigue hamper her ability to fight back, but Rick saves her just as she passes out. Inside the prison, Rick’s group tend to Michonne’s wound but they and she are mutually suspicious of each other. After she witnesses Rick’s touching reunion with Carol (Melissa McBride) – previously thought to be dead, Michonne opens up and tells about Glenn, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) held prisoner by the Governor (David Morrissey) in the town of Woodbury. Rick formulates a rescue plan, and heavily armed and equipped, sets out to Woodbury taking Daryl (Norman Reedus), Michonne, and Oscar (Vincent Ward).
In Woodbury, Milton (Dallas Roberts) conducts a bizarre experiment, with Andrea’s (Laurie Holden) assistance, on a dying old man (Peter Kulas). Seeking to determine if he retains his human memory after re-animating as a walker, the experiment fails. Before the re-animated walker could bite him an already cynical Andrea kills the creature.
Meanwhile, Glenn, duct-taped to a chair, still refuses to divulge any information to Merle, who then releases a walker on him. In an exciting scene, Glenn fights for his life as he cleverly alternates between evading the creature, striking it and smashing apart his chair to break free; eventually he gains the upper hand and kills it with pieces of the smashed chair. The Governor decides next to interrogate Maggie himself. With the sinister air of a viper, he calmly orders her to remove her shirt and bra, hinting at rape. Unable to break the sobbing young woman, he leaves her but later reunites Maggie and the bloodied Glenn. After threatening Glenn in her presence, Maggie in her loved one’s presence. Maggie breaks down and reveals the survivors’ numbers and whereabouts.
Outside of Woodbury, Rick and the three others leave their car a few miles from the town and stealthily approach; but are spotted by walkers. Initially fighting them off, more walkers arrive in impossible numbers, so they seek shelter in a nearby cabin. Locking the door, they discover the cabin’s sole inhabitant, a hermit (Alex Van) who initially holds a gun to Rick. Although they disarm him, he panics and runs to escape; Michonne kills him to prevent him from opening the door. To distract the walkers, his body is thrown to them, which they devour in a grotesque feeding frenzy. Rick and the rescue party escape the cabin and later approach Woodbury after dark, hiding just outside its heavy fortifications.
The Governor meanwhile is stunned from Maggie’s revelation that such a small group – ten – was able to clear out a prison by themselves, a task thought to be impossible. Together with Glenn’s performance with the walker, he is impressed by them as a tough group. The Governor orders Merle and another of his thugs, Caesar (Jose Pablo Cantillo), to scout out the prison.
Except for a few token touchy-feely moments involving the newborn baby and Carol’s return, “When The Dead Come Knocking” is exciting and fast-paced. We are opening our eyes to Glenn, no longer the baseball-capped, delivery-boy-next-door type. He is emerging as a serious hombre with testicular fortitude, surviving a savage beating without ratting out his friends and later killing a walker while initially strapped to a chair. The episode suffered a few reality black holes, though. Jumping into a rescue mission without a complete and thorough re-con is a serious (and possibly fatal) mistake, especially up against a hard-nosed cat such as the Governor. Additionally, Michonne’s reluctance to reveal even her name also struck me as odd, considering she went through hell and high water to get to the prison, meet them, and deliver the baby supplies. And how exactly did that hermit survive in the middle of walker territory?
But ultimately that’s nitpicking, as The Walking Dead is leading to a deadly confrontation. Perhaps Michonne can clue the rescue team in to something we have already witnessed, because despite the grisly acts regularly committed by walkers in The Walking Dead, “When The Dead Come Knocking” ultimately focuses on the dark side of human behavior, something Rick and the survivors will soon experience for themselves.