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On Walking Dead, annoying people talk for 40 minutes, followed by five minutes of excellent action. I think that ratio needs to be adjusted.

Funny thing about this week’s Walking Dead. My cable provider, Time Warner, is terrible. As a result, AMC was a mess of digital stuttering and distortion. It was so bad I literally couldn’t make out more than a line or two of dialog all episode. I could only guess at what was going on in a general sense. Why am I pressing on with this recap? Because the problem went away just as the huge, shocking battle began. And the rest of the episode? It didn’t look like I missed much anyway. [Note: I watched one of the later showing to catch what I missed, so I'll add any additional thoughts in brackets like this.]

First, Rick hallucinated Lori some more, walking out through multiple gates to hug and caress her ghost while Michonne watched in horror. Well, not horror, exactly. What’s a word for the emotion you’re feeling when you just say “WTF?! WTF?! WTF?!” in your head over and over again?

Glen wants to head back to Woodbury and assassinate the Governor, but Hershel talks him down. Maggie is sort of moping around and looking distressed. Glen tries to talk to her, and they have some kind of conversation about her near-rape by the Governor. Here, I wish I could have heard what they said, because it’s interesting to see how Walking Dead is going to handle that whole incident from both Maggie and Glen’s POV. Maggie did some hitting, so I doubt Glen said the right thing.

[Rewatch: I'm still not sure what happened in this scene. Glen and Maggie are both angry about something, but seem incapable of expressing, or maybe even understanding, what it is. Glen's unfocused rage seems to be the character's main motivation right now. It's not unexpected given what's happened to him, and it's a cool story arc, yet it feels very muddled and confused.]

The decision is made to fortify the prison and defend themselves from the attack they’re all assuming is coming from the Woodburians. Carl and Glen head into the Tombs to see where Tyrese and Co. got into the prison in hopes of shoring it up. They find areas they’d previous cleared overrun again. Meanwhile, Carol and Axel set up some defensive barriers and have a cute conversation designed primarily to make you like Axel a little more immediately before they kill him off. Cheap shot, Walking Dead writers.

Of course, all this seems to be a lot of panic about nothing, since we see Gov and Andrea talking it out, and he wants her to lead Woodbury while he mellows out and recovers from the emotional trauma of having his daughter re-killed. He seems to be basing his belief in her leadership abilities solely on the comically trite speech she gave last week. Is that all it’s going to take in the post-apocalyptic world? Because I can memorize the president’s speech from Independence Day as well as anyone.

Meanwhile, Daryl and Merle are wandering the woods, suffering from hunger and frustration due to Merle’s arbitrary moral code (“No lootin’,’ only huntin’ n fishin’”). They spot some survivors about to get eaten by walkers on a bridge, and Daryl runs to help (with an awesomely gory zombie head smashed in the hatchback kill). Merle eventually helps too, but still manages to be an asshole about it. Something else happened here, and they had a conversation about Daryl splitting away from Merle, I think? Hey Time Warner Cable! When I say I’m giving you the middle finger right now, I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

[Rewatch: This was indeed a crucial and excellent scene. The confidence Daryl has gained working with the survivors seem to give him the strength to finally leave Merle and all his b.s. behind. Daryl stops feeling guilty for what happened to Merle in season one ("You brought it on yourself."). When Merle sees tattoos on Daryl's back, we learn that their father sexually abused them, which is why Merle left. Daryl still feels as though Merle abandoned him, and leaves to return to the survivors.]

But that was all only so much preamble in any case. The real meat of the episode was packed into the last few minutes. Carol and Axel are still strolling around the prison grounds enjoying the fine spring weather. They do believe an attack is imminent, right? Imagine if someone with genuine military training turned up on Walking Dead. No, really. Try to imagine. Because these people have no clue. Since they’re standing out in the open, when the Gov and his henchmen attack, they easily pick off Oscar with a headshot.

Things escalate quickly into a massive gunfight. Creepy G just stands there firing away with an even creepier smile on his face. Carol hides behind Axel’s corpse for cover, and Axel is peppered with bullets. Human bodies don’t stop bullets, so Carol should be dead too, but whatever. Other people hide behind other flimsy things, like a filing cabinet (Maggie) and some tall grass (Rick and Hershel). I know I’m kind of being a stickler for accuracy here, especially since we are in the universe with Hershel’s magic shotgun of infinite ammo, but a filing cabinet wouldn’t stop an angry yellowjacket, much less a 7.62 round.

Just when you’re thinking, “Wow, this was a cool gun battle,” things go even more insane. Someone drives up in a van, plows through the prison gate, and stops. The back door opens and zombies start marching out. Only a few seconds later, we see that the fenced-in area between the wilderness and the prison itself is overrun with walkers. I get that some of them came in through the open gate, but not that fast. The only plausible explanation is that there were like 800 zombies in that van.

The human driver is covered in body armor and a mask. It seemed to be a very slight person, short and petite. My only guess is that it was the Woodbury woman Andrea was verbally jousting with earlier?[Rewatch: No, the conversation with Karen only served to reveal that G and his posse were out "on a run." I have no idea who the smallish person in the van might be.]

There’s a great moment when Rick, out of ammo, is attacked by two walkers, with more coming. He’s desperately holding them off, avoiding their bites, but with no real way to kill them or escape. Then a crossbow bolt pierces a zombie head, stopping just short of Rick’s face. Daryl, with Merle in tow, charge in for one amazing rescue.

Then it gets even better, as we get full-on, totally unleashed Michonne running through the prison yard with her katana in all-out Yojimbo mode. Many zombies die awesomely.

Gov and friends head back to Woodbury. Rick and the brothers are outside the prison with a yard full of walkers in between them and safety. And I think the mystery person who drove the zombie fun van is still inside the prison too. Which means that for once, I’m genuinely looking forward to next week’s episode.

By the way, did anyone else notice that in the preview for next week’s episode, the Governor’s wrecked eye was on the wrong side? He’s been wearing the patch on the right, but they showed his left eye a scarred mess.

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Posted by on Thursday, February 14th, 2013. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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