Walking Dead Episode 303
In “Walk with Me,” Walking Dead served up a tasty slice of the past, then unveiled a bizarrely bucolic future and the best aquarium ever. Who is the Governor? What’s Michonne’s relationship with her zombie pets? What do you get for the man who has everything (except his own right hand)?
The episode’s “previously on” reel featured a recap of season one events involving Merle, Daryl’s brother who was left on a roof in Atlanta handcuffed to a pipe, forcing him to cut his own hand off to escape. We haven’t seen him since, except in Daryl’s hallucinations. Is Merle coming back? Well…
A crew of military guys is cruising in a helicopter. Something breaks (or were they shot?) and the heli crashes in the woods. Andrea and Michonne see the smoke of the crash and head there to investigate. They duck into cover when a group of armed men shows up. They seem experienced – one man barks orders and they know not to waste ammo, using knives and baseball bats for most of the kills. A & M stay in hiding until Michonne’s zombie pets start making noise, drawing attention, so she lops off their heads with her katana. Problem solved. Until a low, threatening drawl tells them to drop their weapons. It’s Merle!
The zombies in this scene were great, all gray-faced and rotted. There were some serious gore effects, from the bisected pilot to the head-knifings, and lots of close-ups of Michonne’s disfigured pets. It still blows my mind that this stuff can be shown on cable, but show a woman’s nipple and the nation would collapse upon itself.
When Andrea wakes up (she fainted when Merle showed up), she finds herself in Mayberry. Sorry, Woodbury. It’s a quaint town protected by walls and armed men, with a strict curfew to keep everyone safe. It turns out Merle lives here. “I guess this ol’ world gets a little smaller toward the end.” Sadly, Merle is not in charge, but a man known only as the Governor calls the shots.
If you could pin down one single thing that season two of Walking Dead was missing, it was the brooding malevolence and intimidating presence of Michael Rooker. There’s something about that guy that no other actor brings to the table (except young Rutger Hauer, perhaps). I’m pretty pleased to see him back on screen this season. Taking a back seat to the Gov limits his screen time, sadly.
On the other hand, David Morrissey portrays the Governor with a laconic comfort that still somehow hints at a shadow behind his good-natured charm. He certainly has the town under control (population: 73 and counting) – I kept looking for the, “It’s been 136 days since our last workplace zombie accident” sign. The Governor works his charm on Andrea, whom he seems quite interested in (despite the nubile young woman we see in his bed later).
The Gov seems too good to be true, his brow furrowing with concern when he talks to the wounded soldier from the helicopter. He’s not some monomaniacal dictator – he tells nebbish scientist Milton that he needs someone around to question his decisions. Milton is engaged in basement research on zombies, along with some very middle school jock/nerd rivalry with Merle. Milton is weird in his mannerisms, but he’s engaged in one of my favorite topics: zombie ecology!
Now we know that cutting off zombies’ arms and jaws, making it impossible for them to attack or eat, shuts off their attack instinct. Keeping these “neutered” walkers around keeps other zombies away, since they think you’re just another zombie. Apparently, zombies that don’t eat do starve, but they have incredibly slow metabolisms, so they starve slowly.
Andrea convinces Michonne to stay in the town for a while, but Michonne plays it close to her form-fitting leather vest. She just wants her sword back, and she wants to scowl at people. Even after seven months together, Andrea barely knows anything about her, but there was some kind of connection between Michonne and her pet zombies. It seems like Milton found a sore spot when he asked her about it, and when Andrea presses the issue, Michonne growls, “You know enough!” Well, ok then.
All that stuff I said about the Governor having a shadow and being too good to be true? Yeah. He goes and finds the wounded soldier’s buddies, and the whole squad is massacred in an ambush. Now, I can think of logical reasons why you might wipe out military forces near your settlement – they represent the biggest threat to disrupting what you’ve established, once you’ve got the zombie problem locked down. But Gov seemed to get a certain…pleasure from bashing that one soldier’s head in with the butt of a rifle.
Back in Woodbury, the Governor lies like crazy to the townsfolk, turning the sad tale of the slaughtered soldiers into a morality speech. Don’t take what you have here for granted. Now go to bed. He later slips into a secret room in his home and sips a stiff drink. There’s a strange bubbling sound, and then the camera turns and we find that he relaxes by gazing at his elaborate aquarium set up. No fish though. Just zombie heads. Including the wounded soldier. So much for concern.
Mysteries drive my interest in shows like this, and this episode unleashed a bundle of them. What’s up with Michonne? Where’d she get her pets? Where’d she learn to wield a sword? What is the Governor really trying to accomplish? Are the heads in his aquaria zombie heads? Does he watch them twitch in endless horror at their fate (assuming, as Milton theorizes, that zombies do retain some sliver of consciousness)? Is he evil and twisted, or is there some reason for his brutality?
Tags: amc, michael rooker, walking dead, walking dead season 3, zombies