Walking Dead – Prey
This week’s Walking Dead episode was like a mini horror movie, tense and terrifying and filled with some classic horror tropes.
The first few minutes of the episode (other than a brief flashback to Andrea and Michonne’s time on the run together) involves the boring politics of Woodbury. Milton and Andrea realize how truly sick the Gov is when they see his torture room that he’s prepped for Michonne. All kinds of creepy stuff going on there, including a speculum. Be careful Googling that. Andrea takes aim to kill Gov, but Milton stops her. He observes that the line of succession in Woodbury negates Governor execution as an option.
Milton explains why he can’t go with Andrea to the prison as though it’s a slightly awkward work-related social event. “I don’t know anyone at the prison.” It’s true Milton. You’d spend weeks just standing there avoiding eye contact while you destroy the cheese tray and shrimp cocktail.
Gov is clamping down on the populace by confiscating their weapons in preparation for the assault on the prison. Martinez is a petty little man who loves exerting authority over others, and Milton is right that him taking over after the Gov dies would be terrible. Tyrese and Sasha get drawn into the vibrant Woodbury political scene because they are guarding the wall as Andrea leaves for the prison. Andreas plan to fool them is defeated by Tyrese using the sort of common sense you always wish people in movies would use.
“They want you at the other wall.”
“Well, you’re not my boss. Martinez has to come tell me himself.”
Andrea leaves and jogs forever in a wooly vest.
There’s a weird, pathetic encounter between Tyrese and the dude he hangs out with, who apparently has some severe self-esteem issues. Dude is mad at Tyrese for savings his wife, since it made him look bad in front of his son. There’s a vaguely unsettling racial subtext there, but I’m not disappearing down that rabbit hole tonight, no sir.
When Martinez and goons go to the pit trap to load up a trailer with biters for the prison assault, Tyrese balks. “That’s sick.” There’s another strange fight with insecure dude, then Tyrese and company are sent home.
All that was pretty standard Walking Dead stuff. Some character development, but slow and frustrating. What followed was awesome.
Andrea is strolling across a field (after fighting off some zombies with her pocket knife) when she hears, then sees a truck driving along the ridge. She drops down into the grass, which is a valid tactic, but I’d have started staggering around like a walker. That way even if they already saw her they’d think nothing of it. I guess there’s the risk of a head shot, but Andrea would know no one would waste ammo on a distant shambling zombie.
The truck comes back though, right for her. She jumps up and runs, stalked by this pickup with a roaring engine. It was a direct homage to all those classic “killer car” horror movies like The Duel, Christine, and The Car. The sound of the revving engine and blaring horn becomes the signifier that the monster is coming for you. It was kind of a shame that they showed that the Governor was in the truck right away. I’d have loved it if they’d played the “murderous car” angle a little harder, waiting until he walked into the old manufacturing plant to reveal it was him.
At that point, we shift gears to a classic stalking killer horror trope. Andrea, without a gun, is sneaking through this decrepit factory trying to escape the Governor, who slowly, implacably walks along hunting her down, just like Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, or a thousand other movie slashers. Except the Governor whistles his own little murderin’ tune, and then says creepy things like, “It’s time to come home.”
Andrea is for some reason absolutely terrible at being quiet. Her creaking boots and clomping footsteps, the constant crashing into chain link fences…at one point she gets tangled up in a single sheet of paper. Only the sounds made by some ambient zombies save her, but when she thinks she’s in the clear, she drops her head back onto a wooden crate in relief, making a huge THUNK.
They have a little showdown when Andrea finds a stairwell jammed with Walkers, but she somehow sends the walkers after Gov (I couldn’t really figure out how she did this, exactly) and escapes up the stairs.
Meanwhile, a mystery person goes to the Woodbury biter pit and sets everything on fire. I’m assuming it was Milton, as he practically says as much to the Governor later. It seemed like Milton wanted Gov to know, as a way of saying, “I’m not going to stand by and let you do this sick shit anymore.” The fire scene was cool, we haven’t seen too many fire stunts on Walking Dead (even if a lot of that fire was CGI). Even better were the burnt zombies at the bottom of the pit still wiggling and clacking their teeth. Awesome makeup effects there.
The slasher movie tropes aren’t over yet, though. You thought the killer was defeated, the Last Girl on her way to safety, but just as Andrea sees the salvation of the prison, Gov grabs her from behind and makes the sickest, most terrifying little laugh ever. We eventually find out that Andrea is now handcuffed to the torture chair, the same one that was supposed to be for Michonne.