The Walking Dead Post Mortem: “Say the Word”
Greetings fellow zombie lovers and fans of staged zombie cage fights; this week’s episode of The Walking Dead finally tapped on the breaks a wee bit, but the momentum established in the season’s first four episodes is still keeping the story going strong. As I mentioned in a previous review, the Walking Dead has a lot of fans who tune in strictly for a weekly zombie killing fix, and the producers, writers and higher ups at AMC are obviously very cognizant of this reality as every episode in Season 3 has been filled with numerous (and extremely wonderfully violent) zombie death scenes. I’d willing to bet that there have been more deaths in the past 5 episodes than the entirety of seasons 1+2? Anyone who wants to do the research on that…have it, in the meantime let’s begin this week’s post mortem of “Say the Word”.
Once again, the action was broken up between Woodbury and the prison. While the citizens of Woodbury enjoy an idyllic sun drenched day, despair and hazy gloom surround the prison and its inhabitants. Lori and T-Dog are gone, and Rick, wracked with grief over Lori’s death (and surely T-Dogs as well…) becomes unhinged and goes on a zombie killing spree the likes of which we’ve never seen on the show thus far. Typically, the characters resort to zombie killing purely for survival, not to work through their inner-turmoil. Watching Rick run straight into the walkers that he and his group have been trying to run from for so long was a jarring, thrilling, and welcome break for the norm. This is the first time we’ve really seen a character take the fight to them, so to speak, and it made for some emotionally powerful drama. I think Andrew Lincoln may have an Emmy submission episode on his hands.
While Rick is off putting his axe through multiple zombie heads, Daryl takes temporarily takes on the leadership role and makes moves to keep baby (I really hope lil’ ass kicker sticks) alive. I enjoyed this as well. Rick falling apart and someone else stepping up to take control of the group keeps things interesting. This is a world where you have to keep moving forward mentally and physically if you want to survive, and so the writers have placed Rick (and his group) in a very compelling place. The threat The Governor and Merle represent to the group at the prison is palpable, and a divided group with a leader consumed and crippled by grief will have little chance of surviving that threat. Not to mention, once Daryl finds out Merle is still alive his allegiance to the group is going to be tested as well. All this effectively raises the stakes for the rest of the season, and it will be interesting to see how (if at all) Rick escapes from this dark hole he’s found himself in.
There were lots of big developments this week for the happy-go-lucky residents of Woodbury as well. We discover the Governor is keeping his zombie daughter alive, restrained, and highly toothless in his apartment. I got chills when he was holding her as she was thrashing and repeating: “Daddy still loves you”. It’s been implied The Governor was at one point, before the zombie outbreak, probably an all-around decent guy, and he is able to call upon that latent decency, to manipulate the populace of Woobury. But make no mistake, something is deeply wrong with the man, and I get the feeling we’ve only skimmed the surface of his inner-darkness. Michonne is the only one who see him for what he truly is, and she was able confirm her suspicions about The Governor’s true nature, with the discovery of The Governor’s daughter, and their zombie stock pile in the ware house. I have to admit thought, the Woodbury scenes this week paled in comparison to the prison scenes this week. I think once we have a better understanding of what The Governor’s overall plan is, and what is really going on with tea guy’s zombie experiments, the Woodbury plot-line will become more cohesive. So I will not gripe/nitpick too much, but I think they should bring all that stuff into light sooner rather than later. Once again, The Walking Dead delivers another good episode in a season that is shaping up to be its best thus far.
**Glenn and Herschel’s discussion of T-Dog death reminded me of Glenn’s discussion of Sophia’s death last season. He says speaks highly of T-Dog, saying what a great guy he was….and all I could think was: um…what is he talking about? I didn’t really think T-Dog was a great guy, or a bad guy, he was just kind of there. And now he’s gone. Truth be told, I look forward to all the found reminiscing of the man that is going happen in future episodes/season. He will possibly get more character development posthumously, than he ever did as a living/breathing character on the show.
***So about that zombie ring of death gladiatorial match….was this The Walking Dead being Meta!?! The show is currently the HIGHEST RATED SCRIPTED DRAMA on television in the coveted 18-49 demographic. A horrifically violent zombie drama is the most popular show on television. Hell, even my grandmother likes the Walking Dead. So it’s interesting that the entertainment that The Governor provides to his people is a violent (and staged) fight involving zombies. What does our nation’s current zombie love/obsession say about us? Why do we love staged violence so much, when we fear the real violence in equal measure? Keep in mind though…this was also the nation that was (and still is) obsessed with sparkly vampires as well…so I suppose it’s all relative.
The weekly horror movie recommendation
The Burrowers (2008)
This is a super disturbing horror flick in the vein of Tremors minus Kevin Bacon, and any comedic relief whatsoever.