There’s the concept about creating drama that goes something like “if you introduce a gun at the beginning that gun better fire before the end.” The Walking Dead has this bad habit of introducing figurative guns that never fire. A couple weeks back it was the suggestion that Andrea assassinate the Governor in his sleep. This week it’s not just a literal gun. It’s two literal guns that never fire. One strapped to Hershel’s leg. The other hidden under the negotiating table by the Governor. That’s the last we see of either and it’s vaguely unsatisfying.
So this was very much like some of the episodes in the middle of season two. Perhaps I’m getting impatient, but coming on the heels of a wheel-spinning episode, and a stand-alone episide, it felt like a bit too much to spin the wheels again. By that I mean we end the episode right where we start–the war is coming. Rick, of course thinks he’s got a way out, and has a moral choice about whether to take it, but we the audience know it’s a false choice because the Governor is a backstabbing scumbag.
Enough of the downsides though. We do get a small bit of forward progress. Andrea takes a step closer to understanding who the Governor really is after a short discussion with Hershel. Milton and Martinez build a bit of empathy with the good guys. (What’s up with the stump festish though, Milton?) Martinez and Daryl got the only action/zombie scene and while some will probably prefer the arrow through-and-through kill the one that got me was the bat to the head, “exploding punkin,” kill by Martinez and especially yanking it free from the battered skull while flashing a toothy smile. Yikes.
It was also nice to see the Glenn/Maggie relationship get back on track. The timing felt about right. I’m happy the didn’t drag it out further.
Backtracking slightly, the subplot with Merle wasn’t my favorite. Why is he allowed near the guns at all? And after a bit of teamwork to subdue him, the let him right back near the guns and with the option to take some and go off anyway? Maybe I missed some detail, but it all seemed pointless.
So we’re left with the main throughline of the episode, the meeting between Rick and the Governor. It creates some decent tension. The Governor’s “negotiating” tactics are neat. First deflect blame about the past by blaming Merle. Then when that doesn’t work, well, the past is the past and let’s move forward. Well, not really because the only thing I’m going to discuss is the terms of your surrender. No white flag? Let’s try metioning you may not even be the father of your new baby. Oh, not backing down, well real men like us can settle it over whiskey. Not drinking? I’ve got a sob story that’ll make you want to drown in my sorrows. (I’m kinda surprised it worked given the horror that Rick and pretty much everyone has gone through. Rick really should have let that glass sit on the table untouched.) And then we finally get to the final offer, trade Michonne for a truce. But after all the BS that the Governor has tossed his way in this short period Rick really should know this guy is not the pinacle of sincerity. He’s not even on the same continent with sincerity. It seemed like Rick wasn’t buying into any of his nonsense, but that last offer is eating at him.
So we exit where we entered–the war is coming. Sigh.
But it wasn’t boring, nor bad for the most part. It was actually entertaining between the bouts of mild frustration. What we’re left with is the weakest episode of this block of season three, perhaps all of season three. It’s still better than most of the episodes in the middle of season two.