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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: The Walking Dead: I ain't a Judas

Season 3, Episode 11
Grade: C+

Verdict: This week saw some improvement thematically, as the show at least tried to hone in on one major message, unfortunately said delivery system is Andrea which is, as usual, a detriment.

After two pretty deplorable weeks, this week we got a breather episode that shifts its focus almost squarely on Andrea, but not before we get one more little reminder that "oh yeah, Rick is still crazy" while everyone plans what to do regarding the impending attack from Woodbury, and Carl asks him to no longer be leader. Afterwards, we journey back over to Woodbury to witness Andrea squabble with the Governor about his attack on the prison. The Governor, in his infinite wisdom, decides to send Andrea over to the prison to witness just how far gone he claims they are. She does so, of course being accompanied by his Doctor-lackey (whose name I don't even bother to remember anymore). Surprise, surprise, they run into Tyreese and company, with whom Dr. Lackey decides to take back to Woodbury with him and leaving Andrea to see Rick and company at the prison. Andrea gets a pretty cold reception from Rick, and for the most part Andrea's visit is marked with people urging her to kill The Governor, most specifically Carol. The episode concludes with Hershel's other personality-less daughter butchering a Tom Waits song and Andrea failing to kill The Governor in his sleep

Your tolerance for what occurs here will hinge on whether or not you find Laurie Holden performance as cringe inducing as I do. I know she's generally a fairly solid actress, but somehow she just cannot pull off any of the tasks required of her in this role. Her attempts at being stoic comes across as forced, and her emotional beats constantly feel unearned. For example, take her scene with Michonne when they're finally reunited at the prison and Michonne explains why she wanted to hurt Andrea. The emotional impact isn't there, because for one, we didn't see their actual friendship form at any point (a writing flaw), but a better actor could sell that scene and Holden just kinda fumbles it. She's also at the center of a pretty terrible writing device, with the Governor claiming Rick shot first, and Rick claiming the opposite. I immediately thought of poor old Greedo. Making this one point of the conflict the main turning point for Andrea's concerns also makes her look not only look gullible, but also kind of an idiot. All it takes is Rick saying the opposite of what the Governor says and now she's fighting the urge to kill him?

It's a shame that this show continues to have such poor dialogue and performances, because occasionally, there's some interesting stuff to be mined there. While the Guv sends Andrea over to observe just the prison-folk, Merle is doing much of the same thing albeit a bit more quietly. He has a really nice couple of moments with Michonne and especially Hershel that build his character in a way that I'm glad to see. I mean, heck, don't you like Merle better now you know he appreciates fine libraries? I kinda do! His arm still looks ridiculous though. The show is making the smart decision to start shifting some leadership responsibilities over to the Dixon brothers, which will likely revive in full force the most compelling part of the show once Merle inevitably turns (which I still predict he will do). The idea that Andrea could have been clearly influenced by the Guv's methodical trickery, sending her over there when Rick and everyone are at their lowest (possibly informed by Merle?), could have been a really neat plot turn...it's just too bad the writers' remembered her ability to make the least logical decisions possible.

Rick was more or less a non-factor this week, and considering the poor way the character has been treated over the past few weeks, it's probably no small favor. There wasn't a ghost mom in sight this week, and we all breathe a sigh of relief. I'm sure we'll have it shoved down our throat in double time next Sunday. This episode was also an improvement in that we got very little Glenn and Maggie, at this point I consider that a positive development and with this show I'll take whatever I can get. Insofar as nerdy nit-picks, I try not to let my knowledge of the comics storylines impact me too much, but wow are they ever wasting Tyreese in what's bound to be a pretty thankless task of joining the Woodbury brigade. The singing was the show's worst part by the way, a clear attempt at trying to stir up emotions in a lifeless set-up, I expect little else from the guys writing this slop.

Had this episode starred, say, the actress playing Carol, I think I could have given the episode a better grade. As it was though, still an improvement over the past two weeks. By the way, best moment, Maggie (clearly overdubbed) mentioning that T-Dog died too. Even in death, the man gets no respect! With this show, I'm barely holding on Mr. Waits! Just barely....

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