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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: The Walking Dead, "Arrow on the Doorpost"

Season 3, Episode 13

Grade: B-
Verdict: Coming off of a well-written and extremely well-acted episode, The Walking Dead gets back to the business of Woodbury versus The Prison.  Although none of the actors do a terrible job in this episode, they are stuck with the unfortunate lack of a decent script.  The last three episodes of the season are coming and this one sets the stage in one of the slower stories of the season.

As you may have noticed, I am not the usual guy who reviews The Walking Dead for this website.  Kyle has decided that his own dislike for the show may be seeping into his reviews a bit too much so he has asked me to step in for (at least) this week.  So, without further ado, lets talk about "Arrow on the Doorpost."

After returning from a supply run, Rick is immediately thrust back into the very real conflict facing him.  For the first time, Rick is able to meet the man known as the Governor face-to-face.  With this encounter Rick is able to learn what everyone else has who has crossed his path: The Governor has a will of his own and he will not be moved.  Back at the prison, Merle gets the itch to go and kill the Governor while he is out in the open, much to the chagrin of everyone there.

It is very hard for a television show to come back the next week after a great episode.  While in terms of shooting schedule it may not be a huge deal, the audience subconsciously expects the next episode to at least live up to the one before it.  Unfortunately, it would seem last week's episode was a bit too good, leaving an impossible void for this one to fill.  The writers for this episode did also not get a lot of help in that they were tasked with setting up the explosive final three episodes of the season.  In other words, they could not let too much happen this week.

This is an episode that could have been just as amazing as last week.  We have been waiting for the Governor and Rick to face off for some time now.  The rivalry between the two of them is something which has a lot of potential and even more to draw from in the source material.  Both Andrew Lincoln and David Morissey can be great actors when they want to be, so this could have been a very intense meeting.  Unfortunately, there was not tension so much as stalling.  Neither side in this debate really had any intentions of giving in (although Rick certainly came in hoping for more negotiations) and it made for more of an awkward stare down than a battle between worthy foes.  

On the outside of the conversation driving this episode, it was interesting to see some of the Woodbury and Prison crowd get together.  Like most soldiers in war, neither side really seemed to want to kill the other, but both knew deep down that it will most likely come to that.  Hershel most definitely had the best moments of any of these scenes.  The moment where Milton wanted to examine Hershel's stump was more awkward than funny, but it was rescued by what came next.  Andrea is a character almost no Walking Dead fan likes so it was nice to see Hershel actually tell Andrew up front that she must choose a side.  This conversation was one that needed to happen two weeks ago, but at least it eventually did happen.

Speaking of conversations that were a long time coming, the only really great scene at the prison this week was between Merle and Michonne.  There was more tension between the two of them than in any of the scenes with Rick and the Governor.  I like that Michonne has started to break out of her shell and has become comfortable enough with the prison group to realize what is best for the whole is better than what is best for the individual.  Two episodes ago I think Michonne would have been more likely to take Merle up on his offer.

When Rick and the Governor return to their separate camps, it was nice to see a side-by-side comparison of sorts of their leadership styles.  It is a good thing that last week's episode happened, otherwise Rick's conflicted emotions about handing Michonne over to the Governor would have made no sense.  

Overall this was a pretty okay episode.  I would not say it was bad by any means, but it was nowhere near as great as the one before.  It would seem the main reason for this issue was the writing.  This episode did little else beyond setting the stage for a future conflict and I have to say, it's a little frustrating.  We know the Prison versus Woodbury is something that was going to happen eventually, both sides had been preparing for all out war for several episodes.  The fact that nothing about this episode changed that really makes me questions the necessity of the entire thing.  While I was certainly entertained, I could not help but feel that perhaps The Walking Dead should consider lowering its number of episodes per season.  Far too many episodes wasted like this one and not enough good ones that can develop the plot while also foreshadowing events to come.
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  1. Anything not involving Rick or the Governor, I found snooze-worthy, but they had a nice little back and forth of acting that I dug. I really wish a zombie would chomp down on Maggie, Glenn, and her sister (whose name I still can't remember).

  2. I just love how Maggie's sister (whose name I also cannot remember) shot a gun in the air to quiet everyone down and the baby didn't start crying.


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