We’ve spent plenty of time covering the consistently fantastic third season of ‘The Walking Dead’, but we haven’t really dug too deeply into it. That’s what I want to do right now. I want to open up that zombie’s rib cage and dig my hands real deep into its gut. I want to probe around, figure out what makes it tick, then I’ll take out the organs one at a time, but be careful not to touch the edges! If you touch the edges the buzzer goes off and you lose, and in a zombie apocalypse, losing is dying. Today we’re going to take a look at “When the Dead Come Knocking” which premiered last Sunday. It was a doozie, especially if you’re a fan of Glenn and Maggie.
This isn’t really a traditional review, with all that score nonsense. Think of this as a recap — a safe place where fans of the television series (as well as a few trolls who will undoubtedly shamble in from their parents’ basements to stir things up) can gather around and talk about this lovely show. Now prepare yourself, because we’re about to go so deep that you’re pretty much guaranteed to get so claustrophobic you’ll ask to leave, but guess what? No one leaves this ride, oh no sir. Just ride it out. I promise it’ll be worth it, and after it’s over, you can join in on the discussion.
You might be asking aloud, “Dearest Adam, why are you only now starting to review/recap The Walking Dead when we’re nearing the mid-season finale?” to which I’ll reply, because I’ve been playing far too many video games. The unhealthy amount of gaming that has taken place in the Dodd household over the last two months has left me unable to do anything but get my sweet, sweet game on while I watch as my friends replace me and my family wonder where I went off to.
If you’ve been keeping up, this season of The Walking Dead, or TWD, as the hip kids call it, hasn’t been moving at the glacier pace the previous season did. I loved season two, but there’s no denying that it often found itself balancing on that fine line between being a gripping, violent post-apocalyptic TV show and an endurance test. This season is considerably better paced — the writing is tighter, the characters more thoughtfully constructed (except Andrea, but more on that later), and the action is more deliciously violent than ever.
The last episode left off with Michonne meeting up with Rick and Friends (side note: that would be a fantastic name for a Justice League style TWD spin-off series) The series’ resident katana-wielding badass does what she does best: brood deeply while emitting an intimidating aura of don’t fuck with me, I know how to use a katana. Unfortunately, Merle shot her in the leg during their last encounter, forcing her to walk gimp-legged and covered in zombie giblets to Rick’s secret prison hideout.
Rick’s gone through some shit over the last few episodes — or rather, the entire series — so he’s understandably not quite as willing to help an armed stranger. Thankfully, his son Carl, who has become an alarmingly good shot this season, clears out a few walkers before they can get to making a nearly unconscious Michonne their lunch after her smelly zombie giblet shield wears off.
Too bad Michonne didn’t come a couple episodes earlier, when Rick might’ve been a little more welcoming, because when they bring her into the prison after she passes out, she refuses to speak. Instead of being patient or making friends with her, Rick takes the bad cop approach and grabs her wounded leg. Ouch.
Just before Michonne drops word on Glenn The Badass (more on that later) and Maggie The Uncomfortable (again, be patient), Daryl, the Crossbowman Extraordinaire, comes to the rescue with some good news: Carol is alive. There’s a short and deeply touching scene where Carol sees Rick’s new daughter Judith but no Lori (quick recap: she died giving birth to her earlier in the season, then she stayed dead after her son Carl shot her in the head) where Carol realizes Lori’s dead. As soon as she recognizes this, you can see Rick’s weary crafted emotional wall shatter. It’s amazing.
Michonne sees this, her heart grows three sizes larger, and she drops word on Glenn and Maggie’s whereabouts. She doesn’t mention who took them — that would be Daryl’s asshole and permanently left-handed brother Merle, who took them to Woodbury.
Also, and fucking finally, Rick has a real talk with his son about that whole killing his mom thing. I’ve been waiting for this to happen, so I’m glad it finally did.
Back in Woodbury, Merle is interrogating Glenn. Well, not so much interrogating him as he is beating the ever living hell out of the poor guy in an attempt to find out where his brother Daryl is. This is where we realize just how intensely badass Glenn has become over the last two seasons. He can take a beating, and when Merle tosses a zombie into the room where he’s been taped to a chair, Glenn goes full Rambo on that unsuspecting walker. There’s a very brief moment after Glenn’s dispatched the walker where he lets loose this brutal howl of anger and triumph, the latter of which is short-lived when he realizes his situation is no less dire.
Meanwhile, Andrea and the wholly uninteresting scientist Milton are trying to figure out if the undead retain their memories after they convert. Well, Milton is wondering that, but Andrea, having seen her sister convert not two feet away from her in season one, already knows the answer. It’s a boring scene that doesn’t offer much substance, basically reflecting my thoughts on Andrea right now. She’s banging the governor in every other scene, but we can see that relationship developing further, so that should lead to a pretty great scene in this Sunday’s mid-season finale where Andrea may have to choose which group she stays with.
On their way to saving Glenn and Maggie in Woodbury, Rick’s group get surrounded by a horde of zombies, forcing them to retreat to a cabin in the woods. Once inside, we’re introduced to the cabin’s owner: a man who has no fucking clue what’s going on. I feel sorry for this guy. First, he’s awakened by a bunch of people breaking into his house, then he’s stabbed in the back by Michonne, before his body is used as a tasty distraction to keep the undead away from the side of the cabin Rick’s group escapes from.
I can’t decide if Glenn’s scenes are my favorites, or Maggie’s. After Merle not-so-subtle interrogation technique fails to get any information from Glenn, the Governor take matters in his own hands. This is one of the most uncomfortable scenes in the series so far, as the Gov makes Maggie take off her top, then bends her over the table as if he’s going to rape her. He stops, but fuck me was that a brutal scene to watch. It’s proof that in this world, zombies aren’t the real threat: humans are.
Also, the Governor is a total dick.
After that, Maggie and Glenn are briefly reunited when Maggie’s brought into the room where they’re holding a bruised and battered Glenn. The Governor only briefly threatens Maggie’s life before he decides it’d be easier to put the gun against Glenn’s head. Maggie immediately tells them their friends are in the prison, almost definitely saving Glenn’s life.
This is something I love about The Walking Dead. This series has proven more than willing to off any of its main characters at any time. T-Dog, Shane, Lori — sometimes in the same episode. It makes me care about the characters more than other shows, where a lead can be killed off, only to be brought back a few episodes later (I’m looking at you, Supernatural),
This was a great episode, and more than that, it built an excellent foundation for this week’s episode, where we’re guaranteed to have lots of gunfire, potentially a few explosions, a tough decision for Andrea, and the inevitability that someone I’ve grown to love will die. What did you think of this episode, and what are you looking forward to in the mid-season finale?