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‘The Walking Dead’ Mid-Season Finale Review: Smokey Invasions, Touching Reunions, And Zombie Head Aquarium Brawls!

On Sunday, the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead premiered where a lot happened. We were given more questions than answers, though that isn’t too surprising seeing as the writers want to keep us hooked so we all tune in when the series returns in February. What is surprising is how many smoke grenades Rick’s group brought with them to their little invasion of Woodbury. Between the flashes of gunfire and thick haze, I thought I was at some sort of post-apocalyptic rave. Speaking of which, can we please dedicate an episode to a giant party where the citizens of Woodbury drop their guns and their inhibitions and get freaky? I’m picturing a pulsating mass of writing, sweaty bodies — think Matrix: Reloaded, only with more sex. They’ve been through a lot, I think they deserve it.

Creepy TWD fantasies aside, this episode was pretty great. I promise the majority of my review isn’t as gross as the above paragraph, but what I can’t promise is there won’t be any spoilers. Actually, I can promise there will be spoilers, and lots of ’em. Now let’s dig in.

Before we get into the real meat of this review-cap (that’s my new term for a review-recap, and yes you have my permission to use it), I’d like to get something out of the way first: what the fuck is up with this show introducing a new black guy in the same episode the show’s only other black guy gets killed off? This has happened twice — the first time T-Dog (the wholly underappreciated silent backbone to Rick’s group) was replaced by Oscar, the prison inmate. Then, Oscar is killed off in the same episode they introduce Tyreese, a fan-favorite from the comic. Does this show have a one black guy per episode limit? Do they keep hitting that ceiling, forcing the writers to kill the show’s only black guy to make room for the new guy? I’d genuinely like to know what’s going on there.

Speaking of Tyreese, I’ve never read the comics but I have friends who have, and apparently he’s awesome. I have to say that of the few scenes he had in this episode, he may very well end up being my favorite character in the series.

For starters, when one of his crew is bitten, instead of ordering her immediate execution, he decides to let her live so her husband and son can have a proper goodbye. That’s the most kindness we’ve seen in some time, but it doesn’t end there. When his group makes it to the prison, Rick’s son Carl the Bite-Sized Badass hears their screams and saves the day. He then leads them to safety and immediately locks them in. That’s a smart kid. When a member of Tyreese’s group freaks out at Carl, who stands there absorbing her anger like the little psycho he’s destined to grow up to be, Tyreese defuses the situation.

Tyreese is amazing and I really, really hope a new black guy isn’t introduced any time soon out of a fear of what the writers will do to him if that happens. I’m pretty sure he’ll stay for a while, but if this series has taught us anything it’s that no one is safe.

Back at Woodbury, the newly reunited Glen and Maggie are recovering from a beat-down and a near-raping. Glen, who really came into his own in the previous episode continues to impress me by MacGuyvering a shiv out of the arm of the zombie he killed in the last episode. I was a little worried he’d get some zombie blood in one of his many Merle-induced cuts, but that line of thinking is probably too realistic.

When Merle and his boys come to take the duo to the screaming pits — yeah, I don’t know what that is either, but I’d really like to know now — Maggie buries her shiv into a guy’s neck and almost saves Glen from Merle. Unfortunately, back-up arrives, ruining Maggie’s chances of putting a bullet between Merle’s widely spaced eyes.

Just outside Woodbury, Rick’s group, led by Michonne, are about to make their move. Thankfully, they brought no less than a thousand smoke grenades to confuse Merle and his boys before they can take Glen and Maggie to the screaming pits. A lot of questions were brought up in this episode, but I think the one that’s bothering me the most is just what the hell is a screaming pit? It sounds so delightfully evil, I must know what it is. Anyone know?

Anyway, things at the prison sure are getting creepy, huh? Axel, who we really haven’t had the opportunity to get to know yet is hitting on Herschel’s 17 year-old daughter. At this point I think I know why he went to prison, but it’s not until Carol takes him away to tell him her age when my theory gets confirmed.

When someone tells you you’ve been hitting on a minor and your reaction is “interesting…” you are officially nasty. I gave Axel the benefit of the doubt, I thought perhaps he forgot to pay his taxes, or something harmless like that, but not anymore. Carl has my full permission to lock that creepy bastard in with Tyreese and his group.

When we return to Woodbury, my favorite scene ever happens. After Michonne led Rick and his group into Woodbury, she slipped away so she could wait for the Gov when he returned to his home. Before that exciting reunion can happen, Michonne hears a noise coming from the Gov’s child bedroom and zombie head aquarium room, so she walks in to investigate.

This was a frightening scene. I mean, I know Michonne can handle herself, but she also didn’t know what was going on with the little girl who had a bag around her head. Clearly, she thinks it could be a living girl (we know otherwise) when she starts talking all sweet to it, so when she removes the chain that keeps the zombified girl out of biting distance, I’m freaking out. Just as she removes the bag and see what the girl really is, the Gov finally drops by (that’s some incredible timing, by the way) and he turns full human. His guard, his gun, his creepy semi-sociopath persona, all dropped — and it’s immediately apparent that if this guy has a weakness, it’s his zombie daughter.

Naturally, Michonne realizes this too, so she stabs her in the back of the head.

What. Are you kidding me? First off, what was the reasoning behind that? Killing the Gov’s daughter in front of him as he begged her not to was just as dark as anything he’s done, and the Gov has done some bad things. It didn’t really accomplish much outside of launching a full-on brawl between the two.

This was the favorite scene I was talking about — I love it. I might have played this scene five times, just to really soak it in. Seeing these two go at it, punching, strangling, and kicking at each other for a few minutes was immensely fun to watch. I especially enjoyed watching as they tried to push the other into one of the still very active zombie heads. Unfortunately for the Governor, Michonne has a fondness for jabbing sharp objects into tender flesh — something he learns the hard way when he takes a shard of glass to the eye.

Just as Michonne is about to deal the killing blow, fucking Andrea enters the room, gun held high (in another example of impeccable timing – I felt like I was watching a sitcom, with each actor entering the room right on cue) to do what she does best and ruin all my fun. The two have a brief stare-down before Michonne leaves to reunite with Rick’s group, leaving me with an even stronger hatred for Andrea.

If you didn’t think the Gov was evil before, I can guarantee Cyclops Governor is going to go balls-out crazy in his lust for revenge when the show returns next year. His daughter, which seems to be the only thing that brings out his more relatable, human side, is gone. This guy is pissed, and that’s more obvious than ever after his stirring speech to the (remaining) citizens of Woodbury, where he drops the word “terrorist” a lot and caps things off by throwing all the blame at Merle.

Apparently, the Gov isn’t terribly happy about Merle lying to him about killing Michonne, and this looks like his way of dishing out a little payback for that little fib.

Then, just as you’re wondering if Daryl and Merle are going to be pit against each other in a fight to the death, the episode ends in true TWD fashion — with a cliffhanger ending. We won’t know what happens next until the series return in February, and that makes me sad. The only thing that could possibly cheer me up is comments from you telling me what you thought of this episode. Please?

Have a question? Feel free to ever-so-gently toss Adam an email, or follow him on Twitter and Bloody Disgusting.



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