Time for talk is over on The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead - 315

The second half of ‘The Walking Dead’s’ season has been building up to the inevitable war between the Prison and Woodbury, and it’s about time. Even the walkers seem to be aging waiting around for something to actually happen.

 

Rick and the prison gang are on the brink of war with the Governor and the army from Woodbury. We know this because the characters have been talking about it for 7 episodes. So winter is coming to the prison and just like on Game of Thrones, they’ve been talking about it incessantly without delivering the goods. Although, if the final image of last season’s finale of Game of Thrones is any indication, we’ll be watching both winter and war this Sunday night (let’s hope).

Unfortunately, this inevitable (and unnecessary) war has taken some of the steam out of this half of the season, because we know the war is coming, therefore, we know that the main players (Rick and the Governor) will live long enough to engage in that final battle. It’s a little like watching a prequel – I wonder if Anakin and Obi Won are going to survive the poison gas? Umm, yes, because they’re both alive in Episode IV. There’s no real tension watching life and death scenes involving those characters

If the season wasn’t building to the upcoming war, it could’ve been possible that the Governor would’ve died in that building
Now that’s not to say that The Walking Dead hasn’t had its fair share of tension over the course of the season. The Governor hunting Andrea was a tense filled sequence starting with the North by Northwest-esque chase through the open field all the way to the abandoned building filled with walkers. As the Governor casually walked through that building, dragging a shovel and whistling a spine-chilling tune as he hunted Andrea, I thought this could be her final episode. The episode was centered on her character, so story-wise it made sense that this could be how her life ended, especially given the fact Andrea had the means and opportunity to take out the Governor a few episodes earlier while he slept. But she turned the tables on the Governor and escaped … momentarily. If the season wasn’t building to the upcoming war, it could’ve been possible that the Governor would’ve died in that building, given the fact that he was alone without the strength of the army he’s been building. But of course that would be too easy, and he popped up like Jason Voorhees seconds before Andrea could find sanctuary at the prison. It is amazing how effective the Governor is at tracking his prey given the fact that he has no depth perception. All Andrea really had to do was stay to his right.

So how do you draw out an inevitable war for 7 episodes? Criss-cross storytelling. The past few episodes have isolated focus on one of the two camps: the prison or Woodbury. These episodes were good at establishing characters and setting up themes, and were definitely more interesting to watch than the similar styled expositional episodes from last season on the farm. We had Rick, Carl and Michonne’s mission to find supplies and guns which reunited Rick with Morgan, the man who saved Rick’s life in the pilot episode. The episode established Michonne as a legitimate member of the prison group (making the Governor’s offer even more difficult), but it also foreshadowed Rick’s possible fate if anything were to happen to Carl. Morgan’s grief and isolation after his son’s death has pushed him to the brink of insanity. Rick has already showed similar signs after seeing pregnant and/or angel Lori all over the prison. He has been able to somewhat control his reaction to his visions, but one more traumatic loss for Rick could push him over the edge, like Morgan.

Not since Lois Lane has someone been so inexplicably blind to a person’s true identity
After the “negotiation” episode between Rick and the Governor, the next episode narrows focus back to Woodbury and follows Andrea’s realization that the Governor is a monster. Not since Lois Lane has someone been so inexplicably blind to a person’s true identity. He had aquariums filled with zombie heads! But it was the sadistic dentist chair that finally clued Andrea in … a little too late. This past week’s episode switched back to the prison, focusing on Merle’s redemption (of sorts). I didn’t feel as strongly about Merle’s transformation as some, but I agree that regardless of Merle’s final actions, he stayed true to his ass-like nature throughout the run of the series, which I appreciated given the fact that he’s trying to survive a zombie apocalypse, not make new friends. I did feel though that Merle was trying to redeem himself in the eyes of his brother for abandoning him when they were younger, therefore subjecting Daryl to further abuse from their father. He went on that suicide mission in the hopes of taking out the Governor, ending the war and protecting his brother. But we knew that the Governor wasn’t going to die in the penultimate episode of the season, especially by Merle’s hand (sorry kid who stood up at the wrong time taking the bullet meant for One-Eyed Phillie).

This ping-ponging back and forth between the two sides helped mask the fact that everyone has been waiting for the season finale for the real war to begin. Unlike the other seasons, this season featured a true antagonist in the Governor where the past seasons have just showed the group striving for certain goals: get to the CDC and finding Sophia. Introducing a “big bad” means that a major confrontation will have to occur. And Rick’s realization that his actions have been just as deplorable as the Governor’s and that his group will now function as a democracy, not a dictatorship, will lead to a true clash of good versus evil. While I know that Rick and the Governor will survive until the final battle, I am fearful for Glenn and Maggie during the season finale, given his incredibly romantic marriage proposal (“here’s a ring I ripped off of a dead walker, honey”). Anytime two characters profess their love and commitment to one another (or silently hand a blood stained ring to a woman and wait for her to respond) while standing in the eye of a major storm, it doesn’t end well for one of them.

Despite my slight annoyance that the War of Woodbury has been drawn out over the past 7 episodes, this had been a great season of The Walking Dead. The actors (Norman Reedus, Michael Rooker, David Morrissey) have been phenomenal in their performances. I really felt the pain and guilt Daryl suffered when he discovered his brother’s fate. I hope that the narrow focused episodes this season means that more money and resources were available to make the season finale (and the war) worth the wait. I am looking forward to finding out who will be left standing after the dust settles.

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Photo Credit: AMC

2 Comments on “Time for talk is over on The Walking Dead

  1. Well, according to Andrew Lincoln, 27 people die in the finale. I’m sure most of them will be Woodberrians (farewell Milton), but I don’t have much hope that Carol is long for this world considering the actress playing her has never been featured in the opening credit sequence.

  2. This season was about 5 episodes too long. It’s just been dragging on for a while and they could’ve fit the story in less episodes.

    I am hoping beyond hope the governor dies this season because I’m getting really sick of the “amazing on the outside psycho in the inside” storyline and I don’t think I can stomach it going for another season.

    I was watching the Following and when the only african american character died shortly into the series after barely any scenes I went to my friend and said, “omg, he got walking deaded!” I got this season to thank for that too!