Time for talk is over on The Walking Dead
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
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.
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.