The Boob Tube Review: The Walking Dead Reunites Old Friends by Alex Snider

Following last week's action-packed episode, I was expecting this week to be nothing more than a placeholder while we wait for the final battle; sort of like treading water between laps. I was pleasantly surprised that while there was zero action the episode hummed along, adding to the story and keeping a steady pace. There was none of the infuriating, plodding conflict that has defined most of the series. Each scene was interesting and relevant to the plot, and the interactions (especially at the prison) inspired emotions beyond frustration. The whole hour was a glimpse into how the show should be.

Andrea reuniting with her friends was the strongest part of the episode. Each reaction was genuine and for once Rick's distrust felt on the mark. At this point Andrea has been separated for longer than she was ever with them and there was no way for Rick to know where her loyalties lay. The Governor has already shown his willingness to fight dirty so sending a sleeper agent doesn't seem out the realm of possibility. Rick has never been trusting of any outsiders but that anxiety combined with the possibility that Andrea was a spy juxtaposed against their friendship was complex territory that the show rarely treads.

Andrea has been one of the limpest characters this season, blinded by puppy love and confusing optimism/naivety. In reuniting with her friends she broke away from some of that characterization and began showing signs that the Andrea we knew last season (post-gun wielding Andrea) still exists. She showed strength, a mind of her own, loyalty, compassion and nerves. Her scene with Carol and baby Judith was touching and gave the episode an understated rawness that all emotional scenes have thus far lacked (seeing a half-dead Lori tell her son she's proud of him was emotional but not exactly understated).

Her confrontation with Michonne also felt real although it is the first time their friendship has had any sort of intensity. Michonne's repeated accusation of abandonment has never quite rung true given the circumstances. You know what would count as choosing a warm bed over a friend? If my roommate was locked out of our apartment in the middle of the night and I flat out refused to get out of bed to go let her in. That would be an asshole move; Andrea choose that instead of wandering in the zombie-infested woods forever, she wanted security (and a boyfriend who can wear the hell out of a hunting vest). It's probably that Andrea and Michonne's friendship was severely underwritten that has left any 'betrayal' to feel like the equivalence to not saying hi to the cashier at Popeye's when you see him walking down the street – mildly rude. Maybe if the Governor had been more manipulative of breaking their friendship in the first place, or if Michonne had been given more than a gut instinct to go on the break down of their friendship would be understandable. But whether it's the unconvincing friendship or muddled motivations, there is something missing that makes the tension real. I hope the show gives their relationship more depth and delves a little into what they went through between the farm and Woodbury.

The lead up has left me pretty excited for the Woodbury vs prison showdown. Although I am not nearly convinced that Woodbury poses any sort of threat both because the prison people the show's protagonists, and because the Woodbury 'army' is only 35 strong and sickly. Sure they have unlimited ammo (HOW?) but what does that matter when there is no target practice? I once unlocked unlimited ammo playing Resident Evil but that didn't stop me from being killed immediately. The Woodburians are too soft to be taken seriously. Sure you have the cypher Martinez but then there's lil' asthmatic Billy Noah. They really need to start a non-zombie world problems hashtag. Carl had a showdown with his mother's dialated cervix, watched as she was cut open and saw her guts spilt only to have to shoot her in the head immediately after but Noah can't run 10 feet without wheezing. It's the damn apocalypse, son! It reminded me a lot of Buster Bluth trying to get out of army by describing his lobster-tail shaped Charlie Browns (but without the shell). That sort of defect might've worked during Desert Storm but desperate times, yo.
"I've never opened my eyes underwater"
At least they're not going to take Mrs MacLeod and make her fight. The Governor will find some use for her, though. Maybe there will be some sort of A League of Their Own but for zombie cage fighting?  Thank you for your service, Mrs MacLeod.
All the Way Mae
Other thoughts:

The show really needs to start differentiating between the walkers and the residents of Woodbury. The two major defining features of zombies are their blood thirst and their pretty slick ambling skills – which sums up the Woodbury people perfectly.

I loved it when Milton went walker-baiting with Andrea and immediately flipped out when the walker was six feet away. I don't understand how all these people are so inept when it comes to the zombies. Where did the Governor find such a green group of survivors? Did they already live in Woodbury and the moment armageddon hit, they threw up a couple barricades? Are the majority of them even aware of the apocalypse? And where does Noah get his asthma meds?
Actually doesn't even seem fair
My absolute favourite part of the episode was when Andrea got to the prison and asked about Lori and Shane and then Carol snootily inform her that T-Dog also died. God, Andrea. How dare she forget about beloved T-Dog, prince among men! What a stupid, inconsiderate asshole she is. RIP T-Dog.

It's unclear where the writers are going with Merle. One scene he's rapping about the bible with Hershel, the next he's badgering Michonne about grudge holding. Carol, who isn't new to the abuse game, doesn't trust him and since Carol is officially the best character on the show I'm gonna follow her lead.
"Tis' but a scratch." "A scratch? Your arm's off!" "No it isn't."

The moment between Carl and Rick was another great scene. There was a risk of Carl becoming a cartoonish boy Rambo but since Lori's death he has softened considerably. His suggestion to his father was at the same time wise and sweet; he needs his dad.

My biggest pet peeve (aside from people who make a damn scene when they see dogs tied up outside coffee shops and grocery stores – you know the ones, they wonder out loud about where the owner is then furiously look inside to try and figure out which person in line is capable of such a monstrous act of ABANDONING THEIR PET FOR THREE MINUTES. Ugh just the fucking worst) is when writers have characters withhold information for no reason. Why didn't anyone tell Andrea about the sexual degradation he subjected Maggie to? About the vicious beating to which Glenn was subjected? Refusing to give Andrea the entire story when she wound up siding against the Governor is especially pointless.

I did not see Tyrese, Sasha, Ben and Allen joining forces with Woodbury. Given that Tyrese and Sasha seem like good people I do not see this union lasting long but am looking forward to how that's gonna go down.

My roommate pointed out that Tyrese/Cutty/Chad L. Coleman always looks like he's looking at a ghost. To which I say, he can look at my ghost anytime. If you know what I mean. I mean sexually.
So glad that the whole Michonne and Rick drama seems to be gone. And so, so glad to not have been privy to the hours of debate that lead to her being allowed to stay.

Curious as to why Andrea was stuck driving such a rust bucket; couldn't she just take one of the shiny new Hyundai's off the lot?

My love for Tom Waits and Hold On overshadows my cynical musings of how a corn-pone teenager like Beth would ever be familiar with Big in Japan. Can't hear that song without feeling feelings.

Also, I want to know more about this guy:

Previous The Walking Dead recap: The Walking Dead Finally Has a Big Bad

Alex Snider would never choose a warm bed over a friend unless it was the zombie apocalypse, then it would depend on the friend. Her website is What Fresh Hell is This and her Twitter handle is @what_freshhell. 


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