So far Season 3 continues to be a vast improvement over Season 2. This week's installment had the faint scent of "filler episode" about it, but it was still worth watching. Things are definitely coming to a head for next week's mid-season finale.
• OK, Michonne, what the hell? You take the baby formula to the prison (with a bum leg yet), but once there you won't talk and when they try to help you, you turn into some kind of glowering wild animal.
I get that the writers are trying to show that she's a loner and a mystery and the ultimate badass, but we get it already! It's time she started speaking in complete sentences. We don't know any more about her seven episodes in than we did when she appeared at the season finale last year.
She's a great character, but they can only drag out the "mysterious stranger" thing for so long before it becomes tedious, if it hasn't already. Would it kill her to pick up little Ass-Kicker and coo at her a bit?
• After watching six seasons of LOST in which plot lines that could have been resolved in three episodes dragged on for twenty, I'm glad that things on The Walking Dead are moving along at a brisk pace. But I felt things moved a little too briskly this week. Rick sees a mysterious woman outside the prison who's apparently invisible to walkers and is carrying baby formula. She tells them she saw Glenn and Maggie get taken to Woodbury (but conveniently leaves out the part about a one-handed redneck taking them). In the space of one minute he apparently decides she's telling the truth and isn't part of a trap to lure them to the town. Then in the space of another minute Michonne goes from surly psycho to helpful neighbor, and for some ungodly reason decides to accompany the Team back to the very place from which she just escaped. It all felt a little rushed. It would have been nice if they could have spent one episode showing Michonne getting to know Team Rick and coming to trust them.
• Rick finally confronts the Walker In The Room and tells Carl he's sorry he had to shoot Lori in the head. It was a nicely written and acted scene, especially when Carl asked if Rick remembered his third grade teacher. It was obvious that Rick had no idea who the hell he was talking about, but he covered it well.
• Nice to see Carol back among the Team, but I kind of wish that amidst all the celebration someone would have asked, "Where have you been for the past week?" And I really wish there'd been a scene in which she looked out the window at the prison cemetery and said, "Who the hell did you guys bury in MY grave?"
• I thought Axel said he wanted to help? I guess they decided he could help by staying behind. Let's hope the Woodburyians don't attack the prison, because there's not much of a team left there to defend it. Let's see, you've got a ten year old psychopath with a gun, a one-legged sexagenarian vet, a Jamie Lee Curtis lookalike, a teenage girl, a week old infant and a twitchy convict. They oughta be able to hold off an attack for a ten or fifteen minutes, no problem!
• I was really not looking forward to this episode. I was sure that either Glen or Maggie weren't going to make it out of their torture sessions alive (or whole).
• It's a good thing Glenn doesn't have any arm hair. I do, and I can only imagine how painful it would be to have it ripped out by duct tape. If I'd have been in his place, I'd have spilled my guts about the prison as soon as I saw Merle coming toward my arms with a roll of tape.
• The Woodbury story arc played out quite differently in the comic and was so dark and grim that it was honestly hard to read. I'm glad that the TV show has strayed a bit from the comic blueprint. Actually I don't think they could film it verbatim, even on cable.
If you haven't read the comic and are curious as to what happened, highlight the inviso-text below. Be warned though-- it's rough stuff. There may also be spoilers there.
Highlight here: Rick and the others are holed up in the prison and see a news helicopter crash nearby. Rick, Glen and Michonne head out to look for survivors. Instead they find the town of Woodbury, ruled by the Governor. Intially friendly, the Governor turns on them and demands to know where they've been staying. When they refuse to tell him, he tortures each of the group. He chops off Rick's right hand, permanently maiming him. He psychologically tortures Glen, and then repeatedly rapes Michonne. After a while Rick and Glen manage to escape (but are secretly tracked in order to learn where they're staying). Michonne stays behind, sneaks into the Governor's apartment and has her revenge on him. She cuts off his right arm, pulls out his fingernails, removes one of his eyes, and it's implied she slices off his penis. The Governor eventually recovers and leads an assault against the prison. In the battle Lori and her newborn baby die (among others) before the Governor is ultimately killed.
• Michael Rooker (Merle) continues to demonstrate why he's the best there is at playing psychos. If I ever meet him at a horror convention I think I'd be a little scared of him.
• The Governor revealed his reprehensible side this week (well, I guess technically he's been reprehensible before, but he really cranked it up a notch or twelve in this episode) by threatening to rape Maggie. Maggie's defiant statement of "Do what you're gonna do. Go to hell" was chilling, and may have even made the Governor shrivel up a little, if you know what I mean.
• Glenn's dispatching of the walker in the room, while duct-taped to a chair, was nothing short of awesome.
• I've been wondering why, during the Woodbury gang's constant patrols, they never managed to find the nearby prison. We now know that they are aware of it, but passed it by because it was overrun with walkers and they thought it would be too dangerous to clean out. Good job by the writers!
• Poor Crazy Cabin Dude! He was just taking a nap in the middle of the day and ended up getting stabbed and thrown out his front door to a group of walkers. I'm kind of wondering why Merle and his patrols never found him before? I guess it's a big forest.
• The whole "Milton Experiments On Mr. Coleman" scene could have been edited out of the episode with no damage whatsoever. We already know walkers don't retain any consciousness or memory. The audience knows it, all of Rick's people know it, so the entire lengthy sequence existed only to inform Milton. Bad form, writers! Don't waste time showing the audience things they already know!
They could have used all that time to give us more interaction between Rick and Michonne and explain why they abruptly decided to trust each other.
• There are apparently a lot of disgruntled fans out there who are upset that the only character who's shown any appreciable hair and beard growth since the series started is Herschel. So let me see if I understand... you have no problem accepting a world in which the dead reanimate and walk the earth. But people whose hair doesn't grow totally breaks down your suspension of disbelief. Got it.
Next week, the mid-season finale! There will be blood!