Summary: Rick decides to give Michonne to the Governor. Daryl objects to this. Merle notes that Rick won't have the stomach to do it so he acts on his own and kidnaps Michonne. Daryl goes after them. Eventually, Merle lets Michonne go when she suggests turning back. Merle continues on and lays a trap for the Governor. He tries to kill the Governor but fails, so the Governor kills him. Daryl cries when he finds Merle as a walker. At the prison, Glenn proposes to Maggie and Rick decides to put democracy back into the group.
The Good: I appreciated the focus on Merle and Michonne in this episode. There was some solid moral conflict explored in this episode and I did appreciate the overall look we got over the group's leadership. Granted, there were some major problems here (see: The Bad), but I appreciate the effort.
Merle had a pretty good episode. Watching the group's friction with Merle is always a blast, and having such an unrepentant prick amongst the group feels so fresh. Furthermore, I like that Glenn's scene with Daryl nicely suggested that Merle's crimes have been too serious to be easily forgiven, and that even if Merle changes, he will still be an outcast in the group. He will always be hated and he can't simply atone for his bad behaviour in the way that Daryl did.
The writers went in the direction of having a fellow outcast be the only person who was able to see Merle's true feelings. It's an age-old story and it works fine for some easy entertainment, though there were some pretty large issues with it (see: The Bad). At the very least we got some decent action sequences with walkers which remain a high point of the series.
The ending action sequence was the best part of the episode. It was tense and exciting and it really felt like there was going to be major consequences for everyone involved. In the end, Merle was given a death fitting for his character and we were given a sad scene as Daryl stumbles upon his brother as a walker.
Glenn proposing to Maggie is a fine side plot. Nothing too interesting, but it works for what it is.
The Bad: Skipping over Rick's decision to give Michonne to the Governor was stupid and it came right out of nowhere. What's worse is that there is no way that Rick could be stupid enough to agree to this. There is no reason for him to trust the Governor, and the fact that nobody is objecting openly against Rick's idiotic decision is even more ridiculous. Honestly, the character of Rick was totally butchered in this episode. Not only does he make a stupid decision, but he then sends Daryl, Merle and Michonne to likely deaths and he doesn't lift a finger to help them. That's so out of character for the man that stormed Woodbury to rescue Glenn and Maggie.
Rick wasn't the only character who was acting inconsistently. Michonne magically became an all-seeing wise woman as she was apparently able to read Merle like a book and perfectly deduce his issues. And to add on, she also magically became one of the most talkative people in the show after so many episodes of silence. I don't even think she spoke this much to Andrea, her friend of many months. It's such a sharp change that only goes to show how poorly written this episode was.
The worst character to be sabotaged was absolutely Merle himself. Merle stood out because he was a complete asshole with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He's the kind of person to loot mattresses to find dope, to torture people without blinking an eye, and to kill allies whenever it suited him. The only person who he ever cared about was Daryl. Yet somehow, Merle is portrayed in this episode as a regretful rogue who feels terribly about all the bad that he has done. Where the hell did this come from? It's at odds with everything we have learned about Merle so far, and it makes his mission to go kill the Governor make little sense. The only person Merle listened to is Daryl, and Daryl wanted Merle to redeem himself, not kill himself. It's so disappointing to see Merle get a "heroic death" following a sudden 180 on his character, and it makes it feel like the Merle in this episode is a completely different person from the Merle we have gotten to know.
This show is constantly failing in the character development department. Once again, a character that finally begins to grow and develop is immediately killed off to surprise the audience. Would it hurt to have some character development for the people that aren't going to die? This show has always been pathetic with its character development, and killing off the people who get the most attention certainly doesn't help the issue.
The Unknown: Will there be a big action sequence in the next episode? How is it going to go down?
Will Daryl make it back to the prison? Or will he attack the Governor in a rage?
Best Moment: Merle gunning down the Woodbury men before being subdued and killed.
Character of the Episode: Merle. Even though he was ruined in this episode, he still had all of the best scenes.
Conclusion: This episode provides some fun entertainment and there are some signature TWD action scenes. But when you look under the surface, the characters make little sense and the poor writing hurts what should have been a standout episode.
Summary: Milton tells Andrea about The Governor's offer about Michonne and he shows her The Governor's torture chamber. Andrea escapes Woodbury in the night and The Governor goes after her. Andrea manages to elude him and gets to the prison but The Governor catches her at the last second. Martinez takes Tyreese's group to collect some walkers. Tyreese is horrified and a fight breaks out between him and Allen.
The Good: Milton's little resistance was good and it made sense for his character. His relationship with The Governor is important to him, but Milton certainly doesn't agree with what he is doing. This leads to a half effort resistance from Milton who tries to prevent The Governor's atrocities, though Milton's fatal mistake seems to be that he refuses to do anything about the man himself. Milton is a horrible liar, so it also made sense that The Governor deduced that Milton was working against him.
I liked seeing The Governor easily spit lies out at Tyreese and his group. He is such a good manipulator, and I appreciate that he thought out how to keep Tyreese's loyalty to ensure that he won't be a problem.
The Bad: The main part of this episode was really bad. The whole chase sequence was atrocious and probably the worst piece of television this show has done yet. There was a distinct lack of urgency as Andrea never showed actual fear of the Governor in her body language. This was especially prevalent when Andrea casually walks out of the building when the Governor is seemingly beaten. It's a very dumb scene that hurts the intelligence of Andrea. Andrea's character took a hit too. Andrea is a survivor, yet she doesn't act like one. Here she is clearly just a damsel in distress and she doesn't behave like a survivor. She is constantly ambushed by walkers in stupid ways, and she somehow isn't able to quickly navigate a hostile building to efficiently escape from The Governor. We're talking about someone who survived practically alone for 6 months, and here she is behaving like a total rookie.
The Governor is even worse here. His evil behaviour did nothing to me and felt at odds with the character we have come to know. He taunts Andrea and casually strolls to a building, which for all he knows could be flooded with walkers. Had this show been realistic, The Governor's loud and careless behaviour should have gotten him killed.
The threat of walkers took a massive hit in this episode with loads of stupid scenes. The sudden roadside ambush on Andrea was really poor. It's extremely predictable that a walker would attack with the lingering shot on Andrea's face. Furthermore, how convenient that all of the walkers somehow stayed out of Andrea's sight until the attack started. These stealth walkers make absolutely no sense. Speaking of stealth walkers, what was with the walkers sneaking up on Andrea in the building. Shouldn't they be knocking stuff over left and right? Furthermore there is an atrocious moment where many walkers are standing stupidly in a staircase doing absolutely nothing. What the hell? How are they all there? That's absurdly convenient. What's worse is what comes next. After Andrea blatantly attracts their attention, they don't swarm the door for whatever reason. Hell the door has a broken window on it, so they should still be able to see her! Then it gets worse. Andrea opens the door and somehow none of the walkers try to go after the easy target behind the door and try to kill The Governor instead. The walkers are portrayed so stupidly here. But along with that, they are portrayed as weak. The Governor seriously survived a horde of like 20-30 walkers? Well walkers are just useless aren't they! So to conclude, this episode portrayed the walkers as weak, stupid and not worthy of our main characters' attention. So why should we even view them as a threat?
The plot was as convenient as possible to get The Governor to Andrea. Of course Andrea would just walk casually through a field with no cover when she knows she is being hunted. Some survivor she ended up being. And naturally The Governor somehow found her exact location by just looking around. That's so improbable. And I can't stress how dumb it was that The Governor just sat there and honked his horn at her until she ran away. Just get out of your car and get her you idiot! There should be an extremely slim chance of him finding her again after he loses her. But of course The Governor needs to find exactly where Andrea is hiding, so he does. But what's worst is when The Governor conveniently catches Andrea right outside of the prison in the most generic and uninspired way ever. The Governor is somehow silent as the wind and he closes ground on Andrea absurdly easily.
This episode failed hugely for one main reason. This isn't character drama anymore. The way the episode is directed suggests that this episode is supposed to get its value by leaving us on the edge of our seats. Yet I never felt a singly drop of tension due to the abysmal execution of the episode is just about every department. The writing is awful, the acting is nothing special, the directing boring and the soundtrack sounds like stock music. Nothing about this episode inspires tension so it fails at its primary purpose.
The B-story of this episode is really bad too. Allen and Tyreese's conflict is not good at all. I don't care about these characters at all, so their conflict does nothing for me. Furthermore, neither men are likable in their scenes. Allen is just a prick and we are clearly meant to hate him. But Tyreese? I don't like him either. He is hypocritical, cruel and selfish throughout the episode and it feels so odd to see him placed in the hero role for this story. I don't like him at all, so I don't care for his story whatsoever.
The Unknown: So Michonne did know those walkers. Who were they to her? What did they do that made them deserve their fate?
What will The Governor do with Andrea? How about Milton? Now that the Governor knows he is a traitor, I don't imagine Milton will face zero punishment.
Best Moment: The Governor lying to Tyreese.
Character of the Episode: Milton.
Conclusion: This episode was atrocious and easily the worst of the series thus far. The writing was terrible, the tension non-existent and the actual cinematic aspects were totally bland. This episode did absolutely nothing for me and managed to be way worse than the lame "Arrow on the Doorpost". This season is going downhill, and I seriously hope that the final two episodes can get something worth watching out of this Woodbury storyline.
Summary: Andrea arranges a meeting between Rick and the Governor so they can work things out. They discuss things and subtly threaten each other. Daryl and Martinez interact outside the room. At the prison, Merle wants to show up to kill the Governor bur Glenn refuses to do it. The Governor offers a peace with Rick if he gives him Michonne. Rick says he will think on it and the two parties part. The Governor has no intention of letting Rick survive but pretends all is fine with Andrea. Rick is aware of the Governor's intentions and refuses to give him Michonne.
The Good: The episode opened up nicely. The silent sequence of Rick and Daryl searching around some mystery location was interesting and tense. I was never quite sure what they were looking for and that made me invested in the scene. The Governor walking out of the shadows at the end was nice and his mannerisms were fun.
The interactions between Rick and The Governor were good for the most part. The odd line is really good and I like that they have been allowed to build a more personal rivalry. It helps that David Morrisey and Andrew Lincoln are both excellent in this episode, adding to the chemistry of the scenes. Furthermore, I thought that The Governor's request of Michonne made sense with his character, and even better was him deciding to kill Rick anyways after he gets Michonne. It was consistent with what he has done this season. Rick not buying into The Governor's deal was also a good development and it made sense.
The interactions between Daryl/Martinez/Hershel/Milton were all good fun. They worked as nice little character bonding moments to showcase the four characters. Daryl and Martinez sharing a cigarette as the two main henchmen worked as an emotional scene.
The Bad: The episode is fine on paper but it does nothing for me on screen. The scenes between Rick and The Governor try to be Tarantino-esque but they fail. The issue is that the scenes lack suspense and the whole gun-under-the-table dynamic doesn't work at all. This is because it's blatantly obvious that Rick and The Governor aren't going to die in this scene. They will both survive and the show does nothing to make you think otherwise. The dialogue is usually what really makes these scenes stand out, but it's so ordinary here. There ends up being no drama and very little of actual substance happening. The show is capable of pulling off scenes like this (look at "Nebraska" from season 2), but this wasn't done well enough.
The bigger issue is that there is literally nothing else going on in this episode. As a whole, this episode is useless to the actual story. Nothing is accomplished. The two factions start the episode at war, and then they end it off at war. Nothing changes. The episode is pointless. I'm willing to accept a bottle episode without any plot progression, but it must include the appropriate emotions and character significance to work. A few scenes of characters talking/arguing does not accomplish this.
The slow pacing doesn't help either. This episode drags a lot and there isn't anything of interest that actually gripped me or had me sucked into what I was watching after the opening sequence. Slow pacing isn't always bad, but there must be some emotion that is being examined with this pace. Hell look at "Clear", that episode didn't have plot progression and was also a slower episode, but it was terrific. This one is the total opposite.
I liked that Rick got a new conflict about whether to give up Michonne to survive or not. Unfortunately it leads nowhere and became a complete waste. Instead of seeing Rick grapple with this decision, he jumps to the obvious decision that it's meaningless to do so since the Governor will kill them all anyways. Because of this, it seems pointless to bring up the Michonne conflict if it isn't going to be explored in any way. And that's a shame because it had potential to be an interesting conflict.
Glenn and Maggie having sex was odd. The scene was shot strangely and I was annoyed by them just abandoning their job. If everyone dies because the Woodbury people attack, it's all their fault for deciding to have sex for some reason.
The Unknown: It's obvious that the deal won't go through, but I'll ask the question anyways. Will Rick sacrifice Michonne for his people?
Best Moment: Daryl and Martinez having a smoke was nice.
Character of the Episode: The Governor.
Conclusion: This was poor. It was slow, dull, meaningless and devoid of tension. This was probably the most forgettable episode of the show so far.
Summary: Rick, Carl and Michonne go on a run back to Rick's neighbourhood to find guns. They get to the police station but all the guns are gone. They start looking around and find a man who is surviving there and tries to kill them. They knock him out and Rick realizes it is Morgan. Rick waits for him to wake up while Carl and Michonne go to get a picture of Lori. Carl initially tries to go alone but Michonne offers to help him and they bond. Morgan wakes up and tells Rick what has happened since Rick left. Duane is dead and Morgan has gone crazy. Rick offers to bring Morgan back but Morgan refuses. Rick takes half of Morgan's guns and the group heads back.
The Good: This was easily the best episode the show has done in a while. The main story took the back seat for this episode as we got a character-driven bottle episode which delivered hugely, improving on almost every issue I've had with the show as a whole.
The bookend opening and closing sequences were excellent. The show had really stopped paying attention to the smaller aspects of this world since season 1, so I was delighted to see two patient and lengthy sequences in this episode that did little to nothing to actually forward the story. The world-building bits like the sign for Erin were wonderful and succeeded in immersing me into the setting of a zombie apocalypse once again. The show had focused too much on the drama aspect of the show without enough emphasis on the fantastic world that was created. This episode fixed that. The man with the orange backpack was terrific. It was an outstanding way to show how dark the main characters have become. Having them finally stop only to take his stuff after he died was absolutely perfect, and was a great way to end the episode.
The detail and effort put into this episode was reminiscent of season 1. I already touched upon the world building, and it continued throughout the episode. The set for Rick's neighbourhood was fantastic with lots of detail put into it, making Morgan's camp feel like a real location that nicely conveyed his new crazy personality. The episode also pleasingly had build-up in it. There were several slower scenes that let the impact of the show fully sink in. I would always take scenes of Rick, Michonne and Carl slowly approaching Morgan's camp over the endlessly dull conversations characters have in other episodes. The episode also nails its pacing. The episode is patient at all the right times, with exciting action and powerful character moments coming in at all the right times.
The dual storylines later in the episode were really strong. All of the scenes with Morgan were terrific. Lennie James was even better than he was in "Days Gone Bye", bringing the insanity of Morgan to life in a way that didn't feel forced or unlikely to happen. Morgan's story about what happened since we last saw him was absolutely heartbreaking. The tales of him waiting for a call from Rick really played on our imagination, allowing us to imagine a lonely image of him which aided to the emotions presented in the episode. Worse was how Duane died. It was an absolutely tragic way for Morgan to lose his son and Lennie James acted the scene perfectly, allowing us to understand how the manner of Duane's death led to him losing his mind.
What was better was how the episode paralleled Rick with Morgan. In Morgan, Rick got to see a vision of who he might become if he loses himself. It's an effective way of restoring Rick's humanity and purpose after what has been a really tough season for him. This is a perfect way to get him to start abandoning his grief over Lori's death to really focus on cementing a future for Carl, himself and everyone else at the prison.
Carl and Michonne's side story was surprisingly effective. I had low expectations going in, but it had a surprising amount of emotional resonance. Carl going back to find a picture of Lori felt very real, and was exactly the type of emotional attachment one would feel to a lost loved one. I've usually felt a disconnect with Carl throughout the show, but here he felt real and I could relate with him really well. Chandler Riggs put in a better than usual performance here too which was really refreshing. I thought Michonne had her best episode yet. She got to show some character here in a few scenes and even made me laugh a couple times. Plus she got to act as a human later in the episode as she makes an attempt to relate with Rick by telling him that she also sees dead people. This is so much more development in one episode than she has gotten int he whole show before this.
The Bad: The main concern I have is that the success of this episode doesn't necessarily mean that the show is improving. This episode didn't fix my issues with the season as a whole, rather it avoided them. I get the sense that this episode was a one-off, and when we get back to the main story we will still get the same issues with characterization as before. It's disappointing that an episode this good doesn't really give me hope that the show will get better.
Michonne somehow getting the picture of Lori so quickly was really stupid. Are we really supposed to assume she did so that quickly and stealthily? Some poor editing let that scene down.
Surely Rick wouldn't want Carl to enter Morgan's house on his own. Carl appeared to hardly be paying attention as he walked up the stairs. One step on the wire and he's dead. There's no way that Rick would risk Carl's life like that.
(Partial credits to Ben F. for some of the content in this section)
The Unknown: Will we see Morgan again? Will he ever join up with the prison group?
Did Michonne lose her boyfriend in the apocalypse? What is her story anyways? This episode gave us a really neat clue.
Best Moment: Morgan giving his story of how Duane died. The descriptions were vivid and frightening, while James' performance gave the scene so much weight. It's impossible not to feel for him after that.
Character of the Episode: Morgan.
Conclusion: This was fantastic. "The Walking Dead" took a step back and managed to dish out what I think has to be its best episode since "Days Gone Bye". So much was done correctly here and it made for a complete viewing experience. Even though I'm unsure that this episode signifies a change in the show, it was still damn good.
Summary: The group discusses what to do and end up staying at the prison. Andrea decides to escape Woodbury to speak with her old friends in an attempt for peace. She gets Milton to help her leave. Milton encounters Tyreese's group and brings them into Woodbury. Andrea arrives at the prison and isn't treated the way she was expecting. Her peace offer doesn't work out and she leaves after the group tells her to kill the Governor. She can't bring herself to do it.
The Good: The beginning of the episode had the best scenes which continued Rick's development. Having Hershel finally snap and let Rick know that he put his family in his hands was terrific and provided some much needed emotion from the characters. I also loved seeing Carl tell Rick to step down as leader. It's a great wake-up call for Rick to give him some impetus to get back into form.
The Bad: The Woodbury story is a big failure for me. It's so hard for me to invest in seeing these people arm up and there are absolutely no emotions for me to latch onto to give me something to care about or react to.
Andrea's arc in general suffered badly from this. Out of nowhere, she becomes a pacifist and goes for peace and ends up in this conflicted position. The big issue is that the Governor is clearly an insane liar so it's very unclear why Andrea sticks with him. All she has to do is kill him and take the lead for herself and then there is peace for everyone. She comes off as an idiot for not being able to kill him and her story fails to get sympathy from me.
Her reunion with the prison group disappointed. The scenes are so empty and devoid of any emotion. It feels so awkward and forgettable when it really should have been much more emotional. Both parties are so antagonistic to each other the entire time and it hardly comes off like they are old friends. Rick then oddly gives Andrea a fond farewell which was tonally off from the rest of the scene which suggests to me that this was intended to be a more emotional scene. It completely fails in that regard.
Michonne remains a poor character who I don't care about in the slightest. Her scene with Andrea was very poor and doesn't at all convey that these two used to be friends. Michonne is so awful for her and reveals that she decided to make her an enemy because the Governor had control over her. It's really dumb and makes Michonne seem heartless for just cutting Andrea out and then saying so many horrible things to her here.
Surely Merle should still be imprisoned. Why would anyone trust him?
The Unknown: Will Tyreese's group's knowledge of the prison play a role int he war to come?
Will there be any consequences for Andrea for going to the prison? Will she be able to turn against the Governor int he future?
Best Moment: Hershel snapping was great.
Character of the Episode: Hershel.
Conclusion: This was weak. A lot of the episode lacked emotion and it felt empty and lifeless as a result. A big disappointment.
Summary: Rick walks off into the forest to collect himself and Glenn puts himself in charge. Glenn is angry and wants vengeance. The Governor puts Andrea in charge of Woodbury while he collects himself. He promises not to attack the prison but he leaves with some men on a supply run, which Andrea is suspicious about. Daryl realizes that being with Merle won't be like it was before and he convinces Merle to go back to the prison. The Governor attacks at the prison and a massive gunfight ensues. Axel dies. The Governor breaks down the fences and releases a horde of walkers inside the fences. The Governor leaves with the prison a mess.
The Good: I enjoyed both Woodbury and the prison responding to the open war they are now involved in. Glenn's desire for revenge and open combat made sense and I really liked seeing him cave under the pressure of being the leader now. His relationship with Maggie also got some solid development as they both addressed what happened in Woodbury. The Governor and Andrea's interactions in Woodbury were solid too and I liked the way that the Governor treated Andrea. He let her be in charge but in exchange decided to secretly attack the prison.
Rick's story remains sad and engaging. His decaying mental state after losing Lori is powerful to watch and Andrew Lincoln is very good at conveying Rick's emotions. Rick and Hershel's conversation in the middle of the episode was extremely strong. Hershel is being the voice of reason to Rick, helping him overcome the complex emotions he must be feeling.
Daryl's story was fine. His mini-arc told the good story of him realizing how life with Merle isn't going to be the same as it was before after everything that has changed him. The dialogue between the brothers was strong as usual, and the action sequence was pretty fun.
The climactic battle was even better. The setpiece was very nicely done and it was impressive how many of the characters felt exposed and at risk of death. The Governor's attack was a total surprise and it left me feeling that an important character may be facing some major consequences. While that didn't happen, we still got a very entertaining gunfight that provided a strong climax to the episode.
The Bad: Axel was handled really badly. He finally gets some development here and has some nice interactions with Carol. But then it's all meaningless because he dies. It seems like a waste of a character, and worse yet, now all of the prisoner characters are dead making their storyline almost entirely pointless. The death was surprising, but we need to care about characters before they die so it means something.
Also, the Governor must be one hell of a marksman to make that shot (and without a sniper at that!). It's a shame that after that one shot, every single person failed to shoot accurately. Martinez was the biggest culprit as he missed Rick with so many shots when he was wide open. And then when Rick runs into the open, Martinez just leaves. Why didn't he kill him?
Daryl and Merle's story was extremely generic and it wasn't written particularly well. The whole "daddy lashings" thing felt so forced (how did Merle not know about this before?), and it was a contrived way to get Merle to agree to go back to the prison. Another nitpick, but there is no way in hell that Daryl heard that baby crying from so far away. It was a poor example of sound design.
The Unknown: It appears that the Governor's motive behind the assault was to damage and not kill the prisoners. Perhaps he hopes that the walkers he released in there will kill them all? That would prove to be a good way to explain how the prison group all died. A horde broke the fence and killed them all. But, it seems like Andrea won't buy whatever the Governor tells her. What will that lead to?
Will Rick be back in leadership now? Will he retaliate against the Governor?
Best Moment: The climactic battle was really fun.
Character of the Episode: Glenn.
Conclusion: This ended up being a solid episode. There was good follow-up and a strong climax. Enjoyable television.
Summary: Merle and Daryl begin to fight but when Rick's group arrives to get Daryl, they both escape in the chaos. Merle isn't allowed back at camp so Daryl decides to go with him. Andrea starts taking leadership over the rioting crowds of Woodbury while The Governor isolates himself. Hershel takes a liking to Tyreese's group and they try to convince Hershel to let them stay. Rick returns and Hershel almost convinces him to let Tyreese's group stay. Rick has a vision of Lori and has a breakdown, telling Tyreese's group to leave and they do.
The Good: Merle and Daryl were the strongest part of the episode. I loved seeing the crew interact with Merle after everything he's done and the fact that they refused to let him stay at the prison made sense. I especially loved that Merle didn't resort to begging but rather continued insulting everyone to keep consistent with his character. Rick getting frustrated and knocking him out was a lovely moment.
I also liked Daryl's decision to abandon the group and go with Merle. It's an interesting new development and I would like to see where the story goes for them. The effect that Daryl's departure had an effect on everyone which I really liked to see. His loss was felt and it has changed the dynamic of the group and has severely weakened them.
I thought the conflict with Tyreese's group was pretty good. It was an effective way to highlight the differences between Rick and Hershel and provided the best moment of the episode at the end (see: Best Moment). Tyreese's group came off as good people, and while I'm not yet invested in them, I want to learn more about these characters. I especially liked the details of their backstory with Jerry who had an emergency bunker and the group of 25 who all died when a herd attacked.
The Bad: The opening rescue didn't work and it made last episode's cliffhanger feel completely pointless since it led nowhere. I thought the rescue failed because it wasn't built up and felt stupid. Do we just assume that nobody kept guard in case they came back to Woodbury? That's pretty dumb. Furthermore, the sudden arrival was nowhere near as satisfying as the intensely built up rescue of Glenn and Maggie.
The rest of the episode suffered greatly from the slow pace. I have found that these longer seasons have resulted in too many slow episodes and that plays against the shows strengths. The quality of the show is a far cry from what it was in season 1 and the weak characterization sticks out like a sore thumb in episodes like these where not much really happens. This slow pace is really grating on me now and I want to see the show move at a quicker pace with more focus on drama since that is what made the show so good to begin with.
This episode had too much talking. The worst part is that the talking didn't really accomplish much. A bunch of characters just discussed minor unimportant things that I'm certain won't be important later. The biggest example of this was Glenn and Maggie's conflict which seems to exist solely to give both characters something to do in this episode. Furthermore, the C-stories in this show consist of characters just talking and grieving and doing very little. This show could use some of the side stories that "Lost" had as those side storylines allowed the characters to accomplish something while giving us a better understanding of them. It would be much more interesting than what we have now.
The Woodbury storyline wasn't great either. I thought the riot was really stupid. Why would everyone just decide to leave Woodbury? Surely they would instead want to just have more guards to ensure safety. But instead they inexplicably want to go outside to their deaths. The riots would have made more sense if they happened after a walker killed one of their citizens to show them that Woodbury may not be any safer than the outside.
Michonne still refuses to speak like a normal human. At least she is consistent in being an unrealistic character.
The Unknown: Are there other walkers inside the walls? Maybe it was more than just the one.
Is Andrea taking over leadership now? What will she do? Is she going to try to bring about a peace with our main group? What will become of the Governor? What does he plan to do? What is his current mental state like?
Where will Tyreese's group go now? Perhaps we will see them arrive at Woodbury.
Best Moment: Rick is on the verge of letting Tyreese's group stay at the prison but suddenly ghost Lori appears to him, reminding him of what happens when he trusts other people. This breaks Rick and caused the most emotional scene of the episode as Rick nearly loses his mind to the PTSD that is affecting him.
Character of the Episode: Rick.
Conclusion: Not the best way to resume the show. The episode wasn't particularly bad, but it was slow and didn't accomplish much at all. I'm not as interested in what comes next as I should be.
Summary: A new group of survivors arrives at the prison and Carl helps them but locks them in a cell. At Woodbury, Rick's group infiltrates the camp and locate Glenn and Maggie. They rescue them and try to escape but Oscar is killed in the ensuing chaos. Michonne waits for the Governor and finds Penny while she waits. She kills Penny and fights the Governor, stabbing his eye with a shard of glass. Andrea arrives so Michonne leaves. The Governor is angry at Merle and puts him in a deathmatch with Daryl, who was captured.
The Good: For the most part, this was a tense and exciting mid-season finale that provided a lot of fun. The assault on Woodbury was enjoyable with a number of fun sequences. I liked the use of flashbangs and smoke grenades as a way for Glenn and Maggie to be safely taken away from Merle. The sequence was shot really nicely and was very tense all the way through.
The best parts were everything between Michonne and the Governor. I really liked that Michonne crept into the Governor's chambers and simply sat their waiting. It was pretty cool and was the one badass Michonne moment that I thought worked in terms of her character. The ensuing fight was very gritty and dramatic and was probably the best action drama that I've seen in this show so far. I really liked Michonne's execution of Penny as well. It added some emotion to their scenes as the Governor begged Michonne not to kill her, and it led to that brilliantly gruesome visual of the Governor crying over his dead daughters body with a shard of glass sticking out of his eye.
I thought Daryl's conflict was really good. I liked seeing him grappling with saving Glenn and Maggie and talking to Merle. It was a nice extra layer of tension because we couldn't be sure about what choices Daryl would make that could jeopardize the mission. It seemed certain that something would go wrong with the mission to add some more drama and I had suspected that Daryl would be the cause of this.
Instead, it was Rick who was the cause. The hallucination of Shane was an interesting choice. While I don't currently see its relevance (see: The Unknown), it does open up for some more interesting story for Rick.
The Bad: The big gunfight in the smoke was lame and generic television. I enjoyed the other action scenes because they were creative and tense. Unfortunately, the big gunfight was neither as it was a classic TV gunfight where hundreds of bullets are shot and none seem to hit the mark. Gunfights like these really bother me.
Oscar was the only character who died in the episode and it was incredible how little I cared. Next time, develop the characters instead of just killing them for no reason other than "oh look he died".
Rick's plan was a bit stupid. I was annoyed by him giving Michonne hell for not knowing where Glenn and Michonne were. How was she supposed to know? Furthermore, the decision to split up was beyond stupid. It seemed like an easy way for all of them to get killed.
Even though Michonne had her best scene in this episode, she is still frustrating. Her encounter with Andrea was really bad. The scene was played for emotion but it failed in every way because of how poor Michonne has been as a character. It's frustrating that she doesn't tell Andrea anything to let her know that the Governor is dangerous. Maybe mention the imprisoned Glenn and Maggie, the Governor's head collection or something else to help her understand why the Governor shouldn't be trusted. Instead, Michonne is a terrible friend and leaves Andrea in the hornet's nest.
The cliff-hanger was really weak. It was a classic prisoner swap story which isn't particularly interesting to me. I never liked those stories because it always feels like nothing was accomplished from freeing the initial prisoners. I thought it was a poor cliff-hanger to end of the first half season. Last season had a great climactic moment with the walkers in the barn and Sophia's death signifying the end of season 2A. This season failed to replicate the same sense of closure by its halfway point.
I thought the new survivor group's story was fine, but it feels like a storyline that should have been introduced in the next episode, not this one.
Hershel letting Carl go out to investigate because "his father would do the same" was really awkward. Was Hershel really convinced by that?
The Unknown: Who are the new group of survivors? Can we trust them? Where have they been this whole time?
What is Axel's backstory? He screams sex offender to me.
Best Moment: Michonne and the Governor's fight was brutal and exciting.
Character of the Episode: The Governor.
Conclusion: This was a relatively fun mid-season finale that provided some quality scenes. However, the episode fails to be special due to a number of flaws and a lack of emotional connection to the events.
This half season has been fairly enjoyable so far, but inconsistent. There has been some great episodes and some weaker ones as well. But it is still enjoyable, and I hope that this quality can be maintained for the next 8 episodes.
Summary: Merle tortures Glenn in an attempt to discover where the group is. Rick lets Michonne into the prison and she tells him about Woodbury and that Glenn and Maggie were taken. Rick decides to take a group to Woodbury to get them back. The Governor steps in to aid Merle and Maggie gives up the location of the prison. Andrea oversees an experiment that Milton is conducting about walker conscience. Andrea saves his life and Milton realizes that walkers are just monsters.
The Good: This was a really good episode that built up the mid-season finale in exciting ways with three really good stories.
The torture scenes ended up being tense and exciting. Merle's vicious beatdown on Glenn was violent, but unlike in "Game of Thrones", the scenes were shot with enough restraint so that I won't ever be tempted to turn off the TV watching those scenes. The walker fight with Glenn was really nicely choreographed as well and I especially liked how Glenn was able to adapt to the situation and survive. But, the best scenes in this story came from The Governor. Watching him threaten Maggie with rape was genuinely unsettling and at times frightening. I was horribly unnerved by it all, but also impressed with the way that The Governor was able to get the information he wanted through threats alone without actually doing anything violent. He simply played his mind games on Maggie so she easily cracked when The Governor threatened Glenn's life.
Milton's experiment was really enjoyable. Even though we are well aware that Mr. Coleman won't have any conscience left after he dies, Milton is not. The genius of this scene is how we know exactly what Andrea knows and we end up seeing the entire scene through her eyes. Milton is put in a sympathetic light in this scene because Andrea maturely sympathizes with him instead of shoving her beliefs onto him like so many other characters in this show have done. It's a good way to get us to invest in a new character who is finally getting a bit of a spotlight.
I was really happy to see Rick and Carl discussing Lori's death, albeit briefly. After Rick went into hiding for a while, he never really had a chance to speak with Carl. I'm pleased that the show chose to address this and didn't just leave it. The scene did a nice job of showing how Carl has matured following Lori's death with the way that he swallowed his emotions. His character development is pretty unsettling, but it's fitting for the world we have been shown. I also liked that Carl got to name the new baby Judith. It's good to have a name for her now, and I think the idea of Carl naming her after a teacher he had in the old world is a good metaphor for how Judith represents the hope in the group.
While the scene at the cabin was essentially filler, I really liked it. I was intrigued by the man living there (see: The Unknown) and I thought he presented a logical threat to demonstrate that Rick is still performing as a capable leader and that he hasn't become soft following Lori's death. I also thought that the use of the man's body to allow the group to sneak away was really clever.
The ending was really good. The cliffhanger works really well and leaves me really excited to see the next episode.
The Bad: Michonne remains a problem with her impossibly bad communication skills. It's highly unlikely that she wouldn't tell Rick's group everything if she wants them to destroy Woodbury and free Andrea. Surely she would mention both Merle and Andrea.
The Unknown: The man in the cabin seemed to be unaware that the world ended. How is that possible? Has he been so isolated for so long that he never noticed? Have walkers never gone to his house before? Or was he just startled or drugged? I was going to put this in The Bad but it's possible there was more to this character than I initially thought. It's left me thinking and is an interesting addition to the story.
Best Moment: The Governor threatening to rape Maggie was creepy and it was the scene that elicited the largest reaction from me in a good way.
Character of the Episode: Glenn.
Conclusion: This was a very good episode that sets up the mid-season finale very well. I look forward to what should be an intense bloodbath next episode.
Summary: Rick continues getting phone calls and eventually discovers that they are a hallucination. Glenn and Maggie go out on a supply run. Andrea starts a romantic relationship with the Governor. Merle goes hunting with a group of men to find Michonne. The other men die and Merle determines Michonne is as good as dead. Merle runs into Glenn and Maggie and captures them. He reports to the Governor and tells him Michonne is dead. Daryl finds Carol alive.
The Good: The phone call storyline was excellent. I am extremely pleased that the show is portraying Rick's grief in such detail, giving him two entire episodes to mourn the death of his wife. Andrew Lincoln was phenomenal in this episode and did well to show Rick's declined mental state after he has lost his purpose. The hopelessness that hits him is sad to watch but it's very impactful. Seeing Rick grieving the fact that he couldn't put the group back together is heartbreaking and furthers his story arc as group leader in a new way.
There were a few strong character scenes throughout the episode to compliment the Rick scenes as well. Rick and Hershel had a lovely scene as Hershel gets to thank Rick for saving his life. I also like that Hershel clearly notices that Rick is losing it, but has the patience to let Rick grieve and rediscover himself instead of just calling him crazy. Daryl and Carl had a good scene. I liked Daryl's monologue about losing his mother and Carl's emotionless reaction to it was pretty sad. Carl has lost himself after Lori's death, but in a totally different way than Rick. Merle had some nice moments in this episode to let us know that he is still a crazy, murderous bastard despite the Governor helping him find his place in the community.
Merle's hunt for Michonne was pretty good aside from one odd moment (see: The Bad). I especially liked the confrontation between Merle and Glenn/Maggie. There was a lot of tension because it was impossible to know what Merle was planning to do with Glenn and Maggie. It was possible that he would simply go with them to see Daryl, but he also could have easily attempted to capture or kill them. Add in Michonne hiding behind the car, and the scene was wildly unpredictable with tons of tension. I thought the pay-off was good too as I could easily buy into Merle outclassing Glenn and Maggie the way he did.
The Bad: The discovery of Carol wasn't satisfying at all. The story of her disappearance was pointless in the end and it accomplished nothing. I was annoyed that the writers only allowed Daryl to show some emotion over losing Carol mere moments before he found her.
Gargulio's character was highly implausible. The idea that this frightened guy would become a hardened and excited killer was simply ridiculous. The whole transformation was rushed and unconvincing.
The Unknown: What is the Governor going to do with Glenn and Maggie? Does he plan to learn where their group is?
It's interesting that the Governor wanted Michonne's head and sword to be returned. Was the head for his head collection? It seems that he has more of an attachment to these heads than he lets on. Why is that?
How did Michonne find the prison? What does she plan to do when Rick lets her in? Does she want to help Andrea? Glenn and Maggie? Or is she just hoping for a community that is better than Woodbury?
Best Moment: Rick's realization that he was hallucinating was sad. His teary admission that he failed to fix the group and keep them together was sad and extremely well performed.
Character of the Episode: Rick.
Conclusion: This was a good episode that I enjoyed. While there wasn't anything that made this great, it was a solid hour of television.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.