The Walking Dead: Walk With Me Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, October 29, 2012
For the past two plus seasons it would be fair to say the driving force behind The Walking Dead is survival, in all its incarnations. The season one finale at the CDC building gave us a little taste of some mystery to go with our characters fighting for their lives. It put the big question in our heads- What really happened to make the world a zombie filled wasteland? Episode 3, "Walk With Me" doesn't necessarily approach that same question, but it does add some mystery into the show that has been strictly survival since the end of season one. Our focus is shifted slightly to the right (or is it left?) on Andrea and Michonne, as they are our companions into the world of The Governor.
I love when episodes begin someplace new and out of context. It makes our minds race with ideas and possibilities. The X-Files and Lost were particularly good at this. The first thing we see is a helicopter, which immediately makes us wonder if this is a flashback, or present time. One flew over Rick awhile back, but that was a long time ago, and the chances of an operational one taking to the skies seem pretty slim. Nevertheless, this is the present, and that bird is full of soldiers. I was intrigued- armed and uniformed military personnel could definitely shed some light on the world at large, and after the CDC episode, I was wondering if the show was going to continue to tease that idea. It was fleeting, as the chopper goes down, but the thoughts are still there. Readers of the comic know that's not the story Robert Kirkman is trying to tell, but I have a feeling the show runners will keep throwing us a bone every once in a while.
After a ton of anticipation we finally get to see the TV show's take on the Governor. He is not the outright villain from the comic books, and Woodbury is not straight out of Mad Max. David Morrissey plays the Governor with a subdued, yet authoritative resolve. He seems kind, with a dash of Southern Hospitality, but every time he's on screen we're just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and does it ever. From using that quiet charm to dispatch a group of National Guardsman, or sitting down at night to watch some pickled-head-in-a-vat T.V., this Governor has a dark heart that he justifies with his world view. Like Michonne, he has remade himself in this new world, he even goes so far as to insist he will never say his real name. That man is dead, there is only the Governor now. Woodbury is also an idyllic slice of suburbia at first glance, but like it's leader, has some doors that lead to darker things. Here's where more of that mystery comes in. The Governor is trying to understand the nature of zombies, do they retain any memory of their former selves? It's an interesting idea considering the Governor has purposely shed who he once was. I think the choices the show has made on how to portray the Governor and his little slice of heaven are good ones. There are layers to peel back, and our villain isn't exactly a fist clenching madman. He believes what he's doing is right, or at the very least necessary, and that gives the writers a lot to play with. It would be interesting though if the Woodbury from the show devolved into the Woodbury of the comic.
Michonne spends most of the episode stalking around like a caged tiger. The person she's become in this new world doesn't trust easily, and justifiably so. She is naked without her katana. Interestingly, we do get a very quick peek at her history when resident mad scientist, Milton, asks if her pack mule walkers were important people in her past life. She also tells Andrea that killing them was "easier than you think". My favorite moment with her is when Andrea starts telling Merle everything that's happened, and Michonne gives her a look that can only mean "shut your f***ing mouth!". My prediction/advice regarding Michonne would be- Let Michonne be Michonne. We're not going to get a lot out of her any time soon, so just enjoy watching her cause havoc in Woodbury for awhile. It's nice to get the Andrea of old back, even if she recovers a bit quick for my tastes. A good night's sleep and some antibiotics can work wonders, but she looked like she was on her last legs. It's good that she doesn't just drink the Kool Aid right away, and puts the screws to the Governor a bit.
And then there's Merle. 25 pounds lighter and doing his best Baraka impression, the great Michael Rooker relishes every moment of his screen time. His initial reveal was cool, taking out a walker with his new right hand of doom without even looking. However, it gets a bit clumsy after that. It almost felt like he was talking to the audience when he said "How's about a hug for your old pal Merle", and then when they get to Woodbury he says "I bet you was wondering if I was real... Well, here I am." We get it, Merle is back, and we've very happy for it, but he doesn't need multiple introductions. Beyond that, it looks like the past year has mellowed Merle a bit, or at the very least he's fallen in line with the Governor's rules. Like he said- he has a purpose now, although somehow I don't think he's gonna welcome Rick with a handshake... maybe a bladed one. His genuine empathy for Andrea is nice, it shows he's not just crazy old Merle, although I hope we get that at some point. Overall this was a very good episode that had some stumbling in the first half. The pace and scene to scene narrative was odd once they moved past the helicopter. There's a drowsy fever dream-like sequence heading into Woodbury, as if they are giving us little hints that won't pay off until later, but then it cuts to inside the town and everything is fine. People pop in and out, they get some rest, and the next morning things are even better. If this were strictly from Andrea's POV that would make sense, particularly what Merle says about being real, but it's not, we have Michonne's POV as well. Also, the introduction to everything just seems a bit uneventful. Not that I need character and location reveals with appropriate musical cues, but given this is the beginning of the biggest and most popular story arc, I would have thought it would be a bit more memorable. There is something to be said about the world of Woodbury being very matter of fact and unthreatening, but compared to episode one's prison reveal it just felt less than. I'm very curious to see how they juggle the two storylines starting with next episode. I liked that episode two and three gave full time to each camp, so mixing the two and making them feel like they have real forward momentum will be a challenge I hope the show runners meet.
Mania Grade: B+
Episode: Walk With Me (Season 3, Episode 3)
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan
Written by: Frank Darabont (developer), Robert Kirkman (series of graphic novels)
Directed By: Guy Ferland