The Walking Dead: Arrow on the Doorpost Review -

The Walking Dead Review

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  • Episode: Arrow on the Doorpost (Season 3, Episode 13)
  • Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, Norman Reedus, Laurie Holden, David Morrissey, Steven Yeun
  • Written By: Ryan C. Coleman
  • Directed By: David Boyd
  • Network: AMC
  • Studio: AMC Studios, Circle of Confusion, Darkwood Productions, Valhalla Motion Pictures
  • Series:

The Walking Dead: Arrow on the Doorpost Review

Made Men

By Joel Rickenbach     March 11, 2013

Welcome to the first post-apocalyptic sitdown. Both families have brought their consiglieres and their muscle. The Governor's advisor is trying to catalog and write the history of this new world, Rick's doubles as a wheelman, and only has one foot. The Cosa Nostra this ain't.

This episode starts off well. It's nicely paced and has an air of tension from the first frame. The opening segment ends with a surprise-- Rick meets the Governor in an abandoned barn in an attempt to negotiate before they blow each other to kingdom come. It works because we never get to see the connective tissue, and we don't need to. Last episode had Rick, Michonne and Carl off on a detour, and suddenly this week Rick's breaking bread (or whiskey) with the one-eyed psycho. We don't need to see Andrea set up the meeting, all of that back and forth would have taken up half an episode, and would have felt like padding. No sir, it's time to get straight to the main course-- Rick and the Governor, mano-a-mano.

Unfortunately, when Rick meets the Gov eye to eye, it quickly becomes the ultimate stall, and really makes little sense. Right off the bat-- Either Rick or the Governor should have just put a bullet between the other's eye(s). Both men have proven they have no time for civility anymore, at least when it comes to the other. Remember last week's mantra "never be sorry"?, well all of a sudden everyone is feeling awfully sorry for one another. So, Rick and the Gov holster their weapons, and sit down to chat, but of course the Gov is playing things dirty-- he has a shotgun taped under the table. Maybe I watch too much Justified, but there's no way the Gov gets that thing out in time before Rick quick draws him a lead dessert. It seems like a minor complaint, but it's a part of the Gov's confounding strategy. He begins the negotiations by telling Rick there will be no negotiations, he's here for Rick's surrender only. Yet by the end of the episode he's changed his tune with a bargain that makes zero sense. Give me Michonne and we're square, really? Even with what little Rick knows of him, he shouldn't believe that for a moment. The maddening thing is they never actually talk about why any of this is happening. We know the Gov is a power hungry madman, but shouldn't Rick ask why it's such a big deal that his people are living at the prison? Rick and Co. only attacked Woodbury because his people were captured, and the Gov retaliated, but that's established early in their conversation, so that begs the question-- what are they fighting for? Sure, the Gov would throw out some line about the safety of his people, but it would be pretty easy for Rick to prove they have no intentions of disturbing his town.

These two men sitting down for a chat should have been electric, but it wasn't. It's as if the writers figured their meeting would automatically bring the drama, but it really doesn't. Maybe if the Governor asserted his authority more- This is his land, outsiders will not be tolerated etc., and as the conversation elevates, bring out the knife to the ribs- "Oh, I hear your daughter may not actually be yours" (side note: we knew Andrea has lose lips, but seriously?). Rick, on the other hand, really should have played the cop- I know you're a disturbed individual, you keep heads in vats, you need to be eliminated. Yet instead we get a tenuous bargain. The Gov's story about the death of his wife was a good moment, and there is certainly truth to the notion that both men will be putting their loved ones in danger, yet as I said earlier- either man could have ended the threat a million times over by now, but they end on murky terms and a phantom bargain. The following scenes prove the Governor will do what we already knew he would, and Rick has a moment of contemplation he should never have. We're meant to feel some kind of weight due to the bonding with Michonne last episode, but it just doesn't add up.

The rest of the cast have some interesting bits in this episode. The interactions between Herschel and Milton are pretty fascinating. Here are two men interested in preservation, and could actually do something good if given the chance. Herschel's "At least buy me a drink first" was classic. Daryl and Martinez' alpha male contest was fun, and provided the only action in the episode. The two soldiers finding common ground was a nice touch, hell, they even shared a smoke. I didn't think it was possible, but Andrea somehow fell deeper into the abyss. I could buy the idea she decided to stay with the Gov so she could be an inside man, otherwise she is literally a broken character. Merle's actions also make little sense. Daryl leaves on a planned mission, but suddenly Merle acts like he's run off and in danger. I get that he wants to end the Governor, but when he keeps wailing that "his brother is out there" I can only scratch my head.  It was nice to see Glenn and Maggie "make up", but Glenn being gun shy around zombies is only going to become an increasing problem for their relationship. No matter where you decide to get horizontal, there's bound to be a groan or two in the distance. 

Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.


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violator14 3/11/2013 9:29:12 AM

 ya, Rick killing the Gov, and Darryl throwing that knife into the back of Martinez's head would have ended the whole "War". 

I doubt Rick will turnover Michonne or else he'll REALLY look like a bad-guy-douche-bag. 

TheMovieGuy28 3/11/2013 9:48:54 AM

 A "c"? Really? I thought this episode was definitely an "A", or at least a high "B ".

They did the dance.

Martinez and Daryl found a mutual admiration for one another.

Herschel smiled once more.

This was most certainly not a 'c', by any stretch

blankczech 3/11/2013 9:59:48 AM

I didn't particularly care for this episode.  The why and wherefore of this impending battle makes no sense to me.  It also didn't make sense why the people who were waiting outside while Rick and the Governor were negotiating didn't discuss that fact.  They are a group of survivors with a common enemy.   Joining forces makes a lot more sense then anihilating one an other.  Following these leaders to survive makes sense.  Following them to the death doesn't.  These people are not in the army...they won't be incarcerated for going AWOL.  No one seems to have a plan.  No one discusses the future.  They just go on one day at a time. What does Rick want for his son...or Herschel want for his daughters...a lifetime in that prison, staring out through the fences at the walkers.

violator14 3/11/2013 10:17:00 AM

  Very true Blankczech. But pretty much i think Rick's group has the "We ride together, we die together" mentality. I cant really see most of them abandoning the group to survive. And I think for the most part, Rick and the Gov wanna get rid of each other cuz they're just annoyed with each other to death by now.

joelr 3/11/2013 10:24:22 AM

@TheMovieGuy28 Sorry, man, but I feel like this ep was just one big stall. Last week's ep, which I gave an "A", was a detour, but it gave much needed depth and understanding to the characters at hand. This ep we are literally left with "Rick has the option of handing over Michonne", which makes little sense. Rick and the Gov squaring off should have been edge of your seat stuff, and it just wasn't. Totally flat.

millean 3/11/2013 10:54:33 AM

My 2nd biggest problem with this episode was that they allowed Merle to be roaming around free near the armory before his attack on Glen.  My biggest problem with this episode was that they allowed Merle to be roaming around free AFTER his attack on Glen.

Otherwise, I thought the episode was pretty good.  I kind of laughed when Daryl and Martinez shared a smoke after doing the zombie dance (as opposed to the horizontal dance).  It's almost as if Martinez has gotten more action from him than has Carol!  :)


redhairs99 3/11/2013 11:13:59 AM

 Joel, you also forgot to mention the horrible and out of place musical montage at the end.  What the f was that?

RedHood2010 3/11/2013 11:19:35 AM

While I totally agree with your assessment on how this 'summit' should have went, I feel it was better than a 'C'.  I played the sit down scenerio in my head so many times, just to ask the simple question - WHY do we need to fight each other.  Especially the group outside, why in the hell am I wanting to fight a living person?  Don't we all just want to LIVE and survive?

As for the Gov's offer - oh HELL no.  I am going to give you a good soldier in the HOPE you won't come back and attack?  I was tellin my son that considering the circumstance these people are in, I would play the 'You wanna dance, let's dance' card.  The Gov ain't budging, so what the hell we waiting for, lets' draw our guns and call it a day.  Screw your army, I bet money your army decides on peace after your psycho butt is out of the way.

Based on the previews, I have got to believe there is no further conversation about giving Michonne up.  I actually thought he was going to ask for the baby.  I know it sounds crazy, but that is what hit me when he started his line about what Rick had.

hanso 3/11/2013 12:00:57 PM

 Shit dont make sense because they screwed up the Governor from the get go.  Should stuck closer to the Governor comic and we'd be fine.

Bryzarro 3/11/2013 12:33:54 PM

 My only issue was the pacing of this episode. Very slow ala Season 2 hunt for Sofia. I liked the ending and the seeds of connection brought on by Darryl and such. 

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