I was very please with last night's episode of The Walking Dead. Before watching I was discussing what I feel to be a lot of problems with the last few episodes. They really have taken the focus away from surviving the zombie world and focused on the conflict between the Prison and Woodbury. I was happy to have a break from that and thought they did a really good job of developing current and new characters in a way that we have not seen in a long time. Watching everyone in the prison week to week has become very claustrophobic and dark and I was happy to see Rick, Carl and Michonne out in the fresh air. The fact that this episode was written by Scott M. Gimple who will be the new showrunner beginning in Season 4 made me very reassured and hope that the series will be taken in a direction that we will all love. I'm going to break the recap down a little differently this week and go character by character, because while there were a lot of things that happened, I think the brilliance of this episode truly came from the emotion, insight and focus on these three interesting characters.
Before I begin, however, I must make a note about the series that literally drives me crazy. I might have mentioned it before, but it was so bad last night, I have to talk about it again: the car. Now, I know that there has to be some sort of business development deal made between AMC and Hyundai to sponsor the car and show it in most episodes. That is fine. I know that television networks need to find creative ways to make money and it has to be a successful deal for the carmaker. In fact, the other day, I saw one on the street and said, "look, it's The Walking Dead car" – that is great brand recognition for Hyundai. My problem with it is that the series throws out all semblances of logic and continuity to make this car look good. In last night's episode, the three characters where literally driving through mud and zombie guts and the front hood of the car stayed completely clean. Okay, that one could be explained that the way the car was driving, the mud didn't hit the top of the car. I'll let that one go. Then…..this happens. Rick drives the car out of the mud puddle he is stuck in and over the zombie arm and then, before getting into town, pull into town with a completely clean and sparkly car. Did they stop at a car wash on their way? That would be believable, right? NO IT'S NOT! This is the zombie apocalypse, there are not car washes and as it certainly didn't rain on the sunny, glorious day, which makes this completely unbelievable. So, I would really like to know how a series that is very careful to keep continuity with great production value thinks it's okay to just throw all this out the window for this car. I know they probably needed to make this deal, but I really wish they didn't put a "clean clause" in it, because it just makes the whole thing so obvious and ridiculous and pulls me out of believing the reality of the show on a regular basis. Okay, rant over…back to our regularly scheduled program.
Rick Grimes – It has been awhile since we have seen Rick functioning as a real leader and in many ways, as even a sane person. He also has become so paranoid and set in his ways that he would not accept anyone else into the group. The consequences of doing so were a problem that was explored in depth during season 2 and even since Rick has very much been stubborn about it. He kept Tyreese and his crew from joining the group and helping. As they have ended up at Woodbury, I think that is likely going to be a huge mistake. However, the encounter with Morgan seemed to really change Rick. By the end of the episode, he finally welcomed and accepted Michonne as a productive part of the group. He also finally let go of some control as he let Michonne driver after he admitted that he does see things and is not in the best mental state.
I think seeing Morgan as he did made Rick realize how close to the edge he is and hopefully, he will finally begin to reign himself in and make good decisions again. He was one of the first people the helped Rick during the zombie apocalypse and had a huge influence on his life since then. I think it also was an interesting moment for Rick as I hope it was a bit of a wake up call, saying, "hey, you still have two kids." In a world where most people have lost everything and everyone they are close to, Rick has the rare experience of having some of his family members still alive. He also was saved from the devastation of having to see Lori die or turn, so perhaps he will just begin to be thankful for these types of things.
Morgan – Morgan was a great character introduction as he really reminded the audience that there are people surviving outside of the people we know in the prison or Woodbury. I found it fascinating to see how this guy responded to the zombie apocalypse and how he has single handedly created one of the best systems for keeping zombies out that has been shown so far. In fact, it made me wonder why the group has not thought to actually booby trap their land or living space before. In that regard, it truly shows the survival instincts of humans and how people react to situations and think about them in completely alternate ways. Morgan also gave a very engaging speech about the weak inheriting the earth and it went even more into depth of explore how humankind as a whole responds to tragedy and the apocalypse. Part of me was sad that Morgan didn't come with, because I liked his new energy and would have appreciated his addition, but at the very least I am very happy he was around for this episode to help Rick see the light.
Carl – Carl went through a pretty wide range of emotions in this episode. First, he showed how much he has had to grow in such a short time as he just steps out and shoots the guy that is attacking them (that we later find out to be Morgan). Carl does not hesitate for even a second and is able to save both his father and Michonne from being killed. That is a bold move for a 13-year-old kid. He has already had to shoot his mother to save her from turning into a zombie, so this isn't a new development necessarily. However, the strength with which he continues to handle himself is what I find truly notable. On the other hand, in many ways, Carl reverted back to being a kid as he made a very stupid decision – all for the sake of getting a picture of his family. I completely understand that there would be a draw to that during a time when family and mementos are virtually non-existent. Still, that was one stupid ass and in many ways childish moves. When all they are doing is trying to survive, risk his life simply to be able to show his sister a picture of what her mom looked like felt very naive. If Michonne had not been there, he would not have even been alive to give it to his sister. For that reason, I thought it showed that Carl is still a child, and I actually appreciated that. It was nice to see him not having to act beyond his years and just be, well, a kid. By the end of the episode, he was a bit of a mix of both as he apologized to Morgan for shooting him and really wanted acknowledgement that what he did was right. Carl is a fascinating character because he can really show how people develop under such extreme distress and I hope they continue to show how he changes.
Michonne – Possibly the biggest character development in this week’s episode came from Michonne. In fact, I think that she notably spoke more than she has since she has appeared on the show. Much like Morgan, she is another example of a character that had to exist on her own and survive for a long period of time and how that solitude affected her personality and actions. She has become so closed off and cold she would barely talk to anyone in the group or show any emotion. This week, she became a strong and protective partner for Carl and I was happy that she actually took interest in him. By the end of the hour, the two had a solid rapport and actually seemed to like each other. I appreciated that much more than just seeing her closed pouty lips all the time. Her actions also led to Rick finally seeing her as a human and the fact that she protected Carl (and his experience with Morgan) allowed him to open up to her about his problems. I think she will also finally be accepted into the group and not treated like an outsider which is what Rick has done since she showed up to help them.
After this departure episode, next week we will return to the battle with Woodbury. After how much I enjoyed this week's episode and being outside of both locations, all I can say is that I hope that it ends with either big climax or ends quickly and the show gets back to the zombie loving apocalypse that we know and love.