"The Walking Dead" - "Prey": When Life Takes A Turn From Bad To Worse, You're Always There, My Lovable Curse
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"The Walking Dead" - "Prey": When Life Takes A Turn From Bad To Worse, You're Always There, My Lovable Curse

By TK | TV Reviews | March 19, 2013 | Comments ()


One of the potentially interesting ideas behind the writing in “Prey,” the 14th episode of this season’s “The Walking Dead,” was to remove the episode from the prison almost entirely (save for a handful of seconds at its conclusion). It’s a tactic that the show uses on occasion, with varying effectiveness, that allows them to really focus on and drill down into a specific set of plot points or characters in order to better tell their story. It’s worked well in the past, and here… the results are mixed.

On the one hand, I’m always in favor of more Tyrese. He and his small group have been underutilized right from the start, and instead of being treated as characters or as parts of the story, they’ve been treated as tools. Tools to be used to move the plot in a particular direction, but with very little about them as people ever being established. This week, that changed some, and while his screen time still seemed lacking, there was a depth to his character that was finally revealed. Tyrese is a genuinely intelligent, rock-solid guy, one who is contemplative and compassionate, yet also tough when necessary, and he’s a welcome addition. I may not have enjoyed all of “Prey,” but the glimpses into Tyrese and his group were certainly welcome.

Yet every group has its malcontents, and every leader its challenger, and as such Tyrese’s two showdowns with Allen (one of the show’s more intriguing pseudo-antagonists) made for some solid dramatic material. Allen, while singularly annoying, is also a refreshingly honest and realistic character, one who wants nothing but safety for himself and his boy, but also one who is more than willing to abandon any societal norms or personal morality in order to ensure that. Whether that’s plotting to take the prison from Rick’s weakened party, or throwing in with the Governor’s goon squad while they prepare a particularly gruesome weapon for the upcoming battles, he’ll gladly cast his lot with whomever increases his odds of survival. His confrontations with Tyrese revolved around both his status as a man and a father figure, as well as over ensuring the safety and security of his family, and I enjoyed their conflict immensely.

Of course, those stories are ancillary (for the moment) to the stories of The Governor, Andrea, and Milton, who have become representative of the various states of the human condition that run through Woodbury. Each is a deeply flawed human being, damaged in their own way, trying in their own way to do what they think may be right. Regardless of how poorly the show has handled the writing of these characters at various points, there’s no denying the unique set of perspectives that they provide. The Governor, for the first time, seemed to show a sort of logic to his madness. Oh, he’s always been a bit psychotically daft, sure. Heads in jars, bitey daughter, all of that. But of late, he’s turned a corner that planted him squarely into Crazytown, and for once it was almost — almost — understandable. His grim conversation, wherein Milton admitted to the possibility that there is indeed a shred of humanity lurking behind the undead eyes of this world of walking corpses, spoke volumes for his vendetta against the prison and Michonne in particular. It’s a world without order, without love or life or hope, except for this one small, tiny thing that he has to cling to. He held tight to the chance that his daughter — the last good, sane thing he thought he had — is still there and that she could possibly be brought back. And then, Michonne’s katana put a gruesome end to that. As such, the Governor’s fury is total and his thirst for vengeance ravenous. More on this in a moment.

Before we can conclude the discussion about the Governor, we need to talk about Milton and Andrea, an unusual study in contrasts if there ever was one. Much like the Governor believes that there was still a spark of life in his daughter, Milton holds fast to the belief that his friend can be brought back from the depths of madness he has waded in. It’s a unique position to take, and a sort of weird variation of Andrea’s. Andrea has been willfully ignorant when not being outright stupid in her dealing with the Governor, choosing to ignore all of the mounting evidence and then trying to play the oblivious peacemaker in an obviously hopeless situation. Milton, rather than being blind to Phillip’s growing insanity and twisted proclivities, has known (or suspected) all along, yet stayed out of a combination of loyalty, cowardice, and a hope that things will simply get better. This eye-opening honesty, while misguided and dangerous, has helped make Milton a far more compelling character (also bolstered by a strong performance by Dallas Roberts). Milton is easily perceived as weak, soft, and a follower, yet there’s an unexpected depth to his character. Yes, upon knowing the truth about Phillip — that he plans on betraying the truce, that he hungers for revenge, that he plans on a horrific torture for Michonne — he stays by his side. But one gets the feeling that it’s not a decision reached lightly, even going so far as to stop Andrea from ending him.

Andrea, unfortunately, is a whole other conundrum. She’s consistently gotten the short end of the stick, writing-wise, for this entire season. Watching the opening scene, a flashback of her time in the wilderness with Michonne, makes her character’s arc all the more asinine and frustrating. “Prey,” however, felt like the first episode where she began to actually act rationally — finally, finally understanding the stakes and the truth about Woodbury and the Governor in the context of a worldview beyond her own. She finally begins to make the right choices, to try to make allies and forego the idiocy of brokering peace, of being the voice of reason. She finally acknowledges that Woodbury is a paradise lost, a town with a rotten core that she must either join and accept what comes with that, or abandon and try to salvage her friendships with Rick and company — and hopefully save them in the process.

Of course, it doesn’t go as planned. It was a gripping bit of theater, the Governor’s hunt for Andrea and her efforts to evade him. Unbelievable and ridiculous and corny and stupid in some ways, but gripping nonetheless. Her solo zombie brawl in the woods was intense and well-shot, but the scene of her racing from the truck was pure movie cliche. The inexplicably zombie-filled warehouse (that is also conveniently packed with zombie-killing implements) made for a tautly-paced, silent chase, yet her simply walking away without confirming his death? Really? After all of this, after all we’ve seen and done, you’re just going to assume he doesn’t make it? It was another moment of manufactured drama that the showrunners threw in for effect, but ultimately took me out of the episode — especially since it led to the ludicrous finale with the Governor quietly hunting her down at the prison gates. It was all so forced and obvious and rife with predictability and cliche that it near-ruined an overall decent episode.

And in the end, we’re left with Tyrese trying to decide which side is the side of the angels, with Allen doing whatever he can to stay safe, with Milton beginning his own not-so-silent rebellion. Yet most distressing was Andrea’s fate, one that frankly left a bad taste in my mouth. I haven’t enjoyed her character in a long time, but this? To be trussed and tied by the man she cared for and abandoned in a torture chamber? Is this what we wanted? For anyone? Instead of creating any kind of dramatic effect, that final, chilling shot only served as yet another instance of an entire season of a character being abused and lazily neglected by its writers. You give her the worst excuse for character development in the show’s run, and then end with her in chains. It just felt awkward and tasteless. Yet all is not lost and Andrea lives on, as do the rest of them, as the show alternates between storming and stumbling towards what will surely be a grim and terrible conclusion.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Ozioma

    Was it just me or did that shot of the completely burned zombies creep anyone else out?

    I nearly cheered for Andrea when she left the Governor to the Walkers. And then she walked away...WALKED TO THE PRISON WHEN HIS SHINY TRUCK WAS OUTSIDE WITH WEAPONS AND SHIT IN IT...and I went back to swearing at my television.

  • GlennaN

    Regarding the zombie filled warehouse, I thought that the outside shots established it was the site of Rick and the Gov's previous meeting and therefore had been filled with biters by Martinez in anticipation of the Michonne exchange. Andrea was turning the Governor's weapon against him. But yes on the ridiculousness of her not ensuring that he was dead.

  • emmelemm

    As much as I hate Andrea, and I really, really do, I still kinda don't want to see her tortured. Shit ain't right.

    On the other hand, the final scene of her strapped to the chair, so terrifying, so sickening, and SO MUCH WORSE because she knows she had opportunity after opportunity to kill the Governor and didn't take them, and now look where she is!

    Side note: I'm enjoying Milton as a character and I do find him interesting and useful and necessary and a good foil and yada yada, and I did *not* at all suspect he was the one who torched the biters in the pit, and was momentarily elated when I learned it was him, but then I thought... Milton still really does seem to believe that the zombies have a bit of humanity. Would he really have torched them like that, and then left them still "alive"? Even though they're zombies, the scene of burned bodies writhing was still pretty wrenching.

    Also, I agree it was a fabulous moment to just show Rick wiping his eyes... "Did I really just see something? Oh yeah, I'm crazy, never mind." AUUUUGH!

  • PaddyDog

    There is something very interesting about the fact that when we first met the core group, Andrea was very strong and independent while Carol was this meek woman being abused by her husband and unable to see past his abuse. Now, Carol is totally independent and fully sees how she was manipulated in that relationship and counsels Darryl on avoiding the same path with Merle, while Andrea has become the woman who stayed with the manuipulative evil guy and chose to ignore the warning signs and believe the bullshit until it was too late.

  • protoformX

    Part of this will probably seem obvious... the fact that the writers can't seem to decide what they want to do with Andrea. But a while back I realized that they had apparently decided to make Andrea that character in a show based on a book that is an assortment of other characters. If you went by the Andrea in the books after she killed zombie-Amy, she really ceases to be that character. The whole latching on to other people thing like with Shane and The Governor... is kinda Carol from the books... and my guess is maybe she'll get the treatment meant for Michonne in the books... I don't know why you would have these characters who do exist in both mediums portrayed so differently and then decide, "but we liked this aspect of their character, and it would just seem wrong to give it them now, so let's dump it on Andrea!" Now obviously Michonne's character development could have been done better, by actually developing the character in any way before two or three episodes ago; and hands down Carol in the show is a far more intriguing character than she ever was in the books. I don't know that there was ever a show I was so frustrated at watching at least 75% of the time, and stuck with it. And I wonder if I had never read the books if I would feel this way still or if I would have given up during Season 2 and never returned.

    Anyways, fingers crossed for Tyreese in Season 4.You know not just surviving but being an actual character. I love Cutty!

  • Debbie Ford

    This show has jumped the shart (sic) in so many, many ways, it's hard to pick the most egregious examples from each episode. But I'll try. My first example has to do with Andrea's forest run, but I'll present the silliness in the form of a story problem: If there are three zombies within ten feet of any random point in the forest, then how many zombies are there in one square mile of forest? Can you see the crapfest for the trees? There's Andrea running forever through the forest, with nary a biter in sight. Yet the moment she pauses, suddenly there are three zombies that have magically materialized right next to her! That she never saw, even though visibility in this sparsely treed forest seems to be quite excellent! Another example of the TWD writers' Rule #1: when what little dramatic tension in a scene is leaking away, have zombies magically appear. The more tedious the scene, the more numerous the zombies.

    And by the way, the answer to how many zombies in one square mile of forest? It depends on how badly a particular scene in an episode is going -- theoretically, there are as many potential zombies as needed to conclude the scene and get to commercial break.

  • J Jdl Duggan

    They better fix the writing....quick. Or fall to cancelization.

  • logan

    It seems to me that TWD has wildly uneven writing. Some episodes are excellent some are terrible. For a show that's been on this long the quality level should be more consistent. This episode was not good.Very little suspense.

    I said it last week and I still say Milton will kill the governor.

  • lisamtj79

    Finally1 Someone else agrees with me about Milton. But, will he also do it for the same reason as the other in the comics storyline?

  • Carrie/Teabelly

    Oh, I remember when I hated Andrea the most. It was when she was leaving and said 'The Governor is not what he seems' or something similar. Isn't that what Michonne said to her? Can't anyone articulate in this world?

  • Danar the Barbarian

    Agree totally. I was yelling at the TV, "Specifics, woman! No one has time for this bullshit "things are not as they seem" weak-sauce nonsense! Tell 'em about the zombie-lined gladiator fights, about the heads, about torturing people! Don't make Tyrese GUESS what the problem is!"

  • Carrie/Teabelly

    I was bored and frustrated throughout this entire episode, as I was for the last one. This series is just treading water. Get on with it. If you're not going to spend time with your characters in order to make them fully developed and make anything resembling smart, thought out choices then move along with your plot. I hate the Governor, I hate Andrea, I hate Woodbury and I'm beginning to dislike Tyrese. Most of the people we're following deserve to get bitten and while I am all for the darker nature of characters it becomes tiring after a while. I need a little light.

    It just feels so very removed from the episodes at the beginning of the series, when stuff happened and I was gripped and couldn't wait for the next one. I miss that.

  • PaddyDog

    The truck chase scene reminded me of Monty Python and The Holy Grail where Sir Lancelot is running through the meadow to save the princess but each time we see him he's farther away because really, how did she outrun a truck that was practically on top of her?

  • Lyndsay

    Because she ran back into the forest and the truck couldn't follow her in.

  • PaddyDog

    Somebody explain to me why Andrea, while pursued by a crazy murdering guy, wandered through a warehouse full of metal bars and spiky objects and at one point even passed a peg board with saws and hammers hanging on it and never once picked up anything she could use to defend herself?

  • Alwayswatching

    Or why she couldnt TAKE HIS TRUCK when she left!!!

  • She carries a knife so small it would barely open the mail.

    I get that the Governor was gathering up the weapons. But if I find myself in the zombieland I'm going to find a giant Crocodile Dundee knife, or a whole slew of them, and I'm going to have them strapped to various parts of my body 100% of the time.

  • emmelemm

    "it would barely open the mail"

    HA HA HA HEE HEE (good one)

  • Blake

    Because it's Andrea.

  • Rocabarra

    I think Milton is much more aware than I ever gave him credit for. His line to Andrea about how, for better or worse, he belongs in Woodbury made me realize that he's perhaps one of the cleverest characters, but also the most tragically helpless. He knows he could never truly join the prison gang, and that he has nowhere else to go, so burning those zombs in the pit took extra large cojones.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Overall I thought the episode was pretty solid, save for the absolutely glaring stupidity of Andrea. Even if you couldn't actually STEAL the goddamn truck, you can at least raid it for weapons/supplies, cut the brakes, or the fuel lines, or stuff a lit rag in the gas tank, or for f*ck's sake, SLASH THE TIRES!

    Also - you know they're coming after you. You had to run and hide from the truck while you were walking on the highway. How about NOT walking through the middle of a wide-open field, hmmm?

    I liked that shot of Rick though, wondering if he was seeing things again.

  • I got mad angry during the episode. Just how fucking dumb do they think the viewers are? Seriously?

  • Blake

    Totally. How could Andrea have lasted this long? Also in the preview of next weeks episode is Rick still debating turning over Michonne? I thought that was wrapped up last week?

  • Blake

    Random Thoughts:

    Easily this is up for "Worst episode of the season" consideration. An entire hour about characters I truly don't give a #$!# about. Gripping? Nope, you knew the Governor would make it out.

    What a waste the writers have made of Tyrese, they should have just let T-Dogg live.

    Why did Andrea walk to the prison when the Gov left his fancy truck outside? No keys? Maybe, but you figure there would be a few goodies in there.

    This season feels like it will never end. Why is it 16 episodes? A shorte run definitely works in the shows favor.

  • dangeruss

    If T-Dogg lived it would have turned into a black show. Can't have that on AMC

  • linz

    I'm going to have to disagree on the Andrea/zombie fight in the woods. I mean did anyone else see the tree MOVE? Also she uses her forearm to push away the zombie in front of her, which rest against the zombie's mouth! Then the head stab was the most awkward I've seen in the series.

    Usually, The Walking Dead is really good at the combat choreography and effects...but this one was really lacking

  • Anita

    I saw it too! I thought it would be an interesting wrinkle in Andrea's pathetic plot - now she's bitten by a biter, can't cut off her arm, goes back to the prison, what will they decide to do...but no - the zombie's teeth touched her, but she's fine! Stupid.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Yep, I saw it too.

  • Rocabarra

    The rocking tree really distracted me too. I'm glad someone else confirmed this and that I wasn't just seeing things...

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