"The Walking Dead" - "Walk With Me": We Don't Need To Feel The Sorrow, No Remorse Is The One Command

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"The Walking Dead" — "Walk With Me": We Don't Need to Feel the Sorrow, No Remorse Is the One Command

By TK | TV Reviews | October 30, 2012 | Comments ()


“Walk With Me,” the third episode of this season of “The Walking Dead,” was an unusual and unique episode, quite unlike anything else the show has had so far. Completely ignoring the ongoing saga of Rick Grimes and his self-imprisoned companions, it instead chose to focus on their old friend Andrea and her mysterious newfound ally, Michonne, as they discover a completely new and different group of survivors.

One of the frequent criticisms of “The Walking Dead” is that sometimes it doesn’t know how to handle its quieter moments. The entire farm saga of last season was a drawn out affair that should have wrapped up much more quickly, and its quieter moments felt less like breaks and more like drags. At the same time, when the action picked up, it was riveting, and as I’ve said before, the show is easily at its best when that sense of desperation is so pervasive. “Walk With Me” is a curious amalgam of all of those facets, a slow-burning story that unfolds more like a mystery novel than a horror comic. Andrea and Michonne are waylaid by the man known as The Governor (David Morrissey), an enigmatic and strangely charismatic leader of his own little stronghold of survivors. Backed by a group of violently loyal enforcers, The Governor shares a surprising number of similarities to Rick — a strong, determined man who refuses to let outside influences jeopardize his plans.

Of course, the mystery of the episode is just who he is, and what is he doing. The first red flag is, of course, the return of the fantastic Michael Rooker as the sociopathic Merle Dixon, the long-lost and thought-dead (and now sporting a nifty Ash Williams-esque prosthesis) brother of Daryl. Merle’s overt, wiggly-eyed lunacy has been dialed down, and he now serves as a sort of lieutenant to the Governor, yet there are still traces of his old crazy self banging at the gates of his brain.

What made the episode so effective was the decision to use the slowly diverging relationship of Michonne and Andrea as the sort of Greek chorus of the story. Each of them looks around Woodbury and sees something completely different. Andrea sees a potential safe haven surrounded by strong protectors, something that she’s wanted to be a part of in the past. Michonne trusts nothing that she sees, suspecting that that safety and stability in this world of undead chaos is likely too good to be true. Little bits and pieces — Michonne’s skeptical eyeballing of their guard, Andrea’s furtive smiles and casual flirtations with The Governor — all serve to create two different sides to the story.

And of course, we learn that there’s so, so much more to Woodbury than we thought, and that’s where the gruesome fun begins. Obviously, The Governor is not man with whom one should fuck, yet there’s a strange appeal to him, one that gradually unravels. That was the beauty of “Walk With Me.” There was a sense of unbalance, a discomfort that slowly and somewhat inexplicably leeched its way into the viewers’ heads. First, Woodbury was a little too pretty and neat and clean, as if Mayberry had been dumped into the midst of Armageddon. Then, there’s his curious pet scientist who studies the walkers a little too intently (and provides another interesting explanation regarding Michonne’s undead pack mules).

Then, the wheels really start to come off, and we learn that The Governor isn’t just a little too intense. He’s vicious and unrepentant, tricking the helpless pilot into giving his friends’ location up, and then slaughtering them wholesale without so much as a hint of hesitation — or regret. Yet even then, we’re tempted to pass him off as little more than an amoral control freak, an alpha determined to keep everything within his tight control. And then, slowly, gently, the brilliant reveal at the end which suddenly made the entire season instantly more interesting.

The Governor isn’t a control freak. He isn’t just a bad guy. He isn’t just the boss of a rival faction. He’s smart, organized, ruthless, charismatic… and completely and utterly psychotic. He’s a man who enjoys a pretty woman, then pouring a couple of fingers of whiskey and quietly sitting in a room full of heads in jars.

All of this made for a terrific episode despite the lack of too much zombie mayhem. It was a plot builder episode, but one that didn’t feel like filler for a moment. Morrissey played his part brilliantly, allowing the uninitiated to slowly learn the depths of his insanity, never showing his hand too much until the very end. Rooker’s Merle was slightly subdued, but no less entertaining than he had been back in season one. If there was one slight disappointment, it’s that I’d like to see more out of Michonne. Danai Gurira is clearly a capable actress, and I understand the character being portrayed as a strong, stoic and silent one, but I’d like to see her do a little more than glower. Though I must admit — she gives good glower.

The stage has now been cleverly and intriguingly set for an entirely new kind of conflict, the kind that the show has to have to prevent it from becoming too dependent on running and hiding and ohmygodmorezombies. Instead it’s once again about people, and now we’re finally getting a taste of what happens when the ball rolls down the other side, when the darkness wins out. And so far, it tastes pretty good.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Utopian

    Now THIS is the kind of review I've been waiting for, TK. Excellent job.

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    I just have to say that while the charcater of Michonne is bad ass in the comics...on the show, she is quickly becoming the worst part of this season. I think most of it has to do with Danai Gurira, I really don't understand what is so great about her acting? Her scenes with the always reliable Laurie Holden only increase my feeling that deep down, she's just not very good.

  • ghisent

    In the interest of fairness, it's not like Gurira has been given much to work with. She's had, what, 10 lines TOTAL?

    From what I understand, she's a pretty prolific stage actress and playwright.

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    It's true, I may be judging her before she's really been given a chance to show off her chops, but she just seems so lifeless, and it really stands out to me.

    Although I do reserve the right to change my opinion.

  • Rocabarra

    Haven't watched the episode yet, but I felt it important to alert the internet community that the header photo gets me hot and bothered. That is all, for now.

  • junierizzle

    This show really has done a 180 for me. I hated last season and had no hope for this one. Its like all of a sudden the writers get it.

  • janetfaust

    Keeping the heads is even more creepy when you remember what the
    Governor said about believing the walkers have some seed of their
    original personalities left. So he's not just keeping some walkers' heads in jars, he's keeping still-"living"
    walkers' heads that he believes still hold some aspects of the people
    they were. If they were just severed, dead, walker heads you could think, "Oh they're just trophies. That's macabre." But they're still "alive." That's the worst part to me.

  • Artemis

    I'm concerned about this introduction to Michonne. She's apparently been single-handedly keeping herself and Andrea alive for months, but the second they encounter other people she goes silent and Andrea takes over the leadership role. Not coincidentally, that switch coincides with what gets camera time -- we get a few quick glimpses of Michonne being bad ass, but now it looks like we'll be following Andrea's exploration of the new community/relationship with the Governor while Michonne looks surly in the background.

    Yeah, it's just one episode so far, but this show hasn't exactly earned the benefit of the doubt on its treatment of Black characters.

  • GDI

    In the books, there was plenty of racism, stemming from the characters.

    Now, Michonne was always badass and crazy.
    But the show removed a large section of who she was/is in 2 fell swoops. Sure, they'll reveal everything in due time, but it definitely will not have the impact.

    That role-reversal of Andrea/Michonne was bothersome. The character development is as murky as that of Lost. Everyone's motivations change on whim, even if they are illogical.
    From the angle of racism, you can blame it on lazy writing. You'd be giving the showrunner and the writers too much credit if you believe it be intentional.

  • TK

    This times a million. I was talking to my sister about this just last night, in fact.

  • Fredo

    I want to say it was Caligula who kept the heads of his enemies hung in a private room, so that he could talk to them and hold court. If that's the comparison the show's writers are trying to make for The Governor, then yikes!

    It seems they also learned from Season 2's errors. Notice that, in 1 episode, we got the lay of the land of Woodbury, the atmosphere and the danger. No dragging it out episode by episode.

  • piedlourde

    I'm guessing that Merle is less psychotic this time around because he's been forced to kick his meth habit.

  • Groundloop

    Sadly, I was unable to triple up vote this post. Once because I agree with the post, and once each for the handle and avatar.

  • piedlourde

    So I suppose you want me to paint your chair?

  • Groundloop

    No time for that! I gotta go! I lost my spoon!

  • Blake

    A camp with Merle is probably a good sign that it is not the place you want to be.

    Side note: Michonne using her two walkers as pack animals was pretty clever...

  • Groundloop

    I mostly agree about Merle, but there were a couple of quick cutaways during the ambush that hinted to me that Merle might not be the obedient attack dog we, and the Governor assume him to be.

  • Blake

    That would be Merle be Merle. He will only be as loyal to the Governor as required.

    Darryl is the only one he cares about.

  • catagisreading

    I think they were clearly setting up parallels between The Governor's mowing down of the Guardsmen and Rick's dispatching of the prisoners. There is a fine line between the two and you have to wonder depending on what happens to you, do you even notice when you become the guy with a room of floating heads.

    I suspect The Governor is a zealot, and they are always the worst kind of crazy in real life and the best kind of crazy in fiction. Which makes me glad I suck with this show.

    Oh and is it just me or is David Morrissey looking even hotter than usual? He was wearing the hell out of that waistcoat.

  • Rocabarra

    Definitely agreed on the hotness! Throughout the episode, my only thought was "I know he's probably 7 kinds of crazy, but damned if he isn't the sexiest BAMF this side of the zombocalypse!"

  • emmelemm

    "do you even notice when you become the guy with a room of floating heads."

    Well said.

  • Ted Zancha

    What sealed David Morrissey for me as the Governor is when Andrea was trying to flirt with him with the "Never say never line." His one step advance and shutting her down was so well done. I can not wait to see what they do with his character. And the heads. This season is going to be awesome.

  • Wednesday

    Never read the comics, so I don't know why the Governor feels like he needs an aquarium full of trophy heads, but damn, this episode built tension pretty effectively.

    I don't mind a slow reveal as long as *something* that seems consistent is eventually revealed.

  • Forbiddendonut

    I've been looking forward to this particular plotline since the show started, and I think they did a great job with it in the first episode.

    The guy playing the governor is great. The right amount of charm, presence, menace and absolute craziness. Again, like most characters, he's better on the show than in the comic. He has the look and voice and presence of a man who could pull off what he's pulling off (despite being psychotic) instead of a greasy pirate.

    It will be interesting to watch things shake out.

    I also liked the creepy scientist guy.

    He reminded me a bit of an creepy, evilish Gale Boetticher.

    I agree about Michoone, if she doesn't move past her glower and "I want my weapons" phase soon it will get a bit tiresome. That said, besides a few minutes in Episode 1, this is really her first full episode. A big part of her character is her reluctance to trust anyone, talk about her past, etc., so I don't think we can expect a swift bit of character development, especially in her current situation. Unless they totally "T-Dog" her, her development should come slowly over time, sort of like Daryl's. Her glowering line to Andrea about how she "never lost her shit" was great and hopefully hints at potential. It was my second favorite of the night after the governor's eerie, "Never." in response to Andrea's little "Never say never" quip.

    I heard some complain about the governor's ambush on the national guard and how they shouldn't have been able to get the drop on them so easily. While, it would have been niced to see at least one or two of the guys get a shot off before getting mowed down, I wasn't too bothered by it. Military outfits get ambushed all of the time. It happens. Here, you have a group of national guardsmen (I believe), who have been holed up for most of what's gone down. Shit falls apart and they venture out. They think the biggest threat is walkers, so that's what they are ready for. Walkers don't ambush or shoot at you, they wander out and are easy to deal with. The Govenor rolls in waving the flag, mentions their guy by name, they relax and... ambush.

    Last episode showed the difference between Rick's zombie-hardened crew and the prisoners who sheltered from it. Rick's group was much more deadly and effective having lived in this world for so long. You could say the same thing about the Govenor's people. This very likely wasn't the first time they ambushed some group of people and this unit of men had been largely holed up until just recently. Who knows if they had ever really had much combat experience. Throw into the mix that they're likely tired, hungry, strung out... Ambush.

    From the governor's perspective, it makes sense to kill the national guardsmen and take their stuff. You can't bring in a large, decently trained and relatively cohesive unit of people into a place like that. They could cause too much trouble. If they didn't like the way things were going, they could rally and overthrow the balance of things, because there are many of them and they could be bad asses.

    My view of how the Governor's crew works overall is that they take in people who they think they can control or handle. If you pick up one or two people, you bring them in, talk to them, get information out of them and if you think they can be good citizens, you let them live. If you think they are a liability or a potential threat, you kill them (or if they are already badly injured). Based on the conversation between the Governor and the scientist guy, they obviously think that Andrea has some information about Darryl and/or Rick's group and they think that info could be valuable. So, that's reason enough to keep them around and not kill them on sight.

  • thenchonto

    I thought the same thing about the evil Gale Boetticher scientist, but because he instantly made me think "GALE!", I have a bizarre soft spot for his beverage making ways and a gaping blind spot when it comes to the realities of his day job. Oh evil Gale, I forsee nothing but bad things in your future the minute Governor Fring's competition arrives. Run! Now! While you still can! Take your special tea, your jawless walkers, and one of those shiny army vehicles and get the hell out of dodge!

  • GDI

    "Again, like most characters, he's better on the show than in the comic."
    Doubtful. Andrea being a pussy, Lori and Carl are even worse in the show, Michonne losing dramatic (and literal) "ties that bind" angle by having to go with a practical (and utterly underwhelming) solution. Rick, just not that likable. Don't get me started with Dale.
    And don't kid yourself, the Governor here is all totalitarian control freak. Same as with Rick. The greatest part is that it's going to end in a Rick vs Gov'na showdown; there can only be one! Ugh...

    The biggest problem with the show is Robert Kirkman.

    Kirkman truly is the JJ Abrams of the comic world. He starts out strong, and then just flounders about, generally concluding the story (if they get that far) in flurry of contrivances.

    The Governor putting himself in that position against the NG is insanely stupid. He was the only target they saw, and he pulled out a weapon with dramatic flair. Are you honestly telling me he wouldn't get lit up? This why I can't take this show seriously; it just doesn't work tactically. Sure, the NG may or may not have died, being completely situational dependent (cover, accuracy of the attackers, if ambushers had to deal with an ambush by walkers, weapons malfunctions, etc). But the Governor would have been perforated 99% of the time. Privates fuck shit up.

  • Danielle Pudding

    GDI, I couldn't agree more. JJ Abrams has screwed up plenty of good chances to produce classic masterpieces (Lost, Prometheus etc) all for the shake of more air time and commercials. Now we see the same of Bob Kirkman.

    I find this school of script writing where characters act completely contrary to human nature or logic, quite imbecile, self-serving and exhausting.

    Everyone wants not only a shocking/novel premise of a good story, but also an equally good development of the story. Why is that so hard to comprehend? Why do they overproduce shitty series featuring concoctions of some human characteristics, not actual humans? Because they know nothing of human nature due to deficient education (haven't read ancient Greek or Roman history at all to see how human nature reacts to the possibility of imminent extinction) or are too lazy to think it out in their writing.

    For example The Walking Dead has pissed me off a million times
    with people failing to rise up to the urgency of the situation, either in their actions, or their moral composure (Power struggles in a group of less than 20 people, when you are surrounded by hundreds of millions of zombies? Wouldn't altruism kick in, until you're somewhere safe, like Alaska, or some isolated island, before psychopathic narcissism would show up its nice claws again?)

    Unfortunately for all of us, there is only one Battlestar Galactica.

    The Walking Dead is what BSG would be if the characters kept selfishly bickering about who would be leader after the toasters caused the nuclear holocaust and destroyed all the colonies.

  • GDI

    I like the series of downvotes. Apparently, pointing out the gaping inadequacies in a story with so much potential is a bad thing.
    I understand that the expectations of the average viewer aren't going to as high as mine (oooh, a show about zombies! how cool!), but even then, you have to note how sloppy the writing is at times.
    This show is running on novelty and shock value. I'll admit, even the comic books wear thin, especially after the Governor and prison story line.
    This problem is an inherent value of the series, not an issue of translation.

    That still doesn't excuse watering down the characters.

  • Forbiddendonut

    I guess it's lucky for the Governor that he managed to be in the 1%!

  • GDI

    1% is still a bit high, I'll admit. They could've gone through that situation, generally with the same result, but with different presentation.

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