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"The Walking Dead" - "When The Dead Come Knocking": What You Want And What You Need Don't Mean That Much To Me

By TK | TV Reviews | November 27, 2012 | Comments ()


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So… I’m guessing there’s going to be a few less comments about how hot the Governor is.

“When The Dead Come Knocking,” the seventh episode of “The Walking Dead,” was another prime example of how the writers have abandoned all pretense of a world with hope and kindness in it. It was an idea I’d briefly wondered about last season: all of these people that Rick and company had encountered — the Latino gangbangers, Hershel’s family and friends — all kind and helpful souls. Sure, there was Shane serving as the worm in Rick’s apple, but otherwise, the end of the world was looking like something that brought out the best in people. A scenario that the cynic in me finds highly unlikely.

Yet up until now, that was how they played it, with the exception of the two gentlemen encountered in the bar last season… and, of course, Merle. Ah, Merle. Michael Rooker is having entirely too much fun with the character this season, and it’s been a sick, uncomfortable joy to watch an actor so completely embrace his role. Merle was a fascinating figure this week, a kidnapper and torturer, without pause or mercy, yet also methodical and contemplative at times. One can’t help but wonder if his occasional quiet rebelliousness towards the Governor on the subject of Daryl will eventually lead to a reckoning.

Rooker wasn’t the only one acting his ass off this week. Yet again, the pairing of Lauren Cohen’s Maggie and Steven Yuen’s Glenn continues to be an absolutely riveting one. Yuen shone this week as Glenn, presenting an entirely new side to himself, as noted shrewdly by Merle. Gone is the timid wallflower of the past two seasons — Glenn, through action and experience and perhaps most of all, his relationship with Maggie, is a fully realized character now, capable of love and determination and, as we saw here, an all-encompassing fury. His bound battle with the zombie was an exercise in violence and desperation, a seething, rage-filled cage match.

And for every ounce of rage we found in Glenn, we found defiance and courage in Maggie. In one of the most uncomfortable, disconcerting scenes ever, Maggie is forced to sit and helplessly hear her lover beaten and tortured, only to then have to endure the absolutely horrid encounter with the Governor. That moment, where she strips for his cold, dead eyes was filled with a combination of anger, vulnerability, shame, and loathing, and Cohen managed to convey each and every emotion with a handful of looks and a few lines of dialogue. Between that moment and her moment of presenting the baby to Rick, Cohen has proven herself to probably be the best actress the show has to offer.

But nothing could prepare most viewers (the non-readers, at least) for just what the Governor was capable of. He was an absolute monster in this episode, and David Morrisey is, no pun intended, absolutely killing it this season, proving to be one of the more memorable TV antagonists in quite some time. It’s not that he’s dangerous or evil. It’s that he’s cold. Cold, and calculating and remorseless and entirely without conscience. The dichotomy of his tender moments with Andrea versus his manipulation and unflinching humiliation inflicted upon Maggie shows a man with nothing but darkness inside him. If you were wondering what the real Governor is, we can’t help but think that that one, the one we saw gazing at Maggie like a piece of meat, the one who considered brutalizing her not even for a moment’s pleasure, but simply to get what he wants — that’s the real one. What Andrea and the rest of Woodbury sees is a brilliant, devastating facade, one that scares the hell out of people.

Speaking of Andrea, I actually thoroughly enjoyed her scene with the nebbish, dysfunctional Milton. It was a strange interjection into the show, a curious bit of pseudo-science and philosophy mixed in with all the torture and violence, yet also an oddly welcome respite. Milton is creepy as hell and I wouldn’t drink anything he offered me, but actor Dallas Roberts is doing a fine job with the character, and the scene was riveting and smartly written, even when it was a little sad.

But there was more to the episode than Woodbury, and there were some uplifting moments back at the prison. Carol’s return was sweet and touching and genuinely heartfelt, and Melissa McBride has finally been given a chance to do something more with her character this season, to our benefit. Rick’s solemn moment with Carl and the naming of the baby were solid moments and demonstrated that Chandler Riggs is also developing his character — Carl is actually becoming not just tolerable, but likable. I swear, I never thought I’d see the day. And the expedition to Woodbury was a gruesome affair, particularly their tragic encounter with the hermit in the cabin (though seriously, what was up with the dog?).

And then, there’s Michonne. Unless the writer’s pull their heads out of their asses, she’s going to go down in show history as the first character ever that fans desperately want to love, but end up hating. The writing for her character is inexplicably flat-out abysmal. She had a moment, a shining moment in the final seconds of last week where she showed a heady combination of courage and a desperate need for help. And then this week, it’s back to stupid, cryptic proclamations, an unwarranted obstinate arrogance, and a refusal to use anything resembling logic. The greatest stupidity of all is this: Why does she never mention Andrea? Are we expected to believe that in the many months she spent with Andrea, they spoke so little of Andrea’s experiences that she can’t make the connection as to who these people are? Because the alternative is that she understands who they are, yet doesn’t want to… what? Play her hand to soon? They helped her, and then she chose to go back to Woodbury with them. And then to never mention Merle’s or Andrea’s names at any point?

All of those things are possibilities, chance oversights by Michonne, a character under great stress and pressure. Yet to have all of them happen at once is a classic example of writers who are forcing drama. Manufacturing it at the expense of character development. If they have reasons for Michonne’s continued recalcitrance, I cannot understand them. If they have reasons for her cryptic nonsense, for no one being able to connect these critical dots, they simply aren’t good ones. It’s done simply to force a confrontation later down the line, yet it hurts the story now. I’ll continue to hold back on judging Gurira’s acting, simply because the show runners seem intent on writing her into a hole that no performance can climb out of. For the love of God, at least let her use another facial expression.

Michonne was the painful reminder of the shows flaws in the wake of an otherwise excellent, thought-provoking, and terrifying episode. It’s a shame. Because there is a hell awaiting Rick and his companions, a hell that even Michonne doesn’t fully understand. That hell will be found in the Governor’s men when he takes off the mask, and I fear it will be horrific and have far-reaching consequences. There’s a cold determination driving the Governor, a determination to destroy anything that he can’t control, to subjugate and torture anything that stands in his way.

Oh, and then there’s the whole zombie daughter and head collection thing.







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Michonne is turning out to be the grown up version of Homeland's Dana. But it's okay--Rooker makes up for her.

  • I glanced at that header pic and I seriously had a moment of "why is T-Dog in that shot?!"

  • Odnon.

    Yeah, Michonne, for now, is one dimensional. But she's had less time than the others to develop, and she's a "loner" trying to figure out how to play these situations. I don't find her as annoying as some.
    I hate Merle. Him, I find one dimensional and "psychopathy".
    And as for Carol, I love the way she is developing. She was weak earlier on, yes. no doubt due to her own situation. And though, as some state below, her development may be tied to the awesome Daryl, I think it is being done beautifully. They are actually developing together. He is gaining more compassion from her and I think she is becoming more badass because of him. I wait for her to go full awesome soon. Warrior woman par excellance. She couldn't have survived in the prison, being chased by a gang of zombies without some guile and fighting spirit.
    I just want to know, who cuts her hair? Barber shops must be rare in this world.

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    I mentioned it above, but with Michonne I'm not even worried about character development. You're right, that can come. But couldn't they at least make her, you know, not stupid? Not stubbornly, willfully cryptic and maybe have her stop giving ominous warnings while simultaneously WITHHOLDING CRITICAL INFORMATION THAT MIGHT MAKE PEOPLE TAKE SAID WARNINGS SERIOUSLY?

  • Simulacrum 1138

    "For the love of God, at least let her use another facial expression.

    So much this. Maybe they can get some laxatives at the store where they found the baby formula.

  • superasente

    1. The best moments of this episode, and indeed of the whole season, have been the unspoken quiet looks these actors have exchanged. They speak so loudly and clearly what the characters are thinking and feeling. From the opening sequence of the season in which they hungrily and desperately clear out the house, to Hershell's look of worried terror at Rick's new phone calls, to Carol's realization that for the baby to be there Lori must have died -- these quiet moments are driving the show.
    2. That green car/product placement-mobile is the most distracting thing on TV. It never dirties. It's in every fucking episode. I hate that car. If there is any justice in the world, that car will die in a terrible explosion.
    3. I don't agree that Micchone is getting a raw deal from the writers. She's being flung from one action piece to the next, with nary a moment to catch her breath and have an actual conversation with anyone. How many episodes have there been? And how many times have we seen that sword decapitate something? Not many, and very frequently. And I also don't agree that she would instantly be open with Rick's group. Even if Andrea had told Micchone everything about them through rose-colored glasses (which she almost certainly would not have done, since she spent much of the last season complaining about their disorganization and planning to leave them), Micchone still isn't the type of character to see them for their good. She's skeptical. She would be more likely to think to herself, "Oh, this is the group that left Andrea for dead. What a bunch of dicks." I think once she has a chance to sit and speak with someone, we'll see her develop more.
    4. Numbers make things easier to keep track of.
    5. No-one read this far.

  • mona_sterling

    I did!!

  • I didn't shed a single tear for Lori's death, but damn if my eyes didn't well up at Carol's reaction to learning of her death. Melissa McBride was fantastic in that little scene.

    And if Maggie, Glenn, OR Daryl die this season, I'm rioting.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Carl > Rick, I am so over Rick. Fuck Andrea, SMH!

    And you're dead on about the writers forcing drama. That's what will kill the show for me. They are destroying one of the more bad-ass characters in recent memory, and for what?

  • Also - New T-Dogg was the most New T-Dogg that he could have possibly been in this episode.

  • Blake

    I don't think new T-Dogg is long for this world with Tyrese coming...

  • Maybe the writers will surprise us and have a whole THREE black characters on the same teevee show, alive at the same time.

  • Blake

    Remember this is AMC "Here" (where "Story" and not necessarily where black or minority characters "Matters").

    And his name is Oscar so we can retire "New T - Dogg".

  • We can't get rid of Two-Dog because Fallout has a character named Three Dog already.

  • emmelemm

    Agreed on all counts.

    Glenn and Maggie were amazing this episode, the guy playing the Governor is killing it (he is THE scariest thing going), and Michonne continues to be a frustrating and confusing character.

  • prairiegirl

    Great recap and you've pretty much summed up all of my thoughts about the episode. I was blown away by Glenn and just kept thinking that the Governor and Merle need to watch out because he's going to be coming for their asses for vengeance when he gets the chance.

    Maggie had me shuddering throughout her scenes with the Governor and when he went and kissed and caressed her in front of Glenn I felt like I wanted to throw up. I loved how she kept her eyes fully on Glenn throughout that scene; it was as though doing so was the only thing keeping her from screaming her head off (as she was right to want to do).

    As for Michonne, I'm not giving the writers a pass here but the only thing I can think is that perhaps she is holding back the information she has until she has a better handle on how she wants to play her hand. As several people noted below, WE know that Rick and company are good guys, but she has to be on guard until they have fully proven themselves to be so. THOUGH, after all of her time with Andrea, you'd think she would have known that they could be trusted.

    And I, for one, have never found the Governor appealing (from an attraction standpoint) and this episode just put him into "run-the-hell-away-as-fast-as-you-can" territory. He gives me the shivers.

    Looking forward to the next episode with baited breath. . .

  • Artemis

    I think Maggie is more likely to kill the Governor than Glenn. The way her eyes got all hard and cold when he had her on the table -- if I was him, I'd watch my back.

  • I almost threw my TV out the window when Rick grabbed Michonne's wound. She literally just finished saying that the guy who took Rick's friends was the same guy who shot her and he immediately starts torturing her as if she was the kidnapper? He hadn't even asked the question nicely yet! Even with Rick's recent reality breaks and all his stresses, it seems like an incredibly unrealistic reaction. Seriously, why would he do this?

  • Brian

    I agree on everything written about Michonne, however I thought it was worth noting that once she was let into the prison, her situation closely mirrored the one she was thrust into at Woodbury. Nice group of strangers willing to help, but takes her weapon, locks her up, say they just want to help. WE know that Rick and Friends are genuine, but to Michonne it looks like a Woodbury situation all over again. It isn't until she sees the reunion of Carol into the group, and Herschel fixing her leg, that maybe she realizes this group is different.

    Not mentioning Merle to Rick and Friends is unforgivable though. When she saw them kidnapped she heard Merle talk about Daryl and it was clear he knew Maggie and Glenn.

  • lowercase_ryan

    She was travelling with just Andrea for MONTHS, there is no way she didn't recognize Rick & Co. for who they were. The writers may ignore it, but it's virtually impossible in my book. That was my first impression during the little through the fence meeting she had with Rick. There was recognition in her eyes. Not to mention WHY THE HELL APPROACH THE PRISON LIKE THAT?!?!?!?

  • Honestly Michonne isn't that different in the book. Her first major interactions with the group start when she shows up out of friggin' nowhere and starts tagging along for no reason. I'd say half her time in the book is spent quietly dispatching zombies with her sword while saying very little. That's fine for comics. It's just kind of lousy for television. You can't satisfy the audience and have her open up and spill her guts without changing an essential part of the character. That's what they did with the character of Andrea (who is actually competent in the books) and look at how well that's working out.

    What we need is a Michonne centered flashback episode. Show her shortly before and during the zompocalypse. That'll give insight into the character without chucking her important stoic demeanor into the trash. Can't do that now without spoiling the truly awesome momentum they've built, but it'd be a nice second or third episode after the season break.

  • In defense of Michonne, she JUST got done running away from people trying to kill her after first welcoming her into their town and immediately taking her weapons and her freedom from her. Rick brings her into the prison, throws her in a cell, takes her weapon from her and says he will help her. I can understand her being a little standoffish as well. Although the whole not saying obvious things which could help a lot of people possibly not end up dead with their heads in a jar is annoying and reminds me of the worst parts of Lost. She was clearly impressed with the group in the field though and how they were operating, so I think she'll come around.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    I'm only going to nit-pick one little thing that has no impact but I simply couldn't let go of. After the Governor and Andrea have had their tryst and Andrea is getting dressed we get a gratuitous booty shot. I don't have an issue with the booty shot, I do have an issue with believing that women are running around the zombie apocalypse wearing nice white thongs. Next week, Michonne disposes of one hundred zombies wearing six inch stilettos.

  • Frank Berrodin

    She'd probably have a few butt cellulite or maybe some sickly legs too. I don't think there are any gyms still open in the Zombie Apocalypse. Nice buns though.

  • I noticed that, too. Come the zombie, or any apocalypse, I'm only packing, solid, cotton granny panties.

  • sherlockzz

    My first reaction as well but, let's be kind and say that she bought them at the Zombie Victoria's Secret lingerie store in Woodbury.

  • littlealbatross

    Well I know that in the zombie apocalypse I'll be sure to pack clean, uncomfortable, lacy thongs- they are just perfect for running, jumping, kicking and all out battle. Oh wait, I was thinking about my athletic, spandex, breathable, sweat-wicking, ass covering (and yet form fitting) boy-shorts. You know the underwear that actually makes sense in the apocalypse. It is the little things that no one seems to think of...

    But if anyone is going to show no practical sense, it would be Andrea. Worst taste in men.

  • linz

    totally agree! and the fact that the bra and panties matched! I can't even manage that now, much less during a zombie apocalypse

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    The scene with Maggie and the governor has to be one of the best acting moments this show has ever done. I could not take my eyes of Maggie's face as she stood there, almost ready to crack, yet refusing to allow herself to. Absolutely brilliant stuff.

    Also, i'm fully taking any blame I have with Michonne off the actress (for now), her line in the prison 'I didn't ask for your help' was just utterly ridiculous considering she had just walked up to the fence with a face that begged' HELP ME'. Those writers need to sort her character out.

  • James

    So if a male character becomes fully realized due to his relationship with a female could we call it sexist in the same way we if the genders were reversed?

  • Artemis

    If a female character became a more interesting and fleshed-out person through the relationship, that would be fine. In fact, that's what's been going on with Maggie, and it's been great to watch.

    The problem is when shows think that sticking a woman with a guy automatically equals character development, or is the only way to flesh out a female character -- Andrea has been treading pretty close to that line for a while now, and Lori was similar.

  • mona_sterling

    Thank you!
    Carol-Season 1 Carol's development was centered around her being a battered wife, but once her husband was killed, season 2 Carol was a non-person who sat in an RV or tent every episode waiting for other people to find her daughter. Hopefully they continue developing her character, but if they do it through having her sleep with Darryl, I'm gonna be pissed.

    Andrea-Season 1 Andrea was OK, but there wasn't much to her except the fact that she was devastated by her sister's death. Season 2 Andrea was alternately suicidal, homicidal, or horny, depending on what male character she happened to be around (Dale, Shane). Season 3 Andrea just appears to be horny. And stupid.

    Lori-Well, it's all been said. The character literally hinged on who she was sleeping with. That being said, I find it interesting that as soon as Rick appeared to be through with her for good, she got killed off.

    I'm afraid Michonne will only utter actual dialogue after they hook her up with Two-Dog. Sigh.

  • TK

    This.

  • mairimba

    One thing to point out is the fact that no one can actually believe that about 10 people, including two kids, could've cleaned out the prison. Michonne just laughed when Beth told her about it and the Governor is in disbelief, mad at Merle cause they thought it was impossible to do it. Glenn and Andrea have said that the Woodbury people don't really stand a chance outside of those walls. Rick and the gang have been fighting their way out though hell. It'll be really interesting to see how everything goes down next week.

    Oh. And does anyone watch The Talking Dead? They showed a clip for next week's episode that makes me fear for the future of Michonne.

  • Bodhi

    Hubs & I watch the hell out of Talking Dead (we are Nerdist junkies). I'm picking up what you are putting down, but I honestly don't think that they' kill her off so soon. The writers clearly don't give a damn about the development of the character, but killing her off so soon would be, I dunno, a waste of time. I get that it doesn't matter, but still... she is such an integral part of the books

  • Blake

    Lauren Cohen and Steven Yuen were terrific in this episode. Glen has always been a poorly written and under used character in the series (mostly as bait or comic relief) and never been taken seriously.

  • ed newman

    Although he has definitely been under (and sometimes poorly) used I can't agree that he has been poorly written, at least not by this show's standards. He has had some character development in scenes with Dale and Maggie over the last two seasons and he has always shown exceptional courage and resourcefulness. This season's evolution into a near Daryl-level badass is only believable because the writers did set some groundwork.

  • Blake

    I totally agree but it wasn't until his relationship with Maggie that you started to get a sense of who he is. In the past he has always been one of the "kids" (an extremely capable one), a secondary character and I hope that has finally changed and he will be viewed as one of "adults" (Rick, Daryl, Dale, Shane and Lori).

    Side Note: If anything happens to Maggie (or Glen) this show is dead to me.

  • Fredo

    Once again, the tensest scene in the whole show involved no zombies. That Governor-Maggie scene (and the undertones of a similar scene between the Governor and Michonne) was among the most disturbing on TV this season. And that's all down to Morrissey's work with his character and how we can all accept the fact that he would, if it was necessary, violate Maggie and not hesitate in doing so.

    And this season continues to be a stark upgrade over the last simply because the characters are involved in action. There's things happening. The "sit around and talk about things" moments are few and far between.

    As for Michonne, I think we will reach a crossroads on her character soon. Either she will join Rick's group and open up OR she'll bail on everyone and disappear. She can't continue going on as she is unless she decides that none of these people are worth a damn and if that's the case, she shouldn't be on the show. But I'm guessing that's where the writers are leading her character.

  • Ted Zancha

    Yeah the tension in the final scenes was unbearable. I thought the Governor was going to kill Andrea for some reason.

    Also, I said that Norman Reedus should be the star of the show last week. I still stand by him being my favorite. However, while Lauren Cohen was pretty amazing, Steven Yuen is nipping at Norman Reedus' heels. He was phenomenal in this episode.

  • SJ

    I'm holding out hope that once MIchonne is in a position where she's not surrounded by violent, flesh-crawlingly awful monsters (and the zombies, of course), she'll actually turn out to be a great character. I did kind of find it poignant when the rest of the group is tearfully celebrating their reunion/grieving for their loss, and Michonne is on the outside, looking at a full range of human emotions that she's long since cut herself off from.

    Hey, if the Carl hatewagon can come to a halt, I can hope the same can happen for Michonne, right?

  • Kind of said the same thing above. They can't give us a lot on Michonne without stalling the prison/Woodbury momentum. Best to let that wind down before giving us a heap of backstory.

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    They don't have to give her a ton of backstory. They just have to make her not stupid.

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