“I Ain’t A Judas,” the eleventh episode of this season’s “The Walking Dead,” was one of the few episodes that felt more like a placeholder than anything else. It was an episode with little activity, less action, and even more frustratingly, by the end of it little had changed. Its pace was glacial, the thematic elements obvious, and its story was not a particularly stirring one save for a couple of moments. In short, it was a rather disappointing entry.
Perhaps the main reason for this lies in the fact that this episode centered around Andrea, one of the most divisive and difficult characters. Andrea has been inadvertently portrayed as either a fool or a dupe for so much of this season that to have her attempt to serve as the bridge between these two warring groups seems almost laughable at this point, even if the signs have been pointing in that direction for some time now. “I Ain’t A Judas,” as its not-so-subtle title alludes, was all about trust and betrayal. The lines have been drawn and after last week’s pitched final battle, the first shot (or several shots) fired. It’s clearer than it’s ever been that for these two groups, war is the only thing that lies ahead of them. Too much damage has been done, too much blood shed and too many lives shattered for there to be any other possibility.
Which makes the Andrea storyline all the more ridiculous in so many ways. Every viewer knew that this was the way it would be. Every character knew that there could be no peace. Yet Andrea continues to blunder through this season, oblivious to the signs that are practically slapping her in the face, determined to make the worst possible decision whenever the option avails itself. Her adamant refusal to see the truth about The Governor — the man with the zombie daughter, with the room full of heads, the man with delusions of tyrannical grandeur who pits her friends in gladiatorial battles against each other and who is conscripting children into his army— has made her quite possibly the dumbest character the show has ever had. Now, she’s been inexplicably cast as a wannabe peacemaker, heading to the prison to try to broker a truce. After learning of all their losses, after a painful confrontation with Michonne where finally we get a hint of personality and emotion and poignancy from that depressingly neglected character, after all of that, she instead decides that their leader is damaged and their cause isn’t worth staying around for. Say what you want about how they’ve handled Rick’s breakdown, but dude lost his wife. You’d think she might have some sympathy for that. You’d think after seeing how her oldest remaining friends in the world are doing, she’d want to stay and help. Even Merle is staying and helping — legitimately helping, for God’s sake.
But not Andrea. In the face of now-overwhelming evidence that her lover is completely, next-level bananas, she chooses to return to Woodbury where she fails yet again in doing the one thing that might have actually made a difference. I’ll bet all the money in my pocket that in the end, she’ll either end up dead by the Governor’s hand, or she’ll be the one to kill him. Either ending won’t be the least bit satisfying, though.
All was not lost, however. The episode had its bright spots. Herschel continues to develop into a more complex, stronger character with each week. This week, his strength was on full display, as he barked down Rick, demanding his best out of him, something that few have had the courage to do. Yet more stirring was his meeting with Merle, where he stared into that hornet’s nest of crazy Merle has for a mind and came out unscathed. It was a solid scene featuring excellent performances by both players. Michael Rooker has been killing it all season, but this new development, the keener, more intelligent side brought out by his warped sense of brotherly love, has been a fascinating evolution to observe.
Michonne finally showed signs of life, finally got to be more than a glare and a blade, so that was refreshing. Carl continues to reset my opinion of him — after secretly hoping for his death in Season Two, I genuinely like Chandler Riggs’ performances now. He’s created a solid image of a boy forced to grow up too fast and too soon, and he’s nailing it. Carol becomes stronger with each episode, becoming more calculating and sharp as time passes. Beth… sings pretty, I guess. Lord, what a useless character she is.
Yet those were all the little things. Taken as a whole, “I Ain’t A Judas” was not a particularly satisfying episode. We started with the group desperately trying to figure out how to survive the Governor’s eventual assault, and that’s how we ended. We started with Andrea blindly in his thrall, and that’s how we ended. It was an episode that felt like it was spinning its wheels, cycling through the same themes in order to kill time until we can have our inevitable grand finale.