The Walking Dead season 3 episode 14 review: Prey

Review Ron Hogan 18 Mar 2013 - 07:00

How do you solve a problem like Andrea? Glen Mazzara has a plan in this week's compelling episode of The Walking Dead...

This review contains spoilers.

3.14 Prey

There are three episodes of The Walking Dead left in the third season, and thus far Glen Mazzara has addressed a great deal of the show's difficulties. He's sped up the plot, turned the zombies back into threats, introduced a brilliant human threat in the form of the Governor and his Woodbury cronies, as well as two of the most-wanted characters from the comic book, and he's resurrected the show from its second season doldrums. There's still one thing left on his plate: do something about Andrea. 

Director Stefan Schwartz deserves a lot of credit for what he's managed to pull off this week. He's taken an Andrea episode and turned it into a compelling, interesting, pulse-pounding bit of television by digging into his bag of directorial tricks and turning Andrea and the Governor into a full-fledged horror film. Andrea's flight from Woodbury initially reminds me a great deal of Duel, particularly when a running Andrea is being chased down by a pickup truck. After that, the episode remains a tense game of cat and mouse, with the Governor taking the role of the one-eyed serial killer and Andrea the helpless blonde victim. 

Of course, our Andrea has been far from the resourceful, clever Final Girl for most of her time in Woodbury, but she reverts to a more familiar Andrea when on the run and on the road, with some very quick thinking to balance out some very stupid decisions on her part. She's one of those that functions best when not given time to think; when left to ponder decisions, she'll inevitably over think and do the absolute wrong thing all the time. It leans heavily on horror movie tropes, such as the villain knowing where the hero is going to be at all points in the trip, but it's still a lot of fun. 

It was a wise decision on the part of writers Evan Reilly and Glen Mazzara to focus on Woodbury and Andrea exclusively this week. With the presence of Tyreese and his group, the ethical dilemma faced by Milton, The Governor's growing paranoia and dangerousness, Andrea's... presence, it's shaping up to be a very interesting setting for the show. As the build continues for the season-ending war (or so we assume), the weaknesses in both groups are starting to show and it seems everyone is cracking under the pressure. 

In particular, Milton is a weakness, albeit a brilliantly played one. Throughout the season, Dallas Roberts has been a bit unappreciated, but what he's been doing with Milton has been very good work. He's one of the show's better recent additions, and he adds a lot to his character with his mannerisms and expressions. He plays a great milquetoast egghead type, and Milton's inability to lie to anyone successfully is a nice break to the show's darkness with some awkward comedy. (Ditto the relationship between Tyreese and Sasha.) 

That's something you can say for the show. When they have to add an actor or character, they make good decisions on who to add and have definitely improved on the quality of actors they've pulled in (Danai Guerira does more with Michonne's facial expressions tonight in a five minute flashback than she has all season). The remaining regulars have dutifully stepped up their game in response. I can only hope that the improved actors continue to get a nice big budget around them, because if the show has to cut back in the fourth season as they did in the second season, it may derail all the good stuff that the cast and crew have accomplished this year. 

The Walking Dead is not going to be a show where you'll win Emmys for your work if you're not Greg Nicotero and KNB, because it's genre TV. But what they can do with good writers is produce good genre TV, combining human drama and zombie gore in an acceptable ratio for fans and critics alike. It's very possible to do if AMC doesn't get cheap, and my fear is that they'll think with their wallets rather than doing what's right for the programme.

Read Ron's review of the previous episode, Arrow on the Doorpost, here

US Correspondent Ron Hogan would love to see Andrea get the Lori send-off before this season is over. Of course, that probably won't happen, but we can hope, right? Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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Agreed with everything but michonne's facial expression. I think she smiled on the Morgan episode with Carl or Rick or both, but truly she should be mostly stoic I think, so if it was only in the flashback that she showed emotions other than the usual ones than so much the better

I loved the Terminator Governor warehouse scene. Even though I wanted the bad guy to win in this scene, it had me on the edge of my seat. Great music too.

Why didn't you get in the governer's car after releasing the walkers Andrea? Oh's Andrea, what else can we expect!?

I swear terminator was the 1st thing that popped into my head. Since the review is spoiler free I'll keep it that way, but man Greg nicotero outdid himself too. K&b amazed me. They always do. I mean the whole point of Twd is if we come together, the undead are a manageable threat, and when that fails, as its bound to do, nicotero takes over and pulls no punches. I'm tired of people complaining that its not comic book canon. I would complain more if it stuck really close and then deviated, I mean how is it Breaking dawn 2 satisfied its fans with the last battle almost to the letter, yet Grawp didn't fight the bad giants on Harry potter? I think Twd is going it right: 2 versions of the same story.

He probably took the keys. She still might have slashed his tires, though.

You guys serious? This was the worst episode of anything in this 2012/13 season, including shows on CW. Horrible. If this was good for you, you must not have ever seen a movie, ANY movie, or any tv show ever. This was horrible. A ghastly waste of time. The script for this must have come up to ten pages consisting mostly of "Andrea is being chased by the Governor" rpt X1000

"The Walking Dead is not going to be a show where you'll win Emmys for your work if you're not Greg Nicotero and KNB, because it's genre TV." True, but a great shame.

Was there something significant about the "HA HA HA" that was written on the wall in building that Andrea hid in? It seemed placed there for a hinting at something. It's just that the camera hovered on it just enough to make it stand out to me

I've decided that it was faster to get to the prison on foot through the woods than to drive on the roads. After all the Governor showed up on foot in the same place as Andrea did.

Yeah I think it was a combination of that and the fact that she was at the back of the building at this point. For all she knew the 30 seconds to get around front to the vehicle could have left her face to face with the Governor again. Not to mention she was in sort of a panic so the prime thought going through her head was run to the prison. She wasn't really thinking strategy.

It strikes me that AMC is lining themselves up to be the next FOX. Have a great series and kill it. Though instead of summarily canceling it, they seem to want to strangle them to death through budget meddling.

I can accept the existence of Zombies in this story and I'll buy into it wholeheartedly. What I don't accept is the illogical way they appear for dramatic effect. The number of times they've suddenly popped up with a hand round someone's neck is ridiculous. It happened this eve with Andrea leaning against the tree - the shot just prior showed nothing at all in close vicinity. A econd later a hand comes from behind and grabs her, followed by another 4 zombies within 10 feet. Just before that happened I said to myself "If a zombie grabs her through this tree I'm absolutely going to smash the telly up".

It's not the first time either. Series 1 - no idea which episode, had Dale keeping watch on top of the RV. High power rifle with scope, at least 10 feet in the air with no obstructed view to anything within a mile or two. Suddenly they're over-run. I remember wanting to shove my head through the TV on that occasion.

And the prison was over-run in similar manner a few eps ago when there were countless people on watch. No Zombies within site of earshot one minute, then 5 seconds later it was Zombie central. If there was a nearby cliff I'd have hurled the TV over it and myself just to be done with it. Please writers, please don't do it any more. It's awful.

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