This review contains spoilers.
3.11 I Ain’t a Judas
For the bulk of this season, Andrea has been an after-thought. There’s been potential for the character to become interesting, but none of the writers have really taken hold of it. Until, perhaps, this week. After weeks of being on the back burner to Michonne, The Governor, and even Milton, Andrea gets pushed to the centre this week as she finally starts to show some agency. After being passively guided by pretty much everyone around her this season, Andrea finally gets to do something of her own free will, only to have it more or less blow up in her face.
The ‘Andrea as New Lori’ meme that has taken over discussion of The Walking Dead seems to centre on comparing Comic Andrea to TV Andrea, specifically in ways that TV Andrea comes up short. People hate TV Andrea in the same way they once hated Lori, but it seems as though the show may have figured out something to make Andrea more interesting.
In a show with a lot of grey characters, Andrea’s shade of grey might be the one with the biggest potential to create drama in the show. Rick, Carl, Michonne, Hershel… we know that most of the prison’s population is pretty much on the good side of things; ditto The Governor on the darker side of grey. Characters like Andrea, Merle, and Daryl are necessary in any good drama because they could pick any side in the upcoming conflict and it would make sense. Will Andrea pick Rick and her old friends or Philip her lover? Does Merle have a real home in either group of survivors anymore? Will Daryl pick his blood family or his survivor family?
This week’s script, by Angela Kang, explores these issues in some detail, but with a subtlety that one doesn’t often get from The Walking Dead. There’s a lot said concerning Andrea’s loyalties, but it’s what isn’t said that matters most. There’s a posture the actors take in scenes with her, a guardedness that’s as close to underplaying something as this show gets. It’s all very cleverly shot and staged, and it gives some lesser-known characters like Milton—who is really growing on me—a chance to actually do some character building. Kang is almost successful at making Andrea conflicted, rather than just stupid. Not entirely, mind you, but she’s doing the best of all of the writers at handling Andrea’s unique situation.
When Greg Nicotero gets his hands on an episode as a director, he typically gets one with some really good special effects sequences. Whether that’s because he’s the FX guy or because he gets really lucky, I’m not sure. Then again, just about every episode has at least one good gory set piece, and this one’s no exception. It’s honestly one of the few times I’ve ever had to look away from the screen while watching something either from television or a movie; to ensure that readers realise this is not faint praise, Cannibal Holocaust is the only gore movie that forced me to turn it off (and that was because of the animal torture). Even though I know that all of TWD‘s effects are harmless, the way this particular scene was shot really got to me in the best way possible. The show’s co-executive producer and special effects guru, Nicotero is growing into a decent television director in his spare time, which isn’t a bad racket if you can get into it.
There are five episodes of The Walking Dead remaining in this season, and that gives the show plenty of time to surprise us with character deaths, allegiance shifts, and other fun plot trickery. Given the quick acceleration of the conflict between the prison and Woodbury, it seems as though this will get very messy before things seem to calm down, and I’d wager on The Governor lasting past the end of this season as the main antagonist. I would love to see a fourth season with a cat-and-mouse pursuit with Rick and the gang running from an armed Mad Max-style convoy of armed madmen. Of course, given the show’s inability to stick with one runner for longer than a season, who knows what we’ll actually get?
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Home, here.
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