After two straight episodes featuring (mostly) non-stop action, the question on everyone’s mind was the following: Can The Walking Dead sustain an episode with more talking than action? Another question might well have been: Can The Walking Dead sustain two separate story lines running at once without the occasional check-in episode? The premiere episode featured all of the gang in a split hour, but the second was all Rick and company without even a mention of Michonne and Andrea. Did we forget about them?
As it turns out, The Walking Dead has not forgotten about Andrea and Michonne, and the two of them serve as the pendulum around which this episode rotates. Literally 95 percent of the episode has Andrea and/or Michonne on the screen at some point, and even when the scenes do not directly involve them, they seem to reference then in some respect.
I have to give a lot of props to Danai Guerira. While comic fans like myself love Michonne, and are very glad she’s made it into the television show, she’s not exactly the most relatable character on the program, nor is the the most realistic. I mean, she’s armed with a katana and has pet zombies following her around on chains, so she’s a little out there and she hasn’t gotten a great deal of character work on the show to bring her down to earth a little. Until now, that is. With the entire episode at her disposal, Guerira does some great work with Michonne, playing off of Laurie Holden’s Andrea very well. Without telling, they show just how close the two have gotten. There are a couple of brief, telling exchanges between new character Milton (Dallas Roberts), Andrea, and Michonne in which subtle cracks in Michonne’s toughness armor show through, and they’re all the more effective for Michonne’s poker face throughout the episode.
Running two parallel plots at the same time is a bold experiment for this particular program, and it actually seems to be working thus far. The space allows the larger cast in Rick’s scenario to breathe and fleshes out those characters, while this story allows the show to concentrate on Andrea, Michonne, and the new environment in which they find themselves, cut off from everyone they knew and trusted and left to their own devices. It’s an interesting counterpoint to Rick and company, and a credit to Evan Reilly’s script that the dialog-heavy episode still works.
If anything, the two story lines are working as fun house mirror images of one another. On one side, you’ve got Rick, all hard edges and stony silence and actions speaking louder than words. Rick does not manipulate; that’s Lori’s thing. Rick takes action and, at least this season, acts quickly and worries about consequences after the fact. He’s not only not afraid to get his hands dirty, he’s usually the lead dog in the fight.
However, the Governor (David Morrissey) seems to be shaking out in exactly the opposite way. Yes, the Governor is concerned only the with survival of Woodbury, but he’s also more manipulative. Witness his big, impressive rallying speech, the way he works on Andrea when he realizes she’s the weak link, the way he sells his town and lifestyle to both girls. The Governor leads, but indirectly. He’s the smooth, apparently evil counterpoint to Rick.
Even their two core groups seem to be bizarro versions of one another, right down to the racial composition (a black guy and an Asian). Woodbury looks like gorgeous Small Town USA; the prison is, uh… a prison. Woodbury has growing crops, food for all, endless supplies of weapons and medical supplies, spare everything, multiple houses with electricity and/or generators, and even a legitimate doctor. The prison has not enough supplies and weapons, only the discussion of farming in the distant future, no electricity, and not even a doctor.
The question that remains is simple. How long will the show leave the two plots separate? We know Andrea and Michonne have to get back with the group somehow, but the timing is the thing. Here’s hoping that their master plan won’t leave the two groups apart for the entirety of the season. The last thing anyone wants is a big search for Andrea storyline.
Read Ron’s spoiler-free review of the previous episode, Sick, here.