***Review contains spoilers. And zombies, lots of zombies.***
Finally, the wait is over. After a two month, middle of Season 3 hiatus, zombie enthusiasts were back at it, glued to their televisions at 9pm on Sunday night for a new episode of The Walking Dead. Before the hiatus, TWD left off with brothers Merle and Daryl pitted against each other in a death match, brought to you by The Gov (man, he really knows how to be an asshole, eh?) So, let’s see how this all plays out, shall we?
At first, Merle started swinging at Daryl, which actually surprised me greatly, due to Merle’s previous sense of FAMILY FIRST. However, we soon find out that Merle is just putting on a show for The Gov, when Merle whispers to Daryl to follow his lead. Although, we never really get to see what Merle has planned, because Daryl’s rescue group (Rick and co.) swoop in to save the day, throwing smoke grenades and lighting up the Governor’s men with their assault rifles. The group escapes, but not before Daryl pulls off an awesome move to grab his signature crossbow. According to Steven Yeun (the actor who plays Glenn), Norman Reedus (Daryl) ad-libbed the move while shooting, as it wasn’t originally in the script.
After the group escapes from Woodbury, Rick realizes he’s got a major problem on his hands: Merle. Merle was known as the asshole in Season 1 (but has since passed the crown to The Gov) and he constantly brought drama to the otherwise well put together group. Another major oversight on Rick’s part, was that Merle beat Glenn to a pulp while he was in captivity and Merle’s buddy, the Governor, attempted to rape Maggie. Obviously, Rick doesn’t want Merle to be a part of the group. However, Daryl has become a very important member of Rick’s group, being Rick’s go-to guy when something is needed and Daryl wants his brother to be welcomed to the group. Unfortunately, Rick won’t allow it (as he shouldn’t), which leaves Daryl no other choice than to give an ultimatum: either Merle stays or Daryl leaves. This results in Daryl leaving the group, but not until after he wishes Rick all the best with Lil’ Asskicker and Carl.
There was one major disappointment in last night’s show, aside from my usual weekly disappointment that Andrea is still alive (easily the least likable character on TWD). There was a point where Glenn, Rick and Maggie were arguing on the road, just after Daryl split to go with Merle, in which you could see zombies starting to come into the picture. At first, the zombies appeared in the distance in the woods behind Glenn and I thought nothing of it. But then, when they framed to Rick, there were 3 or 4 zombies in the distance on the road as well. I thought for sure that Glenn, Rick and Maggie would have gotten caught up in their loud argument and not realized they had attracted a horde of zombies. But that didn’t happen and I’m very disappointed it didn’t. We haven’t seen this sort of “zombie presence” without any action following shortly after. It left me on the edge of my seat and I even tweeted, “uh oh…incoming zombie attack…I see them walking around in the woods! and coming up the road!! #stopyelling !!! #thewalkingdead” as it was happening. I was wrong though and Lesli Link Glatter, director, just went on to the next scene, making me look like a fool. Thanks, Lesli.
Glenn, Maggie and Rick’s argument did not happen with a COMPLETE lack of awesomeness, though. Glenn, in a fit of rage about Rick not killing Merle, face stomped a zombie to the point where there were undead brains splattered about the pavement. I gagged, but it was the only gory moment in tonight’s show.
After the group’s successful rescue mission, in which they brought gunfire to Woodbury, the townspeople revolted. Many of them packed up their vehicles and headed for the gate (good idea, get the hell out of Dodge before the boss leads you all to your demise!). Through all the commotion, a few zombies broke into Woodbury and attacked a couple of the residents. One of the residents is badly injured after a zombie takes a good sized bite out of his flesh, forcing the residents of Woodbury to look on in horror as one of their own is dying. The Governor appears and takes a gun to the dying man’s head, right after one of the other townspeople yells, “somebody, do something!” After shooting the man, the Gov doesn’t say a word; he just turns around and returns to his apartment. It was actually a pretty badass moment and made me like the Gov for a split second. Andrea tries to go tell him what is happening outside of his apartment, but he tells her to let the residents leave. The Governor and Andrea get into a verbal spar and none of the viewers really care about it, because well, they’re the two least-liked characters on the show.
Meanwhile, back at the prison, Tyreese and his group await the decision on their fate. Tyreese appears to be a man of honor and has a general goodness about him, which is impressive, considering he is a prisoner. Other members of the group suggest taking out the easy targets of Carl and Carol, who are the only ones guarding their escape route. Let me just point out how wrong they are about Carl being an easy target. This kid has grown just as much as Daryl has and is a vital asset to the group. Carl seems to have left all of the kid stuff behind and now wields his own gun. Carol though, not the same case, she really is an easy target. Although two of Tyreese’s group suggest overcoming Carl and Carol and stealing their guns, Tyreese is clearly opposed to the idea and proclaims that they are not those type of people.
Unbeknownst to Tyreese, he has left the fate of his group up to a now mildly deranged lunatic, aka Rick Grimes. Rick is clearly losing it and Andrew Lincoln (the actor who plays Rick) is doing a fantastic job with the part. There are moments in the show during which I feel that Rick might finally be normal again, but then he has his Mr. Hyde moments where he just snaps and becomes something altogether different. When Rick sees the ghost of Lori (we have to assume the ghost is Lori, as the director does not show the face well enough), he snaps and freaks out. He waves a gun in the air, shouts some sour words at her and provides everyone else in the room with the “Oh My God This Guy Is Nuts” face as they all slowly back away. Glenn, having been the only person in the room to see Rick freak out before, rushes Tyreese and his group out of the room in an attempt to diffuse the situation.
Overall, the episode was a fantastic return for The Walking Dead. It was action packed and had a lot of character development, which means that next week’s episode will probably be one of the slower ones, as that tends to be how TWD works. AMC continues to allow TWD to push the boundaries of what they’ll show on television. The face stomp from Glenn was hard to watch, but enjoyable, as it helps show the jaded and angry character that Glenn has become.