The Walking Dead: Made to Suffer

Posted on December 04, 2012

Watching that very confusing firefight, as the Grimes posse invaded Woodbury to rescue Glen and Maggie, the question occurred to us: Who are we supposed to be rooting for here? You could – and by all means should, if you’re so inclined – argue that a story doesn’t necessarily have to have someone to root for, but this is more or less an adventure show in the Lost mode, with horror overtones. Rick is positioned as the protagonist of the story and everyone who falls in with his group is an ally, although some allies leave or are dispensed with when they become problematic, like Shane. Fine. That works, and it’s made sense up until now.

And certainly, we wouldn’t argue that The Governor is a good guy, necessarily. The severed heads alone make that point a particularly difficult one to argue, but when you add using the threat of rape against prisoners – and the fact that he takes prisoners at all, for that matter – along with a whole host of other downright strange, if not sick actions, it’s easy to cast him as the antagonist; the dark, mirror version of Rick.

But this episode – in fact, this whole season – seems to want to cast shades of grey over the whole thing. The Governor is clearly insane and monomaniacal, but Woodbury is something of a paradise for the many people who live there. Rick has also had his bouts of craziness and the people in his group keep getting killed and have yet to build a life beyond wild-eyed subsistence living.

It’s understandable why Rick and his group felt the need to rescue Glen and Maggie, but watching them tear apart Woodbury and fire upon people who more than likely have no idea who Glen and Maggie are, let alone what was done to them, was hard to take in a “rooting for this character” way. But what really set off this moment of viewer soul-searching in us was Michonne and her actions this episode.

Without going into what happens in the books, let’s just say that the Michonne of the books had good reason to hate the Governor and a reader would have had no problem watching her put out his eye in rage. But what, exactly is Michonne’s beef with him? Yes, he sent Merle after her to kill her, and we’re not suggesting that she should have just shrugged that off, but watching her go all feral on him was a little hard to take because the writing of the show hadn’t really done enough to set up this conflict between them. In other words, as the two of them tangled, knocking over fish tanks and beating the shit out of each other, we found ourselves asking the question, “Wait. Why is this happening exactly?” To us, that’s not a particularly good sign. We enjoy a little vagueness in our dramatized moral conflicts, but this was so vague as to leave us almost completely uninterested in the outcome. Even worse, it made Michonne look as crazy and morally conflicted as the Governor is, if not more so. Essentially, we were watching two crazy people try to kill each other with no real setup as to why they were doing it.

Again; without going into the details of it, in the books, the Governor was full-on evil and Michonne was pretty much full-on heroic, albeit in the wounded, dark, anti-hero sense of the term. The Governor’s actions on the show are a lot less horrifying than his actions in the books and we think that watered-down version of him hasn’t helped the story much. We suppose the show creators are trying to cast him as a charismatic leader type and explain why people follow him so willingly, but it hasn’t quite worked as well as it should have, and the result is that Rick’s entire group were the ones who looked more villainous here. Yes, it was good and right of them to rescue Glen and Maggie, but how many innocent people did they kill in order to do that?

To reiterate: we have no problem with shades of grey and we don’t need a square-jawed Superman type to lead the story for us, nor do we need a Hitler-level villain. But from a narrative standpoint, the raid on Woodbury was as confusing to us as… well, the raid on Woodbury, which was smokefilled and chaotic and you never really knew where people were in relation to each other while it was going on. This isn’t a complaint; not really. If the show wants to go this route we’ll be impressed with its commitment to keeping the story as dark as possible, but in the long term, it could wind up as a series of shadow plays; vaguely defined characters clashing with other vaguely defined characters for reasons that elude the audience. We’ll see where it goes when the show comes back after its break, but the raid on Woodbury may just wind up being a defining moment for the show going forward.

In other news, the show’s tendency to kill off one black male in order to bring a new one into the cast has gone beyond slightly amusing and headed straight toward offensive. We’re happy to see the Tyreese of the books show up, but there really was no need to kill off Oscar in order to get it done.




[Photo Credit: AMC]

Please review our Community Guidelines before posting a comment. Thank you!

  • Vera L-

    the snapping heads on the ground were freaky weird. 
    I hope Darryl and Merle decide to turn around and take on the governor and his minions. 

    I didn’t realize that the actress (Laurie Holden) who plays Andrea is 43. Nice to see someone other than a nubile 20 something portrayed as head turning and sexy…

    • MilaXX

       not really. She may be 43, but she is still white and thin.  You could swing a cat and find 10 actresses working on tv now who fit that description.

      • CozyCat

        True, but TV has become the refuge for the sexy 40+ actress.  You could swing quite a few cats and not be so lucky in movies….

    • LeBarron

      “I hope Darryl and Merle decide to turn around and take on the governor and his minions.”

      In a season where I have been continually surprised, I thought, for sure, I could count on Daryl and Merle being pit against each other in an epic, brotherly battle.  But the way things played out, they’ve actually been forced on the same side, and it seems they will have to work together against the Governor/Woodbury.  I did not see that coming.  Well played, writers.  Well played.

      Is it February 10, yet?!

      •  I’ve felt for a while that while Merle is not stupid and has been playing his own game.

    • turtleemily

      Although in the books, Andrea’s just finished college, hence the roadtrip with Amy when everything goes south.

  • What threw me was why we needed that flashback to Shane in the middle of the firefight. It didn’t really add anything to the scene. We already know that Rick is having some difficulties, and we know that Shane is dead. I found it a bit incongruous that they would choose to show us that, whether or not it is in the books (which I haven’t read, and wont until the series os over).

    • Topaz

      I quite liked that moment. It suggested that Rick isn’t just cracking up in quieter moments when he has time to breathe and think, but right in the middle of a firefight when they’re all up against the wire. It suggests his emotional issues are becoming a serious liability for the group and I’m interested in how that’s going to be dealt with in future episodes.

      I completely agree that the killing black characters is a serious serious issue, especially given that they’re just dumping black characters that they’ve made almost no effort to flesh out, develop, or depict relationships with other characters for. I find it hard to believe the obviously very intelligent writers/producers would be completely oblivious to how it’s coming across, which suggests that to some extent they’re doing it on purpose. Really, really problematic.
      I was also becoming frustrated by just how GREY it’s all becoming. Knowing about what happened in the comics, it made everything make so much more sense in terms of Lichonne’s beef with the Governor, and while I think a straight up evil character doesn’t work very well on TV when they have to be engaged in sustained conversation, they’ve gone a tad too far in the other direction. The problem is that although he’s done some terrible things, and I still can’t really get over those soldiers he murdered, I also can’t help but respect just how far he’s protected and grown this community. I want that community to be safe and so, while I’m not rooting for the Governor, I am rooting for them. He’s done some awful things, but mostly out of the sight of characters like Michonne – who mostly seems to hate him because she gets a bad “vibe” off of him – and that just makes her come across as sort of viciously prejudiced rather than wary, calculating and understandably vengeful.

      I was less bothered about the raid on Woodbury though. Glen himself said earlier in the season that he was scared by just how many people he would be willing to hurt in order to protect one of his group – and this raid just proved that everyone else feels exactly the same. It seems to be playing on our biological tendency to form extremely strong group identities that rejects outsiders – something we’ve been able to dilute in a society where threats to our survival are comparatively scarce and resources are plentiful, but that in the world they inhabit would become an overriding prerogative. I don’t think it makes them bad characters, it just suggests that they’re in deep survival mode and that’s completely consistent with the context.

      •  They’ve definitely watered down the Governor of the books- you could argue that he’s a more complex character, but is that a strength?

        • Topaz

          At first I could see the necessity of it because this season is trying for realism in the characters and a moustache-twirling baddie would have been incongruous, but they haven’t done enough to try and explain the motivation of other characters in light of the change. Michonne killing the zombified version of his daughter just seemed like an unbelievably dick move and given that she’s supposed to be smart it just struck me that she wouldn’t have done something in that situation that would so blatantly have sent the Governor into total blind rage against her. Trying to have her assassinated was obviously going to make her mad, but if anything it would have made her more inclined to stick with the safety of the prison gang. Only the sort of evil that was done to her in the comics could have fed her hunger for revenge enough to override that very sensible plan. As it was she just came across as extremely foolhardy and impulsive, which is fine if that’s how they want to depict her. But it seems like a bit of a loss given just how awesome she was in the comics.

          •  Michonne is coming across as attitude without sufficient motivation. If I hadn’t read the comics I could even put it down to a racial thing.

  • dress_up_doll

    I admit to being pretty confused during the whole raid on Woodbury. However, I also admit to rooting for Rick’s posse to win and basically get the hell out of town (the greater part of me just wanted the scene to end). I do agree with you boys that they didn’t offer enough of an explanation as to why Michonne went so nuts on The Governor/Phillip. While the beast in me enjoyed seeing her take him down I also thought the girl was a bit cray cray and I wondered if this was actually done on purpose rather than lazy writing on behalf of the show’s writers.

    • VermillionSky

      Without going into details, it was my impression from the books that Michonne was not all together there before she even met the Governor.  Maybe I interpreted certain scenes in the book incorrectly, but that was my impression.

      • Rebecca Jay

        That is my impression also of Michonne, just from the TV show – I haven’t read the books.  I find her more loosey-screw than heroic.

  • KateWo

    Hmm…you bring up a lot of good points and even though the motives were a little foggy (heh) I was completely enthrall end in this episode. I’ve never been on the edge of my seat so much with a show before. I wondered why the Gov. didn’t have his patch and I love how he got it. The Michonne explanation for me is either a) she’s in love with Andrea or b) she knows the Gov killed those military, is brainwashing people, sent a group to kill her, and will keep killing people trying to survive outside of Woodbury. I think those are enough reasons for the audience to figure out without it being said directly. I think what we’re missing is Michonne explaining more about the evils of the Gov. to Rick because I think he may have tried a peaceful negotiation. But if Rick knew the Gov. hunts and kills other groups then it makes sense for Rick to attack.

    In my opinion, the sloppy writing of this episode was Maggie hesitating to shoot Merle again. Total plot driving character. They could have had some random dude come in to get them that Maggie shoots and the rest of the scene could have played out unchanged.

    Also, Daryl and Merle – I like what they did, it was not what I expected and looks like they are setting up to have Merle join the group. My guess is that he will do something redeeming.

    • Kathy_Marlow

       She does know he killed the military guys, the head in the top aquarium she recognized as the helicopter pilot.  It only makes sense that she would take the leap that he killed the rest.  I don’t think Merle makes it out alive, I think he tries to save his brother, which would be redeeming for that character.

      • BP180

        That just proves the helicopter pilot died, not that the Governor killed him.  He could have succumbed to his injuries as the Governor said, and the Governor then decided to keep his head because…..well, whatever that cockamamie explanation Andrea ate up was.

        • Kathy_Marlow

           I disagree, taking someone’s head is difficult (no, I do not know first hand) to do that implies some sort of anger.  I will agree that Andrea is ate up with his cockamamie explanations, but I think she’s starting to see the light. She is without a doubt the most ridiculous woman in the series. I don’t think that Andrea saw the pilot’s head, Michonne did and put 2+2 together.

          • Scoobydrew

            Oh … Kathy knows about head removal. That’s interesting!  🙂 

          • Kathy_Marlow

             I’m a multifaceted gal.  ;0)

          • Scoobydrew

            the things you learn on Tlo’s blog!

          • KateWo

            Right…Michonne saw the blood, the heads, knows they tried to kill her so ia assuming he kills people. It’s a safe assumption.

          • Kathy_Marlow

             Exactly, she hasn’t survived on her own this long by being stupid! (Unlike the screaming lady from the new group, just asking to get bitten, which she did)

        • LondonMarriott

           What was the cockamamie explanation Andrea ate up? I totally believe she’d eat anything up but I don’t remember hearing what it was.

          • turtleemily

            That he used the room to remind himself of the horrors on the other side of the wall or something.

    • VermillionSky

      If both Merle and Darryl survive, I suspect Merle is going to cause the group to split up.  Darryl isn’t going to leave his brother and Maggie and Glenn aren’t going to forgive him.

      • agreed.  I don’t know what you could ever do to redeem yourself from what he did to Glenn and Maggie. 

        • Kathy_Marlow

           I’m not saying full redemption, but as the older brother who did not take great care of Daryl, it would give him one act of nobleness.

          • I could definitely seem him sacrificing himself for Daryl – which, you’re right, would give him one moment of nobleness.  I just can’t see him being integrated into the Ricktatorship while Glenn and Maggie are still around (I also don’t think Merle would ever forgive Rick for the roof situation either)

          • Kathy_Marlow

             Oh no, he was too much of a d*ck before for them to integrate him successfully.  I think we’ll see the end of him.  If it’s Daryl that meets his end, I will riot in the streets and possibly boycott the show.

          • and I shall join you!

  • I think one of the missing things from your argument is the fact the Governor’s insistence on killing everyone & anyone that crosses his path = villain. He was planning to take out Rick’s crew (I suppose only to circumvent a raid like the one that happened?), he took out the military guys for supplies, and were Andrea not attractive to him, I suspect her and Michonne would have gone the way of the helicopter guy. He’s a benevolent guy, but only to those within his walls. I agree Michonne could use a bit more depth in terms of defining her antagonism with the Gov (I’ve read the books and yeah, she was FAR More justified in there), but overall I’m okay with where the show has gone with the governor. I think they did a better job of not playing him straight-up INSANE as he was in the books, and the connection between the Grimes gang was way stronger with Merle, Andrea, and Glenn / Maggie. I’m still psyched to see where the show goes…

    • PhillyJen

      • peacockprincess

        In the book the Zombie fights were much darker than what was portrayed in the show.  The people in the town had a better grasp on what went on.  Also Michonne finding the helicoptor pilot’s head only confirmed her suspicion as she found blood on the vehicles previously.  I just hope the writers are sane enough not to harm a hair on precious Daryl’s head.

      • Scoobydrew

        I see Woodbury kinda like Nazi Germany —  maybe the citizens don’t know EXACTLY what is going on — but they know something bad is happening and they are turning away from it, because seeing it would mean they would have to do something about it

    • CozyCat

      I think they tried to support the distinction between Rick’s group and the Governor’s by contrasting the way “new” people were treated in the epidsode.  Carl, who presumably has learned from his elders, rescued a group of strangers.  He then locked them in a place where they would be safe but couldn’t threaten his group.  The Governor, upon learning of the group in the prison, immediately planned on wiping them out without even giving a justification

  • KateWo

    And I totally agree with you about the shades of grey and questioning who to root for…maybe the washed down Governor is done in part to address the morality theme. Rick and crew lock up new people they encounter…the prisoners, Michonne, Tyrese and crew. Currently there is a distinction because they offer food and water with a ‘but stay away from us’ vibe. They took away Michonne’s sword just like the Gov. How would Rick behave if he was leading a whole town? Maybe the Gov started out like Rick, but lost his morality in keeping the town safe, and will now be even crazier since Michonne killed his zombie daughter? That may be what the writers are going for.

  • Frank_821

    The thing that bugged me is the standoff when Andrea arrived at the end of the fight

    Yes Michonne is not an open person but come on! Just tell Andrea that the Governor tried to have you killed. why bother to make that a secret. tell her all the evil shit he’s been up to already

  • HobbitGirl

    The old T-Dawg is dead. Long live the new T-Dawg.

    • BP180

      Original T-Dawg is dead, and old-New T-Dawg is dead.  Long live the new-New T-Dawg.

      • Mismarker

        Poor Oscar.  I hope he had a chance to wear those slippers at least once.

  • Wouldn’t they know enough from Michonne to know they have to do a raid?  Glenn and Maggie are in Woodbury where no one gets out alive. The end. What was the alternative, to try to negotiate with the governor? How else would they get those two back? I feel bad for the Woodbury residents who died without being complicit in the scheme but, much like that hot stupid prisoner when they first got to the prison, they picked the wrong group to mess with since our heroes are deadly as all get out now.

    • renad

      The Woodbury residents were shooting at Rick’s group. So, yeah, why wouldn’t they shoot back, and shoot to kill?

    • VermillionSky

      Exactly.  It’s not like Rick’s group decided to attack them to steal their town.  They attacked them because they were attacked first (when Woodbury kidnapped and tortured Glenn and Maggie).  I feel bad for the clueless townspeople, but they wouldn’t be in that situation if their leadership hadn’t attacked another group first.

  • Crystal

    Yeah. I don’t think they know you can have more than one black male at a time on this show. At least Oscar had a few more lines than T-Dog. 

  • notterriblybitter

    Rick is damn lucky Tyreese came along when he did. His group is in dire straits; it’s getting smaller, they’ve got a baby to care for, he’s losing his grip on reality and Michonne (I assume he accepts her into the group; it’s hard to imagine that they’d send her packing at this point) has her own agenda. Even with Tyreese, they really need Daryl back but then they’ve got to deal with Merle as well. They’re a mess under the best of circumstances and I doubt the Governor will let bygones be bygones and go quietly into the night.

  • BP180

    I like the ethical ambiguity the writers present.  In most real-world conflicts, the forces of Good are not battling the forces of Evil.  Both sides are motivated by factors that make sense to their society- Rick and company see Woodbury as kidnapping torturers, Woodbury sees Rick and company as terrorist invaders.  Both sides are “right” in their own way, and a lot of innocent people die because of it.  Basically this show is Israel/Palestine + zombies. 

    Also, this is not particularly relevant to the discussion at hand, but is anyone else disappointed that the zombies don’t prefer eating brains over any other parts of people?

  • G

    I haven’t read the books, but enjoyed the show despite the incongruities.  I was amazed that after Michonne lead the group to Glenn and Maggie, brought baby formula, etc… she was still almost killed by Rick.  That, and seeing Shane, show his paranoia/conflicted emotions…  sets him up for the mental break he appears to be having next from the previews. 

    We all did have a good laugh when the kid locked the newcomers up and channeled Rick exactly.  An aside:  check out the New York Times for an interesting article about the town in Georgia that “plays” Woodbury.

  • mjude

    i loved the episode.  the battle between michonne & the governor had me on the edge of my seat.  why not want to kill him, he tried to slit her throat before she left town among other things she has witnessed.  i think it helps to watch the talking dead, robert kirkman was the guest & he  explained a few things (i do not read the comics).  i am obsessed with the show, flaws & all.  also carl taking charge is quite something for a little boy.

  • cornpicker73

    I loved the episode. Found it such a nail biter, adrenalin rush. Yes, it was a tad far fetched that Michonne was so committed to offing the Gov that she went to his lair and camped out. But once they were in full on fight mode, that was believable to me since you know they both fight to the death. I also found the rescue scene hard to follow– I didn’t even realize they were able to capture Maggie and Glen until they had a chance to chat and disclose about Merle later. As for shooting at Woodbury residents, self-defence, and the Gov had asked civilians to go home. It was very chaotic and grey, sure. 

    It was a bit annoying that Andrea still doesn’t know her former group is there. Well, I guess actually she does now since she saw Daryl in the ring. Will she throw herself in the middle?

    Agree that it is fortunate that Tyrese and crew showed up to bolster Team Rick population. But now Woodbury knows about prison and vice versa. Now Daryl is stuck in Woodbury gladiator game. Gov ready to off Merle if Daryl doesn’t. 

    When do episodes resume?!

    • mjude

      it will be back early february!

      • Mismarker

        February 10.  Not to put to fine a point on it!

  • Paigealicious

    I said that exact thing re: killing one black male character to bring in another one. Good job, AMC.

  • Krafty_L

    I haven’t read the comics, but I didn’t wonder why Michonne attacked the Governor so vehemently. She knew that he sent a group out to kill her, she knew that his henchman Merle had taken Glenn and Maggie forcibly back to Woodbury, and she had just learned that he took out the military crew. For all she knew, he was still trying to find and kill her, which would have been the case if Merle hadn’t lied about her already being dead. He is obviously not a “live and let live” kind of guy. There should have been no doubt in her mind that he was planning to kill her, especially now that she had found his freaky little man cave. Finally, I think she was disgusted that he was keeping his daughter, zombie or not, straitjacketed and chained up in a heating duct! We don’t know anything about Michonne’s back story, but seeing her reaction to the little girl (before realizing she was a walker), and her making a point of taking the formula to the prison, she seems to have a soft spot for children.

    • Leah Burns

       Yeah, he had already pushed her into the wall of creepy head tanks. It was a basic survival move to take him down any way possible.

    • I agree that she MUST have a soft spot for children to kill the little zombie Penny immediately instead of taking off her restraints and letting daddy have a nice “hug”…

  • BigShamu

    While I’ve enjoyed this season much more than Season Two, I still have problems with how the writers deal with their female characters.  They finally kill Lori off but bring her back for one last nagging phone call that seems to cause Rick to hang up on her form the beyond badgering.  I haven’t read the books but it seems that they’ve turned Andrea into a lovesick fluttery dunderhead, ignoring all the red flags and snapping turtle aquarium heads for the man she loves.  And really?  Michonne doesn’t realize that the caged child thing isn’t a ZOMBIE??  Not by sight, sound, smell or circumstances?  What was the plot point of that? I understand that having comic book characters who don’t say much works….in a comic book setting but in an ensemble cast drama, not so much.  Character development and their motivations are hallmarks of great tv dramas.  Maggie?  How is Maggie not shooting Merle until her clip runs dry and and stomping his nads for good measure?  The guy who kidnapped them, the guy who beat the shit out of your boyfriend?  The guy who was about to execute you?  Just sad.

    I also have a question on the hair care front but it has to do with the men at the prison.  Where in heck are they finding huge quantities of mustache wax?

    • MilaXX

       Probably same place Maggie got her Victoria Secret bra for her non rape.

    • renad

      Yeah, but Carol’s response/expression to Mustache Wax dude was priceless. It was the first time I really liked her.

      • BigShamu

        That was rather snort-worthy except for the fact that I once had that haircut.

    • I assume it’s some stylist saying “Mustache! That means pedophile, right? Let’s make it big and in your face.” 
      It also seemed Michonne felt creeped out enough by the governor to not put him having some sort of child-slave past him, but the scene was still weird and poorly fleshed out. 

      • BigShamu

        Except Hershel’s stache is looking mighty fine.  In fact if you gave him a pair of glasses he might replace Col. Saunders.

        • Well, he has a beard so that’s different. He does look really good with the full beard. 

      • The Pedophile aspect is in the comics, but completely different character- this is just awkward writing.

    • LeBarron

      “And really? Michonne doesn’t realize that the caged child thing isn’t a ZOMBIE?? Not by sight, sound, smell or circumstances?”

      This.  I actually said, out loud, during that scene, “Jesus, Michonne, can you NOT HEAR THE ZOMBIE GROWLING?!”

      • BigShamu

        This squared. And do not make me climb up Bullshit Mountain by telling me she didn’t know what the chain was for. The woman had two chain-leashed pet zombies for crying out loud.

        • snarkalicious

          Bullshit Mountain, FTW.

    •  Grease and filth will do that to your hair too.

  • dickylarue

    The first thing I said out loud when Tyrese showed up in the opening scene & was painted as a good guy was “new T-Dog’s dead meat”. When it actually happened, I felt a little sick and sad. Black male actors on this are the equivalent of the drummer in Spinal Tap. 

    • YayaGurl

      I know. I turned to my husband and said “Bye bye Oscar”.  I so wanted to be wrong.

    • sk8tfan

      Not that it’s redemption for the writers, but at least with the new, small group it looks like with the addsition of the next two redshirts will be white.

    • Mismarker

      An interview with the actor who plays Tyreese  He touches a little on the shows tendency to kill off black characters after having only limited airtime.  His remarks make me even more excited for the back half of this season.  

    • editrixie

      Your Spinal Tap comment made me laugh out loud, which is really hard to do about this topic because most of the time my teeth are gnashing.

  • MilaXX

    I know there is a relationship with LOST writers and TWD. The raid on Woodbury was LOST writing at it’s worse. I don’t follow the graphic novels, but I thought creating new characters & blending in old ones would be a nice thing. I’ve been cheering on what I realize now is more the idea of Michonne. I  had hopes of a dark skin black badass female character who was not a maid and maybe not all that noble. The Governor we got on the show is crazy. Personally the fact that it appears that his motives were to find a cure for his daughter makes no difference for me. Yes he is sheltering many, but he seemed to mostly shelter weaker ones who could look upon him with worshipful eyes. But the full on hate Michonne has for the Governor makes no sense. Why go back? Michonne on the show is barely a character. Other than some vaguely sapphic feelings for Andrea, we don’t know her. So a bunch of people fought, we got a fake not!Shane and they killed Oscar for no damn recent, which BTW pissed me off even more that they killed T-Dog.
    They also introduced a bunch of book characters, most noticeably the Tyreese character. I’m nervous. I have loved Chad Colemen since The Wire. This actor deserves better than fulfilling TWD’s one negro only slot.

  • renad

    I don’t have a problem with the ambiguity about who to root for. As someone commented below, in real life things aren’t often that black and white. Sure, this isn’t real life, it’s drama and it should follow certain of those classic tropes, but it’s more interesting that I actually felt bad for the Governor when Michonne thrust her sword through the kid, instead of going, “right on, take that you Nazi ass wipe!”

    • BigShamu

      I didn’t feel bad about the Governor, my thought was “Man, they sure do like to kill little girls on this show”.

  • I knew it was coming when Oscar was the only non-integral cast member going on the raid. When Suicidal Sister volunteered, I was hoping she’d go and take the bullet of “stakes-raising death of non-essential character,” but then it cut to the woods and there was Oscar. Of course. It really is lame and was the first thing I noted as soon as Tyreese showed up in the first 5 minutes. 
    I agree in re Michonne – her killing the walker daughter seemed unnecessary in-and-of-itself. The only explanation I could find – and this is really scraping the bottom of the barrel – is jealousy based on love for Andrea, and if we’re headed back into love-triangle territory after how boring season 2 was with that focus, that’s a shame. I know a little about what happens between her and the Gov in the books, and if that were the basis, it’d make a lot more sense, but as is, it’s not doing so well.

    But in re the raid on Woodbury, given the mandatory curfew, wouldn’t most of the innocents have been inside and thus generally out of harm’s way? Obviously not everyone on the watch was in the know so there were still innocents killed there, but that does seem to cut down a lot of the more worrying losses. Of course, since that was the Governor’s doing, we’re back at square 1 of “he’s not as villainous as would merit such.” The viewer benefits from knowing he was planning a raid on the prison, but the Grimes posse didn’t know that and the raid is even more likely now, if anything.

    However, the last scene felt like implications that Woodbury might take a more Dogvillish turn, so it’d be interesting to see how things go there. I hope Daryl makes it out alive. 

    • cornpicker73

      I found Michonne’s offing of Zombie Penny to be believable and AWESOME. It was a big F U to the Gov, but also the sane thing to do. Also very reminiscent of Shane opening the barn and they shoot down Hershel’s zombie collection. 

      • Mismarker

        ^YES! Did you see Michonne’s expression change when she realized how much Penny meant to him? And then she was like, “well, I was gonna kill her anyway but now, NOW, I’m gonna friggin’ love doing it.”  Bad ass.

  • VermillionSky

    It’s not difficult for me to take a side here.  The governor and his posse hunt down and kill outsiders for their resources (they did it with the national guard unit and they were attempting to do it with Glenn and Maggie and the group at the prison).  Their subjects don’t know what’s going on, but several members of the “military” wing of Woodbury do.  All Rick’s group knows is that two of their people were kidnapped and beaten by Woodbury. They have no way of knowing that the subjects of the town don’t know what their leadership is doing.  I don’t blame Rick’s group for defending their people.  I don’t blame the subjects of Woodbury for defending their town, but they wouldn’t even be in this situation if the Governor and his “military” hadn’t attacked Rick’s group first, so I can’t really root for them. 

  • snarkalicious

    Honestly, I thought the writers did a really nice job of using the book as a jumping-off point for characters while creating more interesting dynamics and subtle tensions between them.  Without going into detail, I was completely appalled and grossed-out by the Governor/Michonne plotline in the book, and I was pleased with how the show tweaked the storyline there.  As someone who is nauseated by visual gore but intrigued by the idea of how people might behave in extreme situations, I applaud the direction the show is going at this point.  

    But yeah, the overall ratio of white to black characters is completely ridiculous, especially since they are right outside ATLANTA.  Come on!

  • Jennifer Coleman

    Knowing the comic, I’m going to approach this gingerly.
    I agree that it seems that the writers are trying to show a gradual descent to madness for the Governor. Knowing the content of the conflict between Michonne & him, I’m wondering if placing Penny’s dispatch in this episode is to ratchet up the antipathy for future encounters. It seems that Andrea is solely being used as a pawn at this point-I thought she might have been envisioned as a POV character, where we see through her the unraveling of Woodbury, but clearly that’s not the case. She is too blinded by…whatever… to see the truth. How long has she been in Woodbury? 2 weeks? She turns on the person who saved her life countless times for a guy who has a zombie head aquarium and a zombie daughter in a closet. Andrea’s character is being painted into a corner.

    Don’t let me get started on the T-Dog/Oscar/Tyrese craziness. The show has a huge black eye for this. The only funny thing to happen would be having Tyrese instantly take out the next black guy introduced on the show & state, to the camera, that it was self-defense.

  • I am with you guys on much of your criticisms/issues/worries.  Though I haven’t read the comics, I know what happens between Michonne and the Governor there, and if that had played out on the show, I would have completely understood her motivations for going rogue on Rick and co and confronting the Governor herself.  Here, though she does know he’s a villain who ordered her and the National Guard killed, I don’t think that’d be enough.  But the greater issue with Michonne is her relationship with Andrea: when Andrea stops the fights and has the gun pointing at Michonne, I said aloud, “this scene would be much more poignant and tense if we knew anything about their 8 months together other than it happened.”   

    And do we believe that Michonne hasn’t put together yet that Andrea’s old group is Rick’s?  If she does know, then why on earth wouldn’t she tell Andrea in that moment.  If she didn’t know, why wouldn’t she still say I met this group at a prison, one of them is Merle’s brother, we are here to rescue 2 of their people who the Governor is holding captive.  or at least, “ANDREA OPEN YOUR EYES, he’s been keeping heads in tanks, including my two guys, and here’s the national guardsman’s head, and here’s his zombie daughter who he has kept locked up for God knows how long!  he’s crazy!  come with me now and get away from him!” or “he sent Merle and some other idiots after me to kill me, I got shot and barely escaped with my life!”  come ON, one of those things would come out of anyone’s mouths in that moment, and it’s insulting to Michonne’s character that she just glowers in silence instead.   

    • I agree! She has a gun pointed at her by Andrea, and she doesn’t say anything. I was screaming at the TV “ANYTHING. SAY ANYTHING AND SHE’LL FOLLOW YOU OUT OF HERE. OPEN YOUR MOOOOUUUUUTH!” I don’t think Michonne is SO SHOCKED by that betrayal that she would just….quietly leave Andrea to crazy man. 

  • Harry Mikula

    Shoot I didn’t think about “why is Michonne doing this?” during the fight. I trust she knows what she is doing, she is not as much of a talker, but I know she is head strong. Also she kind of found out that the Governor may have killed the soldiers from the 3rd episode, and the notebook filled with all those names? I don’t necessarily know what they all were, but still she knows he is crazy and he took Andrea away from her. I love how she has been portrayed so far and one of my favorite moments of the whole series happened in this episode. Michonne has always been so glaring and tough, but when she finds Penny before she removes the sack over her head you see someone so compassionate. It made me melt, we don’t know her history, but how she guided Penny towards her…so revealing of a side of her we have not seen. Then when she grabbed the glass I was like SHOOT, she went the length that was needed and then Rick took her sword. Oh man  

  • Whatever.  When are Carol and Daryl going to kiss?

    • Mismarker

      Sing it!

  • Am I the only one expecting a zombie Lori to come back? Her death felt too anti-climactic, and they never got the kid shooting her. Plus I don’t think you’d die immediately with one cut across your stomach, she looked like she passed out.

    • BigShamu

      Yes.  I think you are.

    • Mismarker

      She’s dead.  Double dead.  And eaten by a zombie.  If she comes back, I will buy you a beer.

  • tereliz

    RIP, Oscar. We hardly knew ye. 

    Yet you still had about as many lines in seven episodes as T-Dog did in three seasons. 

    Having not read the comics, I thought that this episode did very little to clear up Michonne’s motives. The face-off between her and the Governor, Michonne killing Penny, especially, seemed like it was more out of spite than real vengeance. Or because she has the feeling he’s a really bad guy. But so much else was happening that I didn’t really question it at the time. 

    The Governor was smart to use Merle as a scapegoat, but since Darryl can’t die (lol) and he’s not going to want to kill his brother, I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next episode. Can’t wait til February!

    • Mismarker

      I believe Merle is the only one to blame for the raid on Woodbury.  He lied to the Governor about Michonne being dead and he was totally acting on his own by bringing Glenn and Maggie to Woodbury.  You’re right, it will be interesting to see where Merle’s character goes from here.  If anywhere at all!

  • Mismarker

    I’m so glad to have found these reviews and comment threads.  I enjoy reading everyone’s thoughts and theories.  You all are the bomb.  Most of my thoughts about this episode have already been expressed in some way or another by other people here.  I will just  add that if someone is going to go on some sort of rescue mission for Daryl, I wish it could be Carol.  I know it won’t happen that way but the 13 year old girl inside me really, really wants it.

  • ShivaDiva

    Seems to me they’ve  kind of wandered off into the weeds while trying to forge their own path from the original story.  I have to agree at this point that the kinder, gentler Governor is a bit of a mistake.  He’s not quite as vile as he was in the books, but still creepy enough to keep me from being in any way sympathetic toward him.  They may have been paranoid after all the complaints of “nothing happening” during Season Two, but now they’ve blasted through so much of the prison story (and beyond) before Rick and the Governor even meet each other!

    The action scenes were fun and well carried out, but I, too, have to wonder where they’re going with it.  They seem to be weaving back and forth between diverging and trying to stay true to the original story, and I think that’s causing a lot of confusion.

    On the other hand… Cutty!  Great to see him back on TV.  Even though, as you said, they are still observing the “one black guy per group” rule.  Oy.

    • Mismarker

      Does The Governor have much of a back story in the comics? I’m trying to remember and I don’t think there is.  I haven’t read the “Road to Woodbury” books, so maybe it’s there.  It’s my opinion that the first half of the season has been about building some history for the character so he is not the completely off-putting person he is in the source material.  I’m guessing The Governor in the second part of the season will more closely resemble the malicious, no-holds-barred character from the books.  

      • ShivaDiva

        He isn’t given much back story in the comics, but then he didn’t really need it.  If they were going to make him more sympathetic, then they should have just abandoned the old character and done something completely original with it.  There’s only so far you can sympathize with someone who murders whole groups of outsiders, and keeps his zombie daughter locked up with a bag over her face.  That just makes him impossible to redeem, I think.  If they really wanted the audience to root for him on some level, they shouldn’t have revealed all those depraved tendencies so early.  I’m sure the average Woodbury resident doesn’t know about that stuff, but we do.

        • Mismarker

          The Governor in the comics is a sadistic asshole from from his very first appearance and you never really know why.  I don’t think we are meant to be rooting for him or sympathizing with him in the television series.  The back story and more nuanced characterization serves to help us understand his current and future actions.  It gives him a “through line”.  In the same way a lot of us are wondering why Michonne is the way she is.  We haven’t gotten a back story on her yet.  I wonder if we ever will.

      • YousmelllikeAnnaWintour

        In “The Rise of The Governor” he is given a back story and is actually a sympathetic character when the book starts out.  However, as time goes on he starts to lose who he is and becomes increasingly evil.

      • Megan Sears

        No but there is a whole Walking Dead novel series out there and the very first one is ‘The Rise of the Governor’.

  • I just can’t understand why they don’t allow Michonne to speak. During her epic glaredown with Andrea, she could have opened her mouth and explained that the Gov sent Merle to hunt her, and that was why she came back for revenge. Andrea would have listened. I’m also having a hard time believing superhero Daryl allowed himself to get caught by the governor’s goonies.

    •  If she spoke it might spoil the Badass Attitude.

  • ShivaDiva

    Woops, wrong spot to reply.

  • Scoobydrew

    The minute I saw Tyreese  I said to my viewing partner — “you know Oscar is dead, right?” And both had more lines than T-dog his entire stay on the show.  I loved that Tyreese saw Carl as a man … that was a nice scene. However, I also told my buddy that should this all happen, yes  I want her to kill me before I zombie out, but let the kid shoot me. Don’t beat my head in with a hammer. 

    However, I do disagree on the no clear conflict between the Michonne and The Gov.  On his part, she is a very real threat to his community – spilling the beans, she is the one threat  that he knows about that has a real chance of taking away Andrea … and she killed Penny.  For Michonne, he took Andrea away from her – and while I don’t know if it is a romantic love  I do believe that Michonne loves Andrea and needs her companionship in someway — also he wants her dead.

    I agree that the Woodbury fight was confusing, but the one thing that I do like is that Rick isn’t so stand up good anymore, and he isn’t letting people just be “taken” from his group anymore. And I think that the most critical thought in this season was when Maggie talked about with all that is going on you forget what people do to each other.  Woodbury is nice and all –  but it comes at a price so comparing the two groups  has been interesting. 

    Oh and Merle and Darryl … CANT WAIT

  • sockandaphone

    When the woodburry attack was going on, I told my brother “oscar is gonna die because tyresse was introduced, just you watch.” we laughed when it happened and then we realize how offensive and stupid it is. A completely needless death. You can have POC characters, writers! more than one! WOW, I KNOW.

    And now that you put the michonne/governor conflict in that sense…i can see why my mom seemed confused at it. Both me and my brother read the comics so it made sense to us, but for someone that hasn’t read them like my mom, it might make michonne looks as crazy as the governor. interesting point!Overall, tho, I am pleased with this season. What a cliffhanger!

  • KateWo

    Yes! Thank you TLo! The Talking Dead boards are too much to deal with. Glad I have this site for my television obsessions.

    • Mismarker

      A Talking Dead forum? Yikes.  I only hope the people who post there are less annoying than Chris Hardwick.  

      • ShivaDiva

        Yeah that show is… something.  Mildly interesting when they have people from the show as guests, not so much when it’s just random D-list singers and comedians.

        • Mismarker

          It’s going to be expanding to an hour long when TWD comes back in Feb.  Yay! More Chris Hardwick.

  • Olivia McMurray

    A couple of things that I noticed:
    When Andrea was looking at the framed family picture (after “fixing” her perfectly styled and conditioned hair in the mirror), did she look exactly like the wife or was i just seeing things? It seemed like she was entranced by the picture so I thought it might have been her realizing that he is just looking for a copy of his wife.

    Also, the perfect timing of these characters (sloppy writing!!!) is getting to be infuriating. If Rick’s group had been 2 minutes later, glen and maggie would have been dead. The gov’nor shows up just milliseconds before michonne SPOILER was going to kill the daughter, and then after the fight andrea shows up just milliseconds before michonne was going to behead the governor. Really? Come on.

    With the new group that shows up in the prison, why does she scream so much??? Seriously, it has been almost a year in the zombie world and you don’t know to stfu by now? And also when they resisted killing the women immediately… how have they survived this long?

    General rant: I love the zombie “mythology” in this show, they are portrayed really scientifically and usually not played for scares (except for some moments like Dale’s death or Hershel’s leg that really disappointed me). But sometimes these characters are just so stupid!! If I was clearing out the prison, I would open a door just wide enough so one could get through, and just start making noise and picking them off one by one as they come to you. Why go creeping around in dark corridors?
    They seem to be primarily attracted to noise but must also have a keen sense of smell (otherwise they would hear other zombies and try to eat them haha), however just by making noise you could lead them away from the group, eg just ring a bell in the far corner and technically they should stay there mindlessly walking into the fence over and over because until they hear another potential food source they would stay at the last one.

    Just  my two cents! (although i wrote way more than i planned so it is more like a nickel)

    • Mismarker

      I noticed Andrea’s resemblance to the wife as well! Creepy.  Yes to everything you’ve said about Tyreese’s group.  I read somewhere that they are the last remaining survivors of what used to be a much larger group.  They are certainly not the well-oiled machine we see with Rick’s people.  I hope someone teaches them the “formation” for zombie fighting. 

  • KateWo

    Another point to Michonne’s conflict: ricks group is willing to kill to save their own people, well Michonne had just one person and she left her for the Governor. They are showing Michonne’s compassion and hinting that she wants to be part of the group so it makes sense that she would get that insane about losing her only friend of 8 months. Plus Andrea was totally dependent on her when she was sick and then left her. I’m guessing Michonne’s feelings toward Andrea are conflicted right now. She wants to protect her but she’s hurt too

  • Sometimes the same show will do great things and then do equally crappy things. The rotato-potato of black men with little dialogue, and the choice to make Michonne essentially inarticulate rather than misunderstood piss me off.
    But I don’t have the same plausability issues as some viewers (zombie show). Someone else has already said it, but let’s not forget that after Michonne left Woodbury, she was hunted by Merle, overheard them, and had to kill some of her attackers to survive. So she knows the Governor was trying to kill her, and would keep trying. That, plus her suspicions about the blood on the vehicle, , her survival instinct around smooth-talking white men, which Andrea clearly has never needed, showed me plenty of motivation for her waiting to kill him. The discovery of his man -cave complete with trophy-TV just confirmed what she already knew: he’s a bad, bad guy. The brief moment when she thinks the zombie daughter is alive and unchains her made me I wonder if part of her backstory is that she had kids or younger family members?
    And while it is true that Merle lied about Michonne, and made Woodbury the object of attack by kidnapping Maggie and Glen, we also got to see how the Governor whips up his crowd with his rhetoric about “terrorists” and then serves up the brothers as scapegoats. This way, unites his unorganized, frightened people, diverts any attention from his dirty secrets, gets rid of a potentially powerful and uncontrolable rival, and prepares the Woodburians to carry out any plans he had against the prison. Woodbury is a microcosm of a certain kind of modern Western comfortable society, with its blood sports and out-of-control military border policing, where people have delegated the dirty work to a small group in return for sheltering them against the nightmares of subsistence survival.
    YIkes, I’d better stop here!

  • editrixie

    You’ve pretty much outline why I’m constantly asking myself why I continue to watch this show — especially the racism. I was squealing with delight when I saw that they had the actor who played Dennis/Cutty on The Wire…until I realized they were going to kill of the one other black male. Seriously. It takes place in Georgia, and there can only be one black guy on the series at a given time? You gotta be freaking kidding me. 

    I feel like an idiot for still tuning in. The way they write women in this show, the racism…gah. 

  • donnaINseattle

    Rick & Co. don’t know that the people they were shooting were innocent. They were holding their family members captive. They had beat the crap out of Glen. Maybe if they had arrived and found Glen and Maggie who had said everything was hunky dory, they’d have not shot up “innocent” people.

    I don’t know the the comics. Could you maybe do a post (with a big (SPOILER) alert heading) for those who don’t know why comic strip Gov’ner is so evil and why comic strip Michonne is so heroineic

  • ShivaDiva

  • glennethph

    I’ve always thought that Rick was not a good guy.  And as the series progressed, cracks have formed to show that truth.  I kinda love that he and the Governor seem to be on level terms.

  • I don’t think Rick’s group thought of the Woodbury group as a few evil people (mainly the Governor & Merle) and then a bunch of innocents. How were they to know all of Woodbury wasn’t in on it? 

    I disagree about Michonne. She knows he’s a mass murderer (the army guys and the team he sent out to kill her). She knows there’s something off about him and then finds the heads and the little girl. At that moment, I would agree this fucker is full on cray-cray and upon encountering him and having some kick-ass sword & fighting skills, I too would do my best to get rid of him. I do see, however, what happens in the book makes the viciousness seem even more clearly justified. Of course, the viciousness in the book is quite a bit more pronounced…omg the spoon…

  • I know that in an earlier post I was vehemently disagreed with because I suggested that the governor hadn’t been portrayed in an evil a light as others seemed to suggest.  I think that this episode only added to that.  His reaction at his daughter’s death really brought out a human side of him.  Yes he does bad stuff, but I agree with your assessment that if the show is intending to cast him as a one sided villian, they haven’t done a good job.  

    I think the comparison between Woodbury’s success and Rick and Co’s mere survival is well made, and it does (to me) raise questions about the morality governors actions.  Rick is obviously supposed to be the “good guy”, but what has his approached accomplished for them?  The governor is supposedly the bad guy, but he clearly knows how to function in this new world.  You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs they say.  The governor may have broken a lot of eggs, but he’s got a much better omelette.  And how many great civilizations were built on the graves those who stood in their founder’s way.  I’m not saying this is a moral thing to do, but it’s not like the governor is the first person (real or fictional) who had to get his hands dirty to build something of value to his people.  Sure he’s bad for torturing people for information, but Rick’s diplomacy/indecisiveness has put him and his group in danger, so who’s the better person in the long run?

    I also am somewhat disappointed that Woodbury hasn’t been revealed to have a more evil underbelly.  They have repeatedly hinted at some sinister goings on in the town, but nothing has ever really materialized.  The governor has a wall of heads.. creepy, but if, as he claimed, he looks at them to toughen himself up and reduce his fear, it’s understandable (if gross).  Hell, even if they are merely trophies of his conquest, it’s not like that hasn’t been done before.  They are studying what happens to people as they become walkers.  Perhaps a little naive, but is it really that far-fetched to think that someone would study and try to understand the disease?  They have gladiator games.  Stupid and inhumane (toward the walkers, if it’s possible to be inhumane to a non (or former?) human).  However, can this not be viewed as a twisted form of exposure therapy (as the governor claimed), or possibly just a way of minimizing/torturing the walkers (who have ruined their lives) and venting some frustration.  To me, part of the appeal of a zombie type story, is they are living in a world without rules.  Everything is cast in a different light without the structure of law and civilization to define the meaning of your actions.  I’ve yet to see anything happen in woodbury that could unequivocally be called evil considering the world they live in.

  • And I renew my objection that Michonne isn’t really a character, but rather just the stereotype of a character.  She has been poorly developed and, as you state, this has made it difficult for us to sympathize/understand her actions.  

    All that said, I at least thought the episode was very exciting and the Darryl/Merle twist has some definite possibilities.

  • I had no problem with the Woodbury attack.  Rick’s group came to rescue Glen and Maggie.  They had no idea that there were “innocent” people involved.  They only used lethal force in self-defense. They didn’t come guns blazing until the residents shot at them.  Even the first guy they encountered, they tried to get information from him and left him alive.  They brought smoke bombs to use to help escape.  If they could have rescued Glen and Maggie without shooting one bullet, they would have.

    I agree the rule of one black male at a time on this show is disturbing!

  • girliecue

    I’d nearly forgotten how annoying I find Andrea but it came rushing back to me. How can someone who so consistently makes bad decisions last this long in a post-apocalyptic world?!? She’s got Walker bait written all over her. Let her meet her end already!

    Re Darryl and Merle, I’m not so sure Darryl would choose Merle over the Grimes crew. He has said Merle was a horrible brother and the group has become a closer and better family than Darryl’s biological family. That makes it seem more likely that Merle will exit in a blaze of uncharacteristic nobility. Or Darryl will choose to sacrifice him over the group, which will be his unhinging. Either way, I hope Darryl and Carole get together.

  • Chad Coleman is one handsome man, I was happy to see him on this show. I loved him in The Wire 🙂

  • turtleemily

    I’m hoping they don’t try to shoehorn in Tyreese’s storyline from the books or he likely won’t last the rest of the season, and he’s one of my favorite characters.

    I also found it interesting that the woman in Tyreese’s group that had been bit was called Donna, and her son was Ben, but in the books Donna had much younger twin boys Ben and Billy. I think it would’ve been more interesting to stick with Ben and Billy from the books since then there could’ve been a contrast with Carl that would’ve nicely paralleled the Rick and the Governor one.

    Was the walker that bit Donna the same one that Rick’s group hadn’t killed when they got out of the car and started walking to Woodbury in the previous episode?

  • But I don’t really think that Rick’s group did too bad when they raided Woodbury. After all, they thought that everybody there knew about the prisoners. Actually, Rick was pretty surprised when that first guy that gets whacked in the head by Daryl answered that he didn’t know where the prisoners were.

  • Alice

    Hi TLo, I though I would give you a heads up: this review is missing the Walking Dead tag.
    I tracked it down in your archive, because I’ve only started watching the show and I’m loving reading your posts (and all the comments) after I watch every episode. I thought there was a gap in the reviews, until I tried looking for the missing one in the archives. 🙂
    Thanks for all your posts, by the way!