Hey Walking Dead fans! To make up for the late post, tonight we’re gonna get a two-for for Episodes 10 and 11!
I actually found it a great tie-in to watch the two back to back. The arc across both highlights an interesting theme that’s slowly developed and is now hitting the forefront of The Walking Dead universe : leadership, and misperception.
We last left the gang amidst Rick’s Lori-ghost-sighting freak out and the planting of the Governor’s evil seed. So what happens now that the two major leaders are in unbalanced states? Tons.
First off, we have Glenn fueling with unkempt rage. Without Daryl, he assumes the role of leader. But he proves to be just as unstable and untrustworthy as Rick. His motivations are filled with revenge, and everyone sees him seething through his teeth. So when he tries to make a judgment call, the prison-bound group find it hard to easily tag along. Hershel tries to call him out, to which we see Glenn reveal a little bit of his own insecurities, as he says he believes he’s the next in line to take action as the leader. Thankfully, Daryl and Meryl find their way back to the prison – saving a family with a baby from a zombie ambush sure is a way to tell you if you have good shelter, you should take it. By the end of Episode 11, the leadership roles are doled out to Daryl, Hershel, and Glenn, with Rick at least present enough to participate and fortify the group. Sidenote – if your kid’s telling you you may not be equipped to lead, you best step back. Kudos to Carl for having the maturity and the courage to say that to Rick, and kudos to Rick for letting it settle and accepting (even just a little) that you need a little head space before you lead the group to safety.
On the other side of the leadership in question coin, we have Andrea, Milton, and the Governor in Woodbury. Because the Governor pseudo-empowered Andrea, she really tries to step it up and make her presence a force to be contended with. But just like Glenn, she’s met with suspicion and a surprisingly level of disrespect from the people she just inspired to carry on. She does try to stand up to the Governor as he recruits child soldiers (scary, btw, scarier than the zombies just a bit!) to support a townswoman, but to no avail. Even trickier is when the Governor asks Milton to step up a bit in his role as watchdog of precious Woodbury. I always love to see how the quiet/meek/disempowered characters of a show hold up when given the opportunity to rise. It was hard for Milton to keep a poker face, but he still fulfilled his end of the deal with the Governor by maintaining he had no idea about the Governor’s prison ambush with the van of zombies and by revealing Andrea’s plans to visit the prison. PS – if you were questioning the moral breadth of the Governor and hoping he may have some humane qualities, the twinkle in his eye as he unleashed the zombies and broke down the prison fence is enough to say the Governor’s gone completely batshit.
Moving onto the theme of misperception… this plays nicely with the Andrea-Michonne dynamic, the Meryl versus everyone else arc, and Tyreese’s camp (definitely wondered what happened to them Episode 10 – then Milton heralded them into Woodbury). The easiest to discuss is Tyreese’s camp. We last saw them get the hell out of the prison as soon as Rick started freaking out over his Lori vision. How convenient was it that Andrea found them in the woods, and had Milton escort them to shelter in Woodbury. We already know how each member of the group feels towards strangers and newcomers. Ben and Allen are far more aligned with the Governor (and arguably Rick due to his increasing level of suspicion towards newcomers) – they walked away with a negative perception of their experience in the prison. Sasha and Tyreese, however, were the only ones to admit that there were members of the party who were decent people, but the leader was maybe simply “unhinged.” Again, there goes that twinkle in the Governor’s eye! More people to recruit for his army! I’m excited to see how dropping this group in between good versus evil will play out – what will it do to their small group? (Wait till they get to talk to Andrea – I’m sure that’ll make their moral standing richer)
As for Meryl versus basically everyone, his turn-around to be cooperative with the group and actually speak against the Governor is cause for attention. We have to be vigilant of his motives as viewers – yes, we are well aware of his history as a character. Seeing the matching tattooes on Daryl’s back seems to have motivated the turn around to at least not make him easily combative toward everyone else. Although, I’m still grateful for his redneck sleaze – definitely humorous to watch him try to have small talk with Michonne while she’s doing crunches. The amazing thing is Meryl came at a time when every body counted – they had no time to argue whether to kick him out or keep him in since he arrived pretty much during the Governor’s zombie ambush. Now that both sides are preparing for a fight, they seem a lot more tolerant of his presence.
Lastly, *sigh* Andrea. As frustrating of a character as she may be, her turn in the past season has definitely been a roller coaster. She went from doe-eyed naive Woodbury lover to slow skeptic of the Governor’s ways. Her conflict between wanting a taste of what life was in a steady environment that’s about 80% zombie free and the longing for the community she once had with Rick’s group gets tested front and center as she infiltrates the prison. She is surprised with the coldness of the group – AMAZING shots here showing everyone surrounding her and magnifying that she is more or less alone. I do commend her for her efforts to try to bring peace – for as much as her own personal morals are a little off, she at least sees the senselessness of survivors fighting against each other when everyone’s lives are at stake every day without waging a war. But, of course, failed leader Andrea is not taken too seriously. It’s implied that to earn their trust, she needs to do something drastic, and see what the Governor truly is. Mad props to Carol for basically telling her to off the Governor in his sleep after one last roll in the hay. As that final scene rolled on, with her waking up in the middle of the night, I knew she wasn’t going to actually do it. But it makes you wonder, what is it that’s stopping her? Does she not want to lose a lover? (Totally possible – free and consistent access to sex would be hard to find in the apocalypse) Or would she rather his death happen another way? Maybe not in her hands? Who knows.
Sidenote before I close this out: I’m glad whatever shred of possible romantic connection between Axel and Carol perished as quickly as it started. Those random moments between the two – amusing, but glad it ended soundly with his dead body shielding Carol from the Governor’s ambush.
Within two quick weeks, the stakes were raised high for the escalating war. There is pressure on everyone to decide how to take action. It’s now clear, though, that no matter who wins, it’s never been more apparent that there’s greater and more evil danger out there beyond the zombies.