Walking Dead, S3:E3 “Walk With Me”

“I think I’d piss my pants if some stranger came walking up with his mitts in his pockets; that’d be a sonuvabitch you’d really wanna be scared of.”

A triumphant return

As “Sick” had no presence of Andrea and Michonne, I expected “Walk With Me” would be devoted almost exclusively to them. In addition to giving much-deserved screen time to developing a new character, it would provide another week of suspense to Herschel’s touch-and-go condition without making the pacing drag. It turns out this was not entirely accurate.

While “Walk With Me” did deal exclusively with the ladies and the new colony into which they’ve been ‘invited’ (read: kidnapped), I wouldn’t say it offered much insight into Michonne. Her increased screen time led to a lot more questions, while not answering any; instead all we know about Michonne is she’s a stone-cold badass who relies on herself and observes more than she speaks.

In the beginning, Andrea and Michonne are checking out a helicopter crash. Andrea keeps asking about showing themselves, but Michonne is cautious, and the ladies feel their reluctance justified when they watch a man stab a crash victim in the head. We know the man turned, that everyone is infected, but Andrea was already away from the group when Rick let that cat out of the bag. They discover a survivor, calling him a ‘breather’ in a dehumanizing parallel to calling the dead ‘creepers’ or ‘biters.’

To avoid detection by these suspicious men, Michonne beheads her pack-mule walkers. It seems all’s safe, when suddenly MERLE DIXON. His reaction is very much like mine; a drawling, “Oh holy shit.” Then again he was surprised by Andrea, and I was excited about amotherfucking bayonet arm!

There’s a hanging corpse as Andrea deliriously looks out the window of a car, and we hear a male voice talking about their injuries on a radio. The receiving voice seems surprised by women (creepy) and is told he’ll have ‘homework,’ (creepier). Two strong women have had their weapons taken and been carted off blindfolded by a bunch of men, and I’m painfully reminded of S2’s Randall describing a rape he’d witnessed, and how unhealthy attitudes toward women aren’t likely to improve with the end of civilization.

This makes the appearance of a female doctor reassuring for about four seconds, until she is pushed out so the men can talk to Andrea. Merle is oddly sympathetic about Amy and sentimental saying he’d wait for Daryl on the other side, but turns his attitude on its head expecting gratitude and relief for his magnanimity in putting four walls around them and some medicine in Andrea. When the other man arrives though, it’s evident he’s the one really pulling the strings.

He leads them on a brief tour, introducing Woodbury. It’s a town like a movie set, unreal in its perfection with green lawns and flickering torches. It’s Walking Dead’s own Fiddlers Green, a site so swept up in its own security that it is forgetting how to survive. The man in charge is The Governor (hereafter known as GOV in all caps to emphasize his self-importance!), and the situation grows more eerie with each moment.

Daylight brings some exposition; Woodbury has groomers for the meticulous lawn and houses 73 (and a fetus), and while Andrea tries to ferret information Michonne lurks along and scowls. It’s clear nothing these people can say will set her at ease, and it seems this might be a vast difference between her and Andrea; Andrea is used to being in a large group, while Michonne seems better suited to solitary or small group autonomy. There’s the sense that Andrea really wants to like Woodbury, possibly to the point of overlooking its incredible flaws.

GOV learns from the rescued pilot that there was a National Guard camp (the much mentioned Fort Benning from S1?) with fortifications, but it still fell apart in spite of how strong it seemed. As we’ve just been introduced to Woodbury this seems heavily foreshadowing; the inhabitants of this quaint town are so busy playing house they are forgetting the real world outside their walls, a world that could intrude at any time and catch them unaware with disastrous results.

goes to a basement bunker, mediating between Merle and the dorky scientist he assigned ‘homework.’ GOV seems overly interested in Daryl and the other group; he is unsettling, especially because Merle respects him and one has to wonder what sort of man Merle could respect. Scientist’s homework has been examining Michonne’s ‘pets,’ and explains a lot–without the ability to feed, the pets have lost interest in feeding, becoming ‘lurkers’ that serve to camouflage Michonne. Looming over a tiny cardboard toy model of Woodbury, there’s some obvious disagreement between GOV and nerd regarding methods; but GOV diffuses it with a joke about tea that falls flat with the implication that the tea in question might not actually be tea.

An incredibly awkward breakfast follows; Michonne’s eyes don’t leave their weapons, while a bottom-drip french press teapot figures so heavily that Brian asked if it was product placement. If you still didn’t get it, the scientist (Milton?) asks if they like the tea. Michonne is laconic, refusing to answer questions about her walkers, and Andrea probes about the town’s defenses, to which GOV utters, “It will hold,” in a classic horror movie trope of tempting fate. This only gets creepier when he adds, “We will rise again… Only this time we won’t be eating each other.”

Already, GOV is like the anti-Herschel; though they occupy similar positions to one another when they’re introduced, it’s clear their goals, ethics, and codes of behavior are vastly different. As GOV and his men gun down the National Guard, GOV is filmed from below looking larger than life (and again later as he addresses his crowd to sell them on the necessity of Woodbury’s defenses). The camera angle trick is one often used with Rick during defining moments, but while Rick’s emotions always seem obvious bordering on overwhelming him, GOV reads like a sociopath wearing emotion as a costume. Whether they intersect in person or not, he’s clearly the new counterpoint to Rick’s inherent goodness. In spite of this (or possibly because of it; she did sympathize with Shane), Andrea seems to be buying in.

GOV holes up in a man-cave behind lock and key, studying his bourbon and looking up… at aquariums full of decapitated heads. most are unfamiliar, but toward the top are Michonne’s pets, and the National Guard pilot it seemed they had been saving. More tea, anyone?

But seriously, this is when Boyfriend began screaming about Soylent Tea.

(ETA: I haven’t read the graphic novels and I don’t intend to until after the TV series so the novels won’t ruin the show for me.)

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