The Walking Dead, Season 3
Merle, avid reader?
Posted Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, at 10:01 PM
Photo by Gene Page/AMC
In Slate's The Walking Dead TV Club, Chris Kirk will IM each week with a different fan of the show. This week, he discusses “I Ain’t a Judas” with Tim Surette, who reviews The Walking Dead for tv.com.
Chris Kirk: The final moments of “Home” made me think the show was deliberately separating Rick and the Dixon brothers from everyone else, but as “I Ain’t a Judas” opens, we see him and the brothers with the rest of the group trying to figure out their next move.
Tim Surette: I had figured the zombies in the courtyard would have been a bigger deal, but I guess Rick and the Dixons snuck in the back door.
Chris: However Rick found his way back, Hershel has had enough of his dillydallying and is putting his stump down: "Get your head clear. And do something!" In your review of "Home," you called Crazy Rick “boooooring.” Fortunately Hershel's tough love and the high stakes of the situation seem to snap Rick back to reality, at least for this episode.
Tim: Anything to put Lori, ghost or hallucination or whatever, to rest. And Hershel's absolutely right. Rick can't go off to the mental Camp David while his people burn. I thought this episode started off great.
Chris: In Woodbury, Andrea suggests she go to the prison to talk things out, but the Governor refuses to give her a car. Why hasn’t the Governor collected her head for a new wall?
Tim: That is the big mystery of Season 3. As far as Andrea being part of his plan anymore, I don't see it. If anything, he should be scooting her out the door. Oh, and he should keep sharp objects away from her.
Chris: Let's talk about the Merle-Hershel relationship budding back in the prison. Hershel sits down with Merle and recites a Bible verse: "And if your right hand offends you, cut it off. Cast it from you. For it is profitable that one of your members should perish and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." I expected Merle to crack some sour joke about Hershel's religiosity, but instead he shows himself to be a devout man himself when he completes the verse, cites it as Matthew 5:30, and remarks that "Woodbury had a damn fine library." There's more to Merle than his flagrant racism and sibling loyalty. Bibliophilia?
Tim: One of the problems I've had with these last two episodes was the abundance of unnecessary conversations, but this one was a good one. It showed a lot of character from both men. But what I liked most about that conversation was Merle explaining what kind of man the Governor is: the kind of man who would keep his biggest enemy alive the longest so he would witness the slaughter of his friends.
Chris: In their own private one-on-one, Carol tells Daryl not to let his brother bring him down. The next time Merle rips off Daryl’s shirt, expect a “Carol” to appear in elegant cursive along his back.
Tim: Someone needs to crack a champagne bottle and send it on its way! But I honestly wonder if Daryl is relationship material at all. And won't someone think of Daryl's insane fans? Wouldn't they be heartbroken that their man is off the market? If I were Carl, I might tell those two love birds to stop making goo-goo eyes at each other and strap some more pallets to the fences. What good is a filthy prison mattress and a willing partner if you're dead?
Chris: Well if Daryl goes the way of Axel, fans will still have Milton. The Governor secretly tells the geek to help Andrea get to the prison. The two are capturing a guardian zombie when they encounter Tyreese's group.
Tim: Let's not forget about that amazing curb stomp Andrea gave that one walker. Between Glenn's boot stomp, the Subaru Outback guillotine back door, and Andrea going American History X on that poor zombie, we've had three fantastic zombie kills in a row.
Chris: Andrea presses on, and Milton leads Tyreese's group to Woodbury, where they divulge information about the Grimes group to an extremely friendly Governor. The Governor seems fascinated with Rick—even more when he learns that Rick is a little mad himself. Does he see a kindred spirit in Rick, a fellow resident of Crazy Town?
Tim: The Governor is absolutely obsessed with Rick and seems to be having fun with it. The whole situation is a clusterfuck for everyone involved, and that's how it should be.
Chris: Andrea is right at the center of it. When she arrives at the prison, she receives a frigid welcome that turns colder when she raises awkward questions about Shane and Lori. Michonne reveals that the Governor sent Merle to hunt her down after she left Woodbury. Is Andrea finally convinced that the Governor is a bad guy?
Tim: The lights finally seemed to be flickering inside her head. But she never seemed fully swayed one way or the other when it came to both the Governor and Rick. If I had to put a number on it, I'd say she's 60/40 in favor of Rick's group and continuing to swing that way. Also, I can't tell if Laurie Holden is doing a good job or a bad job with giving us an indication of what's going on inside Andrea's head.
Chris: I'm not sure if I ever understand what Andrea is thinking or why. Why do you think she doesn't kill the Governor? Does she still believe this conflict is a big misunderstanding that she can somehow fix?
Tim: That's definitely part of it, she wants everyone to win. She's blind to good and bad, so she figures, "Hey, let's all have a kumbaya and chat this one out."
Chris: Is she in love with him?
Tim: Given what she knows about the Governor and his recent lies, I can't believe she's in love with him—not that I ever believed they were in love in the first place.
Chris: Perhaps she has eyes only for Milton. Thoughts on the final montage?
Tim: Tom Waits’ “Hold On” was an interesting choice. The Walking Dead uses actual music sparingly, and it isn't really consistent with the rest of the series, but it made it really feel like a television show. I'm on the fence about it. In any case, "I Ain't a Judas" was great. It really felt like the story moved forward, there were some gorgeous zombie kills—Tyreese with the hammer should go into the zombie-killing textbook—and Andrea finally got interesting. I'd call this a major win for Season 3 and a prime example of how good this show can be when it wants to. And with a handful of episodes left, I expect the rest of the season to maintain a high quality and cut down on the scenes of Beth feeding Judith.
Chris: And hopefully replace them with more splattering zombie heads for my own montage.
Chris Kirk is Slate's Interactives Editor.