At first it seemed like Rick Grimes and the rest of his misanthropic, zombie-killing crew had managed to find an oasis inside the walls of a maximum-security prison. But, last week, The Governor's little invasion forced Team Grimes to retreat into the cellblocks, and turned the prison in to, well, a prison.
And, even though this week's episode may not have been as murderous as many viewers would have liked, it was a turning point for the characters and a setup for the final five episodes. Plus, we all had our stomachs turned by The Governor's infected eyeball. So, that was fun too.
Here's a flyby of The Walking Dead's ‘I Ain’t a Judas’ (Season 3, Episode 11):
Dixon Brothers' Homecoming
In last week's episode, Daryl, compelled by a misplaced sense of familial honor, had abandoned the safety of the prison to wander around the woods with his temperamental, one-handed brother, Merle. But after Merle nearly took advantage of a group of needy travelers, Daryl pointed a crossbow at Merle’s forehead and decided to rejoin Team Grimes.
And he couldn't have picked a better time.
With zombies nearly overtaking the prison, and The Governor smugly firing round after round at Rick and his crew, Daryl's brand of crossbow-heavy butchery was a relief. Plus, Merle, apparently, managed to follow Daryl through the woods, and, when it comes to killing, two Dixon's are better than one.
So, even though characters like Glenn and Maggie aren't exactly excited to see Merle, now isn't the right time to kick him out of the crew.
Obviously, the writers have a plan with the Dixon brothers. Though, there's a bit of schizophrenia in their sub plot. Even though the audience despises Merle, Daryl's character, which everyone loves, consistently sides with his brother. We're definitely starting to see a slightly human side to Merle's character, with the budding Merle-Hershel friendship, but it's going to be a while before the audience wants to seem him accepted into Team Grimes.
I think it's safe to assume that Merle's going to do something terrible at some point. Perhaps he's some kind of Trojan horse that has been sent by The Governor. Daryl will eventually need to take a side.
Rick Might Not Be Crazy Anymore.
I'm just going to say this; killing Lori was one of the best decisions that The Walking Dead's writers have ever made. Now, I'm not really on board with Rick's hallucination subplot, it seems a little contrived, but I do appreciate the fact that his character is finally breaking.
In the previous two seasons, Rick was the unquestioned leader of the crew, but now even his son is asking for him to step down. He is no longer a super human character, which means that the audience can finally relate to the guy.
But, after a pep talk from Herschel, and a surgical strike from The Governor's militia, Rick seems to be falling back into his old role. Though, the crew doesn't have the same regard for his decisions, which could potential lead to a schism, if someone like Glenn or Herschel decides to publicly disagree.
Plus, we're not exactly sure if Rick is entirely sane just yet, but he is more interesting that way.
The Governor Is No Napoleon.
When The Governor's tiny army drove a bread truck full of zombies into the prison yard, the audience was supposed to believe that this was a devastating blow by the enemy. But in ‘I Ain’t a Judas,’ the zombies are just milling around out there and Team Rick is well protected from their incessant nibbling.
Sure, the Grimes crew has less space to wander around, which is bad, but the zombies don't really pose an immediate threat.
Plus, now that Merle is back in the fold, I feel like their chances of murdering their way out of this situation have practically doubled.
Curb Stomped Zombie.
If The Sopranos and American History X have taught me anything, it's that on-screen curb stomping makes me queasy.
However, if The Walking Dead has taught me anything, it's that this queasiness is mitigated when the victim is a zombie.
Andrea Got Naked And Nearly Killed The Governor
In nearly every episode of the previous two seasons, Andrea's character was a written off into the periphery. She could have been eaten at any second and I would have barely noticed. Sure, there were a couple of important moments with Dale, before he became zombie food, but she was essentially a red suited character on Star Trek.
But within the last few episodes, she has become the lynch pin for the entire series. In fact, I might even say that the writers have shifted the series' focus away from Rick and onto Andrea.
In the past, Rick has handled all of the difficult decisions, but now, with Andrea in the middle of a potential war between Team Rick and the Woodbury militia, the weight has landed entirely on her shoulders. In episode 11, Rick's psychological break through was even downplayed in favor of Andrea's role. So, there’s definitely some kind of shift happening.
The real problem, however, is that she's entirely alone. The Grimes crew treats her suspiciously when she stops by the prison for a friendly visit, but the Governor is constantly spying on her (when they're not having sex, of course). She has no real friends, and once she discovers that no one will ever really trust her, we might see her make an incredibly self centered decision.
For now, though, we're left wondering whose side she's really on. When she arrives back in Woodbury after trying to convince Team Rick to give up the fight, she gives The Governor a bit of insider information. "I went to the prison," she says. "They're broken. Living in horrible conditions." But within ten minutes of trading secrets with him, she's seriously considering his murder.
She is indeed conflicted.
This week's episode may not have been the zombie killing free-for-all that many Walking Dead fans have come to expect, but it sets the stage for the final five episodes, and thrusts Andrea into the spotlight. It probably won't be long before we discover whether she plans to help The Governor finish what he started at the prison, or whether Team Grimes suddenly has an inside man.
Plus, there's a distinct possibility that The Governor plans to put her head in one of his fish tanks.
Date: February 25, 2013