All right. Here it is: I like The Walking Dead. Really, I do. But every episode is a bit of a struggle for me. For every five awesome things about it, there is at least one bad thing. Like, one seriously bad thing. And lately, the best and worst things all have to do with Michonne.
First, the good things: the feeling of unity in this episode is stronger than it has ever been. The group pulling together to rescue Glenn and Maggie and Rick’s sturdy leadership throughout the entire intense, dangerous and desperate mission is outstanding. They really aren’t just a group of random people bound together for a better chance at survival anymore. They’ve become a family. And they will risk it all the save a member. This is the most solid they’ve been as one unified group and I’ve never loved them more. Further testament to that was Daryl’s choice to stay and fight with them over seeking out his biological brother, Merle. In all honesty, I kind of like Merle. Not his actual character so much as the level of conflict he brings to the show. He’s a damned good antagonist. And since Shane died, the show needed another antagonist. I don’t know how Daryl got caught nor do I have any idea how he’ll liberate himself, but it sure would be interesting if he and Merle both escaped and rejoined the group together. (Note: Daryl had better escape. While killing him off would be one ballsy move, my heart just couldn’t take it.)
Back at the prison, the addition of Tyrese and his crew adds some excitement to the mix and allows Carl yet another opportunity to behave like the disillusioned, adept, overly mature man-child he’s become. All remnants of innocence and childhood are gone from Carl; he’s a seasoned, even burdened, veteran of the zombie apocalypse and he does what he has to with a cold kind of sadness that breaks my jaded heart every f**king time.
And finally, Michonne. Danai Gurira is a complete and total badass and her fight with The Governor was almost too much to take. Never before have we seen such a cut-throat, balls out, bloodthirsty battle between two people on The Walking Dead. These two weren’t just defending themselves. They weren’t trying to subdue or capture one another. There was no mercy, no hesitation, no semblance of a conscious in either of them. This was two people trying their absolute hardest to kill each other. Period. The fact that she sat in his office and waited, oh so patiently, for him to return shows a cold, calculated determination within her. Michonne is more than capable of taking care of herself and of killing anyone and everyone who gets in her way – The Governor included. But not yet.
Which brings me to the things about this episode that did not work. First of all, you know she had to have put together that this group of people is most likely the very same group to which Andrea used to belong. Michonne knew that Merle and Andrea knew each other and then when she saw Merle kidnap Glenn and Maggie, she overheard Merle and Glenn reference their shared past. A woman as sharp as Michonne would not have neglected to put that together. Yet, at no point did she ask Rick or any of the others if they knew Andrea. Are we supposed to believe that it simply never came up? This is lazy writing, pure and simple. Along the same lines, after Andrea stops Michonne from killing The Governor, not a word is spoken between them. Seriously? Why didn’t she say something? Anything? “He tried to kill me.” “He kidnapped Glenn and Maggie and planned to kill them.” “I found your friends.” “He had his f**king zombie daughter locked up in a cubby hole.” Nope. Instead, they stare at each other for a few long, pregnant moments and then Michonne leaves, allowing another opportunity to close a rather large communication gap to pass idly by. I just don’t buy it. I know she isn’t a talker. I know she’s dark and cryptic and I love her for it. But this level of silence borders on absurd. At least, without explanation, it does. It’s simply bad writing. And in a show where we’ve some of the best writing currently on television, there’s just no excuse for it.
Also bugging me these days is Andrea’s complete 180 from last season. At the close of season 2, she was this whip-smart, strong, independent woman who’d taught herself how to use a gun and practiced until her shot could rival that of any of the men around her. These days, she’s a lovesick girl who does as she’s told. Did the severed zombie heads in fish tanks send up any red flags? It seemed so for a minute, but then she stayed with him. What about seeing Daryl alive again and captured by her new boyfriend – did that feel wrong to her at all? If so, she chose to stand by in terror, mouth agape but motionless. Because that’s always better than taking action. Who is this broad? Where is the Andrea we got to know during the past two seasons? My plea to the writers/producers of the show is to return Andrea to the willful soldier she used to be.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, February 10, 2013. You know where I’ll be.