Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 7 Review

The end of The Walking Dead’s first half of Season 3 is soon approaching. It’s a depressing thought as the show fuels its 40-something run-time each week with more entertainment than most other programmes currently airing. Still, the cast and crew behind AMC’s zombie drama are leaving us fans begging for more. Had episode 7 been the last, the final moments would have you screaming out in irritation of the hiatus. Fortunately, the penultimate episode builds up to something bound-to-be-tremendous awaiting us next week.

Major spoilers follow

Starting with Glenn’s vicious interrogation, the first sequence of “When the Dead Come Knocking” highlights the tenacity of both Steven Yeun and Michael Rooker. The latter, especially, ferociously throws half a dozen punches squarely in Glenn’s face and then pulls his bayonet to the prisoner’s mouth. The sadistic nature of this may remind some of Rooker’s Henry in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer that brought Rooker to the attention of Hollywood. He plays the maniac well and for Glenn, Maggie (who can hear all of the commotion from the next room) and the audience, the levels of his cruelty are horribly ambiguous. Eventually, his anger of his desertion on the roof way back when leads him to leave Glenn in a similar situation – taped to the seat and having Merle throw a walker at him.

We know Glenn can handle himself but in his moment of escape he becomes an iconic badass à la Rick or Daryl. His scream of both victory over killing the walker, and of complete desolation and fear, is his shining moment so far in the series.

Michonne’s part in the series is becoming more integral, and she is the first of the characters in other narrative strands to link one to the other (Rick et al - Andrea – Woodbury). Now she has moved on from Woodbury and Andrea and has entered the prison after being saved by Carl and Rick. Her wounds made her faint beneath a shuffling crowd of walkers and her independence has once again been tarnished. From the highly subjective point of view of the audience, Michonne’s need to be in control is annoyingly making her out to be uncaring. She frowns at all those that help her in the prison (thanking Hershel for his aid but somewhat insincerely).

It is only when she sees the group embrace Carol after her return, along with the cradling of the baby, that Michonne “sees the light”, so to speak. We saw her affectionate and friendly towards Andrea so here’s hoping that that kind of relationships develops as she makes a home with Rick and his group. With only one episode remaining for 2012, the depleted numbers in the prison does need some extra members and so Michonne could easily become one of them.

On an expedition to locate Maggie and Glenn, after Michonne informs them of Merle’s kidnapping, Oscar and Michonne join the troop. Together they stand as a smart and powerful force. Nevertheless, a hoard of zombies is a dangerous situation and so they hold down the fort in a thought-to-be-abandoned cabin. The stench and sight of death is merely a trick for one man to stay undisturbed in his once cosy home. The man barks at the four intruders, with Michonne telling the others to keep him quiet as walkers claw at the walls and door. Taking matters into her own hands, she uses her trusty samurai blade and sticks it in his skull. The decision to throw the body out into the walkers is something that shocks Michonne but is understandably justified to save their own skins. Watching a body get torn apart by zombies is a guilty pleasure when watching something with the undead. In Dawn of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead a living, breathing civilian is picked apart before our eyes, with graphic gore. Perhaps it was too much for the network to handle but the dead man’s ripped limbs and mangled flesh is barely seen. The blood and guts still show but it’s not up to par with other examples in this genre (in the heat of that moment, though, perhaps it could have been seen as superfluous).

As Michonne, Rick, Oscar and Daryl move toward Woodbury, events taking place there involve the testing of the biters’ minds. A Mr. Coleman is dying of cancer and has volunteered himself for psychological tests with Milton. Coleman is asked to raise his hand to a series of questions, with a side of audio conditioning, and given the same questions once he’s turned.

The Governor’s need to control is less about wielding swords or firing bullets, but to have control over the people around him. Sometimes that requires violence but as we have seen with his zombie daughter, some of it requires the human touch. The aim to break the spell of the virus and the belief it may be possible is corrupting his and Milton’s mind. Milton even asked for the restraints to be taken off of the Mr. Coleman (biter-version) and is saved only thanks to Andrea’s common sense.

Towards the end of the episode everything taking place is beginning to merge together. Maggie is returned to Glenn’s arms but after her confession about Daryl and the others’ whereabouts. As the episode draws to a close, plans are made for the Governor and Merle to go the prison as Rick and his team find their way to Woodbury. On one side of the gate, Andrea walks past and looks at the high looming walls of tires and fence – on the opposing side, Rick and Daryl ponder over their way in. It is a spectacular final few minutes, with the crossing over of stories finally being executed. As said, had this been the end of the season half, the wait would have been unbearable. One more week and Merle and Daryl may be reunited, Rick may come face to face with the Governor, Michonne will see Andrea again, and Woodbury or the prison (or both) will be infiltrated.

By Piers McCarthy. Also posted on Flickering Myth

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