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The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is a drama about a zombie apocalypse. It is based on the 2003 Image Comics series. AMC 2010-???

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Episode 14 - Prey

22 March 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: The Governor loads up a truck full of weapons and prepares a torture chair for Michonne. Milton shows Andrea the full horror of it all and she flees Woodbury. Tyreese lets her go and he and his friends are led off to help gather Walkers. The Governor stalks Andrea to an abandoned factory where she escapes and seems to leave him surrounded by Walkers. He manages to get to her though and stop her from reaching the Prison.

The Good: The Governor is good at lying. The excuses he had ready for Tyreese were convincing and couched in moral terms. Milton's resistance seemed to make sense. He doesn't want to kill his old friend but can't ignore the fact that torturing Michonne benefits no one. "How does that help Woodbury?" was exactly the right question. Of course the Governor sidesteps him but Milton's secret protest is to burn the Walkers at the pits.

The Bad: I've spent the last few episodes shoving large portions of my critique into The Unknown. I just couldn't do that here. On paper this should have been an exciting episode. Finally the moral ambiguities are thrown aside and Andrea sees the Governor for who he is. He hunts her down. It should have been tense and gripping.

Instead I found it derivative, dull, poorly staged and directed. More worrying than all of that though was the utter impotence of the Walkers. The Walking Dead has largely survived because of how deadly its zombies are. The Walkers in the factory were no more threatening than the other stationery objects which Andrea hid behind. That is a desperately worrying development.

That impotence began when Andrea first fled into the woods to avoid the road. The lingering shot of her breathlessly taking refuge was such an obvious setup for an unsighted Walker attack that when an arm grabbed her from behind I didn't flinch an inch. When multiple Walkers appeared out of nowhere and descended on her I was already annoyed. Gone was the creeping desperation that the show's producers have excelled at presenting. Instead they just seemed to mass Walkers around her until she found a way to slice through them.

Once inside the factory Andrea dispatched two more like they were Mario villains who just needed a quick bop on the head rather than the mortal threats they should have been. Her final destination was a stairwell where she discovered the disturbing sight of a dozen Walkers staring dumbly at the walls. She swiftly closed the door behind her and leant against it. The Walkers made no attempt to storm the door nor to stick their hands or heads through the rather large and broken viewing window! The Governor now appeared and so Andrea stepped through the door and the Walkers obligingly waddled past her to attack him. Despite running out of bullets and seemingly being overwhelmed I never believed for a second that the Governor had actually just met his end. The direction and music never even tried to sell that obvious lie. To demean the threat of Walkers in this way was a major blow to the show. Perhaps next week a different director will bring that threat back to life but I was seriously worried by this pathetic display.

The Governor-Andrea chase felt very strange throughout. I never felt that Andrea seemed desperate enough. She always seemed to be trotting rather than sprinting across the fields. Once inside the factory she seemed to tip toe slowly around corners like a damsel in distress rather than the capable survivor we know. Why wasn't her knife always poised at head height ready to tackle the next Walker. Why wasn't she shifting around quickly, eyes darting, seeking an advantage? I do understand that darkness meant Walkers could be anywhere so caution was necessary. I also appreciate that the Governor is scary. But her performance never communicated the sense that she was developing a plan. Instead she seemed like the victim in a horror movie. Once she left the Governor for dead she seemed to stroll away rather than burst into tears of relief or run for safety. I wanted some sign of what this moment meant emotionally. She finally emoted something upon seeing Rick at the prison but that moment was cut short by the cliché of the Governor catching her at the last moment.

The direction of the factory sequence was clearly derivative of horror movies. That isn't a criticism. Why wouldn't you imitate the genre whose business is tension? But something about the style of this episode didn't feel like The Walking Dead. It seemed like an imitation of something else. Instead of creating an original scenario for Andrea and the Governor the creative team just borrowed a standard trope and threw a few Walkers into the mix. Even the music, which I don't often comment on, seemed like a horror score where perhaps silence would have added tension.

The Unknown: The tension between Tyreese and Allen felt a bit cookie cutter. That might be a harsh judgment given our lack of information but it seemed like a story designed to make us cheer for Allen's death. Allen is jealous because Tyreese saved his wife's life and she looked at him like a hero for doing so. Tyreese seemed perfectly sympathetic till he rubbed it in Allen's face when they were besides the Walker pit. Allen is clearly a jerk but I don't like it when a minor character seems so blatantly being positioned for disposal. I did like Tyreese's disgust at the plans to unleash Walkers on Rick's people and his position on the walls worked nicely to facilitate Andrea's escape.

The flashback to Andrea asking Michonne about her chained Walkers was interesting. It suggests that the producers aren't set against any kind of presentation of the past although this was brief. Apparently Michonne's taciturn distrust of bad people began long before the Apocalypse and the men she chose to drag round with her are representative of her sense of justice. I hope we find out more.

Best Moment: Tyreese's disgust.

Conclusion:
I was really disappointed by this. On the page I am in favour of an episode that focuses in on one moment as this did. However the execution failed on every level. It wasn't aided by a season long weakness in the presentation of the Governor and Andrea. But that doesn't excuse the total absence of tension or the strange lack of urgency.

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  • I've been anticipating this podcast since the Fall season, when you first stated that the zombies had to remain scary for the show to work for you. The arc of the comic book is basically that Walkers become background noise, the characters get complacent, someone dies to walkers, and then they get vigilant again. Of course, I don't know this is the direction the show will take, but I at least am hopeful. Still, I don't know if the Walkers will necessarily be the main source of tension.

    I'm not saying your criticism is wrong even in that light. There are ways to make the Walkers still a threat but for the characters to be complacent about them. Part of the problem is how different the TV show is from the comic. The TV show is action focused, and thus requires more agency from the Walkers.

    When Andrea was in the warehouse and casually turned and stabbed a Walker, that was the precise moment I thought "I bet this is where Robin starts putting it all in the Bad"

    It seems like I enjoyed the chase much more. The truck in the field didn't seem ridiculous to me when I considered that his goal was to terrify her and run her in a specific direction, not run her down. It did stretch credulity that he would pick the right building to go into, but not that he'd be able to follow her general path. He knew where she was going. The way he stalked her inside made a lot more sense once you knew that his goal was to capture her and take her back to Woodbury, not to kill her.

    My favorite part of the episode was Rick catching Andrea out of the corner of his eye, but then deciding it was probably just Ghost Lori and he needed to ignore it.

    My final comment is that Scott Gimple's episodes have involved good interpersonal drama and a mix of humans and walkers as a credible threat to Our Heroes. So I remain hopeful.

    Viewer score: 68 / 100

    Posted by Jason Abels, 22/03/2013 1:21pm (6 years ago)

  • So the scene where the Governor was chasing Andrea down in the field and honking his horn at her for some reason may be the worst scene in the shows history.

    I was happy to finally see a flashback, but of course it showed next to nothing and was never revisited. I still don't know anything about Michonne and her connection to Andrea.

    And finally, I thought the Governor being able to track Andrea with his truck just looked silly. He found her over and over again to the point that I wondered if he had some kind of GPS device hidden on her. There's just no way somebody driving a loud, giant truck should be able to "stalk" somebody running through the woods!

    So overall this was a very weak episode and lived up to my expectation of everything before the finale being filler.

    I agree that this episode was a major dud, and that almost none of it made any logical sense. "Nerfing" the Walkers so they can be easily defeated with a pen knife is something that could suck any danger out of future episodes, and something that I hope gets reversed in upcoming episodes. If the Walkers don't seem like a real threat, then the show as a whole is in trouble as the main source of tension is weakened.

    Viewer score: 45 / 100

    Posted by Aaron, 20/03/2013 1:48pm (6 years ago)

  • Easily the worst episode of the whole show. Won't repeat the points here but I did learn one thing.... Instead of hiding behind a solid wall, just turn sideways in front of open blinds. Instant invisibility!

    Viewer score: 40 / 100

    Posted by Mark Baldin, 20/03/2013 1:47am (6 years ago)

  • Well, it was better than last weeks sit around and do nothing episode, but only on a functional level. I was frustrated with the one-dimensional characterization given to Tyrese's group, and with the fact that they are at Andrea Level 1 or 2 on the Governor Manipulation Scale. Though, I'm sure they will figure things out quicker since the season is almost over. I agree the Andrea bits were rather boring, and for a character who has been degraded and so lacking in agency this season it still feels like a low point to make her be a literal damsel in distress in the torture chair. At this point, I have to say this season has been a failure, as two of the primary plot developments (prison and Woodbury) have fallen flat, and the characterization is as weak as it has ever been. I'm not really sure why I'm watching the show at this point as it has no direction and could seemingly go on ad infinitum à la the middle seasons of Dexter.

    Viewer score: 50 / 100

    Posted by Justin, 19/03/2013 6:13pm (6 years ago)

  • Good: I enjoyed most of the "Hunt" sequence, and thought that the Gov was actually quite sinister and threatening. The chase was high-stakes, as Andrea had the chance to warn Rick about the Gov's intentions (although it shouldn't be a surprise to Rick 0_o )

    Milton was convincing in his defense of "Phillip." The scene where He and Andrea were overlooking the torture room was well done. That was certainly a devilish set of tools being prepared.

    Bad: I agree that the Walkers continue to be a diminished threat - something that is antithetical to this show, and I really hope that this is something that is turned around next Season. We shouldn't hope for anything different for the rest of S3.

    Unknown: What is the Gov's eyepatch made of?

    Best moment: The Gov, true face revealed, starts smashing the Factory windows in rage as he begins to prowl for Andrea.

    Viewer score: 56 / 100

    Posted by Matt Uebel, 19/03/2013 2:23pm (6 years ago)

  • I feel as though your initial thoughts are echoing mine while tweeting Sunday night. It felt like a horror movie and I felt lackadaisical about it. The only excitement I felt was seeing Milton finally taking a stance for himself and stop ignoring the govern's behavior.
    Although, the horror movie theme was not that interesting. I must admit the governor snatching Andrea did make me jump although it was a typical horror movie tactic.
    Though Andrea has annoyed me for quite sometime. I do not want to see her tortured in that scary chair.
    Lastly, I have a question. I understand it would be annoying/pain in the ass for Rick and co to uproot from the prison. However, it has seem duration wise it has been about a couple of days to a week(maybe more)with preparation for this fight/"war". I'm just starting to question why Rick and them will not just leave. The governor has more people, weapons, machinery, and he is trying to use walkers also. I will not believe Rick honestly think he gives Michonne over that the governor will leave the rest unharmed. Who is to say if the governor is taking out that his other followers will not try to carry out his mission. Will the casualties be worth the prison if majority of everyone is dead? Maybe I am missing the urgency of the prison. We saw a couple of weeks ago that they could travel and Morgan was living in a little town.

    Viewer score: 39 / 100

    Posted by Ashley, 19/03/2013 1:33am (6 years ago)

  • Not sure if my comments registered. So if this is a repeat please ignore it.

    Finally a Flashback. Helps us see Andreas POV and understand her actions when she sees hard evidence of the Governors plans for Michonne.

    I liked the chase scene overall. I was fooled by Andrea in front of the door. I really thought she was going to surrender to the Walkers, rather than the Governor.

    In the end, I'm sure she wishes she had.

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by Yogabon, 18/03/2013 9:13pm (6 years ago)

  • This was better than last week, but still a slightly below average hour of television.

    Tyreese and company have been absent for far too much this half season, which makes me believe they are all expendable side characters. But they at least made the proceedings at Woodbury slightly less predictable and simple.

    However, Andrea being chased felt like an average slasher film, complete with the dark warehouse, not bad just not nearly as thrilling as the show's best. The usage of walkers distracting the Governor briefly made this a bit less derivative, but this whole sequence still didn't capture the tension that past Walker encounters have.

    While it was nice to see a greater focus on Milton, it didn't teach us anything new about him as he still remains the generic peaceful scientist character. When Andrea asked Milton to stay, it made sense that Milton felt he belonged in Woodbury, but it got me thinking how interesting it would have been to see Milton join Rick's camp.

    That's been a big problem for this whole season, the story the writers are trying to tell is not ambitious, they has been playing it very safe. Here we have yet another episode keeping its focus on one human camp, so it looks as if rather than a multi episode battle we are going to have everything come to a head in the finale, which isn't as exciting if you ask me.

    Viewer score: 53 / 100

    Posted by Ben F., 18/03/2013 8:33pm (6 years ago)

  • Until the last ten minutes or so I was enjoying this episode. Well at least the Andrea story. The Tyrese group stuff wasn't that engaging because I don't know Tyrese however I do like what we have seen of him and his sister so far. However his friend is suffering from Forrest Gates Syndrome when he is 100% negative 100% of the time and it's called characterization.

    However like I said I thought the Andrea stuff was mostly strong. I never thought that Andrea was going to kill the Governor because they haven't structured the season that way, the Governor is going to survive to the last episode of this season or by some surprising twist the second to last episode. So it really was a story of if Andrea would escape or not and they did a good job of that until Andrea stands in the doorway and watches the Governor "die". Besides the illogicality of that moment (fully exposing herself to the Governor gun) it was clear that she wasn't going to make it to the prison. It was clear our hero is getting confident and hopeful so of course they are going to get captured again moment.

    Actually this whole story is rather moot though because I think it is painfully obvious that Milton burned the biters which means he has a car that he come and go. I guess it could be argued that he was only able to leave freely because the Governor was gone hunting Andrea so he couldn't have taken Andrea with him. However why in the world would Milton go back to Woodbury? There's no logical reason even if he knew Phillip before he became The Governor, but that's the thing with Woodbury people stay when all logic tells them they should go.

    Viewer score: 58 / 100

    Posted by Derek, 18/03/2013 1:24pm (6 years ago)

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