Review – The Walking Dead 3.03 “Walk With Me”

The Walking Dead Walk With Me

Warning: this review will contain several spoilers for those not aware of the comic mythology.  No major plot points will be revealed.

All hail the Governor.  This weekend’s Walking Dead, “Walk With Me” is divergent from the plot thread we have focused on so far in season three in a substantial way, we don’t see The Prison or anyone within it, yet thematically it echos the plot points of Rick’s group’s grisly capture of their sanctuary in what becomes a sort of moral photo-negative by the end of the episode. The fact that the “Walk With Me” takes place in a completely different story space from the events unfolding in the prison and kicks off several overarching mysteries and plot-points that, for now, seem confined to that same space, suggests that The Walking Dead may take a bifurcated approach for the immediate future, bouncing between the Governor’s oddly bucolic hamlet of Woodbury and The Prison.  Whether it will be split with complete episodes like this, we’ll just have to wait and find out.

“Walk With Me” could have easily been the pilot for a spinoff.  Andrea, who has now been divided from the original group for seven months, is traveling aimlessly with Michonne.  Seemingly suffering from Pneumonia or some equally dread infection, Andrea is becoming increasingly close to giving up on the run to nowhere.  When a military helicopter crashes nearby, the two go to investigate and wind up running into a scouting crew for Woodbury including The Governor himself (David Morrissey), and none other than Merle Dixon, played by Michael Rooker.  Andrea collapses from her condition and awakes in a medical bed in Woodbury.

Andrea has a catchup conversation with Merle that is more cordial than anyone would expect, but you’d be right to assign a little doubt to Merle’s heartfelt banter.  There are definitely enough caustic snarks and telling expressions to giveaway Merle’s grudge for what happened to him in season one, and not much of what Andrea tells him seems to matter much in that regard.

As the episode goes on knowledge of the Governor’s nature from the comics becomes somewhat of a hindrance for the larger effect of the episode. I honestly hoped I hadn’t known as I watched Andrea and Michone meander around showered and clean amongst the pristine concrete sidewalks, finely groomed landscaping, and sunshine of Woodbury, listening to The Governor’s philosophical waxing on the group’s future, and the paramilitary protection the citizens enjoy. It’s a model that he sees as the beginning of the future of mankind.  From Woodbury, he plans to expand and push the walker threat, or as Woodbury calls them ‘biters’, to extinction.

Review – The Walking Dead 3.03 “Walk With Me”Woodbury is definitely a different environment from what we’ve seen on The Walking Dead. Until now, the concept of fearing the living has existed in a very primal sense;  the survivors have been cast unwittingly into a survival of the fittest world, and that Darwinist principle was bound to spill over into the survivors, trickling down from their ultra-heightened sense of fight or flight.  It was civilization undoing itself before our eyes, on a smaller scale, a regression to a more primitive nature.

Woodbury and The Governor are the polar opposite.  Andrea makes a point early in the episode when she notes that everyone is calling him “Governor”, to which he responds “Some nicknames stick”, and she responds “Buzz is a nickname, Governor is a title.” A small point now, but an important one.  The reason we should fear The Governor isn’t because he has given in to his primitive nature, it is because he has built a civilization around a philosophy that is accepting of its leader’s dark and secretive intents.  He understands that in the world of The Walking Dead, a couple city blocks of safety and the creature comforts of a world that now belongs to the undead, makes powerful currency to purchase souls.

As I mentioned, The Walking Dead “Walk With Me” sets up some significant new mysteries that seem to be centered in Woodbury itself, for instance there is a question of Daryl, Merle’s brother,  that gets some specific mad-scientist infused importance.  By the end of the episode you come to realize that The Governor is not necessarily an evil man, in fact he may be operating at a level of sanity distilled to an unstable degree.  He is definitely introduced as a character that will require multiple passes to explore fully, and for that reason alone I’d say that it could be some time before we see Rick and the Governor in the same arch; and you’ll get no complaint from me.  “Walk With Me” begins to explore a new microcosm in The Walking Dead world that is well worth exploring on its own for a bit.

The Walking Dead “Walk With Me” Airs October 28th at 9/8c on AMC – Now even on Dish!

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