THE WALKING DEAD 3.5: “Say the Word”

Ya gotta give it up for the makers of THE WALKING DEAD coming up with one hell of a cliff-hanger ending for this episode. Seriously, a mystery phone call? Is it reality calling Rick to come home? Or is it something a heck of a lot stranger – something that might make him do something really drastic!

No one died this week, which was pretty weird – but not as weird as the Governor lovingly caring for his zombie daughter. If she’s a good little biter, does she get to stay up late and watch the floating heads bob in the aquariums with Daddy? Is there an undead Mrs. Governor  upstairs, waiting for a little afternoon delight? Who knows what else this nutty guy is into?

The story picks up moments after last week, with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) suddenly knowing what has to be done. He picks up his axe and strides into the prison, destroying every walker he can find. His rampage cannot be stopped, even by the friendly face of Glenn (Steven Yeun), who tries to rouse Rick from his bloody haze, but just gets body-slammed for his trouble. Finally, Rick comes across the bloated walker who ate the remains of Lori, and not only does Rick stick a gun in its mouth, he stabs the creature’s distended belly repeatedly in a cathartic release of screaming rage that leaves him spent.

Outside, Hershel (Scott Wilson) tells everyone the newborn needs formula, so Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) take off in search of supplies at a daycare center. Glenn starts digging graves for T-Dog, Lori and Grace and when Axel (Lew Temple) and Oscar (Vincent Ward) approach, Glenn tells them how T-Dog was a good man, then hands off the shovels and lets the inmates dig the other two graves. Daryl and Maggie return with the supplies needed (well, sort of — they found two cans of powdered formula), and Daryl  is the first to feed the baby.

There’s a street festival in Woodbury, and while Andrea (Laurie Holden) is getting into the spirit, Michonne (Danai Gurira) is glowering. At home, the Governor (David Morrissey) is brushing the hair of a little girl – who turns out to be not only a biter, but his daughter, Penny! As he subdues her in a straitjacket and ties a bag over her head, he coos, “Daddy still loves you.” Later, the Guv makes a speech, recalling how Woodbury started with just nine people. Michonne takes the opportunity to sneak into the Governor’s home. She retrieves her katana and snoops around, finding a notebook filled with hash marks and list of crossed-out names with “Penny” circled at the bottom. She then hides and overhears Milton (Dallas Roberts) complaining to the Governor about the night’s festivities using too much generator power when he’s running experiments, only to be rebuffed. Michonne sneaks out and located a cage full of captive walkers. She frees and then slaughters them all – but is caught and brought before the governor, who  waves her sword and makes vague threats about keeping public order. Michonne disarms him and puts the blade to his neck in one motion, then stomps out. She gives Andrea one last chance to leave with her, she declines, so Michonne walks out the gates alone. That night, Andrea is the Governor’s date for zombie fight club: Merle (Michael Rooker) brawls with Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) while surrounded by slavering biters. Merle wins, but Andrea is too disgusted to notice.

Back at the prison the next morning, Daryl places a flower – a Cherokee rose – on Carol’s grave. In the boiler room, a delirious Rick hears the phone ring and answers it.

Well, Rick has totally checked out, lost it, gone off the deep end – whatever you want to call it, he’s in his own world now. I loved the zombie killing spree, with Rick so fueled by rage that he was chopping zombie heads in half with one hand! When Glenn found him (I presume Glenn followed the trail of his dead), Rick, covered in undead ichor from head to toe, clearly didn’t recognize his buddy. Lincoln keep Rick’s movements slow, as if he was swimming through a dream, and his eyes were unfocused as he regarded Glenn before violently dismissing him and stalking off, deeper into the prison and deeper into his delusions.

If you’ve read the comics, you know [COMIC SPOILER!] Rick deals with the death of Lori and the baby by talking to her on a telephone that he secretly carries around with him. [END of COMIC SPOILER] There’s no telling if the TV show will follow the same route, but it might. If the producers do change it, then for my money, I’d like to see Rick talking to Morgan  (Lennie James), whom we haven’t seen since season one, episode one. But maybe Shane (Jon Bernthal) might be a more likely suspect?

In any event, just when you think Lori’s story could not get any more grotesque and twisted, it does. Rick finds not only the puddle of blood and brain matter  that used to be his wife, but the bullet casing his son used to  destroy his mother! Then he follows a blood trail to find the walker who ate his wife – he still has her hair still dangling from his mouth – so Rick sticks his gun in its mouth, fires, then stabs the hell out of creature (especially its belly). Talk about sick minds! How do the-powers-that-be come up with this great stuff?

Milton mentions that Woodbury is powered by its own generators, but they have limits. Perhaps they are hampered by a lack of fuel? When Merle and the “research team” gathered fresh biters, I thought I saw a solar- and wind-powered  weather  station nearby. Is Woodbury going green?

Count me among the shocked when Daryl turned out to be so good with the newborn. Did he help raise a younger sibling, or have a child of his own – or was the scene just fanservice for Reedus’ legion of swooning female devotees? Perhaps not, because Daryl seemed especially unnerved by the handprints with the children’s names at the daycare center – particularly one that read “Sophie.” This is another intriguing facet of Daryl. I think I’m grateful that even the producers of this show shied away from showing undead children. The sight of Daryl launching crossbow bolts through kindergartners’ heads might have caused some trouble at the network.

BRIEF OBSERVATIONS

Rick spoke only one word in the entire episode; the last word: “Hello?”

Glenn revealed that he knew T-Dog before the zombie apocalypse, and that T-Dog tried to rescue elderly people when it all went down. He also credited T-Dog with saving his life thousands of times.

Carl said he was pondering naming his new sister after all of the women the group has lost: Sophia, Carol, Andrea, Amy, Jacqui, Patricia and even Lori. But those sad-memory-inducing names can’t hold up to Daryl’s suggestion: Li’l Ass-Kicker.

Does anyone else think that those crossed-out names in the Guv’s notebook could be other “daughters,” meaning he keeps getting “fresh” biter daughters because the original is long gone?

Daryl looked pretty stylin’ in that poncho… Speaking of fashion, I can’t help wondering where Maggie got her slinky black action outfit. Must have salvaged it somewhere along the way.

Woodbury’s biter fight night reminded me of a similar scene in zombie godfather George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead, in which Asia Argento was cast into an arena of zombies to fight for her life.

The song that was playing on the PA as Andrea and the Governor arrived at fight night was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Saturday Night Special.”

This episode emphasized that Michonne is a woman of few words, like a prototypical male hero. I like that.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“He wasn’t just a good guy; he was the best.” – Glenn  on T-Dog

“You go for a jog to blow off steam. This… this is sick.” – Andrea, on fight night

“She’s all personality, that one.” – the Governor, on Michonne

“It’s wrong, but I’d trade any number of people for one of ours any day.” – Glenn

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