In last week’s episode the writers finally killed off Lori, one of the most unlikable characters in the history of television. That was a most welcome development, one that represented another drastic difference from the comic.
Mild spoilers ahead, I suppose, so skip this week’s TV Talk if you haven’t read the comic and plan on waiting until the TV series is over before catching up on a graphic novel from five years ago. But I’ll be sure I don’t spoil anything that could still happen on the show.
In the books, the prison arc comes to a conclusion with a lot of craziness, and in that chaos Lori and the baby are both killed while they try to escape. There are many holy shit moments in that arc, but Lori's death is one of the most emotional moments in the entire series. That one moment was honestly the entire reason to have Lori in the show, so as happy as I was to see her killed off last week, I was still disappointed they made her death such a total waste. The writers don’t need to follow the comic’s storyline, obviously, but if they're going to veer off in this particular way, why were we forced to suffer Lori for two and a half seasons?
So with that potential for character empathy squandered forever, we open this week’s episode with a party at Woodbury that at first feels like a flashback to a time before the zombie apocalypse ruined everyone’s backyard BBQs. But no, it’s present day Woodbury, and these guys just happen to have a picturesque golden retriever running around town all day. Michonne still hates the town, presumably because she read the Walking Dead comics before the collapse and knows that the Governor is supposed to be a bad guy, but Andrea looks around and decides that cold drinks and sunshine and backyard BBQs and golden retrievers aren't such a bad way to live in post-apocalyptic America.
We know that the Governor is bad because he randomly killed a bunch of soldiers a couple of weeks ago, so we know Michonne’s instinct to leave is correct. But within the confines of this episode the Governor’s arguments feel pretty legit, and Michonne seems more than a little crazy.
So she keeps trying to convince Andrea to leave, and the Governor keeps trying to convince Andrea to stay, and I keep wondering why they're both so concerned with what Andrea does, anyway.
But Michonne does care, so she tries to demonstrate to Andrea that they're both prisoners at Woodbury. They make their way to the fence, and Merle jumps up and tells them they need an escort and a bunch of other bullshit. Andrea begins to understand Michonne's wariness, but then Merle actually does allow them to leave, so she and Michonne start fighting again. Andrea believes the fact that they can leave is the reason they don’t have to, to which Michonne replies, “Fuck this, I’m out. You coming?”
But Andrea stays. And that evening she attends Woodbury's main event: Merle and some dude in a hoodie fighting like gladiators, surrounded by zombies in chains. Andrea is horrified, but the rest of the townspeople are super into it. And here again we have a scene that worked well in the comics to establish the stark difference between the two communities, but on the show, it doesn't hold up.
For starters, why wouldn’t ANYONE in Woodbury have already told Andrea about the event? The entire town was there, and they were all very excited to see Merle beat up a dude from American Apparel. Surely at some point during the day as Andrea walked around sipping cocktails, someone would have said, “Are you excited for your first Thunderdome tonight?”
And if the event is truly staged as the Governor claims, why does it matter if he’s using zombies to prove that it’s okay to be near them? Sure, it’s a super bad idea, but that fact alone shouldn’t make Andrea see the error of her ways. But as she stares off into the distance, it’s clear that she now wishes she’d escaped with Michonne after all.
Meanwhile at the prison, Glenn digs graves for the casualties of last week's zombie riot. He’s still rude to the two surviving prisoners, and he takes a break from grave digging to tell Herschel that T-Dog wasn’t just a good guy, he was the best. He says, “I’d trade any other people for one of ours any day.” Because now this group is a family.
But last season Herschel wasn’t family. And in the first season Rick was just some guy who miraculously appeared and happened to be married to someone from Glenn's group. So I feel bad for the two prisoners, and I hope Glenn gets his shit together and realizes that one day they can be part of his fucked up family, too.
Rick is now freaking out and axing zombies in the prison with unhinged abandon. He even attacks Glenn. And then he finds the room where Maggie gave Lori her c-section, and we hear a zombie around the corner. For a moment, we wonder if Carl didn't shoot his mom after all. Is Rick about to have a tearful reunion with zombie Lori?
No! It’s another zombie, and I guess that zombie ate Lori? I presume that's what happened there.
This show has borrowed plenty from the comic, but the writers have also established time and time again that they're not afraid to go in a completely different direction. And yet here Rick answers a ringing phone, confirming that the writers did have one meeting where they sat around a table and said, “Yeah, so we’ll change this, and we’ll change that, and we’ll kill Lori here instead of here… but can we PLEASE keep the absolute worst part of the comic??”
Because that’s what Walking Dead fans have been clamoring for – Rick and that god damned crazy phone.
But all in all, this episode was a lot of fun! Rick’s rampage was awesome. Michonne slicing up the captured walkers she found was great, especially when she stepped on that one zombie’s head. And I loved watching Merle check the trap and bring up the other zombies for the arena.
Also I really, really hope Rick lets Daryl raise Lori and Shane’s kid, and that Daryl is free to keep calling her Little Ass Kicker.