TV Talk: THE WALKING DEAD 3.06 “Hounded”

Meredith still can't get over the fact that stuff actually happens on this season of THE WALKING DEAD.

Ahh, the crazy phone. Last week, Henri bemoaned The Walking Dead's adoption of the comic's dumbest storyline, with the ghosts of Rick's past reaching out to him through the telephone as his sanity oh so unsubtly unravels. And yes, Rick's anguished apology to a disembodied Lori lacked a certain nuance this week, but hey, whatever it takes to move him past his grief and guilt with a quickness so we can tackle other, more interesting difficulties. This is The Walking Dead Season Three, people. The season where stuff actually happens! No time for grief. I can scarcely remember most of the dead characters Lori insists were speaking to Rick on the phone, so I appreciate the implication that the show is moving on and focusing on those who are still alive.

And the scenes with the phone offered two other useful qualities: a reminder that, in spite of his unfortunate face and accent, Andrew Lincoln is quite a good actor, and a demonstration of Hershel's patience and understanding. I was touched by his quiet response to Rick's insistence that he received a call from an obviously dead phone. He knew Rick had some healing to do, and he was willing to accept any crazy, transparent plot device that would foster that healing. 

In other prison news this week, Carol is still alive! I'm glad of it - although the character offers very little in and of herself, she is made worthy by virtue of Daryl's investment in her. While The Walking Dead may exhibit a dearth of cherishable characters, for me Daryl is at the top of that very short list. Last week, he cuddled Little Ass Kicker and made us swoon. This week, he confided in a desperately lonely Carl and cradled Carol and made us swoon some more. After the events of "The Killer Within," Devin argued that Rick is a terrible leader, an incompetent boob and something of a jerk. I can't disagree, and with the sheer effectiveness of damn near all of Daryl's actions and his far more attractive personality, I continue to wonder why the hell this guy isn't the leader of the fictional group and the actual cast. 

The Walking Dead has a boon in the Dixon brothers, two characters with no comic counterparts. Is this why they're so much more interesting than those characters tethered to an already established storyline? While the writers of the show have demonstrated that they have no problem deviating from the comics, they must clearly at least consider the original arcs for Robert Kirkman's creations. Something about the freedom they have with the brand new Dixon brothers - and due to more skillful casting than the showrunners have shown for most of the cast - results in two of the only characters that I never find irritating or tiresome. 

Michael Rooker's Merle radiates a wild, unhinged charisma, stabbing and shooting his way through his scenes with fierce presence. His line deliveries are always sublime, his facial reactions unmatched.  He's a terrible, odious person that I'm rooting for simply because he's interesting. I like Glenn and Maggie just fine. They're cute together and separately and I don't mind them at all. But I cheered when Merle got the drop on them, because Merle does everything with style. 

And, of course, because I'm ready for these two distinct storylines to fold into one, and Michonne's sheer will is going to bring both groups together. She disembowels a walker and discovers that being covered in zombie guts allows her to walk among them undisturbed, making her way to the prison to announce that Glenn and Maggie have been abducted by Merle. I've read plenty of complaints in the comments about Danai Gurira's performance as Michonne, but I'm into her. She's fucking tough. And yeah, she does a lot of scowling and almost no talking, but there's far too much jabbering on this show anyway. I certainly won't begrudge a character who does nothing but slash and run and scowl and look great doing it. 

And as much as The Walking Dead has a problem creating compelling characters of both genders, there are far more engrossing male characters on this show than females. In fact, Michonne is the only interesting female character, and we only just met her. I want to like Andrea because she's tough and independent, but she's also a moron. I'm super into The Governor - god almighty, he's gorgeous and charming and quite delicately evil - but I instantly care much less about him when he's spending all of his time dithering around with Andrea. Doesn't he have a job to do? Doesn't he have an entire community to tyrannize and manipulate? Why does he care so much about winning over Andrea?

I mean, there seem to be plenty of hot chicks in Woodbury, and that may be the point (and now they have Maggie to add to the hot chick population, so I fear for Glenn's health), but Andrea's not hot enough to constitute the tremendous amount of time The Governor wastes fucking around with her.

"Hounded" was a bit of an uneven episode, but I still can't get over the luxury of watching things happen on this show instead of the endless loop of Sophia searches to which we were subjected at this time last year. This episode ends with a few intriguing possibilities, as we wonder what will happen when The The Governor discovers that Merle lied to him about Michonne's death, and how the prison gang will infiltrate Woodbury to rescue Glenn and Maggie, and how will Andrea and Merle react when they come face to face once again with the elitist family that abandoned them? These are questions I actually care to see answered, and that's a brand new feeling for me with The Walking Dead

What did you guys think? Are you coming around on Michonne any? Could you even abide the scenes with Rick and the phone?

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