The Walking Dead: 303 “Walk With Me” Review
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.
WARNING – FULL SPOILERS
Before I begin I should probably point out that I have read all The Walking Dead comics that have been published so far, however, when I write these reviews I try to talk about the show as an independent adaptation. There’s nothing more frustrating if you haven’t read a book or comic and all the articles you read say “it’s nothing compared to the book”, so I try to avoid referencing the comic as much as possible. That being said I can’t help but touch upon it when talking about “Walk With Me” so be warned, although you don’t have to worry – I haven’t included any spoilers.
Tonight’s episode had a rather Breaking Bad feel to its opening sequence, showing soldiers inside a helicopter as it crashed into the woods. What made this so gripping, like so many of Br Ba’s intros, was the fact that it had no context to place it against – was this a flashback? Was this the same chopper from Atlanta? Was it shot down? So many questions in the first couple of minutes really got fans engaged from the get go.
What followed this was a very different, but ridiculously intriguing edition of the show, detailing Michonne and Andrea’s journey into Woodbury where, of course, they met some prominent new faces and a blast from the past in Merle. Or should that be Merle 2.0, as the character returned to the show in a much more subtle manner than when he left it back in season 1.
Let’s face it Merle was a complete a-hole in the first season – a reckless, uncontrollable caricature of a skinhead who had all the personality traits of a redneck racist. What annoyed me most about this was the fact that he was with the group in the first place. Someone like that you’d avoid like the plague in normal life so why would you trust him around yourself or your kids when the whole world goes to hell? I just couldn’t buy it – even if he was muscle to have around, he surely wasn’t worth the effort.
Now though a lot of that seems to have changed. When Merle first questioned Andrea about Daryl and the group, he is aggressive but not explosive. He then shows sympathy to Andrea after finding out about her sister’s death and even though he looks at Michonne suggestively, he doesn’t seem at any point like he’s judging her by the colour of her skin and never makes even the faintest of remarks. Is this the same Merle?
Based on this reintroduction, it doesn’t look like it and with Michael Rooker’s name appearing in the opening title sequence, it must mean he’s back for good. I never thought I’d be happy to see him back but based on this evidence he might just fit into the story, not forgetting of course it’s not just his personality that’s changed – that dagger hand was a neat modification that scored an entertaining kill.
Enter Governor. This is what we’ve been waiting for, whether you’ve read the comics or not, you’ll have certainly heard this name mentioned in the build up to season 3. David Morrissey, a fellow Brit to Andrew Lincoln, was graced with this infamous part and so far, so damn good for the Liverpudlian actor.
In the comics, the Governor is more of an aggressive biker who reeks of viciousness and wickedness in his twisted interpretation of Woodbury’s leader. Here the show has gone the opposite way, making him a somewhat sophisticated and intelligent founder of the small barricaded town, who Andrea may even fall for. What the writer’s were careful to do though was bring out his dark side in the scene where they attack the soldiers. This was a great decision and is sure to keep fans guessing as to what will happen within this story, depicting this Governor in this manner was incredibly entertaining yet chilling.
As for the town he protects, well Woodbury certainly had all the qualities it did in the comics, showing a busy community being sheltered by an impressively self-trained army. This is going to be an intriguing environment for Andrea and Michonne to explore.
Speaking of Michonne, we got to see more of her in this episode and like Merle and the Governor it’s another positive addition to the show’s expanding cast. Her and Andrea were on their own for seven months and Michonne doesn’t seemed to have opened up to fellow female companion in any way. It was the same deal for the audience as Danai Gurira did a fantastic job of making her character appear defensive and secretive without just looking moody or insecure.
Milton touched on the fact that she had some connection with her two former limbless zombie pets but rightly saved his questions for later. He looks like another interesting new face and he seems to be experimenting with zombies, conducting test and testing their life span. Hats off to the special FX department once again for making the walker’s, sorry lurkers, decapitated heads look insanely real.
Aside from it’s content, what I particularly loved about this episode was how much depth it gave to the series as a whole. By just telling Andrea and Michonne’s story and not being afraid to leave the ‘Rick-tatorship’ (as they’re now commonly known) back at the prison, Walk With Me succeeded in giving the show a multilayered approach. In a similar way to other popular series’ like Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, the drama now has two fantastic new settings for the characters to evolve in, giving the whole narrative more depth and context.
Just in case it wasn’t apparent how messed up the Governor really is there was that shot at the end of him gazing into a tower of fish tanks containing heads. Yeah, he’s definitely messed up and he’s not the only one… welcome to Woodbury.
Scene of the Episode: We Found You Too – This was the turning point for the Governor, it was well placed, well timed and, excuse the pun, well executed. Morrissey turned sadistic in seconds and shows that he is the right man for this part.