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The Walking Dead: 306 “Hounded” Review

Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.

After leaving us hanging on Rick’s only word last week, TWD came back with a somewhat subdued episode that delivered at the prison but wobbled at Woodbury. Andrew Lincoln put in another stellar performance as Rick as he discussed the possibility of meeting another group, only to have the door slammed shut in his face by the voice of Lori. Yes, this is what all the fans of the comic book have been dropping hints about all week, but events didn’t unfold in quite the same way as expected with regards to the phone calls.

I was secretly hoping that this would be a double twist against the comics with a real person on the other end of the line, possibly from Woodbury, as that would have shocked everyone. Nonetheless, the writers chose to pursue the same avenue as the comic and did it by cleverly using the voices of fallen characters. This was a good way of keeping the excitement levels high, as we’d have recognised Lori’s voice straight away. You’ve gotta’ take your cowboy hat off to Lincoln here because he really brought intensity and curiosity to these one-sided phone calls.

Rick’s not back to normal yet, but after his initial reaction to Lori’s death, which was basically a zombie royal rumble, he seems to have entered the next stage of grief. Although this may be temporary insanity, at least he’s acknowledging his son and holding his new born for the first time.

Whilst Rick was playing operator, Daryl once again stepped up as everyone’s favourite hick, showed off some more of his would-be-parenting skills when he told the story of his mum’s death to Carl. Like his effort to look after the baby, Daryl’s showing a lot of new characteristics that set him further apart from his former character – as well as his big brother.

Something that came across a little off with the older Dixon brother was his and Michonne’s face off. Don’t get me wrong this was great action and the ‘Go Back’ messaging was quality stuff and extremely well prepared. But where did the need to slice off everyone’s head come from? I wouldn’t have said that these characters got on well but to just step up and slice a guy’s head off was pretty cold, even for Michonne’s standards. I actually felt a little sorry for Merle as he, for once, wasn’t the aggressor.

Following on from this, I cannot believe Michonne hadn’t discovered the ‘guts’ trick for avoiding walkers. Even after dragging around her two limbless pets for however long it was, she still didn’t figure that the smell detours biters? Rick and the others figured that trick out back in the second episode so someone as wild and independent as Michonne must have surely known. Also, the whole mute and mysterious angle for Michonne is wearing thin so hopefully she’ll open up now she’s with the group at the prison.

Meanwhile in Woodbury, Andrea has finally fallen back into the annoying character that she was when she was drooling over Shane. Her ‘flirtations’ with the Governor were cringing at best and it’s a shame that even though Laurie Holden is a quality actress, she struggles to really bring to the small screen the grit, determination and strength of her character, like it is portrayed in the comics.

One of the more entertaining parts of the episode involved Glenn, Maggie and Merle as they reunited during a confrontation outside the store. This was a scene filled with dread and anxiety as Michonne hid behind the minivan, watching Merle abduct Glenn and Maggie. What’s next for this young couple – I’m guessing we don’t wanna know.

Lastly, Carol is alive and well. It’s funny how she mustered the strength to push the door repeatedly but could so much as yelp to Daryl as he sat just down the corridor. This was a bit of a fumble, as we knew unless we’d seen her get ripped apart, she was always going to survive. By not showing her at all for an episode viewers were either confused or simply forgot about her, either way it withdrew any sort of excitement from the situation.

Now Michonne is with the group and they have a reason to head to Woodbury, we should start to see the two camps clash as we head towards the mid-season finale. When will Rick come face to face with the Governor? And when will we see both Dixon’s on screen (ignoring the ‘mind’ Merle from season 2) as well? Hopefully the waiting will soon be over.

7.5/10

Scene of the Episode: Lori’s Call – An effective delivery of a part of the story which fans of the comics knew was coming. Lincoln put in a great performance as he discovered some sort of closure through his breach of sanity.

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