The Walking Dead writers appear to have misread the number of episodes for season 3 and didn’t have enough material to fit a 16-episode season. Or maybe the producers’ master plan is to just turn The Talking Dead into a two-hour show? The last few episodes have definitely felt like they have the exciting stuff loaded up for the finale, but they have a few pesky episodes left so they have to drag out the story. “Arrow on the Doorpost” continues the tradition of characters who talk and talk, while not bothering with that pesky character and story development.  The war between the prison crew and Woodbury is almost here, but first we may need some riveting episodes of talking while sewing and a discussion in a zombie-run coffee shop. I can’t wait.

The Walking Dead: Is the Andrea Hate Justified? >>>

To be fair, last week’s episode was pretty good despite it being mostly talk that went nowhere. Lennie James had such a powerful and emotional performance, even if there was a whole bunch of things that lacked sense. This week just feels like an attempt to stretch things out before the inevitable war, and offers up supposed story progression without actually taking us anywhere.

Governor’s Mad for Michonne

Rick and Governor have themselves a “crazy man” summit. There are pretty intense moments during the discussion, but after killing each other’s people and damaging each other’s security, it may be way past the moment for tea time. Though I get a kick out of “I see dead people” Rick coming back to his crew and declaring that the Governor is crazy. When the man receiving phone calls from beyond thinks you’re off your rocker, then you’ve got some serious issues to work through.

Governor spends most of the discussion trying to make himself look like a poor man just trying to protect his people. He even conjurs up a nice sob story about his dead wife, except in the zombie apocalypse, losing a loved one is about as common as blowing your nose during flu season. It is hard to garner any more sympathy than every other person around. Of course, Governor gets bored of playing that game and jumps over into threat territory. He seems to not be that fond of his pirate look and wants revenge on Michonne. He promises Rick there will be peace if he surrenders her over.

I realize this is an attempt for a big cliffhanger. Will Rick give up Michonne? Will Rick go to war instead? It just seems like an excuse for yet another episode where people just debate and the viewer is teased about a big showdown. Is there anyone who has watched television once in their life that actually thinks this series won’t end with a war and with Michonne staying on Rick’s crew? It isn’t really a big cliffhanger when the series only has one choice to progress the story.

It’s interesting seeing the two mortal enemies both essentially lie to their people. It shows that the men have more in common than just been nutbars. Rick lies to his group that the Governor wants the prison rather than Michonne, and he later reveals to Hershel it was an attempt to get his group afraid. Playing on his people’s fears is sort of the Governor’s specialty  To be fair, Rick still seems to actually care about his group, and would only sell Michonne out to protect loved ones. It hurts Rick’s credibility as a perceptive leader if he even entertains the thought of trusting a guy he knows is insane. 

Governor shouldn’t be trusted, because he reveals his plan is to kill off the crew that brings him Michonne. The intriguing part about the reveal is that Milton isn’t ready to bow to the Governor. He may finally have realized he follows a psychotic, and it might be time to betray his leader. There is potential Milton may be setting up for a big moment of redemption.

Andrea Marching Towards Redemption

Speaking of redemption, I don’t think Andrea deserves all the hate she gets from viewers. I also think her story is going to turn out to be one of redeeming herself. She realizes she made a mistake choosing Woodbury over Michonne. This episode even has a discussion between Michonne and Merle that proves she still deeply cares for her former traveling buddy. Sure, Andrea chickened out on solving this problem by killing the Governor and it appears she chose Woodbury over her friends, but I don’t think those things should define her. The story is about Andrea realizing there are several innocent people in Woodbury and she is trying to save them from their tyrannical leader. Her attachment is to the innocent citizens and not the Governor anymore. Or at least, this is how I’m choosing to interpret this story. I’m trusting that this will all lead to a moment where Andrea makes a major sacrifice to not only protect her friends, but also the innocent people of Woodbury. Maybe this time Milton will actually really help her.

Bonding with Enemies

Even though Governor and Rick don’t end their conversation as best friends, there are some bonding moments between their people. Milton learns that it isn’t nice to ask to see an almost-stranger’s stump, but Hershel also proves he still has a sense of humor by his response to Milton. Darryl and Martinez are likely going to try to kill each other in a few episodes, but they have a moment of shared cynicism. Hopefully, these scenes will eventually set up some intriguing interactions in the future.

Love is in the Air and on the Floor

In the ultimate interaction, Maggie and Glenn have sex. I realize this isn’t a first-time thing. Ever since the kidnapping episode, Glenn and Maggie have been involved in a dull and contrived lover’s spat. I’m glad things are now resolved, and they can get to working on repopulating the zombie apocalypse world. Their relationship is one of the sweetest things in this series and represents hope for the future, so it makes me smile to know it has a chance to endure. It is nice to have a few scenes that are just happy and full of love in a show full of grit and gore.

Merle Brings the Best Out of People

Why is Merle allowed to actually wander about the prison when he is a known lunatic? At least his antics allow Glenn to show his tough side again. It also allows Michonne to reveal her feelings about protecting Andrea and prove she isn’t completely obsessed with killing the Governor. This is a crucial moment since even though she is stone cold emotionally, she obviously still cares about things. Merle’s little scuffle with Glenn also leads to Beth firing a gun, which is her introduction to badassery. Merle’s typical jerkiness allows for a few cool moments to shine through for some characters.

I’ve been critical of this episode, but it is setting up some wild action real soon.  But it just feels like we’ve been in set-up mode for most of the second half. I just hope they aren’t saving all the big moments and the entire war for the finale. When the big showdown does eventually happen, I look forward to characters having moments to be heroes and chances for other characters to finally achieve redemption.

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(Image courtesy of AMC)

Chris Spicer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV