Monday, February 18, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 10 (Home)

Thank you, AMC!  Last week was an unusual hiccup for a great show that was poised to capitalize on a superb mid-season finale, but this week we witnessed a remarkable return to form.  In fact, this might have been one of the best episodes we’ve seen.

Now, I’m not going to lie: the first ten minutes of this show were designed to piss me off.  Everything I was lamenting about Episode 9 was magnified as “Home” teed off with Rick chasing ghosts and The Governor playing mind-games and looking sore, while Andrea continued to do whatever the hell it is that she’s doing this season.  Honestly, I was thinking that this show might be losing some of its considerable luster.  Then Daryl Dixon saved the day as he and Merle offered up one of the best sequences this series has provided.  Then, as the episode drew to a close, we were treated to a thrilling battle that should set the stage for a harrowing close to the season.

Early on, it was all about Rick chasing Lori’s ghost around a creek (I didn’t think it was any better than it sounds) and The Governor continuing to abuse Andrea’s newfound (and inexplicable) stupidity.  Things were going nowhere.  We were given a scene where Maggie and Glenn were both angry at each other.  We don’t know why they’re so mad at each other, and the scene made it clear that they don’t really know why either.  Another scene revealed that Hershel wants to leave the prison, but Glenn wants to stay and is determined to make hasty and irrational decisions.   Also, Axel suddenly became very endearing and seemed to be winning Carol’s affection, effectively signaling that his death had drawn nigh.  Tyrese was nowhere in sight. 

I kept thinking that it was really bizarre that Rick is the heart and soul of the show, and as the writers elected to lead him further and further astray, the show itself seemed to lose direction. 

As soon as Daryl came to the rescue of a Hispanic family with a screaming baby, The Walking Dead found its footing.  The bridge was an excellent setting for a showdown, and the show delivered a taught sequence that highlighted Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker to terrific effect.  I positively loved the Ry Cooder-esque twang (let’s just call it “Daryl’s Theme”) that punctuated every shot from Daryl’s trusty crossbow.  I loved the way he was recycling his arrows, and the interaction between the Dixon brothers was incredibly tense.  Bonus points must be awarded for the trunk-slamming zombie kill, which was epic. 

Then we were back in Woodbury, where The Governor and a few of his trusty soldiers disappeared.  Andrea couldn’t figure out where they were, but I think the viewing audience had a pretty good idea.  At the prison, Hershel begged Rick to come back inside and get some rest, while Carol and Axel were strolling around and sharing a few laughs.  That’s when The Governor made his presence at the prison known, taking out Axel with a headshot.  He and his crew were positioned at various points around the prison, and they let loose with a barrage that had all of our favorites running for their lives. 

Suddenly, a truck hit the scene, plowing through the gate before unleashing a horde of zombies on the prison gang.  A mysterious driver clad in a bodysuit and a helmet (was this one of The Governor’s minions, or could this be someone who was with Tyreese?) sprinted away as The Governor sprayed the scene with lead, too badass to take cover.  Rick and his brood managed to fire off a few rounds here and there, but I don’t think they hit anything.  I think Rick was shooting at the clouds. 

Anyway, Hershel was in a bad way and Rick was being overpowered when the greatest strengths of the third season (and perhaps the series) hit the ground running.  Michonne was on it, carving up zombies left and right.  Glenn came back and acted like Glenn, which was awesome.  And just when it looked like Rick was toast, out of ammo and overpowered by a pair of walkers, an arrow through the head of one of the walkers announced the arrival of the Dixon brothers.  It was Daryl and Merle to the rescue, and after the start of the show left me cold, the end had me smiling and itching for more.

I think Rick’s back, I think The Governor is finally starting to resemble the menace that he should be, and I think Season 3 has set the stage for a grand finale.  I’m expecting big things in the weeks to come, but if “Home” is any indication, The Walking Dead is truly going to rock in its third season.  This episode easily atoned for last week’s misstep, and I’m all in as the third act of the third season gets underway.

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