Warning: this is as much of a recap as it is a review, so here there be SPOILERS. You have been warned.
The Walking Dead continued to build momentum with another stirring episode. Yes, I felt the program stumbled upon its return from the midseason break with a couple of the weakest episodes to date. Yet from that point on, we've been treated to nothing but pure winners, and AMC's big gun is gaining incredible momentum as it hurtles toward the season finale.
There are only three episodes left after "Arrow on the Doorpost", and the palaver between Rick and The Governor that served as the focus for this tense outing clearly signaled the beginning of the end. This little stalemate is going to end soon, and it will end with either the town of Woodbury or the prison where our merry band of survivors has gathered being annihilated.
I liked the mood of this one, which was grim and yet somewhat subdued. Subdued for The Walking Dead, at the very least. There was some action, but for the most part we were studying a discussion between two men who know that there will be no peace between them. Boundaries were discussed, as were terms, but Rick and The Governor know precisely where this is going.
The Governor is savoring the moment, eager for the looming confrontation, for he feels that his forces are superior enough to be all but invincible. Rick is thinking more of his people's survival than victory, and the odds aren't in his favor. Yet The Governor is foolish to believe the gap is so broad. Most of his people seem like the type who would be more adept at struggling to put up a good fight in a friendly game of badminton. Rick seems to have more in the way of killers, though the numbers are stacked against him. Regardless, the way these two men interacted was priceless. I kept thinking that if this was a televised debate, the polished villain might win in spite of his vicious nature and his eyepatch. Yet we know who's right, and Rick knows just who he's dealing with.
In other news, Andrea is firmly in no man's land, seemingly electing to remain with a side that places little or no value upon her. She is being used, she knows she's being used, and she knows she's being used by a deceptive madman. I just can't explain her actions thus far, and I'm eager for her eventual return to her senses. I'm assuming the show will do right by her at some point, and I'm not sure why this decision is supposed to be hard for her. I think she knows precisely who The Governor is, and I think she has an equally sound understanding of Rick. I have no idea why I'm supposed to see this as a hard choice for her to make. This remains the biggest flaw of Season 3, and I hope Laurie Holden's agent raises enough hell for AMC to avoid abusing her character for no better reason than to advance the plot in Season 4. Andrea deserves better.
I liked the man-off between Daryl and Martinez, and I thought the latter's home run strike was probably our zombie kill of the week. In truth, I liked the macho shit going on between these two, but I liked their dialogue even more. Imagine two soldiers like that fighting side by side. Alas, . . .
I liked some of the stuff happening back at the prison, but the "Hey, my name's Merle and I'm 100% asshole 100% of the time" schtick is getting old. Surely there are some other notes this character can hit. Also, who decided to let Merle get so close to the guns and ammo? I thought they were begging for trouble there. I'm definitely tired of the Glenn and Maggie soap opera and I think we may be back to business as usual on that front. Good, their little tiff was contrived and mostly meaningless. The show is better without it.
I loved seeing Scott Wilson being given such an integral role in this episode. It says a lot about his character's worth, with or without two working legs, and seeing Hershel jacked up and ready for a big shootout during the opening reel of "Arrow on the Doorpost" was extremely cool. It reminded me a bit of his work for Walter Hill in Johnny Handsome, a vastly underrated noir picture. I also liked seeing Rick open up to Hershel at the end of the show about The Governor's terms, namely that the group turn over Michonne in exchange for a truce. Rick seems unsure of how to proceed in spite of his "We're going to war" speech and the fact that he knows The Governor will still try to kill them. In the end, we know Rick is too good of a man to really hand over Michonne, and he's too shrewd to surrender one of his best pieces on the road to battle. Make no mistake, fans of The Walking Dead, Rick got it right the first time. We're going to war.
I can't wait. The Walking Dead is firing on all cylinders as we enter the home stretch. I'm expecting a furious finish and I look forward to discussing the next episode of television's bloodiest gem with you in seven days.
Bonus: I positively loved the use of the music during the end, as both Rick and The Governor returned to their people. The tone and atmosphere of this show are both remarkably unique, and yet something about the technique utilized here reminded me of Michael Mann at his best. Much like his more striking efforts, the charged marriage of film and melody created quite a somber mood.