Thus far The Walking Dead’s third season has spilt air time between two main locations, the prison and Woodbury. With each one being inhabited by various main characters it was only a matter of time before the two groups collide, and episode 6 got the ball rolling for this long awaited reunion. There was a lot going on in this episode, with 4 important narratives running simultaneously: Merle’s hunt for Michonne, Rick’s mystery phone call, Andrea’s fling with the Governor and the standard walker killing-spree which led to an interesting discovery…
(Spoilers to follow)
Michonne has never been one to mess with and the opening sequence of Hounded demonstrated this in all its gory glory. As Merle and his cronies try to track her down they are confronted with a “bitergram” warning them to go back. Obviously this is a message they do not heed and two dead bodies later the fight between Michonne and Merle is really on. Luckily, Michonne escapes with minor injuries. Unfortunately, Glen and Maggie stumble across Merle’s path and find themselves in a hostage situation. The two are dragged back to Woodbury, probably awaiting a welcome similar to the pilot in episode 3. In a Snow White-esque scene Merle tells the Governor he could not retrieve Michonne’s head or sword due to being surrounded by biters — my guess is that by telling such porkies, Merle has essentially signed his own death certificate. Not only has he got Michonne all wound up, he has let the woman who knows Woodbury’s location fall into the midst of the other survivors. Things are certainly going to get interesting.
Andrew Lincoln’s performance in this episode was outstanding. Rick’s decline into insanity was starting to bore me, but the mystery phone calls put an interesting spin on what could have become a drawn out mental breakdown. The revelation that the voices turned out to be that of his deceased friends forced Rick to confront his demons head on. Resemblances to The Shining were uncanny, although rather than goading Rick into conducting a homicidal romp around the prison, the voices encouraged him to repent his sins. Regardless, it was a nice little nod to Stephen King. Rick admitted to his misdemeanours and as a result was able to regain his sanity, allowing him to move on. One truly lovely moment was when he picked up the newborn baby, as he carried her out into the sunshine it was like the Rick that we knew and loved from the show’s inception had returned.
Andrea has always been a bit of a loose cannon. The decisions she has made in previous seasons have been dubious, but all in all she seemed to have her head screwed on which is why I wish she’d been put to better use in this season. It feels as though writers just don’t know what to do with what had previously been an interesting character. Hearing Andrea and the other female guard discussing “killing” their family members was a fairly disturbing moment. It seems that the zombie fight club is having a fairly adverse effect on the people of Woodbury, the ability to kill is seen as the highest of accolades, so long as you don’t go over the wall that is. Later in the episode Andrea was finally bedded by the Governor. Not only was this a sequence that made my skin crawl, it just seemed so pointless, I really don’t know what the writers are going to do with her.
So, while Andrea’s character seems to be going backwards, Daryl is being developed into an intriguing individual. His role within the group has been growing since season 2 as he has taken on more responsibility regarding the wellbeing of the other survivors. The last few episodes have even seen him become a father figure to Carl and the unnamed baby. As he told Carl about the death of his mother Daryl was allowed to open up for the first time, it seems that the writers want us to really like Daryl before he reunites with Merle, at which point who knows what could happen. With the discovery of the assumed dead Carol there may even be a romance on the cards, but if The Walking Dead has taught me anything it’s that no character is safe so I’m trying not to get too attached.
Michonne turning up at the prison was such an exciting moment, because we know that things are really going to kick off. Rick is going to want to save Glen and Maggie, Daryl will want to see Merle and Michonne needs to get revenge on Woodbury. All in all, Hounded was a fantastic episode. Hopefully the next two will follow suit before The Walking Dead takes its mid-season break.