November 12th, 2012
09:45 AM ET
[Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for the November 11 episode of AMC's "The Walking Dead."]
I'm not one to cry easily from stories projected on a screen, but this show has done it to me twice.
The first time was brought on by the season one anguish of a father forced to put down his undead wife, and the second time was just last week, when Rick lost his wife to a post-apocalyptic C-section.
So I tuned in to this week's episode first hoping that I wasn't about to walk into a back-to-back sob ambush, but also curious to see how Rick, who so far had been spared the ultimate grief of losing a loved one, would cope with Lori's death.
Sunday's installment picked up in main-street Woodbury in the middle of an eerily idyllic festival. Milton, the brains behind the town's improvised zombie lab, described it to Andrea as a "party," even as he perhaps sarcastically gestured that "mere words cannot describe the festivities ahead."
The "party" was far away from the prison-stage where the tragedy of Rick Grimes and his band of tormented survivors was taking place. Torn apart by anger, macho Rick ignored his son and newly born daughter to storm through whole corridors full of zombies in an exhilarating, gory quest to find the late Lori Grimes. (Major kudos to the never-disappointing special effects crew behind this bloody spectacle.)
Rick, having only one word in the script for "Say the Word," was reduced to a bloody violent mess, and so we were left to look elsewhere for a depth to his fury.
In two occasions it was up to Glenn to give us that: once as he pleaded with Rick to leave the gory entrails of the prison, and again when he confided to Hershel that he would rather see others die before losing more people from their group. It's in that exchange that I was reminded of Shane, Rick's once patrol partner and "best friend," who more than once questioned Rick's ability to protect his wife and son.
Meanwhile, it was up to Maggie and Daryl (with his sweet poncho!) to leave the prison in search of "something a baby can eat," and they found it at a thankfully empty child care center. I'm still glad this show has mostly avoided kid-zombie killings, with the opening sequence to the pilot and season two's standoff at the barn being notable exceptions.
After having caught possum-dinner and returning to the prison, Daryl got yet another chance to shine as he cradled the newborn with the newly acquired baby formula (is there anything he can't do?). And for the record, I hope his recommendation to name the baby "A-kicker" sticks.
Of course, the sorrow of putting down undead children is something only the show's audience is spared. To the characters in the story, it must be a daunting reality. A reality apparently too daunting in some cases, even to the Governor, who instead chose to hold on to his own reanimated daughter.
In one of this week's reminders of how creepy he is, we were treated to an afternoon hair-combing session with his restrained undead daughter, while Michonne tried to catch a glimpse of his activities through the window.
With the town's seemingly guaranteed safety and all the nice chats with Mr. "I'll-never-tell-you-my-name-just-kidding-it's-Philip," Andrea seemed more convinced than ever to stay inside Woodbury's walls. It was Michonne who continued to carry a steely mistrust of this new environment and the man who controls it.
And so it was with that divide between them - and after a final stand-off in which she put her sword to the Governor's neck - that Michonne bid adieu to her winter-time companion (and possible cuddle buddy) with an ice-cold "you'd just slow me down anyway."
That evening, as Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Mr. Saturday Night Special" blared in Woodbury, we were invited along with everyone else in the cult-ish town to cheer from the stands as its chosen favorite past-time took place: a gladiator-like mano-a-mano between fighters encircled by zombies.
While the Governor tried to appease Andrea's nerves (and ours) by confessing that it was all staged, it was interesting to see that not all involved (like Milton, who grudgingly assists in the production) were thrilled about it, and not everyone in town partook in the "festivities."
Back at prison hell, Rick found the room where Maggie extricated the baby from Lori's womb, only to find blood stains, a walker with a full belly, and a ringing telephone. There, as he picked up the receiver, the curtains closed on this episode with Rick Grimes' only line: "Hello?"
A few side notes:
* Did I see a Michonne smile? She was so thrilled to get her katana back!
* I would've hated to be the production assistant who had to scribble pages upon pages of the Governor's crazy doodles.
* I wonder how long it'll take Mr. David Morrissey to perfect his southern drawl.
* Will Michonne's prophecy that no one gets out of Woodbury come to haunt her?
And of course:
* Where is Carol?
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