The Story: The survivors go all Stepford Wives.
1. The Governor (?), at last… - If you go back to when this show debuted 2 years ago, all of the comic fans were waiting in breathless anticipation of “The Prison” and “The Governor.” Some fans hoped these stories would be developed in those first 6 episodes, but it took 2 years for them to arrive. Now that we’ve finally seen the Governor, what do we think? Well, he certainly isn’t the Governor from the comics. He’s much more Plantation Owner than the character from the comics (who was Trailer Park, Meth-Addict Redneck). He’s clean, pretty well groomed, and wears a shooting jacket at all times? We’ll have to see how it plays out, but The Governor isn’t outwardly someone you should be afraid of as long as you like Plantation Owners with English-infused southern accents.
Now, comic book Governor was more like Merle, a guy who you don’t even want to be in the same room with. Nasty, bigoted, hateful, strong, mean… I’m glad to have Merle back, but I honestly think he would have been a much better Governor than this other dude. I can’t imagine Merle will be very interesting in this role of chief thug.
2. Disadvantage to have read the comics. - This was an episode where I almost hated that I’ve previously read the comics. I mean, not everything in the show is ripped from the comics, but it is a pretty safe bet that the Governor will be a nasty bastard and that Woodbury will be less nice than it seems. I felt like I was back to comparing every scene to the comics in a way that I haven’t since the first episode of the show: THIS is the same, THAT is different. As you can tell, I have a few concerns about the direction of the show, but sometimes it would be nice to be able to unplug and just let the show’s creators tell a story.
3. Clumsy and awkward. - I’m not sure this story is going to work very well. It seems very obvious that they’re setting up the drama in Woodbury as follows: It seems really nice, but that’s only because the citizens have made a deal with the devil and traded their freedom and individuality for safety and security. Andrea seems kinda seduced by both the surroundings and the sexy man in the shooting jacket. This is kind of a throw-back to the quitter Andrea in Season 1, which is unfortunate. But still, it’s just awkward and obvious and cliche. You can have safety as long as you let The Governor do whatever he wants. Even the small elements of the episode were cliche like the brief appearance of a naked woman in The Governor’s bed. We all know that seeing a face-down naked woman with the sheet barely covering herself is visual shorthand for, “My God! He had such energetic sex with her that she is passed out!” Now, he is such a vigorous man that he’s up and about, tending to Woodbury business, cooking eggs for people and wearing his shooting jacket. But the girl… PASSED OUT FOR HOURS!
This was just weak. It’s a shame. I’d like this series to be able to handle the subtleties of the comics, but they just don’t have the writers (or actors) to do it. Talent matters and given what they have, they’d be better served to just do a monster-show.
4. Michonne still not working. - Again, it’s hard to separate that comic book knowledge, but this isn’t the same character– aloof, almost mute, standoffish. They can do what they want (I guess), but I just don’t see the point of bringing over a beloved character from the comics if the only similarities are that she is black and has a sword. I really wanted to see the Michonne that was tough and and survivor, but also interesting because she was vulnerable and kinda crazy. On the other hand, I’m not sure this writing staff could have handled appropriate dialog for this character anyway.
5. Divided storytelling. - Is there a good reason for splitting the storytelling? Last week’s episode was quite good and a definite step in the right direction. But it didn’t show Michonne/Andrea at all. Now, this week is all Michonne/Andrea and zero of Rick and Company. Are they just avoiding the payment of fees and residuals to the actors?
6. Stop explaining the zombies. - It’s never a good thing to examine the zombies too closely. Don’t ask, “Where does all the food they eat go?” That just leads to other questions like, “Do they poop?” “Is there digestive system still active?” “Where are they getting the calories to power their muscles?” “How do their bodies move when their musculature is rotting away?” This show is playing with fire by examining whether the zombies have memories and fiddling with whether they can be tamed. We viewers can accept zombies, but unless you have a really outstanding explanation for them – and this show has never show itself to be outstanding at anything – it is better left vague.
Conclusion: One step forward, two steps back. This is the weak and clumsy storytelling that happens to TWD any time the action slows. They just don’t have the writers or actors to do they show we’d like to have, so I wish they’d just go with what they’re good at: zombie attacks and special effects.