New Show Recap: The Walking Dead, Episode 3.13, “Arrow on the Doorpost’

The episode opens with Daryl and Rick scouting the exterior of a location while Hershel keeps watch near the car. They enter the building, an empty barn, but it’s too late for them to have the advantage of arriving first – the Governor is already there. He smiles, the first of many toothy, insincere smiles. “We have a lot to talk about.”

Finally, Rick and the Governor meet. Things are gonna get real.

Unfortunately, the rest of the show does not live up to this tautly paced introduction. In fact, it appears that after last week’s brilliant episode, the producers clearly felt they could rest on their laurels, because this is by far the weakest episode of the season. A lot is talked about, but very little achieved.

Meeting between Andrea, Rick, and the Governor
Image courtesy of AMC TV.

Shortly after the representatives from Team Prison arrive, Milton, Martinez and Andrea drive up. Andrea is surprised and angry to find out that the Governor is already there. Inside, things are already not going well, and Andrea’s arrival only exacerbates things. The Governor and Rick are both clearly irritated when Andrea says she engineered the meeting. She explains why she brought them there, pointing out that both men have worked to help the members of their camps at great personal risk, and that they should be able to work out a solution. She urges them to “save the bullets for the real threat.” (Poor Andrea, still thinking that walkers are the Big Bad. She’s just not very observant, is she?) Unfortunately, those points don’t register with either man, and from here, Andrea’s ego takes some major hits. First, the Governor cuts her off when she urges the two leaders to work something out. Then he makes it very clear to Rick that Andrea doesn’t have the power to accept or make any offers on behalf of Woodbury, which is clearly galling for her. Shortly after that, she is kicked out of the room so the mens can talk. She does not take it well.

The other representatives from Team Prison and Team Woodbury remain outside, sizing each other up. After Daryl refers to Milton as the Governor’s butler, Milton sniffs, “I don’t feel like I have to explain myself to the henchman.” (Something tells me that Milton has been dying to deliver that line to Woodbury’s muscle.) Unfortunately for Milton, that remark doesn’t sting for Daryl, who has been proudly henching for the better part of a year, although Daryl bristles a little, as he is wont to do. Some light posturing ensues.

Andrea, Martinez, and Daryl take out some walkers
Image courtesy of AMC TV.

The sniping is interrupted by distant moans. Daryl, Andrea and Martinez hurry off to find walkers lurching around a maze of silos. Andrea rolls her eyes when Daryl and Martinez parry about who should kill the first walker. While they debate, she charges forward and kills the walker with a knife to the eye, in a move reminiscent of her second-season kill where she charged out of the camper bathroom with a screwdriver. (Andrea’s walker-killing style seems to involve getting really up close and personal.) This no-nonsense kill might have endeared another character to us, but considering that Andrea has done the exact same kind of grandstanding just a few episodes back, it doesn’t ring true. It’s a Michonne move, and Andrea doesn’t have the cred to pull it off.

After comparing skills, the two men reach the Point of Grudging Respect. Daryl makes the first move, asking if Martinez has a military background. (Daryl’s social skills have increased in leaps and bounds, haven’t they?) It turns out that Martinez’s skilled violence stems from his profound hatred of walkers because they killed his wife and children. Daryl is unsurprisingly genuine when he expresses sympathy for Martinez, while Martinez moves remarkably rapidly from maintaining the party line to candidly expressing concern that the negotiations are only delaying the inevitable. The two smoke cigarettes found in one of the walkers’ pockets.

While the henchmen bond, Hershel and Milton have a pleasant conversation about Milton’s efforts to document the events post-ZA. Eventually Milton works up the nerve to ask Hershel if he can see his amputation, something Hershel can’t possibly allow considering that he has weapons strapped to the stump of his leg. Fortunately, Hershel is able to deflect the request with some affable humor.

Rick and the Governor sit at a table
Image courtesy of AMC TV.

Inside the building, the negotiation is showing remarkably little movement. Rick and the Governor spend most of the time lobbing insults at each other. Unfortunately, both of them miss the mark as often as they hit it. Rick tries to trick the Governor into accepting responsibility for taking Maggie and Glenn hostage, rather than placing the blame on Daryl. The Governor sees through this gambit, but is clearly ruffled when Rick mocks his “Governor” title, saying, “You’re the town drunk, who knocked over my fence and ripped up my yard. Nothing more.” The Governor decides to use the opportunity to make an awkward segue to the subject of Lori and Shane, saying he admires that Rick is caring for a child that might not be his, which the Governor calls “restitution for your own lack of insight.” He doesn’t entirely have his facts straight, and Rick does not rise to the bait. Later though, the Governor strikes a nerve when he talks about his dead wife, all the while eyeing Rick to see his reactions. Rick struggles to keep his composure.  The Governor smirks, having finally landed a hit.

Back at the prison, Glenn is gearing up for war while Merle grows increasingly anxious about his little brother. He tries to encourage the group to go back up Rick, Daryl and Hershel. Finally, when he doesn’t have any takers, he attempts to leave himself. He tries to goad Glenn into going with him, reminding him that the Governor “copped a feel” from his woman. Glenn refuses to let him leave, and fisticuffs ensue, with Maggie jumping on Merle when it looks like Glenn is getting the worst of it. The fight is finally broken up when Beth fires a gun in the air, which, of course, is extremely dangerous and stupid, but gets the desired result.

Merle makes one last effort to persuade someone to go with him, and that someone is Michonne, of all people. However, she’s not interested. More than anything, this illustrates how Michonne’s status in the prison has shifted following her trip with Rick and Carl to find new weapons. She makes it clear that she is following Rick’s orders, both by staying put in the prison and by not taking advantage of Glenn’s skirmish with Merle to lay some hurt on the latter. She is no longer an outsider, and she’s going to abide by the rules.

Outside on watch, Maggie and Glenn make up. He earnestly apologizes for making it all about him. Maggie says, tearfully, “I’m with you. I’m always with you.” They make out, then have sex that is both steamy and sweet.

Andrea sits outside and stews while the men battle it out. Hershel, sensing her dismay, walks over to talk to her. She says plaintively, “They kicked me out.” She asks what the Governor did to Maggie. He doesn’t provide specifics, but makes it clear the Governor is a sick man. The last of Andrea’s bravado collapses, and near tears, she tells Hershel, “I can’t go back there.” Hershel makes it easy for Andrea: “You’re family. You belong with us.” (Special props to Hershel for holding it together when Andrea asks about Maggie. He’s a cool customer.) However, he does point out that if Andrea joins them, she must be Team Prison and stop trying to reconcile the two groups. She understands.

The negotiation doesn’t do much, although both men agree that if happens, the fight will go down to the last man. Finally, the Governor reveals his terms: he wants Michonne. If he gets her, he’ll leave Rick and his group alone. (For one second, I thought the Governor was going to ask for Judith – am I alone there?) He takes off his eye patch to show Rick his scar. If he’s trying to horrify Rick, he’s chosen the wrong thing, considering that Rick performed a field amputation on Hershel a while back. Rick tries to talk him out of it by appealing to the Governor’s ego, but he isn’t dealing with your garden-variety megalomaniac.

The Governor gives him two days to consider the offer. The two groups return to their camps. Despite Hershel’s earlier encouragement, Andrea chooses to return to Woodbury after a few seconds of agonizing. She isn’t ready to give up on preventing this battle. It’s restitution for her lack of insight.

Back at Woodbury, the Governor quickly reveals what we all knew: He plans to kill Michonne and the rest of the prison members anyway. Milton protests that this is a slaughter, but the Governor shuts him down. Calling to Andrea across the town square, the Governor thanks her for arranging the meeting, praising her insincerely for “putting herself out there.” She responds with an equally inauthentic, “Glad I could help.” The Governor tells her that he and Rick will be meeting in two days to discuss terms. Despite herself, Andrea asks the Governor what those terms are. When he doesn’t answer, she shrugs and says breezily, “Hope it works out.”

Back at the prison, Rick delivers the somber news that they are going to war. “He wants the prison. He wants us gone. Dead. He wants us dead for what we did to Woodbury. We’re going to war.” Later, though, he shares the truth with Hershel. In a chilling note, Rick admits that his dire warnings were designed to terrify the group – enough that they’ll accept him handing over Michonne.  He has confided in Hershel because he wants the older man to talk him out of doing this.

Overall, this episode was clearly designed to create some sympathy for Andrea, and to some degree it does.However, it’s unlikely that her sense of self-importance has been diminished by a single bad afternoon, so I think we can expect Andrea’s entitlement to rear its ugly head even as she tries to make things right.

Not-So-Deep Thoughts:

  • Is it my imagination or are walkers’ skulls becoming easier to smash? They are like overripe melons at this point.
  • Didn’t that cigarette look fantastic? I would so totally smoke during the ZA.
  • Does anyone else notice how modestly attired the female walkers are? They all seem to be wearing long skirts or dresses.
Daryl holds out a lit cigarette lighter
Image courtesy of AMC TV.

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Moretta

Moretta will take that applause. Her Twitter is https://twitter.com/GobezMoretta.

6 thoughts on “New Show Recap: The Walking Dead, Episode 3.13, “Arrow on the Doorpost’”

  1. I totally thought he was going to ask for Judith, too. It seemed totally plausible, what with the Zombie kid and all.

    Is anyone else totally fucking annoyed about the Talking Dead previews that have given total spoilers for the past two episodes during the first commercial break? I can’t remember what last weeks was, but this week it was something like “watch Talking Dead to see if Rick and the Governor will ever be able to come to an agreement” or something along those lines. Thanks guys, glad to know Rick and the Governor’s meeting will not resolve anything up front.

    Andrea is the worst. Hopefully her and Milton with come up with an amazing plan that will make him interesting and her less detestable.

  2. I wanted to like Andrea. She’s a strong female trying to be a stronger leader.

    But I hate her and I want her to go down in the middle of a zombie pile as soon as possible.

    I liked this episode. I was tense all the way through, waiting for that hidden gun to come out or for the Governor to pull some other doublecross. I’m still surprised that nothing else happened.

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