“Lost more than the good book there for a while. Lost my way. “˜And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.’ Matthew 5:29-30.”
This week retreats from the shock-and-awe finale of “Home” to spend a little quality character development time. Andrea finally reunites with what’s left of the survivors. We get to know a few characters better in brief, insightful scenes. And Tyrese’s merry band makes another appearance. “I Aint’ a Judas” may not be the best offering season three has to offer, but it’s a solid entry into the canon, carefully sketching out these people we need to care about before the inevitable late-season bloodbath. (Place your bets now. I’m saying Beth doesn’t make it through.)
As I mentioned last week, the assault on the prison has brought Rick back to reality, at least for the moment. He has something to focus on again. His eyes are clear.
And part of Rick’s clarity is kinda acting like a dick. He’s insistent the group stay at the prison, though they keep getting pushed back against the wall. The field they wanted to grow crops on is now overrun with walkers. There’s no way to repair the gates. They can’t retreat further into the prison because the lower levels are overrun again. The food is running out? I’ll make that a question because just a few days ago there was plenty of food for everyone for a while, but maybe while we weren’t paying attention, someone ran in and stole it all. Whatever.
Rick’s attempt to retake control of the group without as much as a “sorry about flipping out about my dead wife” doesn’t seem to be sitting well with everyone. Hershel represents the other side, maybe the only one of the lot who can, demanding that they get the hell out of dodge. Or at least if they stay, that Rick be the leader he insists he can be.
Almost everyone gets a bit of screen time this episode. Merle reveals the surprise that he can read, and does so by choice. Daryl and Carol reunite in a brief, sweet scene. Beth sings, because that’s what she does, but she also grabs a gun and is ready to defend the group when needs be, which is a million miles from where she started on the show. Michonne does badass one handed push ups and gets speaking lines. Carl tells his dad that maybe its time to step down.
I haven’t spent much time talking about Carl in three seasons of recaps. Largely he’s occupied generally the same space as Lori; he is where he needs to be and does what he needs to do to provide motivation and justification for the other, more important characters. Namely Rick. That’s why he was always wandering out of the farm house last season. Well, in addition to a bit of “young child brattiness.” But this season has seen a real shift for Carl, not only in his place among the survivors, but in the care the writers have been treating him.
We knew that Carl had changed in the first ten minutes of this season, when the silent intro showed him among the first people to enter the abandoned house. He had a gun, he apparently knew how to use it, and he was trusted to help clear out the place. He was also the person who found the food, even if it was of the “dog, canned” variety. The kid has adapted. Perhaps he’s adapted better than any other member of the group. Especially since making the hard choice to shoot Lori before she could turn into a walker, Carl has seemed to have the clearest understanding of their situation and the rare ability to still have empathy, sympathy, and kindness, emotions that are in dwindling supply. That’s why he rescued Tyrese’s group in the catacombs, but was cautious enough to lock them out of the cell block. That’s why he is left “in charge” when the adults go on their runs. That’s how he’s smart enough to talk to his dad about taking a break from leading the group. And this is why we constantly see Carl out on look out. When the rest of the adults are arguing over Woodbury, there’s Carl, alone, out on watch. And to go by what’s happened over the last couple of episodes, it’s entirely reasonable to assume no one told him to go keep watch – Carl went out there on his own accord. This is an entirely different boy than the one we knew before. I’ve been enjoying how the show is developing him this year.
Carol has had an interesting time of it as well. She was mostly a background character in the first season, the grieving mother the second season (with some WTF mood swings), and now she seems to be coming”¦ well, I don’t want to say “into her own,” but possibly more confident of her place in the group. I think we’re all in agreement that she has the serious likes for Daryl and vice versa, but instead of acting stereotypically “girly” upon his return, she just approaches him quietly to welcome him back. All their affection is done that way, quietly, in the way they talk to each other and look at each other, and in the care Carol takes to warn him of Merle’s influence. I was very anti-Carol/Daryl relationship in the beginning, but I like them now. I like the non-typical look at romance, and I like the slow burn.
Oh, and before we leave Carol, let’s talk about the Mata Hari-level advice she offered Andrea. That is some cold, practical shit. Carol has depths as yet unexplored, people. I hope they don’t red shirt her anytime soon.
Well, well, well, Andrea. Trusting the Governor’s word on things isn’t working out so hot for you, is it? We join Ms. Fancy Pants after she’s already discovered that the Gov’s little job was actually a trip out to the prison – the very trip he assured her he wasn’t taking. So for some bizarre reason, Andrea seems to believe Philip when he accused the survivors – her former friends and makeshift family, the ones who taught her how to survive, helped her after her sister’s death, and guided her through her suicidal period, not to mention the woman who saved her life after the farm and then nursemaided her through the winter – of attacking first. Girl, what the fuck is your problem? Despite the fact that she immediately defies Philip and “sneaks” out of town to go talk to Rick and the others, Michonne has her number when she said she wasn’t aware that the “messiah shit” was “˜contagious. Andrea doesn’t go out there to find out the truth. She goes out there to fix things. Because she’s special. White savior lady in a pair of cargo pants.
So Andrea steals Michonne’s tricks, walks across the country side, and expects to be greeted with open arms. It’s a rude awakening that they don’t trust her, despite what she already knows – that Philip was going to make Merle and Daryl fight to the death, that Michonne and Philip fought to the death, that the underbelly of Woodbury is as vicious as a pack of wild dogs. You can tell that she honestly expected everyone to throw her a party. And when they don’t, she looks outside herself for explanation, accusing Michonne of poisoning the group against Philip and the town. Of course there is no other reason they could be wary. That they could hate him. (It’s convenient, that in their list of reasons they don’t trust Woodbury, none of them point out that he had Glenn almost beaten to death and that he threatened to rape Maggie, two things that I think would have penetrated her self-absorption.)
And Michonne, who finally gets a significant number of lines, just lays it right out for Andrea. “You traded a warm bed for a friend.” Andrea is so in love with this idea of “having a life,” of being entitled to leadership, a lover, unquestioning friendship, basically everything she had before, that she can’t see what’s right in front of her at the prison. Her real family, her real friends, in mortal danger from the man she’s sleeping with.
So who could be surprised when Philip is asleep in bed beside her, she can’t use the knife she has in her hand? She still wants the illusion.
Tyrese and Co.
Well, hello there, Tyrese. We were wondering where you went to last week. Apparently you’ve been out wandering in the woods again, though I had hoped you were still hiding out in the prison, waiting for all the hysterical shouting to die down. Tyrese’s little group runs into Andrea and Milton in the woods. Even though Andrea tried to pretend they had a “camp” somewhere, the group knew they were lying immediately, because you don’t get Andrea’s carefully highlighted and expertly styled ponytail out in the woods. That’s town shit, right there.
Milton brings the group back to town when Andrea goes on her prison walkabout, which raises the question of what the town’s actual policy to strangers is. Andrea and Michonne were allowed in, but the useful and trained military guard was shot dead. Is everyone in the town alive just because they chose to stay? Does the Governor kill everyone who tries to leave? If Tyrese and co. wanted the car and the guns, were they available, would the Gov have them executed? It’s a weird policy that seems to be dependent on whether or not the Governor wants to make the sexy times with you.
Anyway, in casual conversation, it comes up that there’s some “crazy lunatics” up a the prison, you know, as it does, and the two group members who are not Tyrese or Sasha seem awfully excited to help kill the group at the prison because, like, Rick yelled at them at that one time. I mean, Carl only saved their lives, and allowed them a place to bury their friend, and then fed them and sheltered them for a couple of nights, but that time someone yelled at them totes hurt their feelings, so bust out the guns, right?