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New Show Recap: The Walking Dead S3.E14 — “Prey”

“They deserve what they got. They weren’t human to begin with.”

Images courtesy of AMC TV.
Images courtesy of AMC TV.

A few weeks ago, The Walking Dead gave us an episode that focused almost solely on the development of three of Team Prison survivors ““ Carl, Rick, and Michonne. It’s been solidly praised as one of the best offerings the show has served up. This week similarly focuses on Team Woodbury and produces an episode that, while giving us some haunting imagery and a tense showdown in an abandoned factory, lacks the emotional heft of “Clear.” Primarily, because the character it centrally focuses on has been one largely despised by the fans and confusingly treated by the writers: Andrea.

Andrea, Phillip, Milton

Oh, Andrea. I ““ and many others ““ have spilled so much virtual ink talking about how much we dislike you. I’m sure your actress is a very lovely person. And you’re very pretty. But as a  character, you’re almost always a day late and a dollar short, and you think that you can make up for that by pretending to be a hardass. Over the last couple of episodes, we’ve seen you slowly wake up to the reality that your choice to stay in Woodbury was a bad one, and you should feel bad about it. Last week you cried, so I guess that means you do feel something. About things. And stuff. But I can’t help but noticing you took some time to get your highlights touched up before getting the fuck out of Dodge.

Andrea and Michonne around the campfire.
Images courtesy of AMC TV.

So what happens? In “Prey,” both Andrea and Milton come to acknowledge that there is something deeply wrong with Phillip. Milton has probably known this for some time ““ he seems to hint as much ““ and has been hanging onto hope that the man he knew before Woodbury would come back. What Milton is not willing to face is the man he knew before was the impostor. Woodbury has allowed Phillip to be the monster he always was deep down. So he takes Andrea to The Governor’s torture chamber and shows her what Phillip has planned for Michonne (there’s a helpful flashback at the beginning to remind us that Andrea and Michonne were once friends).

And Andrea, who just a few days ago couldn’t bring herself to kill Phillip, immediately says, “Well, I have to kill him.” And is outraged when Milton stops her from shooting him. For someone who had some ethical problems with cold blooded murder a mere handful of hours ago, she’s got some huge ovaries to get outraged over Milton’s squeamishness.

With her “plan” thwarted and the shine rubbed off Woodbury ““ literally, the town looks significantly less shiny and pleasant these days, almost fall-like even though it’s supposed to be spring ““ Andrea finally, finally, makes a good decision and makes to rejoin the gang at the prison. On foot, jogging the whole way, but baby steps, you guys. Baby steps.

Phillip hunts her down. Like a dog. Like prey. Through a wide open field and a creepy warehouse, finally catching up with her at the prison, which is green and fertile and promising after all the death we’ve seen. You can see the relief in Andrea’s face as she raises her arm to signal to Rick that she’s back. Home ““ that’s what her face is saying. And Phillip takes her to the ground before Rick sees her.

Andrea hides from Philip.
Images courtesy of AMC TV.

As a hard core horror movie buff, I loved the feel of the abandoned warehouse scene. The shots were menacing. The shadows were thick and significant. The setting was appropriately spooky. To me, this scene was what the episode did right. We ““ any reasonable viewer paying attention the to show ““ already knew that the Governor was an off his rocker sociopath. The chase added another dimension to that. We know he was willing to torture and kill strangers, but Andrea had shared his bed and, at least we believe, some honest affection. Being willing to run to ground someone who you were emotionally attached to is an entirely different level of fucked up.

As a matter of fact, I thought the scene in the warehouse was so good I am even willing to completely overlook its lack of logic ““ namely, how the Governor found her there in the first place, when she could have run anywhere or been in any of the other buildings. Or how he got out of there not being eaten by a swam of biters that clearly had him pinned into a corner and out of ammo. Or how he beat Andrea to the prison and suddenly silenced his engine so she didn’t hear him driving along. Or how he subdued her at the prison, when she had the arm free that she carries her knife in. Or how he dragged her back to the car without the walkers outside the prison getting him. Or how he dragged into his torture room without anyone seeing. Like those things. I am willing to just accept them.

What really infuriated about the episode ““ and the pretty transparent way this story arc is going ““ is that the show is going to try to win back viewer support for Andrea by torturing her. It’s a cheap move. It goes for the visceral reaction as a way to apologize for the tone deaf way they wrote the character to begin with. She gets to be redeemed by torment, and I’m not exactly dumb to the sexual menace part of it. To which I say, if the show completes their sympathy campaign for Andrea by having her be raped, I am going to freak the fuck out.

Tyrese and Co.

Tyrese and his crew finally get a bit of development in the third-to-last episode of the season, which seems like awfully short shrift to give to one the series’ most loved characters. So what do we find out about them? Tyrese and Sasha are good people, with good intentions, whose near year-long hideout underground in a bunker didn’t rob them of their fundamental goodness. I’m pretty sure we already knew this, but the show hammers it in (haha, that’s a joke for you comic readers) a bit more by having the pair guarding the sad end of Woodbury when Andrea tries to make a run for it. Andrea was obviously frustrated that her completely transparent ploy to get the two of them to leave their post unguarded didn’t work. Sorry, Andrea, but Tyrese is written at least marginally smarter than you are. Andrea warns them that Woodbury isn’t all it’s supposed to be ““ gee, you think? ““ and that she needs to get out. They let her pass because they aren’t sociopaths who’d shoot a woman in the back for wanting to get the hell out of Dodge.

 

Tyrese and Sasha practice shooting.
Images courtesy of AMC TV.

Some years ago, I read an interesting analysis of the Matrix trilogies that suggested that Zion was mostly populated by minorities because people who had been historically shat upon were more distrusting of the status quo. So, within the world of the Matrix, it’s easier to convince minorities to take the “right” pill and free themselves, because they’re already being harmed within the context of the Matrix’s reality. They are already on the look out for the way they’re getting screwed.

I thought about this theory again while watching Sasha and Tyrese creatively edit their conversation with The Governor. They may not know exactly what’s wrong in Woodbury, but they’re not dumb, and they know something is up. So they play it close to the chest. Michonne was the same way, sensing the decay under the pretty façade. The lie of Woodbury is the lie of a 1950s that never was, with a main street and barbecues and soda pop. Andrea was suckered in by the illusion, because it played into her ideas of what she “deserved” as a pretty white lady. The same for Milton, as a white male. This was already their world. Woodbury was just re-righting what the apocalypse turned over. Allen is just as suckered in ““ he’s where Andrea was when she first came to Woodbury. He wants desperately to believe in what the town offers, and he’s willing to let his resentment towards Tyrese be the excuse he needs to deny the other man’s logic. Even when Allen is confronted with a pit full of walkers and an acknowledged plan to sic them on a building full of women and children, he doesn’t care.

I think we can all agree Allen is probably going to die.

Is this the first time it was clearly stated that Sasha is his sister, not his daughter? Because I’ve certainly been under the impression they were following (loosely) the comics. It seems a random change to make. What’s gained by making her his sister?

 

Andrea in restraints.
Images courtesy of AMC TV.

Who wants to take bets on who the actual pit slayer is? The show is obviously indicating to us that it’s Milton, but given that they took pains to disguise who actually drove out there and flambéed the walkers, I don’t buy it for a hot minute. My money is on Martinez, as he showed a modicum of soul in “Arrow on the Doorpost,” and he’d be able to drive out of Woodbury without raising any alarms. Also, the Governor lied to him about having found Andrea, so that indicates whatever is wrong with Martinez, he might not be up for Phillip’s Happy Fun Time Torture Chamber.

 

By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of powderroom.jezebel.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at slay@persephonemagazine.com.

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

13 replies on “New Show Recap: The Walking Dead S3.E14 — “Prey””

I love these recaps, but I don’t understand the fixation with Andrea’s hair color. It feels like it’s always mentioned that she is ‘touching up her roots’ or some other quip, which doesn’t seem fair. I just don’t get why it’s a stretch to believe that she (Andrea, not the actress) is one of the gazillions of women on this planet who have naturally blonde hair. As such, there would be no need for her to be dying or touching up anything. I can see wondering how Carol’s hair is always cropped short, or something along those lines – but there really isn’t a need to ‘wonder’ about how a character manages to maintain a hair color when nothing stops it from being that character’s natural color, even if we know in the back of our minds that the actress herself is not a natural blonde.

Mostly, because the obviously dyed, carefully arranged nature of her hair highlights the other issues that go along with Andrea’s character — that she’s the pretty one, the blonde one, the quintessential ‘hot girl’. When all the other characters look like they’ve been sweating in a sauna for days, she looks perfectly, precisely put together. I think it goes hand in hand with the critiques I’ve had of her all season long; that she has always occupied a privileged position in society because of her looks, so when she found a place where she slid right back into that spot, she was unable to see what was wrong with the town because she ‘deserved’ to be back in that position.

Welcome back!!!

I agree — it’s too obvious to be Milton, so I’m voting for Martinez. (However, I also thought it would be too obvious to kill Oscar right before Tyreese showed up, and boy was I wrong with that.)

I am not going to be happy if Andrea is tortured. I am hoping that the speculum is not Chekhov’s Gun rather than just shorthand for sexual depravity.

Thank you! I feel very refreshed after my little vacation.

I don’t recall where, but someone connected with the show said that the Gov’s ‘issues’ with Michonne from the comic book could still come up this season. To me the issue is obviously his rape of her, which it looks like they’re going to foist onto Andrea. I just hope they don’t go that far.

“The lie of Woodbury is the lie of a 1950s that never was, with a main street and barbecues and soda pop. ”

Oh, I love this. So insightful.

On “Talking Dead” after the episode, the actress was insulted that people thought Andrea had told the Guv about Rick, Shane and Lori because “of course she wouldn’t!” Hello? Does she not know Andrea at all? Of course Andrea did. She didn’t like Lori and was pissed at Rick assuming leadership. She damn sure told the Guv everything about that group.

Yeah, I side eyed that comment from her too. Laurie Holden was so passionate about it too — except she neglected to note that there is no way that any of The Gov’s spies could have known about Shane or about him being killed. Andrea is literally the only person with that information. Literally.

Great post! One comment on the brother-sister dynamic of Tyrese and Sasha: I totally came to this show as not even knowing comics existed. So, to me, their relationship made perfect sense. However, now knowing this was a conscious change, I have opinions as to why it may have been a good idea. When you look at Tyrese and Sasha as father-daughter, the dynamic changes in the way that Tyrese will of course, naturally be more protective of his daughter. You can certainly have this strong natural protection when it comes to brother-sister, however, this means he may be more likely to withhold certain pieces of himself from his daughter because he still is her father, still wants to protect her from any dark parts of himself. This also changes the scene a little when Sasha help talks him down from letting Allen fall into the pit. Sasha as his daughter may not have been able to convince her father to stop this because he could have a “I’m your father and I know things and have experienced things that you don’t know about and I won’t tell you about mentality” that would enable him to ignore her argument, which, if I remember correctly, was along the lines of this isn’t who you are or a good idea. But as his sister, she is someone who grew up (most likely) in the same home he did, with the same parents. They appear similar in age, so probably hung around each other often enough to not have been shut out of experiences that happened to one another. He can’t as easily dismiss her argument because she’s approaching him on an equal level, as opposed to a younger level who doesn’t know better. The brother-sister dynamic also helps with show logistics (though I admit, they are not always prone to paying attention to logistics, as you pointed out) because it helps them justify the VERY quick shared vibe they did when talking to the governor about Andrea and what she said. At the exact same time, they made faces that showed a reaction of, “not really, what do you mean?” as opposed to quick looks at each other to agree they weren’t going to say anything about Woodbury being crazy town. That’s something that comes from knowing each other and shared decision-making, as opposed to the face you might have gotten from Carl and Rick: Rick with a lying “nah, she didn’t say anything.” and Carl with a stony face that means he’s following whatever dad says because he isn’t sure what dad will say and defers. Sasha and Tyrese don’t defer to each other, they share opinions and know each other well enough to make sure even their body language matches. As a sister with a brother, I know my brother and I have done the same thing (in response to parents but hey…similar.) When I’m with my dad or mom though and they’re being asked about an experience, I take cue from them, and probably always will. It’s easier to believe that a sister and brother have such a relationship.
One last possibility – Tyrese and Sasha get to be around the same age as brother and sister, and they already look more around Glenn and Maggie’s age, which gives a younger feel to the cast. When you consider that the head honcho people who mess things up are all older – Rick, the Governor, people who had wives and children, Andrea who apparently had a large age difference with her sister, and let’s face it, appeared “old” when compared to the actress they had for her sister until she was killed, and Daryl and Hershel, the oldest guy in the bunch, with the only young people being Carl and Beth, who don’t get nearly as much screen time in terms of balancing out the cast, it makes sense to make Tyrese and Sasha both around the same young age rather than making Tyrese seem fairly “old” or at least moooore mature seeing as he has a daughter who is definitely out of her high school years, or almost out.

I checked around and it looks like Chad Coleman (Tyreese) and Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha) are about 15 years apart in age. That would reflect the way she seems to respect his opinion but at the same time calls him on things in a playful manner. I like Sasha, but have absolutely zero hope that she will survive for more than a few more episodes, which is going to put Tyreese in a different head space. Age-wise, I see Tyreese as being Rick’s contemporary and Sasha as fairly close to Glenn and Maggie.

Thank you for the compliment and your thoughts!

I suppose you’re right in that making them brother-sister gives their relationship a little more equality. I just don’t have enough faith in the planning ahead of the showrunners to have actually thought that. It seems such an unnecessary change.

I totally did not think to look at the ages of the actors, but then to me, Tyrese did not look that much older than Sasha. I don’t know if I just really stink at looking at ages, but I just saw him as a couple of years older, about six tops. It’s a good point though. I like Sasha too – I also like the actress, I’ve seen her around and kind of want her to “make it”, especially through this show. But when considering story dynamic, you’re right, her likelihood of living isn’t high, though I feel like she might have at least half a season’s worth of episodes in her. But then, they just shot down Axel just as he was beginning to be a bit likeable, which I saw coming but not so soon. Sasha also seems to have more character heft to her though, so I’m going to be really hopeful in a dumb way and say they keep her for a little. I do agree on the comment about the writer’s not having that kind of forethought to make that sort of change. Ah well.

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