Comparatively to past weeks, the latest episode of The Walking Dead, “When the Dead Come Knocking,” succeeded in showing some great examples of that age-old George A. Romero zombie parable: that humans’ greatest enemies are each other. While we were treated to some great scenes of zombie violence, this episode was at its best when man fought man, even on a more psychological level. On the whole, this episode was fairly solid, except for that scene of Andrea and The Governor in their lovemaking afterglow. That probably did more to cause nightmares.
Perhaps the most chilling scenes of the season so far were of Glenn and Maggie’s interrogations by Merle and The Governor. Now, Glenn was always a nice guy and it’s quite hard to watch him tied up at a chair while Merle threatens him with a knife. However, Merle, pressing a flattened knife on someone’s upper lip isn’t all that threatening… nevertheless, once the facial pummeling starts, you ache to save the wily little fellow.
Michael Rooker as Merle (as usual) gets a great showcase in this episode with his ribald, white trash torture methods. He is able to convey the heightened sense of power that Merle feels over Glenn here, and soon afterward, the subservience to The Governor in a moment’s time. Backtracking, his performed control over Glenn perhaps makes up for his being The Governor’s underling in his own mind.
Steven Yeun as Glenn also gets to do stuff in the episode, which is a change – he usually just does Rick’s bidding or is caught pleasuring his lady to the amusement of rest of the crew. Remember Season One where he hauled ass through the city and pretty much saved Rick’s life? Glenn’s still got game and proves that in spades when he evades a zombie that Merle lets loose on him (while he is duct taped to a chair, no less). When he’s finished, Glenn lets out with an animalistic scream, which is a great moment of release. Showing the brutality both men are capable of makes it an excellent sequence, especially when wit and skill overcome dull aggression.
While Maggie isn’t repeatedly punched in the face, she suffers quite a bit more than her boyfriend in the interrogation process. The Governor attacks her on a psychological level by forcing her to listen to Glenn’s torture – also convincing her of impending rape by making her take of her shirt and bra – and she does indeed leak their crew’s location. While physicality reigns next door, The Governor uses exacting mindgames to destroy Maggie’s willpower in a way no zombie ever could.
It will be interesting to see next week how Glenn and Maggie fare at Woodbury – have they already served their purpose to The Governor? Next week is the last episode before the mid-season break, so there will likely be somewhat of a sizable head count, though their characters have been built up of late (especially in this episode) so hopefully these two will survive to bang within the sightline of others in episodes to come.
All Woodbury scenes aren’t as effective as the interrogations, however. While Dallas Roberts as Milton is always a hoot to watch (especially as he sadly watches zombie redneck death matches) the scenes between him and Andrea during the zombie memory experiment don’t quite work. Milton’s experiment has a lot of build-up which leads to… Andrea quickly stabbing the zombie in the head. Experiment over!
These scenes were really unnecessary beyond giving us some color commentary on Milton (which, of course, is always welcome, but they needed to serve more than that purpose). Also, it seems most of next episode will be devoted to the Prison vs. Woodbury face-off so Milton’s life mission might again be sidelined. Poor Milton – the waste of generator power, and now this?
Developments are so-so back at the Prison. Within minutes, Michonne goes from pain coma to relatively healed with Hershel’s miraculous touch and eventually helps to guide intrepid leaders Rick, Daryl and one of the prisoners (does it matter which?) to Woodbury to free Glenn and Maggie. It’s a detailed touch though, even since Daryl has become much nicer over the course of the season, that the writers leave in a hint of his underlying racism toward Michonne by the super cautious way he acts around her – he viciously points his crossbow close to her face when it’s barely warranted.
And, surprise, Carl is left to fend for himself. Is there a latchkey program still running after the Zombie Apocalypse?
The Upside: The interrogation scenes are topnotch. Also, Judith > Sophia. Right on, Carl – we are sick of that name too.
The Downside: More follow through is needed with Milton’s experiment. Don’t worry Milton – as Andrew Lincoln himself would say, “to me, you are perfect.”
On the Side: It’s really nice of everyone to pretend they cared that Carol was still alive. Team spirit, y’all!