Editor’s Note: These blog entries are meant to be a discussion of the most current episode of The Walking Dead, so we recommend you watch said episode before reading to avoid spoilers. Keep your eyes peeled for them every Monday morning.
On last week’s episode, T-Dog was bitten and self-sacrificed for Carol, who went missing, Lori went into labor and died as Maggie gave her a C-section and Carl shot his dead mother. Meanwhile at Woodbury, Michonne grew more suspicious of The Governor, who flirted with Andrea to get her on his side.
This week’s episode, “Say The Word,” is perhaps the most successful one yet this season, in that it provides a nice balance between the milieux of the prison and Woodbury and exploits the best characteristics of its most interesting characters. With a few exceptions, lot of important action goes down and primes the series for going in a more interesting place in future episodes – wishful thinking, perhaps?
A harbinger of good things to come, we open with the best new character, Dallas Roberts’ Milton, giving Andrea a cold beverage, thanks to the power of Woodbury’s generators, which are about to go into overdrive as The Governor prepares for their big party later on that night. Milton later reveals that he is sad because is he is a practical nebbish who wants to use the generators for an experiment instead!
In a particularly great scene, we cut to The Governor listening to classical music (being the classy gentleman that he is) in his house and brushing a young girl’s hair. A pickle arises when a piece of the girl’s scalp rips off – WHAT! WHAT! – his daughter is a zombie! She whips around and tries to attack him, but he pacifies her by putting a bag over her head. First off, it’s a good thing that this scene happened so quickly, because it did come as a surprise instead of being alluded to all season and THEN “revealed.” It also gives some insight as to why The Governor is having Milton experiment on the zombies – he clearly has the blind hope of resurrecting the daughter he once had. From more of a genre standpoint, the image of a feral, clawing zombie child recalls the eeriness of the first episode in which Rick had to kill the little girl zombie – “evil children” are always unsettling, and this scene is even more so because The Governor is trying so hard to preserve her as daughter he still loves and it’s clearly not working. With the zombie child effectively wrangled, The Governor looks out the window – Michonne is looking up from the sidewalk below. She knows something is up.
Michonne takes the opportunity of everyone being distracted at The Governor’s picnic to scope out his house, where she finds a notebook filled with a list of names in childish scrawl – the list ends with the name Penny, underlined many times, then followed by page upon page of slashmarks. Michonne puts two and two together when she sees The Governor’s family portrait and rightfully assumes the little girl is Penny. She also reclaims her sword. She then walks outside, where she find a pen of zombies, and does the most logical thing in this episode – she hacks every one of them up like a samurai. Merle and The Governor catch her, and The Governor takes her in for an impromptu interrogation.
With his smooth rhetoric, he tries to pull the wool over her eyes as he has successfully done with Andrea, but to no avail – Michonne has decided to leave and mentions “Penny,” leaving The Governor visibly shaken. This exchange between Michonne and The Governor is another best of the season so far. Danai Gurira’s Michonne really shines through in this episode as a beacon of strength and logic (someone much needed in The Walking Dead universe) and David Morrissey does an amazing job here at showing the subtle cracks in The Governor’s usually infallible veneer. Michonne does not bend – she leaves Woodbury at the end of the episode – but hopefully she will come back.
As one could easily assume, The Governor’s coquettishness does work on Andrea, who stays for the big party, which is a zombie cage match between Merle and some other dude. The zombies literally form a ring around the fighters, since they are tethered around them by chains, upping the ante of the fight. Any TV drama isn’t complete without a cage fight – ask Logan from Veronica Mars or Ryan from The O.C. Andrea is taken aback by the barbarism of the fight, and The Governor tells her that the zombies’ teeth have been removed – it’s all staged. There’s a glimmer of thinking behind Andrea’s eyes – was Michonne right to leave? Will she try to leave also? The “cage fight” is corny, yes, but it is entertaining to watch. It’s also fun that Woodbury lets the hick out of the bag at this party and starts to behave like they are a crowd at a monster truck rally. Yes! What’s great here also is the “womp womp” shot of Milton sadly watching in the crowd. That deplorable waste of a generator!
That’s right, Lori just popped out a baby. Though judging from the baby’s gigantic size, despite it being malnourished and growing from within an emaciated woman, everything looks like it is going to be all right. Nevertheless, someone has to man up and forage for formula, and without being asked, that person is Daryl. Understandably, Rick is still catatonic from what has happened and he runs back into the prison to find Lori’s body. Joined by Maggie, Daryl puts on his poncho (that may or may not have come from Chico’s) and sets out into the outside world – the two find an abandoned nursery school and Maggie finds some formula and Daryl wrassles up some dinner in the form of a possum. A successful mission on all accounts. When they get back to the prison, Daryl holds the baby in his manly arms and nurses it lovingly with the formula.
Pairing Daryl and Maggie is a good idea also in the episode. Daryl is consistently one of the most interesting characters on the show (if not the most interesting) and Norman Reedus really gets to serve up some fun redneck realness on this episode. He kills a possum! He wears a poncho! Daryl is also rising above and showing himself to be a great leader in the group. He takes the bull by the horns and provides for the baby in Rick’s mental absence AND feeds the baby when he gets back. Way to go, son! Maggie, in turn, is strengthened by Daryl’s awesomeness and is able to feed off some of this character’s fortitude. It is good also that he is able to have more range, as she is finally paired with someone other than mild-mannered Glenn.
As alluded to earlier, Rick’s mental health seems to be pretty far-gone. He spends most of the episode going all Heart of Darkness on our asses, staring off into space with a blood-splattered face. He finds the room where Lori gave birth and died, but there’s no body – just the C-section knife and her wedding ring (and some uterus pieces). In the episode’s “gross-out” moment, Rick finds a bloated zombie who presumably consumed Lori and he starts to hack it open, getting even more blood on his face. Wait – what’s that? A phone in the room starts to ring and Rick answers it.
The Rick stuff here is perhaps the weakest in the episode. It seems an easy choice for him to go catatonic, and there are a few moments and crazy Andrew Lincoln facial expressions that are downright laughable. Also, wouldn’t someone have not just left Lori’s body to get eaten, like a deer at the side of the road? Lori was a bad mother and kind of a pill, but she was still an important part of the show should not have met her ultimate end as zombie bait.
The Upside: Many things, including zombie Penny, the delightful Dallas Roberts as Milton, and midwife Daryl. Also Michonne really stood out in this episode – she does not suffer fools!
The Downside: Rick-in-mourning needed work. Also, while it was hilarious, Daryl would not wear that poncho. Norman Reedus should ask, instead, if he could wear his outfit from the “Judas” music video.
On The Side: Carl suggests that they name the baby “Sophia.” Please, Glenn Mazzara, we don’t want to hear that name on this show ever again.