Welcome back to your tardy recap of The Walking Dead, A Bloody Mouthful! Hopefully the holidays have you hungry for more Bloody Mouthfuls, so away we go [[SPOILER ALERT]] ….
Episode 6 of Season 3 (“Hounded”) opens with a Woodbury posse, led by Merle, tracking Michonne. As if we didn’t already know it, Michonne was right (yet again) about those entering Woodbury being unable to leave. Michonne’s “Go Back” handiwork was probably a bit more creative than the Woodbury posse deserved – and seemed a little cutesy for badass Michonne, but there's is no denying it was an LOL moment.
Merle’s use of The Governor’s terminology, by calling Michonne’s assemblage of found objects a “Biter-gram,” struck me. For a show called The Walking Dead, Woodbury’s use of the term “Biter” to describe the zombies seems wrong, somehow. Although it makes sense that different people, separated by geography and experience, would choose to call these new threats by different names, it also feels like using “Biter” over “Walker” (when the audience is so clearly aligned with “Walker) demonstrates, ever so slightly, the power of language and naming. Those who control how things are named control the culture – there’s even a Biblical reference to this notion in Adam’s naming of the animals (who are then considered to be subservient to him). The idea that language is power is echoed in Merle’s proper French pronunciation of Michonne’s name. Our greatest enemies are the ones who know us the best, right? After all, Christian mythology holds that Satan can quote scripture better than most men of the cloth.
And the Christian iconography doesn’t stop there: Merle, The Governor’s flawed apostle, reassures the understandably freaked out Gargulio (would YOU want to be the one tasked with hunting down Michonne?) that they are performing a “righteous public service” in going after Michonne. This explanation does two things. First, it reinforces the fairly obvious Christian/messianic underpinnings of The Governor’s rule over Woodbury. Second, it makes it fairly opaque that they’re not following Michonne to make sure she’s not in any trouble. Her sudden and deadly attack on them seemed out of proportion at first, but then I remembered she was outnumbered four to one and they were not planning on having a Camp David summit with her – they were there to kill her. Merle surprisingly shows he’s not exactly the Governor’s lackey by admitting he’ll lie to the big man about killing Michonne. Poor naïve Gargulio, fresh off a Walker-kill / Merle-save, attempts to flex this newfound courage at exactly the wrong moment with exactly the wrong redneck by remaining true to The Governor. Merle distracts him in quite possibly the lamest way possible: “Hear that bird?” BLAM! Bet Gargulio heard that gunshot! In his face!
We were denied to opportunity to see the real Michonne v. Merle showdown by the introduction of a small herd of Walkers, but I have a feeling that’s going to be nothing compared to the Daryl v. Merle faceoff.
Speaking of Daryl: the story of his mom’s Virginia Slims-related death had echoes of Phoebe Cates’ character’s Christmas story in Gremlins, didn’t it? It was meant to reassure Carl, but Carl’s staccato bombshell response blows all our collective minds: “I shot my mom. She was out. Hadn’t turned yet. I ended it. It was real. Sorry about your mom.” Carl is basically telling him, “Yeah, thanks for the feelings, Daryl, but I got this death thing covered Over and out.” Again, whether he’s grows up to be a noble leader or ends up raiding the civilizations of the living covered in Walker blood & guts remains to be seen. Though that added “Sorry about your mom” line gave me a whole lotta hope for Carl’s humanity.
I am thoroughly grossed out by Andrea’s flirtation and affair with The Governor. How, in the name of all that is good and holy, could you possibly choose The Governor over Michonne?!?!? The one who saved your ass, kept you safe, and carried you when you were sick? Andrea’s on my shit list and if I didn’t think she’s Glenn and Maggie’s only hope of survival, I would wish her a very close encounter with a Walker who Bites.
Glenn shows some serious balls in standing up to Merle; yet another example of a remarkable transformation from our first encounter of him. Unfortunately, that courage is not rewarded, but is in fact, severely punished. Merle abducts both Glenn and Maggie back to Woodbury – presumably so that he can (a) distract The Governor from his failure in killing Michonne (if he even owns up to that) and (b) provide The Governor with proof that Daryl is alive. Merle does a masterful job of weaseling out of why he has no proof she’s dead and pivoting to his gift of the captives. It’s one of those things that doesn’t strike you as odd at first, given the premise of the show, and the “reality” of the zombiepocalypse, but as I sit here, I realize – did The Governor just ASK FOR HER HEAD??! Couple that with his hashmark diary entries, and the threat of sinister-things-to-come just got ratcheted way up to Threat Level Mad King Overlord.
The TWD writers’ handling of, and Andrew Lincoln’s acting in, the scenes with Rick and the telephone were impressive. When Rick is back on the phone with the as-yet-unidentified woman, and uh-oh, SHE KNOWS RICK’S NAME (!!!), we’re introduced to the very cool possibility that Rick has absolutely lost his goddamned mind. The way this develops is delicious. As we realize it is Laurie, the static of the phone comes through stronger and stronger, as Rick himself has the dawning realization he is talking to a dead line; he's talking to himself/no one. Herschel must have known the truth of this – that’s why he left Rick in that room by himself, to work out his demons. Rick starts to realize that, yes, I’m talking on the phone … to my dead wife. Time to hang up the phone. Time to pick up my daughter. As he made his way out into the sun with his daughter, finally acknowledging her, my viewing crowd and I were waiting for a Lion King moment. He would raise the baby girl to the sky, mark her forehead with zombie blood and name her “Zomba.” But for now, I guess she’s still “Little Asskicker”?
When Michonne was first attacked by the Walkers, and she missed neatly killing the fat Walker, only slicing him open and spilling his guts (har har) all over her, it seemed like a forced gross-out display. Now that it’s apparent that the purpose of that scene was to remind the audience that Walkerguts are a shield against their attack, I’m willing to forgive it. It provided a striking image: a gore-drenched Michonne, with her very alive and wide eyes, looking at Rick through the chain link fence, flanked by rheumy-eyed Walkers, baby formula in the basket in her hand.
Episode 7 will bring us the torture of Glenn and Maggie, the absorption of Michonne into our survivor’s fold (I don’t see her having the same problems being accepted that the inmates have had), and more gross sex between Andrea and The Governor (Ew ew ew).
Many thanks to deviantARTist theonlybriman (http://theonlybriman.deviantart.com) for permission to use his amazing artwork of Michonne to illustrate this week’s A Bloody Mouthful. Make sure you save room after Turkey Day for more Bloody Mouthfuls!