Last night’s The Walking Dead, “Home”, was sort of a mixed bag for me. If you follow the politics of the show, you know that Show Runner Glenn Mazzara fell on the sword for apparent quality issues that began to emerge around the middle of the third season, well we are now into the latter portion of the third season and up until now The Walking Dead has been better than it ever has been, but if there were ever indications that the production had begun to hiccup it would be in this episode. Let’s take a look at the ups and downs of The Walking Dead “Home”.
The Grand Setup
With apologies to the amazing Steven Yuen, Glenn would make a horrifyingly bad leader for the group. Need evidence? As he is just beginning to slide into this post, as Rick is away visiting crazy town, he gathers the group to discuss sneaking back into Woodbury and assassinating The Governor. After Hershel appropriately dismisses the plan as just plain stupid, Glenn paces, huffing, gets back to making plans, and suddenly realizes… indignantly at that… “Who’s on watch?!”
Of course Glenn’s ineffective round as a leader was all setup for what happened in the second half of the episode, but the net effect for most of The Prison scenes was basically to evoke yawns. I don’t believe for a second that Rick will remain out of the game for very long, and I also don’t believe for a second that the Walking Dead writer’s room believes they have convinced anyone of this either, so it was a bit of wasted screen time discussing and constructing the post-Rick world.
That said, the scene in which Glenn went to Maggie to finally discuss what happened between her and The Governor was well played indeed. Glenn’s concern, obviously, was that she had been raped, but expressing relief that she was ‘nearly’ raped turned out to be a quick study in selfish insensitivity. What made the scene so great for me was how well it played into the gray area of these situations. It was just shy of didactic, but managed to highlight within the prose of the show how degrees of violence aren’t the issue for the victims, it’s the victimization. Period. In an odd sense, the scene became a simile for what came next.
In Woodbury, The Governor essentially asked Andrea to take over as leader. Is this some kind of long con play for her loyalty, or is there a sliver of humanity that continues to play at his humanity. He’s clearly not being honest with Andrea, because while having this discussion with her he fails to mention he is gathering a team to attack The Prison.
The Governor’s arrival at The Prison is heralded by a perfect headshot that silences Axel mid-sentence, and is the last accurate shot throughout the rest of the scene. The lack of marksmanship here is laughable.
One of the largest criticisms of the show is how unrealistic the marksmanship is. Everyone seems to have mastered the running headshot on this show, so you’d think a gun battle where not a single person moves from their position would be basically a blood bath. Instead, the only two to fall are Axel and some random Woodbury guy who made it to the top of a guard tower.
The gun battle goes on just long enough to strain incredulity when The Governor sends in a zombie bomb. A bread truck full of zombies. What is so interesting is that at the same time Rick, who has been wandering outside the fence all day, is surrounded by zombies himself. As if on cue. Interesting timing.
The Governor seems more than satisfied with what he accomplishes so clearly what he wanted to do was instill fear in Rick’s group. Mission accomplished? Maybe. With the knowledge that bad things happen when he’s not on watch, maybe Rick will finally take a nap and raid The Prison infirmary for some lithium.
The best thing to come out of the attack was the return of Daryl and Merle. I was a bit disappointed that the sub arc didn’t last long enough to bring any kind of poetic character evolution about in either mean, but Daryl arriving just in time to rescue Rick from a pig pile of zombies was a hell-yeah worthy moment, and Merle joining in on the rescue was strangely enjoyable as well. Not completely redeeming, mind you, but enjoyable. Certainly Rick will have to allow him in the group now that he has saved his life.
Overall it was a pretty predictable episode. The Governor striking back was expected, Daryl returning eventually was definitely expected, for all of its cinematic moments, however, “Home” did little to advance the season arc. Will they stay at the prison, or not? Who will win the war? We’ll just have to wait and see.