November 19, 2012

Episode Review: THE WALKING DEAD, "Hounded"

So far, Season 3 of The Walking Dead has been firing on all cylinders, but it was bound to have an episode that didn't completely click and that episode was "Hounded." Now, that's not to say that it was a misfire by any means because it was still highly entertaining, but it wasn't as solid as previous installments due to some interesting storytelling decisions and anti-climactic moments.

At the prison, Rick was given a glimmer of hope after he answered the phone and spoke to some representatives from another group of survivors who claimed to be somewhere safe. He did his best to convince them to take them in, but things hit a roadblock when he refused to talk about Lori's death. After a series of strange calls, one that included Lori's voice on the other end of the line, it became clear that everything that had been going on was another symptom of Rick's break with reality. The last remnants of hope were shattered, but Rick took solace in the fact that he was able to tell his wife that he loved her one last time.

Meanwhile, Daryl tried to bond with Carl while on a sweep, but they were ambushed by a walker that had Carol's knife stuck in its neck. A shaken Daryl tried to come to terms with Carol's death when a rattling door pushed him over the edge. He prepared to kill the walker behind it, but he was shocked to find Carol sitting there instead of a zombie.

In Woodbury, Andrea continued to adapt to living in this new community and voiced her displeasure over the biter death matches, but she was committed to being a productive member of society and volunteered to work the wall. After her first lesson in being a sentinel went sideways, she got a talking to from the Governor, which led to her admitting that she did enjoy the fights but was ashamed to admit it, and that in turn led to drinks and some sexy time.

While the Governor was getting closer to Andrea, Merle was heading up a mission to find Michonne. They came across a message she left them via zombie bits, and of course Merle ignored it, so Michonne decided to ambush the group and ended up killing two of them. Merle and some new guy continued the hunt and engaged her again until a herd of biters showed up. She was able to get away, and Merle decided to head back instead of following her into the "red zone." When it the new guy said that he wouldn't lie to the Governor and admit that they didn't kill her, Merle shot him in the head. A wounded Michonne found a strip mall, and Glenn and Maggie pulled up while on a supply run. She stayed back and watched as Merle showed up and forced Glenn and Maggie to accompany him back to Woodbury. Michonne made her way to the prison, which she overheard them talking about, and stumbled up at the gates where she came face to face with a shocked Rick.

I'll be honest, I was duped at the end of the last episode when the phone started to ring, but it became obvious as things progressed that the voices were either figments of Rick's imagination or coming from Woodbury. I was pleased that it was the former because it added some depth to what's been going on with Rick, and it allowed Andrew Lincoln to continue to give amazing performances. Plus, it added to the bleakness and despair because it looks like there's no hope. Was the actual device of phone calls from the beyond a little silly? Sure, but I thought that the scenes were effective and entertaining.

It's just too bad that I didn't feel the same way about Woodbury and the hunting party. Now, I'll give Merle and his lackeys credit for adding some action to what could have been a very dark and cerebral episode, but I have to admit that it also brought some silliness. After trying to paint Merle in a different light, his character reverted back to his violent, redneck days. To the show's credit, I was a little surprised when he found Glenn and Maggie, but it really shouldn't have because of course Michonne was going to show up at the strip mall which meant he was not far behind. And while some of the machinations were a bit contrived, I was excited when Rick noticed Michonne walking up to the prison because that means that the two stories should be meshing soon. Let's just cross our fingers that the prison makes Woodbury more interesting and not the other way around.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • My favorite moment by far was when Daryl told Carl the story about how his mother passed. It was just a nice, humanizing moment that should earn Norman Reedus an Emmy nomination.
  • On the flipside, I was a little annoyed when Carol popped back up because it took away from last week's scene where Daryl placed the Cherokee rose on her grave. I suppose he could have been putting it on T-Dog's but I doubt that.
  • Was I the only one who thought that Andrea and the Governor hooking up was a little icky?
Like I mentioned before, it's hard for every episode to be a winner, and every show's bound to have a few bumps along the way. "Hounded" was just another one in The Walking Dead's path, but it was by far better than most of Season 2's weakest moments, and there was still enough to admire when it was all said and done. So, while "Hounded" was far from perfect, and had its fair share of issues, it was still entertaining and that's all I can really ask from any show.


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