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The Walking Dead: When the Dead Come Knocking

Maggie: “Do whatever you’re going to do and go to hell.”

If the writers were trying to build tension for the mid-season finale, they certainly succeeded with me.

Glenn and Maggie are in a horrible place. Merle is working out his rage at being left behind on Glenn, even though he knows and believes that they came back for him. They came back through zombie infested Atlanta to save his sorry, racist ass and he doesn’t seem to appreciate that in any way. Poor Glenn who suffered, mostly silently through beatings and then managed to save himself from a horrible zombie death while duct-taped to a chair, just to have Maggie give it all away to save his life. I think Maggie could have taken a bullet or anything else for that matter but she couldn’t lose Glenn. If Glenn had died, she never would have talked. To be fair, I think that Glenn would have cracked just as easily if they had threatened to kill Maggie.

The Governor is just becoming creepier by the episode. The sexual assault of Maggie was horrible and exactly what men do in war. They won’t hit a girl but they will do much worse in trying to establish their power. I was glad that Maggie told him to go to hell. The last bit where he pretended to soothe her and then kissed her was uber creepy. I’m sure it triggered women who have been abused. Frankly, it was easier to see Glenn get his face beat in and I was very displeased with that. Then he comforted Andrea in exactly the same way. She is soooo far from safe.

In juxtaposition to the violence happening with Maggie and Glenn, we had the serene death of Mr. Coleman. Milton is desperately trying to find some continuance of human consciousness in the zombies, but it isn’t there. We also had some explanation for why he seems so weird and naive. He was an only child who had lost his parents and he tele-commuted to work so he also had no friends or work acquaintances. He must have been a part of the group in the apartment building and the Governor saved him. No wonder he was so shaken by the transformation of Mr. Coleman.

Back at the prison, we have the arrival of Michonne and the discovery of Carol. Michonne is not any readier to trust our group than she was to trust the Governor, but she is observing them and how they interact and she likes what she sees. Carl really made the decision to save her when he started shooting zombies. Rick will find out, fairly soon I think, how stupid it would have been to let her die.

The reunion with Carol was heart-warming but also sad, as she realized that Lori was dead. We finally saw Rick and Carl grieve. I like the name that they have picked for the baby. Judith seems fitting but I still like Kick Ass. I am a little worried about who has been left behind at the prison, especially with a scouting party going out. Carol is still weak, Hershel has one good leg, Beth has never really been much use, we don’t really know Axel and Rick has basically left Carl in charge. He's tough but he's only a kid. All I can think is that the mid-season finale is coming up and the way that they usually ramp things up is to kill off characters. There aren’t that many left.

Bits and Pieces

Glenn is a lot tougher than anyone thought. They better not kill him off, he is one of my favourites.

I hate the gender role stereotypes on this show. Maybe you should just assume that I am saying this every week so I don’t have to keep repeating myself.

Gross bit I could live without -- it’s a toss up between the sexual assaults on Maggie and the poor cabin guy being torn to bits. I’m not even sure why that part was in there except to hit the required zombie ratio for the week.

I was worried they were going to do something nasty to Mr. Coleman. I guess letting him turn was nasty enough.

Merle was a racist jerk even as he condemned Glenn to a gruesome zombie death.


Merle: “You don’t scare easy, do you. I like that.”

Michonne: “It’s run by this guy who calls himself the Governor -- pretty boy, Jim Jones type.”

Andrea: “There is no unconscious mind, Milton, when they turn they become monsters. Whoever they once were is gone.”

Rick: “I know what you did for me, for my baby while I was working things out. Thank you.”
Daryl: “That’s what we do.”

Daryl: “I guess Lassie went home.”


  1. I had SUCH a hard time watching this episode and that never happens with me and television. The sequence between The Governor and Maggie in particular was harrowing, twisted, and beyond disturbing. I don't understand how people can say the characters on this show aren't well drawn out. I wouldn't have had such a reaction to the hour if I wasn't so emotionally attached to them. Suffice to say, The Walking Dead has knocked it out of the park this year and transformed into mind-blowing television and one of my favorite productions on the air.

    Wonderful review. I truly can't wait till next week. But seriously, that Maggie scene... scarier than any horror movie I've ever seen!

  2. Now that I'm caught up and watching the show with everyone else, I'm finding it a lot more stressful. The stuff with Glenn and Maggie this week just ripped me up. The tension and the horror were almost unbearable. And now I'm feeling sick about what Maggie's revelations are going to mean for her family back at the prison. I'm concerned that Hershel or Beth --- or even the baby --- are going to die because Maggie told the Governor about the prison. I don't know how Maggie is going to live with that. I understand why she'd be desperate to save Glenn, but I don't know how she's going to cope if she just traded his life for her family's or for Lori's baby's.

    Does anyone else ever wonder how long they'll be able to stand the relentless trajectory of this series? I've enjoyed the arc and the journey thus far, and am liking the juxtaposition of Rick's madness v. the Governor's --- the striking similarities between their welcomes of Michonne were fascinating --- but over the long haul, I'm not sure I'll be able to take the misery porn. Is there any hope here? Do they continue to scrape out a horrible existence despite terrible losses and moral compromises? What's the upswing? Do we just keep watching the people we've grown to care about lose themselves and each other?

    Gross bit I could live without --- The transition from a zombie feeding horde to the "Brought to you by KFC" ad break. Today tastes good, huh? Ugh. I don't think I'll be in the mood for KFC anytime soon. I wonder if the KFC PTB wanted their spot to play right after the feeding frenzy, or if they just got royally screwed.

    P.S. Doc, you credited 'Audrey' with the Andrea quote. Got Haven on the brain? :)

  3. The KFC commercial made me LOL. They must have known it was possible -- you advertise during The Walking Dead and it's likely to happen, isn't it? Maybe the KFC PTB were just thinking hit show and not zombie buffet, though.

    Jess, are you watching The Talking Dead? It airs directly afterward and it helps me decompress and get some distance from the misery.

  4. No, I don't watch The Talking Dead. I'm not actually sure I need episodic decompression. It's the cumulative misery that's going to get me. At some point --- when yet another completely horrible thing happens and someone we care about gets mutilated, killed, or suffers a terrible emotional loss --- I'm just not going to be able to take it anymore. If there is no shred of happiness to hope for (redemption, reprieve, peace, rebuilding, whatever), I'm just not sure I'm going to be able to stick with it long-term. Even The Wire, for all its tragedy and unchanging institutions, had shreds of hope and moments of redemption to cling to.

    I do like a good tragic story from time to time, but I think the story needs to be far more finite. I can walk away from a 2 to 3 hour experience that left on a sad note and still feel like it was time well spent, even if good didn't triumph over evil or the central figure met a tragic end. But in a long-form story, relentless tragedy and hollow victories can become too much for me.

    I'm not there yet with this series, mind you --- its only been 26 episodes, after all --- but it is something I've frequently wondered about while watching, and I was just curious if anyone else had similar concerns. Especially those of you who've been watching for a couple years now.

  5. Jess,

    I thought the same thing about the KFC commercial after the zombie feed. it was an interesting choice to air it right then.

    I also feel the show is overload and needs some spacing out. I had a discussion with my oldest son a few days ago about the show. I told him I was taking a break from it because I just don't see any hope in the show. I mean what's the long term for the characters or the world as a whole. I get some day we will all die off and the world won't be anything like it is now. However, in a show that depicts horror, violence, and death, there needs to be some hope. I guess baby Judith is a symbol of hope but when I look at her all I see is a potential zombie happy meal at some point. How is this kid going to grow up?

    I do want to see what Chad Coleman on the show as Tyresse. I loved him as Cutty on "The Wire." I hope he will be a better character than T-Dog. However, I find myself thinking character just isn't a enough. I don't expect for there to be a group of scientists to find a cure. I don't even know if they could build a walled city as it couldn't last forever. I just wish there was a better ending not so much a happy ending for those who will survive. Time will tell if I continue on though. It's nice to know someone else feels some despair about the show.

  6. I think there's hope here. Our original group has survived against incredible odds, for one. This first generation of zombies will eventually rot and fall apart, for two. By the time Carl and little Asskicker are adults, the apocalypse might be pretty much over, for all intents and purposes, with only the occasional zombie being created when someone dies and isn't shot in the head.

    Actually, if we didn't have character deaths fairly regularly, if it weren't so dark, the series wouldn't be anywhere near as strong. I get that it's hard to take, and I often feel the same way; I totally understand why some viewers would reach a point and say, enough, I can't watch this any more. (I haven't reached this point yet, but it could happen.) But if our core group was never in danger and no one in the cast died, it just wouldn't be believable. Right?

  7. Very true, Billie. Maybe I need to shift the way I've been mentally approaching the story. Thus far, it has felt like one primary serial, following Rick's character arc. So I've been thinking about it is as a single story focusing on his struggle to figure out what it takes to survive in this new world, find reasons to go on, and still hang on to some innate decency. And in that light, I find myself wondering about the overall arc of the series and the ultimate endgame for his journey.

    But maybe I should start thinking about it more episodically. Like an old Western serial or maybe a bleaker version of Firefly. This is the world they live in now, and these are the adventures they have and the new enemies they face as they try to scrape out an existence. The various side players will come and go, and some losses will hurt more than others, but that's the nature of the beast in this kind of world. It's not a single journey with a defined endgame, but a series of different "adventures" in a pretty dire landscape, with Rick as our more unstable (at this point) Captain Mal.

  8. Jess - I think I've always watched this show as you just described it. For me, it has always been about the struggle of these characters within a world, not a singular character arc with a definitive end-game. I think the Firefly analogy is an apt one, although there aren't any direct character parallels that I can see.

    Hope in this kind of world, I imagine, would be measured on a different kind of scale. Little moments of happiness, bright precious seconds of joy. Perhaps carving out some safety and stability for that little girl to grow up in. Yet the truth of the world will always be in the background, literally biting at any security blanket of temporary sanity the characters try to wear.

    Eventually, as was previously mentioned above, the first generation of Walkers will rot away or will have no real ability to stay mobile. That's when society can make some strides forward. Unfortunately, that could take years. Billions of zombies active for years. Just writing that sounds bleak.

  9. Uhm, sounds like you guys haven't been reading the comic - am I right?
    Let me say this: if you're bothered about the amount of people lost on the show, do not - under any circumstances - read the comic. Issue 100 came out recently and killed off, in an absolutely gruesome, harrowing, horribly graphic way one of the major characters.
    It almost made me quit reading.

    So, in other words, I'm guessing there's not much hope ahead.

    Therefor I'm also having trouble with the TV-series. It's like watching a car-crash in slow motion, I just can't seem to pull my eyes away.

    Most horrible moment of this episode: The governor with Maggie.

    Mind you - he did stuff that was insanely much more worse in the comic, and right off the bat.
    Let's hope our "friends and family" never have to find out what.

    And finally, I knew the name Judith was coming from the comic.

    ...and now I'm not going to talk about the comic anymore...

  10. I want to address the gender stereotype.

    I love the way that this show addresses gender roles. The fact is, this is how many women are in the Deep South. That's where I grew up, just a few hours from where Rick and Laurie lived.

    If every single woman character was a propped up beacon of progressive feminism, it would just ring so untrue to me, so hollywood-ized.

    This show also appreciates the strength inside these conservative women, while also providing the show with more kick-butt sort of women like Andrea and Michonne.

    So yeah, I like that this show isn't setting out to prove a point about gender equality; it's just accurately portraying a really under-appreciated culture and how its inhabitants would authentically react to such a situation.

  11. I like the point JD made about the shit storm being punctuated by 'bright precious seconds of joy'. The whole show is a pretty miserable journey, but when something good happens, it almost feels like the sun coming out. I almost wept when I saw Carol was alive. Ditto when the Governor let Maggie and Glenn hug at the end, when it seemed one of them might die. Small morsels, but in the context of the show, they're like really nice chocolates in the mouth of a starving man.

  12. Wonderful comments - thank-you. Jess, I agree with you and sometimes think - why am I reviewing this again? I really like the Firefly analogy. It will help me a lot. J.D. looking at tiny moments of happiness and hope is also a good way to think about it. It is tough when I am tired and feeling a little bleak myself to watch this show but in this episode watching Glenn essentially beat Merle was a bit of light for me. Henrik, I made the mistake of reading the comic this summer. It has made it harder to watch the show. You can probably guess why. Christian, I hear what you are saying and I don't want every woman to be what some people might think is a beacon of progressive feminism. I think a woman who raises children and keeps a home for them is pretty spectactular. And I know lots of southern women who can shoot and kick ass and then go home and cook dinner all while wearing a pretty dress. I just find some of the gender stuff so predictable and when a little boy is in charge instead of a grown woman it pisses me off just a little bit. Not to mention that it's pretty awful for the little boy. Again, thanks for the comments, they make writing a review much more fun!

  13. On gender stereotypes -- it's an interesting complaint.

    Because you also said that the scene of Maggie's sexual assault was worse to you than Glenn's getting beaten to an inch of his life.

    Not to belittle the assault. But the Governor didn't tear off her clothes. He asked her to remove them, and she did so to save Glenn's life. Then he acted like he was going to assault her, but when that didn't get the desired result, unless I missed something, he didn't actually do it.

    Yes, he touched her face in a creepy way.

    But it seems to me to be the height of a sexual stereotype to think that what happened to Maggie was worse than getting beaten nearly to death.

    If Merle had threatened to rape Glenn, would you think that was worse than beating him and sending a zombie in to kill him? If not, isn't that a sexual stereotype, that sexual assault is worse for women than for men?

    BTW, I'm not denying that it is -- maybe I'm saying that stereotypes don't exist in a fictional vacuum.

  14. Charles, I don't think anyone is saying that what happened to Maggie was worse than what happened to Glenn. If, God forbid, it were me and the outcome were the same, I would much rather have been Maggie than Glenn, because Glenn most certainly suffered physically and Maggie did not. But if the Governor had actually gone through with it, I would rather have been Glenn.

    And yes, if Merle had threatened to rape Glenn, it would have been just as horrible.

    This is just my opinion, of course.

  15. Charles,
    Just to be clear. I didn't say that what happened to Maggie was worse, I said it was harder to watch because although the governor didn't carry through it was implied and as a woman I took it more personally. I should also note that I don't like the male gender stereotypes anymore than the female ones. Poor Carl is expected to be an adult and take charge. That is totally unfair when there are grown women around. I know that the show reflects reality in some ways but I would like the show to challenge such things a bit more.

  16. The series is becoming less and less compelling as it progresses.

    Case in point:
    The sequence in the cabin was absurd. If they had played it for laughs, it may have worked, but to go for it straight, it was ludicrous.

    Andrew Lincoln seems to be in his own little "acting" world. It's like he's on a completely different series, his "acting" so far removed from those around him.

    Maybe they'll kill Rick in the mid-season finale….


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