'Walking Dead' recap and review: 'When the Dead Come Knocking' has some questions for you
The primary complaint about season two of ‘The Walking Dead’ is that not enough happened, and that’s certainly something that the show has addressed with season three. In fact, it may even be overcompensating, although that’s certainly up for debate. By the time of this season’s fourth episode, so much crazy stuff had gone down that it was nearly overwhelming, and while the last few episodes haven’t been nearly as shocking, they’re certainly moving the story along at a nice, brisk pace. Last week’s episode had some fun, tense chase moments, and accomplished the necessary task of moving the pieces around the board by trading Michonne with Maggie and Glenn, and this week continues to move things along, although it primarily seems to be setting things in place for next week’s mid-season finale. While the episode certainly isn’t a game-changer (and it’s not fair to expect every episode to be, although it sort of set itself up for that by changing the game so many times in the first few episodes), it contains a lot fun bits and pieces.
‘When the Dead Come Knocking’ contains a large number of scenes in which people try to get information out of each other, in the process revealing things about themselves. We have Rick and the gang’s meeting with Michonne, Milton and Andrea’s weird zombie Q&A, and Merle and the Governor’s brutal interrogations of Glenn and Maggie. Most of the episode consisted of these three linked threads, and it’s nice to see an episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ work within a theme like this.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that Milton hasn’t really been working for me as a character, but I actually didn’t mind him here. Seeing someone take such a clinical approach to the zombie epidemic is interesting in small doses, and even though I think we all knew how Milton’s little experiment would turn out, it was nice to see the show highlight such a different viewpoint. Milton doesn’t have the harrowing experiences of our main cast, and it shows through his approach towards Walkers.
I still think Andrea and the Governor coupling is weird, but that’s how I’m supposed to feel about it, so whatever. The Governor is a little too good at bouncing between personas for me, and I’d like to see the show commit a little harder to him being evil, (like the comic books did) but tonight’s episode was a step in the right direction. So far he’s a little too hard to get a read on, although that will hopefully change soon.
The real centerpieces of the episode were the interrogations of Maggie and Glenn, which could not have been more different from each other. Merle, who continues to be enjoyably terrifying, beats the hell out of Glenn before leaving him alone with a zombie, and the sequence that follows is my favorite scene of the episode. Watching Glenn be stoic and badass with Merle is one thing, but watching him take down a walker while tied to a chair is another altogether. It’s tense, exciting, and fun to watch, and it also serves as a nice reminder of what a badass Glenn can be when he wants to. His battle cry after stabbing the zombie through the eye with a chair leg was awesome. The major deaths from earlier in the season go a long way towards ratcheting up the tension, and while I was never really scared that Glenn was going to be killed in this episode, I was certainly worried about him being maimed or injured in some way. Merle sure likes to wave his knife-hand around, after all.
And if I wasn’t all that worried for Glenn in this episode, I was certainly scared for Maggie. The Governor saunters into the room where she’s being held, cuts her free of her restraints, and attempts to ask her very politely where Rick and the other survivors are located. As soon as this doesn’t work, however, he switches to a much creepier tactic. He tells her to strip, claiming that if she doesn’t, he will bring her Glenn’s hand. She does, and after getting up close and personal, he slams her on the table and essentially threatens her with rape. I was relieved when he didn’t go through with it, but it certainly seemed like he might have. The end of the scene was a bit limp, and diffused some of the tension a bit, but overall it worked to establish the Governor as a viable threat to the people we care about.
After bringing Glenn and still-shirtless Maggie together, she spills the beans on the prison as soon as Glenn has a gun to his head. I found this moment pretty believable, but again, it all seems to be moving pretty fast. Especially with Rick and a squad moving in on Woodbury, I can’t help but wonder how the location of the prison is going to factor in, at least in the short term.
Speaking of Rick and the crew, they rescue Michonne when she shows up at their gates, but are understandably slow to trust her. Rick has Hershel patch her up, but not before shoving a finger in her bullet wound when she doesn’t answer him as quickly as he would like. Rick isn’t as unhinged as we’ve seen him earlier this season, but he’s still one brutal son-of-a-bitch.
It never comes out that Merle or Andrea are in Woodbury (which I was actually pretty grateful for, ‘cause I think it would have felt forced), but folks immediately volunteer to join the Official Rescue Squad, although there’s a weird moment where Beth and Axel volunteer, and then it immediately cuts to pretty much everyone but Beth and Axel (and Carl, Hershel, and Carol) leaving for the mission, but whatever. Oscar, Daryl, Rick, and Michonne drive off towards Woodbury, which is certainly the most badass group of people that’s ever been assembled on this show. Although, if I’m being honest, the mental image of Beth shooting at people was pretty hilarious to me, but maybe some other time.
The strangest sequence in the episode is certainly the one in which the Badass Crew hides from a herd of zombies in a shack, only to discover the crazy old hermit that lives there. He seems totally unaware of the zombie apocalypse battering at his windows, and he pulls a gun on Rick only to get sliced, diced, and used as bait by Michonne and the crew. The whole thing felt kind of random and out of place, but I guess it was tense enough. I would have preferred that it either be excised or fleshed out, but for what it was, it was fine.
‘When the Dead Come Knocking’ is certainly an episode about setting things up to explode next week, but it does it’s job pretty well. I’m sure that Glenn and Maggie aren’t totally out of danger, and next week promises to be full of human-on-human shoot-out action, so that’s something to look forward to. That, and a Dixon family reunion, which is just like any other family reunion, but with more racism.