What would Judas do?
In a time of war, finding out who is on your side is vital. The Walking Dead is treading through some interesting territory, yet slowing down (a lot) to give us a view of the intertwined complexities concerning the impending violence about to go down in the next few episodes. A former ally to Rick’s group makes a very risky impromptu visit to their prison sanctuary in order to call a seize of the ongoing battle between Rick and Woodbury. This episode is rather lethargic, yet does its job in pushing the storylines forward. Nothing entirely surprising or exciting happens here beyond Andrea meeting up with her former group and there are still even more real concerns of trust and Rick’s continued shaky leadership. Emotions and tensions are high and the harsh reality of Andrea’s return just illustrates how brutally things have changed. Is Andrea the Judas of Rick’s prison or of the Governor’s Woodbury?
No one really likes Andrea right now, and that’s a bit understandable; however, one must consider her position. Andrea lost her entire family, had to kill her sister, nearly committed suicide, survived a long time when Rick’s group abandoned her, and she lost hope of any semblance of normalcy in this newly horrifying world. It’s a dream to find herself in this idyllic town that reminds her of a life she could have or once was. It’s a great comfort for Andrea, the woman who fell to her bottom and somehow climbed out of it in order to survive, that she's found Woodbury. Contrary to popular belief, Andrea isn’t the stupid weakling many fans accuse her of being. She’s quite strong and intelligent. Her fault comes with from inability to think without her old lawyer’s brain and she does in fact, just as Michonne says, have a Messiah complex. Andrea wants to save everyone. She has somewhat of a martyr tendency that makes her occasionally detestable in her fumbling decisions. That doesn’t make her weak. Andrea is becoming a worthy leader herself, finding that she’s got quite a good chance of taking over and leading these people out of a war that will unnecessarily spill human blood, when they are not the true enemy here.
Honestly, Andrea is no more misguided than Rick occasionally is. In the opening of this installment, Carl comes to his father, the leader of this ravaged group, and insists that Rick step down as the leader of the group. Let’s be honest, Rick is a very flawed leader. And it’s kind of bad that the group is comfortable letting him, in his unstable state, continue to guide them and their big decisions. I guess it’s just what they know and are used to. Rick has made some major slip-ups in his leadership that have gotten people killed and harmed his own sanity, which has left him chasing after phantom ghosts. This group is broken, although it seems like they’re doing rather well from time to time. Maybe Beth's singing is the key to them all keeping their sanity and humanity. Even with their new recruits in Merel and Michonne, Rick’s group is faltering. And Rick shows no signs of getting better. At least Judith is beginning to take to him just a bit better. Although the group, especially Hershel, is challenging Rick to be the leader he considers himself to be, which further causes Rick to crumble slowly.
Andrea makes it her persuading duty to talk both Rick and the Governor out of their cold intentions to spill some blood. Both leaders are adamant in their preparations to attack. The Governor is gathering normal citizens of Woodbury to make up his own little army, even enlisting young teens, insisting that adolescence is no longer a consideration in these desperate times. After the intense attack that went down at the end of the last week’s episode, the Governor is ready to slam Rick in his next attack. And everyone at the prison is ready to go to war now too. The Rick-tatorship isn’t going down without a fight, but before that, the concerns of stopping the fight before it happens leaves Andrea in the middle of two distinct worlds. Andrea finds her way to the prison with Milton’s help, after having a quick and surprising run-in with Tyresse and his group, of whom Milton escorts back to Woodbury. Another strike against Rick for running off a few potentially great allies into the clutches of his enemy. And was it just me or did anyone else notice how the Governor was eyeing Sasha? What could possibly be going on there, or was it just my imagination?
Right as Rick’s group spots Andrea, they are on the defensive and you can’t blame them. Andrea has been under the spell of Woodbury and the Governor for a while now and it almost cost everyone their lives. Andrea is the odd man out and the fact that she thinks she’d be welcome back with warm open arms just goes to show how much Woodbury has pampered her and in a way softened her expectations of the world outside of Woodbury’s front doors. When she left Rick’s group, they were a family, now they are a tightly-knit tribe, appropriately and impulsively on guard and untrusting of anyone else outside of their group, even someone who they lost familiarity with. Rick’s group is apprehensive of trusting Andrea, roughing her up and interrogating her a bit. It’s bewildering for Andrea to walk back into her old group and find that they’ve become something that they weren’t before. It doesn’t help that that same group has lost quite a few members. In Andrea’s little visit, she also gets an unflattering perception of the man she’s been fraternizing with this season.
Michonne and Andrea’s reunion is hard to watch, mostly because it feels like these two women were possibly more than friends (more like sisters, although some fans think possible girlfriends) and Andrea so easily betrayed her for a warm bed and a man. I think Michonne displays some real emotion when she informs Andrea of the Governor’s strides to kill her, pointing out just how foul it was for Andrea to choose a comforting facade over a real friend. Michonne is hurt that Andrea would completely leave her alone after such a long time spent surviving and trusting each other. Andrea is truly under the Governor’s spell, and it’s not hard to see how as there are many others who follow his every move simply because he has shelter, food, and can promise protection against this hostile world they all live in. But is that a good enough reason to abandon a friend, leaving her to the wolves?
Andrea’s biggest obstacle here is herself. She’s stuck in a facade and she doesn’t want to believe that she is in a truly twisted relationship with a man who some are now describing as evil, manipulative, and insanely vengeful. Andrea doesn’t want to believe that her former group can outcast her, becoming this brutal tribe of survivors that are also willing to spill blood. Andrea is trying to save everybody, but she’s not in the right mindset to do so at all. The Governor has poisoned her too much and she has some real conflicting feelings for him. In the time spent with Rick’s group, Andrea is given the rather blunt idea from Carol to end this whole thing, quick and easy by murdering the Governor in his sleep. You go Carol! It’s an idea that seems so easy, yet Andrea still isn’t convinced that spilling blood is the best way to go about ending this. There is also the question behind why the Governor let Andrea go to the prison anyway, after he deliberately told her that if she went there, she’d be betraying him. It’s a test of loyalty perhaps, but one never knows with a man who has snapped and nothing left to lose.
The game is set and the armies are assembled. Rick and the Governor will be unleashing hellfire on one another soon enough, but that doesn’t mean there is full trust within these groups. Michonne working alongside Merel? That’s troubling. Merel is only out for himself, so I’m not even sure anyone can trust him. Carol can see right through him and feels the need to protect Daryl from Merel’s bullying ways. Hershel is even attempting to let bygones be bygones with Merel and Michonne as long as they can fight side by side for the greater good. These shaky alliances might lead to trouble in the near future but Rick is quick to ferret out who he can trust. Daryl must keep his erratic brother on a tight leash as Rick goes out on an ammunition run with Carl and Michonne, which is likely a test run to see if he can assume Michonne a loyal asset to him and his group now. This test should be an interesting little adventure. There can be no Judas’s in the groups. Not in a time of war…
The Walking Dead treads through some interesting territories of trust and possible betrayal in this installment and although crawling at a slow pace, it does engage some interesting plot turns that might cause a shift in alliances in future episodes. These characters are forced to become colder, more tribe-like, more brutal and untrusting given the new circumstances. Nothing is worse that being betrayed by your fellow human in a world of zombified freaks, yet here they are. Andrea’s visit to Rick’s prison is an intriguing yet uncomfortable segment that is an real eye-opener for both parties. The impending war slows down here, but it’s still coming and the possibilities of inside betrayals rise to new heights. “I Ain’t a Judas” gets 4 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013