“They deserve what they got. They weren’t human to begin with.”
In what might be the most creep-tastic episode of The Walking Dead, we have the Governor acting like some sort of twisted, crazy ex-boyfriend, hunting down his ex in his big rig, all while his less than stable minions prepare for a devastating war. Yeah, these Woodbury devils might not be entirely human anymore and they surely deserve what’s coming to them. In the meantime, things get suspenseful as our diabolical antagonist makes some plans for torture and chases down our favorite blond mediator who is at the end of her rope. The only option left is to attack, but who gets there first is the big question. In this case, everything kind of takes a dramatic turn for the worst as the season draws closer to an inevitably deadly close. Surely the following resolution will be dark and full of bloody terrors…
Right from the opening we are graced with a cold and brief flashback to Andrea and Michonne’s time out together before their fateful run-in with Woodbury. The two strong female characters huddled over a fire having a “girls’ night” that is cut short when Andrea attempts to pick Michonne for questions, concerning her two pet zombies. We find out that Michonne knew both of these chained poor devils and that they couldn’t have passed for humans even before the zombie apocalypse began. Something very horrible must have happened concerning the two fellows turned walkers that Michonne had been carrying around and while what that something is has yet to be revealed, it is apparent that it’s something dark and twisted enough to even shake-up our vicious battle-axe. An opening that sets the tone for the remainder of the installment and transitions into the Governor making some disturbing preparations for what I can only assume to be his plans for when he captures Michonne. Who will be the “Prey” in this circumstance?
We spend our time in what now seems like the dismal ruins of Woodbury. The entire setting has changed. What was once a quaint little town full of friendly faces is now a brutal and formidable looking battleground that is ravaged by humans who are slowly losing their humanity. The Governor isn’t even trying to make it look inviting anymore, he’s just preparing for whatever depraved things he has planned for Rick and his people. Cue Phillip’s creepy new murder whistle that seems to be a signal of his own twisted excitement. The man just becomes more devilish and evil with every progressing episode. Here, he becomes a full on predator on the hunt for revenge, while his prey begins to take notice of the horrible decision she’s made by sticking next to this man and his less than human town.
Andrea gets a lucky heads up about the Governor’s devastating plans from a shaken Milton, which quickly prompts her to come to the final decision to take Phillip out, which is something fans have been yelling she should have done a long while ago. But one can understand why she didn’t. Still (maybe foolishly) holding out hope that the Governor would be the man he tricked her into believing he was--a thoughtful and peaceful leader. Not to mention the real feelings that Andrea had for this man turned primal and irrational animal. Peering down onto his new torture chamber full of chains and all kinds of tools ready for use, Andrea finally realizes what the Governor is--she’s dealing with a monster, not a human. Not the man she potentially fell in some sort of love with. While Milton wants to end the carnage, he isn’t prepared to do what it really takes to end it all, which leaves him in the middle, which is probably the worst place to be. Stuck amongst both sides, either one can take you out. In that sense, Milton reminds me a of Dale a bit. He wants the easy, most peaceful way, but he isn’t ready to deal with the consequences of what that might bring afterwards. Loss of humanity? Becoming a predator? Also Milton’s naivety might get him killed…I’m almost sure of it. If Milton isn’t dead by the end of the season, I will be quite shocked.
Sadly, through all of Andrea’s attempts to kill the Governor, she is disarmed and forced to simply flee Woodbury, leaving new town members, Tyresse and Sasha conflicted and confused. What is there to run from in this safe haven? Andrea and the Governor’s conflicting stories leaves Tyresse’s small group of four in a tense and messy disagreement. Tyresse is slowly catching onto how sick and twisted the residents of Woodbury have become, yet two of his most desperate members continue to push Tyresse in more distressing positions. Between this group’s desperation to stay linked to this safe haven void of humanity and the Governor’s maniacal and sociopath lying, both Tyresse and his sister, Sasha are left right where they were in the beginning; however, the suspicions, the clashing fabrications covering up the most dark and twisted intentions must tell Tyresse that this town is more trouble that what it’s worth. The terror in Andrea’s eyes should have been evidence enough to make them see that the Governor is less than what he seems.
Throughout this season, many fans have deemed Andrea as no more than a dim-witted hussy getting snuggled up next to a man of power. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Andrea is stuck attempting to find a home for herself in a world where “home” is seemingly a just foolish human hope. That is Andrea’s biggest slip-up, which is why she was so easily seduced by the town of Woodbury and of course, the Governor. Andrea, throughout the series so far, has probably been one of the few characters to have gone through the ringer of emotions due to the apocalypse; from wanting to commit suicide to becoming a fighter and then being able to love someone and trust other people again is a strength that has gone unseen by many viewers. The woman is only human--a very tired and hopeful human that found a place she could call home and a man who she thought was ideal. That doesn’t make her an idiot. Andrea’s need to try and stop this impending war also exhibits her as one of the most thoughtful individuals of the entire series. Why waste energy fighting each other as humans when there is a greater enemy out there--the undead? It’s petty, ignorant and quite childish--prideful in a world where pride will get you killed in a millisecond. Why make unnecessary enemies out of your fellow man, when there are so few of them left? Andrea has been trying to make that argument clear all season, but neither Phillip or Rick will listen at this point. And Andrea attempts to make the Governor her prey, but evil old Phillip quickly flips the script and comes after her…
The only good thing about the zombie apocalypse? Having distraction zombies around as a diversion while your insane ex-boyfriend hunts you down in an old barn. It doesn’t take long before a fleeing Andrea is bombarded with the Governor’s disturbing hunting tactics. This creep makes a game of it--taunting and freaking Andrea out--finding a great satisfaction in his ability to frighten his prey. Andrea is not only a strong thinker, but also quite a tactful fighter as well. Much like the end of last season, Andrea is left alone, running through the woods, but this time away from something more formidable than walkers. The chase/hunt scenes are quite spectacularly and simply suspenseful. It’s like watching a lion attempt to pounce on a fleeing gazelle. This time the gazelle fights back. Andrea isn’t the victim here. The power shifts multiple times in these scenes--and who has the upper hand finally comes to Andrea as she unleashes a horde of hungry walkers onto her prey. All while Milton makes an attempt at stalling the war the Governor has prepared by lighting Woodbury’s preserved walkers on fire. Andrea would have gotten away with it too, finally making her way to Rick’s prison only to find that the lion that had been chasing her has pounced yet again and this time he’s caught his prey. Dammit, she was so close!
Still a master of suspense and surprises, The Walking Dead treads on to its final few episodes that are sure to pack an intense and emotional punch. We end up back where we began in the episode; Andrea and Tyresse’s group still at Woodbury, but the circumstances have changed drastically. Everyone in the Governor’s grips is his prey now. The predator and the prey might switch from time to time, but the big question is whether the consequences of being prey or predator will lead to one’s loss of humanity in the long run. Or where some of these “humans” not so human to begin with? We shall see…“Prey” gets 5 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013