What a chilling, deeply unsettling episode.
Just when I thought the Governor was as crazy as he could possibly get, he managed to dial up the crazy to somewhere around Jack-Nicholson-in-The-Shining levels, with Andrea (aided by a newly repentant Milton who still clings to the utterly unrealistic idea that the Governor can be redeemed) firmly in his demented sight.
And like any wounded big carnivore, he is remorseless in his pursuit of Andrea who, alarmed by the Governor’s blitzkrieg-scorched-earth approach to dealing with Rick’s group at the prison, and now thoroughly disabused of the notion that any fanciful ideas of peace in our apocalyptic time are as dead as his turned-daughter-on-a-chain Penny, jumps the wall (with Tyreese and his sister Sasha’s benign assistance; in other words they don’t shoot her as she runs away which is awfully decent of them) and runs with everything she has in her to warn Rick and the others.
She is determined, and this time, finally, FINALLY, desperately frightened, well aware that Governor has passed the point of no return and that all the meds and therapists in the world – let’s be honest an army of Jungs would be of no use now – couldn’t turn back the crazy clock that is ticking inside the Governor’s head.
It doesn’t take long to see that her worst fears are well and truly justified as the Governor first tries to run her down in a field – she flings herself to the earth and initially thinks she hasn’t been spotted; no such luck my dear – and then pursues with her with a cold, relentless, and calculating fury through a (naturally) walker-infested derelict industrial building.
Haunted by images of the Governor’s Mengele-like “workshop” which resembles a sadistic dentist’s chair, that Milton showed her just before she made her courageous dash for freedom, she treads as quietly as she can, stray metal objects and pesky walkers notwithstanding (let’s face it, you can’t quietly killing a slobbering, nightmarish undead being; you just can’t).
But just when it looks like she will face down the odds and make good her escape, the Governor, armed with guns, a voice of sweet reason that coos over and over that he loves and missed her and wants her back (I don’t think even he takes that particular line of persuasion seriously) and an eerie whistle that ricochets chillingly through the building as he pursues her, catches up to her.
All appears lost with Andrea firmly in his one-eyed sights and without a reasonable escape route.
Even so, you figure this is Andrea!
She survived on the road with Michonne all those long months on the road – there is a touching flashback scene at the start of the episode where a clearly upset Michonne refuses to discuss who her walker companions were in their old life, except to spit out “They weren’t human to begin with” – and yes the odds are ridiculously stacked against her, and she should have stabbed/shot/[insert preferred method of killing crazy people here] the Governor when she had the chance but still … she’s a badass!
Surely she will survive all this!
And for a while it looks like she will.
After dispatching a mini-army of walkers in the forest she hid in to get out of sight of both the Governor and his cronies, and managing to outwit and outthink the Governor – here’s an army of stairwell-trapped zombies you sanity-depraved would-be pirate! – she makes her escape, and you assume that the Governor, last seen neck deep in chompning walkers, is a goner.
Not so fast my overly optimistic ones!
For somehow the Governor manages to escape unscathed – physically at least; clearly the good ship Sanity sailed some time ago – and catches up to Andrea just as she reaches the prison and is waving to get Rick’s attention.
Alas the Governor drags her down out of sight before he sees her and she is taken back to Woodbury where she finishes the episode taped to the dentist-o’-horror, dully staring at the door, her fate seemingly sealed.
Or is she?
It’s rumoured that at least two major cast members are facing the chop – likely Merle (Michael Rooker, who has just scored a role in a new show) and both the Governor (David Morrissey) and Andrea (Laurie Holden) have been offered as possibilities.
Tempting though it is to see Andrea’s fate as sealed, with no hope of escape, I have this sneaking feeling that we haven’t seen the last of a character who has been repeatedly reviled by many as weak and spineless but who demonstrated once again in this episode that when the chips are down – and the walkers in the pit for that matter; we’ll get to them in a minute – she will whatever is necessary to make things right.
Yes she made some poor choices leading up this moment – based on a very understandable need to feel safe and secure after so many months on the run from walkers and opportunistic fellow survivors -and threw her lot in with the Governor on that basis, but god bless her and all the walkers she killed off with minimal fuss, she has wised up to her flawed decision making and is trying to do something about it.
Which is more than can be said for Milton who continues to vacillate, again understandably, if unforgivably, in his support/undermining of the Governor.
I suspect though that his days may be numbered.
Meanwhile away from the Governor’s now twisted version of The Hunger Games – which let’s face it is fairly lacking in humanity anyway – Tyreese and Sasha were trying to improve their walker kill rate with Sasha excelling and Tyreese wasting more than a little ammo, patch things up with father and son fellow travellers, Ben and Allen (by fighting over a pit of chomping walkers; think of the cardio benefits guys!) with not much immediate success, and realising after being taken to haul walkers to the prison that the Governor and his brainwashed followers were bat-s**t crazy.
Refusing to be a part of such wholesale slaughter of innocents, Tyreese and Sasha are taken back to Woodbury where the Governor, fresh from hunting down Andrea confronts them.
I have to admit that I mightily impressed with the way Tyreese kept his cool and pledged unending loyalty to the Governor even though you know he meant nothing of the sort and was simply trying to buy the group time to hatch some sort of escape plan.
And I am fairly certain that Allen, having witnessed the exchange and sensed the Governor’s barely-concealed unhinged state, may be back on side with Tyreese, regardless of where he apportions blame for the death of his wife.
It was an episode where more and more people came to realise that they had not only made a deal with the devil but that he was stark raving bonkers …
… and they were all in far more danger within Woodbury’s fortified walls that outside them.
* behold the promos for next week’s penultimate episode for season 3, “This Sorrowful Life” …