It was plethora of new faces on Sunday night’s The Walking Dead on AMC. In the latest episode titled “Walk With Me”, Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) stumble upon a new community of survivors after witnessing an accident. Are these new acquaintances friends or enemies? As tensions and conflicts begin to arise, a decision must be made. So who are these new individuals? And are they really new? Could one of them be Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) exacting revenge?
Yes and no.
In the first episode to not feature Rick in any way shape or form minus the “Previously On…” segment at the beginning, in “Walk With Me”, Merle does return, cool hand-device included, but he is under The Governor (David Morrissey), who is the seemingly polite leader of a town called Woodbury. The small town is safely guarded, and while The Governor and his lackeys Merle and Milton (Dallas Roberts) seem to not bother Andrea, the same can not be said for Michonne.
Michonne is greatly concerned about her weapon, her katana. In the process, we get a very clear sense that Michonne has ‘trust ‘ issues’.
Recently completing The Walking Dead Compendium Book 1, we can generally get a sense of who her pets were, what happened to her out there before meeting up with Andrea. And yes, even an extra bit of information on the Pets and what they do for Michonne is eventually explained, but instead, the television show made a better frame of reference than Michonne just randomly explaining exposition.
I went back and re-read the Compendium and I do not see any character like Milton, who for the sake of The Walking Dead television show, is a character just for the series, who is Woodbury’s scientist. He concludes that the Pets, whoever they were/whatever their story may be with Michonne, kept Andrea and Michonne safe due to the smell. It is one of the reasons why the walker or ‘biter’ as the folks of Woodbury call them, ignored Andrea and Michonne during the helicopter raid at the beginning of the episode.
That in itself was quite interesting.
And because we all love bad-asses, The Walking Dead television series seems to eerily paint Woodbury like the Village of the Damned or Stepford Wives, where everything looks perfect but is not exactly what it seems, and we know this because not only is Merle there, but Michonne our resident bad-ass is the one who seems uneasy about the place.
And by all accounts, using Michonne as a guide for what is off-kilter and what isn’t is interesting as the whole purpose of the episode seems to come straight from the fact that it is trying REALLY hard to make us love the Governor. “People here have hope. Medical care. Kids go to school. Adults have jobs to do. We have purpose. We’re a community.” Even the logic of him taking and killing the military men could be found in the logic after the above quote he tells Andrea, Milton and Michonne during breakfast, in that he would do anything to protect his community.
And it makes sense. The attack on the military men seems cold, merciless, but still The Walking Dead seems content in making the Governor someone we could try to understand. That is, until the final moments of the episode, where we see him starring at aquariums with heads of people, some zombies, others not, in the tanks, and he just morosely broods and stares back at them. It is clearly a sign that Michonne has good reason to worry.
What is really interesting is though that it also sets up possible conflicts down the line, between Andrea and Merle and Rick, who both were left behind by Rick’s group, but might not take it that way. While Andrea may not be as angry, at the same time, she doesn’t know Shane is dead, and didn’t know about how Walkers or Biters can become so without being bitten. Merle and Milton both seem like characters that aren’t exactly comforted by the fact on how The Governor runs things. While Merle is a dog on a leash, Milton seems curious to research the biters, but also perhaps doesn’t care for what The Governor asks him to do. Which is interesting.
In the comic books, there was a Dr. Stevenson, (in the show played by a woman) but she doesn’t seem as a main character, while Milton is more in that role. Or he seems that way. Or then again, maybe we’re not that far along enough yet for any of us to make that call. And I’m going go with the latter.
Overall, The Walking Dead episode “Walk With Me” was a great episode and a ‘worthy’ experiment at leaving our leads behind. It now begs the question of when will we see the two groups somehow merge/combine, but the pace continues to be quite fun, which compared to last season, is very refreshing.