(BEWARE, HERE BE SPOILERS....There will only be spoilers regarding the episode. This review is based solely on the show. Hope you enjoy - Kyle )
After five blistering episodes on the trot that dealt with internal and external rot, both of characters and of civil and moral direction, we finally arrive at the crossroads. This episode is may admirably juggle a whole slew of plotlines,(never dropping the ball once), but at the end of the day, its all about the beginnings of convergence.
So far, this season has been pretty damn merciless in putting its characters through an emotional and ethical wringer, and just when we figured we had the chance to come up for some clean air, unpolluted by the dead and the dying, we're thrust right into the story proper.
the characters are all established, the cards are mostly on the table, and the chessboard is set up for some wonderfully contrast and comparison between our two groups. One one side, we have our long-time companions, Rik and gang, and on the other, of course, we have the ever-festering core of the Woodbury apple. Its been a long time coming, not that we noticed, but an unstoppable force is about to encounter and immovable object, and its gonna be great.
We're not there yet, though.
No, this week is all about setup, and what a setup it is. Any questions regarding the ease of Michonne's departure from Phillips all-American deathtrap is settled immediately, with a tense, satisfyingly violent and even funny sequence which shows that our Katana wielding bad-girl is every bit as at home slicing and dicing the more mobile scum and villainy that pepper the apocalypse as she is the shuffling dead. Her wordless punchline to Merle's cynical comment to his nervous group is a perfect crowd-pleaser moment, and once again, the building if this character takes place not with words, but with actions. Michonne remains something of a mystery, but through her manoeuvres, her smarts and her well-honed killing skills, we're slowly coming to understand who this gal is. By the end of the episode, we've learnt she's not above asking for help, even if she will never say it out loud. Like all of our survivors, from Phillip to Rik, and from Daryl to Merle, theres a human being deep down under the hardened shell, scared to show itself for fear of the pack.
Well, maybe not Merle...
The big guy has been far more reserved this season than in the first, and it's a wise move to go this route. Sure, the racist sonofabitch was on crack or some shit when we met him, and wasn't exactly in a contemplative mood, but to keep the character at that level would have hurt the story being told. For one thing, Phillip would have put the fucker down on sight.
His cruelty and devious nature is still there in full force, though, as displayed by his cold-blooded solution to the 'Michonne' problem. Killing that kid may cover your tracks for now, Merle, but you can bet its gonna come back and bite you in the ass big time when your boss learns of your lie. We still haven't really seen what The Gov in truly capable of, but we have seen you do your thing, and if a supreme badass like yourself is scared of this guy, then frankly, so am I.
Speaking of the Gov, his true nature continues to surprise and confound. He's two parts gentle, intelligent leader and one part rage-fuelled, simmering psychosis, and is so well-versed at hiding his more base nature, that its easy to see how one would follow such a person. More and more, Phillip is calling to mind a perfect storm of cultish appeal and political savvy.
Rik's descent continues this week with a dark night of the soul following Lori's death. The scenes by that ringing phone managed to keep us guessing right until the conclusion. What begins as a dark, frightening look at a man breaking down, ends up becoming a tender passage of redemption. If last week we shed tears of despair in the wake of the most recent losses, this week, mercifully, we shed some tears of happiness. Seeing Rik with his kid is a beautiful moment. we know its going to be short-lived, but in a tale this bleak, these little glimmers of light sure do satisfy.
I mentioned way back at the beginning of this review, that HOUNDED is dealing with convergence, and its in the final scenes that we begin to reach our inevitable destination as Rik and crew's fate draws ever nearer. The groups are beginning to merge, with Glen and Maggie on one side, and Michonne on the other. Whats to come remains anyone's guess, but we can be sure of one thing....there will be blood.
Now that all the pieces are in place, it looks like we're all set for one hell of a showdown. HOUNDED lays the much necessary groundwork for future episodes, while maintaining the chaos, tension, heart and heartache that we all expect from the show.
Daryl finding Carol, and Rik finding himself may tempt us to hope, but the sight of a desperate Michonne standing among walkers at the prison gate heralds the coming of much worse, much more human danger. Hang in there, Glen and Maggie, I think I see your friends coming, riding many miles.
No score required. THE WALKING DEAD abides....