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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 6 – ‘Hounded’ Review



Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

Well, the power went out in my house this week, but that didn’t stop me from getting to see this week’s episode anyway and being happy to report that it was a very solid one indeed.  ‘Hounded’ picks up where last week’s episode left off and basically felt like half of the episode was devoted to being a better grieving episode than last week’s, while the other half focused on improving our opinions on ‘Michonne and Andrea’s Excellent Woodbury Adventures’.  A mix of solid direction, a good amount of tension, strong emotional beats, some resolutions to lingering plot threads, and a cliffhanger all worked to make this a pretty great episode of The Walking Dead.


It may be easiest to divide this into parts, so I want to talk about Rick and his collect calls from the dead first.  I am not sure how many astute non-comic book readers there were that figured out what was going to come of the telephone call from last week, but I was really pleased with the way it played out.  Even though I knew where it was going already (as I am an avid reader of the comic), the way the show handled this was well done and makes me wish it was extended further.  Andrew Lincoln, once again, has the chance to deliver some very strong work in his performance as Rick, and he does a great job of literally talking things out with the ones he lost.  Yes, the telephone call was a hallucination, but the way it served as a method for him to deal with the people he has lost on his watch, most importantly his wife, is important to see in the realm of something like a TV series about zombies, as it fits the tone and feels like a good way to have Rick pick himself back up.  This makes me excited to see where his frame of mind is going to have him be in further conducting the Ricktatorship in episodes to come.

Next up: Michonne vs. Merle.  Sure, there were a few other Woodbury red shirts in this plot thread, but two were dispatched easily and I would like to think that everyone could have called Merle killing guy-who’s-name-I-can’t-even-remember.  This did have some fun elements in it, starting with the warning sign that Michonne left for the boys.  As far as what it all means to catch Michonne though, it does make me curious what the objective was.  From what Governor Phil says later, he just wanted Michonne’s sword and her head (for his collection of course), but why was this so important?  


At the same time, I really enjoyed Michonne this week.  She was actively badass, as opposed to passively badass, and while we may not have learned a whole lot about her, we did get to see her learn, in the process of fending off her enemies, and basically see things from her perspective, which is important.  As far as Merle goes, he continues to be the most unpredictable element here.  It helps that he is not a character from the comic, so even I am not sure what to expect, but the fact that he is both following orders from the Governor, while also clearly happy to kill whatever may get in his way and lie about it makes him a character that is inherently interesting to watch, even if he does not have too many other defining characteristics.  This will hopefully take more shape once we finally see what the Daryl/Merle dynamic is like, but until then, he’ll continue to be an intimidating presence.

Last main plot thread:  Andrea takes down a monster on the other side of the wall and then takes down Gov. Phillip’s one-eyed monster.  Okay, so that is a bit much, but let’s move on from that ridiculous bit of innuendo and into the character that is currently ranking for me as “least fun to be around”.  So yes, Andrea is still under the spell of Woodbury and wants to be included.  She asks for a position on the wall, since she is a good shot, engages in a nice conversation with another person on guard duty about family they have both lost, but then jumps over the wall to take down a walker.  This is of course a big no-no in Woodbury, so Andrea is forced to confront the Governor about all this.  Getting to this point leads to the most important aspect of Andrea’s plot thread, which is what makes her character easier to get behind for a change:  she actually did like the fights from last week’s episode, but does not like the fact that she liked them.  Putting myself into where Andrea is coming from, having this added detail, makes things a lot more tolerable in regards to her character.  It also helps that the writing seems much better this week, as the majority of the dialogue being given to the character I like the least could have been disastrous.

 
A few more important things that happened this week:  Glenn and Maggie have their grocery shopping interrupted by Merle.  In a fairly tense scene, Merle happens upon the two, as they are leaving from a supply run, which leads to Merle getting the upperhand and taking the two back to Woodbury.  We’ll see what happens with this next week, but next time, Maggie should probably not try to test her luck by claiming that it’s a “good day.”  It’s unfortunate that Michonne was not in good enough condition to stop Merle (and how crazy would it have been if there was a final showdown between them in this episode), but given how this episode ends, we’re at least one step closer to seeing the Prison Pioneers meet the Woodbury Wreckers.  The only downside is that I really don’t like bad things happening to Glenn, so here’s hoping that getting these different groups to meet doesn’t involve too much torture for poor Steven Yeun.

Last thing:  Carol is alive!  Yes, I never thought she was dead (nor should you have!), but I was happy that this part of the story has been cleared up.  As Daryl, Carl, and Oscar go through the halls to clear out any remaining walkers in the main area, they passed a door that they knew had something behind it.  Of course I knew it was going to be Carol and I am happy that it wasn’t a zombie Carol, as it would have brought me back to ranting in a way similar to my thoughts regarding the late Thaddeus Doggious III, Esq. (T-Dog).  Still, after a very good scene where Daryl and Carl swap stories, which eventually leads to a walker encounter, where Daryl finds Carol’s knife lodged in the face of said walker, it allows for another solid scene from Norman Reedus, who continues to be one of The Walking Dead’s MVPs.  He is legitimately broken up and the show does a good job of portraying that.  Thankfully things work out for the better here (it had to somewhere, or else this would just be too damn bleak all the time), as Daryl finds an exhausted-looking Carol and takes her the hell out of her dark prison cell hideout.


Not much else to address here, but I will say that I am a fan of how various comic elements are being weaved in and out of the show.  Having certain characters behave differently than their counter-parts is not something that has bugged me necessarily (even if I am not a fan of Andrea, overall), though I am interested to see where things are going, which is the ideal for the show anyway.  Obviously I should be interested in continuing with the story, but what helps is that The Walking Dead continues to be in a great stride that has made it into the show that it is capable of being.  As things draw close to the end of this first half of the season, I can only hope that the episodes continue to do a fine job of balancing the action, characters, tone, and story much like how ‘Hounded’ was able to do this week.

4 ½ out of 5 Busters

Zombie Kill of the Week:  Michonne guts a zombie AND has a learning experience!

Notches on Andrea’s Belt: Two.  And they were both on the naughty list. Frisky girl indeed.

 
Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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