The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 13 – Arrow on the Doorpost

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.

I would like to think that a good number of people have seen or at least know of the movie Heat.  If you haven’t, I would just say go out and watch it now, but regardless, that movie is known for, among other things, having a sit-down scene between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, both on opposite sides of the law, where the two share a bit about themselves and explain how nothing will stop either one of them from doing what they have to.  “Arrow on the Doorpost” or as I’m calling it, “My Dinner with the Governor” plays like an extended version of this pivitol scene from Heat, but does not quite gel as much as I would have liked.  The episode is still quite good, as it may be a filler episode, but it is focused; although after reaching a high with last week’s episode, ”Clear”, this week was back to a slightly lower level.

The episode picks up with a little bit of time having passed, noticeable because at some point Andrea must have dropped by to schedule a meet up and because Glenn no longer looks like a beat up piece of meat.  As it begins, we find Rick, Daryl, and Hershel arriving at a random location, scouting it out for safety, and letting Rick enter a building on his own.  He finds the Governor alone and stating that they have much to talk about.  I already know that this will be the best part of the episode, because it is done entirely without dialogue and has an ending moment that peaks my interest, regardless of what happens during the rest of the hour.  After having watched the episode, my thoughts hadn’t really changed, as it became more and more evident that the conversations going on were not going to become any more substantial and I was really just awaiting some sort of ultimatum that would bring us one step closer to seeing war.

So I am now, once again, struggling with the writing.  It is not so much that the writing in this episode is bad, per se, but along the lines of the show being stuck in a corner, based on where the writing and plotting of the season has put these characters.  Yes, the rivalry between the prison and Woodbury is right out of the comics, but the show has only gotten us to seeing these people at odds with each other because that is what the show decided it wanted to do, rather than naturally get us there.  Both sides have suffered losses, both want justice, revenge, or whatever, and both are obviously stubborn, which is the loose reason as to why they can’t coexist or explore other story ideas.  

I am not opposed to the fact that this is where we are, but the uneasiness as to how we got there is due to our characters really.  I can appreciate David Morrissey in terms of his acting ability, but the role of the Governor has not been the ideal representation for me.  He is less a power-hungry maniac killer and more of a two-faced, creepy, sometimes reasonable guy, who makes dark decisions, because the show needs him to do so.  On the other side, there is Rick, who is no longer buggin’ out and back to being the über serious leader, out to protect his people.  In other words, Rick is kinda boring.  Then you have the rest, which includes everyone’s favorite – Andrea, who is essentially the reason we have this filler episode, as she scheduled the meeting.  So aside from some standout characters that I enjoy, I have to side with the prisoners by default, in a story that is forcing me to await some sort of ultimate shootout.

In saying all of this, I do want to emphasize that I liked this episode, but it is coming down to my thoughts on where the season is going, after getting a nice breather last week by separating myself from the main season arc.  For this episode specifically, there are a number of very good moments.  Rick and the Governor interacting was decent enough.  Given that there was no chance either of these characters were going to die in this episode, I didn’t quite feel any of the tension that the show may have been going for, but I appreciated the effort.  Similarly, as the show has made the Governor the big bad of the season, the attempts to humanize him with a (well told) monologue by Morrissey was decent enough, even though we live in a world where literally everyone has lost people they loved.  The end of their conversation though, when things started to matter, is where both Rick and the Governor shined best in their emoting and approach to the dialogue, so that is quite commendable.

Conveniently and fortunately, everyone else at this meet up had their exact rival to chit chat with, so we had a “walker stick measuring” contest between Daryl and Martinez and some fun banter between Hershel and Milton, with a great tag at the end about Hershel’s leg stump.  Then Hershel spends some time with Andrea, prodding her about staying with the Governor; and honestly, if Hershel would just spend some time every episode to call people out on their BS, I would be happy.  There are other little stories going on in this episode as well, back at the prison, but add up to little value.  Merle tries, the jerky way, to stage an attack on the Governor or at the very least ensure that his brother is alright, but is thwarted by everyone else, including Beth.  Glenn and Maggie finally makeup and then have makeup sex on a dirty cement floor (aww).  And Carol probably changed lil’ asskicker’s diaper.

The big reveals are the most important part of this episode, as they are the only aspects that really furthered the plot, but they do set the stage.  Rick is put in a position where he can give up Michonne, a person he has come to trust, and that will put an end to the tension between the groups.  However, the Governor has no intention of honoring that deal and will kill everyone he can, given the chance.  The only problem I have with this is that Rick needs to wise up (Andrea too, but she’s a lost cause).  Of course the Governor is lying and everyone who counts knows that he is a liar and a manipulator.  Regardless, it was a nice little ending sequence for the episode, as we had some nice cross-cutting, with a good song playing over it, giving me more reasons to pre-order the soundtrack.

Between the contrast from this week and last week and the movement back into the main arc of the season and the problems that come with it, I can say that I am obviously venting some frustrations about the show in general, especially since this is the best season yet and it could be better than we have seen in this half of the season.  However, this episode, as a whole, is solid and better than a couple of the episodes before “Clear.”  It has a strong focus, like last week, and it delivers some strong moments in an episode that is mainly filling more time.  I wish I had felt the tension more, the way that this episode wanted me too, but as it stands, this was not quite Pacino and De Niro in Heat, but at least it wasn’t Pacino and De Niro in Righteous Kill.

3 ½ out of 5 Busters

Zombie Kill of the Week:  Daryl throwing a knife into the zombie, before Martinez could kill it; because screw Martinez, right?
  • Seriously Andrea, you told the Governor about Shane and the baby?!? What don’t you do to annoy me?
  • That said, when Andrea was kicked out of the room that made me smile.
  • I wish Milton would let his guard down more often, he and Hershel had the most genuine moment of the episode.
  • So I really do not think this anymore, but on the whole ‘Merle is a Mole’ thing, what if he was trying to get the group to head to the meeting spot, so they could all be taken out then?  He was quite adamant about leaving and bringing Michonne, specifically.

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


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