11: “Clear” The Cat Statue
It is a big relief to see Michonne finally have some dialogue written for her. We all know that Michonne is a misanthrope and is always on guard, but the deadly silent and unhelpful version of Michonne is downright frustrating. Rick finding comfort in Michonne and opening up to her about his tour of insanity was a nice touch – especially when she confides in him by confessing that she, too, spoke to dead people. Prior to that, Michonne set out to get back the picture that Carl dropped and returned with the photo and a colourful cat statue. It was a small moment but a nice touch on the part of the writers, and gave her character a bit more life and personality.
12: “I Ain’t a Judas” – Stab Him In His Sleep
The final sequence in “I Ain’t a Judas” wraps things up nicely with a musical montage set to the tune of Tom Wait’s “Hold On” (sung earlier on by Beth in the prison). Many will become frustrated with Andrea’s final decision, but it is to be expected. “I Ain’t a Judas” emphasizes that actions have consequences, and that attaining redemption isn’t as easy as saying “I’m sorry.” The price for a change of heart can be, and often is, brutal.
13: “Prey” Hide and Seek
One can’t help but notice that “Prey” has a retro feel to it,: The handheld camera which follows Andrea throughout the abandoned building is reminiscent of John Carpenter’s best work, and the shooting of the glass brings back memories of Die Hard. Here, Stefan Schwartz, directing his first Dead episode, makes good use of widescreen visuals through the dark, narrow corridors. Schwarz creates stylish setups and elegant frame compositions during the game of hide and seek, and presents to the audience a clear layout of the space where the action is taking place. We can’t help but sense deja vu while watching the chase. The close ups on Andrea, the whistling tune from The Governor, and the abandoned factory, all seem like ideas featured in some of the best films from the 80’s.
14: “Arrow on the Doorpost” – The Governor and Rick meet
The conversation between the two leaders doesn’t reveal much that we the audience didn’t already know, but it does continue to show how skillful The Governor is at playing mind games. David Morrissey is awarded some good dialogue and delivers a standout scene. “Restitution for your own lack of insight, and for failing to see the devil beside you,” he tells Rick after dropping a blow to Rick’s ego by confessing his knowledge of Shane and Lori’s elicit affair. And let us not forget Andrew Lincoln’s best line delivery yet: “You’re the town drunk who knocked over my fence and ripped up my yard, and nothing more.”
15: “Clear” – Morgan and Rick reunite
“Clear” breached new dramatic heights for The Walking Dead Season 3. This is a very strong episode, and stands with the best yet. For only the second time in the show’s history, The Walking Dead takes Rick Grimes and a couple of others away from the rest of the group for the entirety of the episode. This episode is brimming with great writing and character development and is a much needed change of pace, especially for viewers tired of Andrea hogging the spotlight. The re-introduction of Morgan Jones (Lennie James) was long overdue – 30 episodes long, to be exact. His alone time with Rick is one of the most thought-provoking and enlightening scenes of the series. “Clear” is a powerful character study of two men we met at the very start of it all, and how they’ve changed since. The episode’s highlight has Morgan say to Rick, “You will be torn apart by teeth or bullets.” The man has a point. Rick and co. are holding on to hope that the prison is a safe haven, and want to believe it will provide them with shelter and happiness. But deep down inside everyone knows it is what it is – a prison.
16: “This Sorrowful Life” – Car Alarm
Jean Luc-Godard once said, that if a movie features three great scenes and no bad ones, is a great film. If the same can be said for an episode of a TV series, then “This Sorrowful Life,” is excellent. There is a trio of standout sequences found here: Michonne and Merle’s brief road-trip is punctuated by one suspense sequence where Merle accidentally sets off a car alarm and Michonne discovers new and innovative ways to take out a couple of walkers. Decapitating a walker, all while tied to a post, was stupefying.
17: “Home” – Prison Raid
The Walking Dead creators seem to know how to direct action as well as they create scares. Sure the special effects team over at AMC does gore to perfection, but The Walking Dead has done much to sustain downright nail-biting tension without relying on special effects. The direct attack on the prison, complete with the pretty vicious use of zombies on the part of The Governor, was one of the most thrilling scenes yet.
18: “This Sorrowful Life” – Merle Raids Woodbury
The slow reveal of Merle’s master plan to take out The Governor is well executed and accompanied with the sounds of Motorhead, no less. Merle’s march toward certain death, while followed by a large crowd of flesh eating walkers is truly terrific, but director Greg Nicotero one ups the scene by having Merle use the gunfire of The Governor’s men to conceal his own blasts. The entire sequence is nothing short of genius, culminating with The Governor biting off Merle’s fingers and spitting them right out on the camera’s lens. How often does a series have a climax so fiercely funny and utterly horrifying?
19: “This Sorrowful Life” – Merle Dies
When the Governor requests Michonne in exchange for peace, it not only becomes a true test of Rick’s character, but Merle as well. With “This Sorrowful Life,” The Walking Dead delivers another great bit of character redemption, by way of sacrifice. Merle gets a shot at redemption, and he runs with it, in his own erratic way. Can a leopard change its spots? All animals, including humans, are instinctual, and we may or may not be able to change that. If change means behaviour as a collection of habits, then people are definitely capable of change. But why the sudden turnaround for this Dixon brother? Truthfully, Merle hasn’t changed – he’ s just always had some bit of good inside him. Anyone thinking that Merle would actually deliver Michonne to The Governor is reading his entire character arc wrong. The tight bond between the Dixon brothers has long been established, and again reinforced here during his chat with Carol and later with Michonne. Carol suggests that he is a late bloomer, and Michonne later tries to persuade Merle to start over. But Merle knows who he is, and knows that life will be simpler for Darryl if he would just see his way out of his brother’s life. Perhaps Merle’s mission is motivated not so much by him seeking redemption as it is, just knowing his baby brother has found a new family and will be better off. Make no mistake about it, this was a suicide mission from the get-go. For a character who has been racist and sexist since the start, it was a nice touch on the part of the writer Scott M. Gimple (also responsible for penning the excellent episode “Clear”), to have Merle gain awareness from an African American woman. And how surprising is it, that Merle’s death is so utterly heartbreaking? Naturally, a good chunk of credit goes to actor Michael Rooker, but let us also take into account the reaction of Daryl. Norman Reedus is afforded a chance to show off his range as an actor when conveying Daryl’s absolute despair in the final moments. His finding Merle is reminiscent of the scene when Rick kills Shane, also in a penultimate episode, that of Season 2.
20: “Welcome to the Tombs” Andrea dies
We all spent an entire season bitching about Andrea, and yet despite being the show’s most frustrating character, there is no denying that her death was emotionally devastating. Andrea tells Michonne and Rick that she made the choices she made because she hoped it would save lives. I guess she was wrong, but you can’t blame the lady for trying … oh wait, yes you can. Goodbye Andrea. You will still be missed.