The Walking Dead, Ep. 3.06: “Hounded” endangers our dearest survivors

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The Walking Dead, Season 3, Episode 6: “Hounded”
Written by Dan Attias
Directed by Scott M. Gimple
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC

So…the ringing telephone. Let’s start there. Either:

The scenes in which Rick Grimes picks up a ringing telephone and has an extended chat with his own guilt-riddled conscience are a clever way to explicate Rick’s state of mind without resorting to standar,d tiresome scenes of weepy exposition, not to mention a stunning showcase for Andrew Lincoln.

Or:

The scenes in which Rick Grimes picks up a ringing telephone and has an extended chat with his own guilt-riddled conscience are the show’s nadir so far, a masturbatory, plainly ludicrous exercise in exposing the shallowly conceived psychology of the frankly pathetic character at the show’s center, not to mention a cleat example of Andrew Lincoln’s shortcomings as an actor.

As much as I admire the bolder strokes of “Hounded,” I fall more into the latter camp than the former. Crazy Rick is just not all that compelling, and it’s especially glaring given that he shares a scene with Herschel, a man who’s lost at least as muh as Rick has, not to mention an appendage to boot (Ha! Get it?), and has managed to more or less keep it together then entire time he’s been onscreen. Meanwhile, it’s taken Rick two whole episodes to even seem to acknowledge his newborn daughter’s existence and, y’know, maybe look after his increasingly sociopathic son. (Though he still hasn’t given his daughter a name, as yet. Lil’ Asskicker she shall remain, from now until eternity.) Worse, Lincoln’s insistence – though the teleplay is surely no help in this regard – on playing his grief as big as possible has remained difficult to take. This simply does not feel like a credible form of crazy.

While I would have loved for the show to get Rick out of the basement a hell of a lot sooner, “Hounded” at least accomplishes that, as well as another set of inevitable, but crucial, plot moves, the rest of which are handled much more smoothly. As much as I’m on record as not being a fan of the show’s decision to bring Merle back, they’re at least putting Merle 2.0 – and Michael Rooker – to good use, immediately setting him after Michonne with the aid of some incredibly unfortunate sidekicks. In fact, every part of “Hounded” that works does so because it immediately endangers a whole whack of the characters we care most about – Maggie, Glenn, Michonne – while the memory of the massacre in “Killer Within” is still fresh.

The fact that the showrunners seem to have a good sense of who to put on the line makes the Andrea/Governor scenes doubly tiring. While, given the circumstances, her falling into the Governor’s bad is far from an unnatural occurrence, it doesn’t make the proceedings any less cringeworthy to watch. Worse, it’s beginning to feel like Andrea’s ultimate season arc is being set up too neatly, whereby she ultimately learns of the Governor’s no-goodnik ways after some terrible ocurrence, making her the ultimate instrument of his downfall. Most likely, she’ll deal the fatal blow herself. (By bow and arrow, perhaps?)

Thankfully, the episode saves its most potent emotional beat for (almost) last: Darryl finding and rescuing poor, poor Carol. Actually, most of the credit for the sequence’s effectiveness goes to Bear McCreary, whose aching-but-not-overpowering score plays up this mild, and richly-deserved “win” with just the right amount of schmaltz. With only two episodes left before the midseason break, it would be nice if the rest of the show’s elements might be as well-balanced.

Simon Howell

1 Comment
  1. Curtis says

    I found the telephone bit very obvious as a technique but to question Lincoln’s acting chops is just downright wrong. He really keeps that bit alive and it is dramatically sound. Try watching a b-movie syfy crapfest to see what “bad” acting actually looks like. Lincoln is aces.

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