The Walking Dead, Season 3, Episode 13: “Arrow on the Doorpost”
Written by Ryan C. Coleman
Directed by David Boyd
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC
You have to wonder if tonight’s episode entitled “Arrow on the Doorpost” has any relation to one of Bob Dylan’s masterpieces; an antithesis to the American Dream, Dylan’s dirge “Blind Willie McTell” is about a nation that is condemned.
I suspect that the majority of The Walking Dead’s audience will write this off as one of those episodes in which not much happens. And for once, they are right.
Following last week’s brilliant side-trip episode “Clear,” The Walking Dead once again abandons what was once a weekly formula of jumping back and forth from the prison and Woodbury, and settles on a new locale. “Arrow on the Doorpost” may be low on action but serves a purpose in returning us directly to the inevitable showdown between Rick and The Governor. A high-stakes game of diplomacy between the two leaders takes up the majority of the episode’s running time. “Arrow on the Doorpost” essentially lays down the already obvious parallels between the two opposing forces. In an attempt to negotiate peace, Rick and The Governor meet face to face, share some whiskey, and reminisce about their dead wives – and that is about all that happens.
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.” I’ve often commented on how both The Walking Dead comic and television series draw on the iconography and mood of the Western, but tonight’s episode really manages to inject dialogue similar to what you’d expect to hear in the Wild West. This isn’t Deadwood. but this isn’t Dawn of the Dead, either.
“Arrow on the Doorpost” isn’t the most exciting episode of The Walking Dead, but along with the two previous installments, the series continues to improve as a character drama that allows for some pleasant interaction between the supporting players. Case in point: the barely-defined Caesar Martinez and Daryl share a moment, albeit brief, and form a bond of respect. Watching Daryl and Martinez together was far and away the best part of the episode, as Darryl shows off his archer skills and knife-throwing accuracy, and Caesar puts his baseball bat in action. Did anyone notice that Daryl is wielding the new crossbow that Michonne took in the previous episode? Meanwhile, Hershel and Milton spend some time getting to know each other, and Milton informs the group that he has been documenting every event for historical records. It’s a simple but pleasant moment, and leaves me wishing we would see more of Milton.
As I already mentioned above, “Arrow on the Doorpost” spends a lot of time trying to draw parallels between Rick and the Governor, to a fault. Both men have lost their wives, and both men lead a group of desperate people in a zombie apocalypse, but the similarities end there. The problem is, we already know all this, and this 45 minute stop doesn’t advance the plot forward in any way, shape or form. With three episodes left in the season, I feel many fans are becoming increasingly tired of both The Governor and Andrea. Wouldn’t this episode have been so much better if Rick had just shot The Governor within the first five minutes?
Daryl: “Great, he brought his butler.”
The writers once again seem lost as to what to do with Merle. They only know how to push one button with his character and the conflict back at the prison seems written in to fill time.
When did Beth learn how to shoot a gun?
Carol desperately needs something to do, yet again.
The prison is officially boring. Get them out of this location, please.
Here is another reason to hate Andrea: why would she tell the Governor that Judith might be Shane’s baby? What a bitch, yo.
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