Episode Title: "I Ain't a Judas"
Writer: Angela Kang
Director: Greg Nicotero
Previously on "The Walking Dead":
When we look back at “The Walking Dead” Season 3 after it ends, it’s quite possible that one of the biggest tragedies of the story will be the way that Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) alienated people who could have been his friends and allies.
If you haven’t read the original comic book storyline, then you may not know just how big of a departure the TV series is making with Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Tyreese (Chad Coleman). Let’s just say that it’s a pretty significant change that both are apparently on Woodbury’s side in the upcoming war.
There are full spoilers ahead for “I Ain't a Judas," so if you aren’t up to date with the latest “Walking Dead” then you should probably skip this review or else you’ll wake up to find Andrea standing over you and playing with a knife.
It’s kind of amazing the way that fans have turned on Andrea, especially since she’s such an important character in the comic. In a way, the extended presence of Shane in the TV series helped put Andrea on the questionable path that she found herself. Andrea is always making the wrong choices in life and romance. And for once, people are actually calling her on it. Michonne (Danai Gurira) gets a particularly biting comment when she says that Andrea picked a warm bed over their friendship.
"I Ain't a Judas" seemed like it was designed to begin Andrea’s redemption in the eyes of the audience by putting her squarely between Woodbury and the prison survivors as the only person interested in finding a peaceful solution. But it still has to be noted that Andrea makes a huge mistake in trusting Milton Mamet (Dallas Roberts); who can’t run to the Governor fast enough to report her desire to slip away to the prison.
And if Andrea expected a warm reception from her old friends, then she got a rude awakening when Rick manhandled her while searching her for weapons and by the open hostility that was projected towards her.
That’s actually the most sympathetic that Andrea’s been in a long time. Only Carol (Melissa McBride) was happy to see Andrea, but even she had an overt agenda when she told Andrea to seduce the Governor and murder him in his sleep. The crazy thing is that Andrea was actually considering it! Maybe Michonne finally got through to her when she told Andrea that Merle (Michael Rooker) tried to kill her at the order of the Governor. Andrea seemed to at least believe the prison survivors when they told her how the Governor attacked them.
But Andrea fails the test when she can’t go through with actually murdering the Governor. Although I was fairly certain the Governor was going to foil his own execution, it didn’t play out that way and it was ambiguous as to whether the Governor was awake when Andrea considered using the knife on him. Of course, if the Governor died now, there wouldn’t be much to do in the remaining five episodes of the season. So, this story is going to soldier on to the bloody end.
Just as an aside, Michael Rooker is a great performer and it is fun to see Merle with the prison survivors. But however little they trust Merle is still far too much trust to place in him. Only Merle’s brother, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) has any love for him and Merle is a long way from proving himself to the group.
But if that’s the case, whose idea was it to give Merle a weapon and the literal keys to the chains on the prison door? That seems like it’s asking for trouble, even if all eyes are on him.
Tyreese, Allen (Daniel Thomas May), Ben (Tyler Chase) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) showed up again this week and they found their way into the town of Woodbury. And because they only saw Rick as an unhinged lunatic who waved a gun in their faces and told them to get out of the prison, they seemed especially taken in by the Governor and his apparent kindness. Allen and Ben even seemed particularly eager to help the Governor go after Rick.
The biggest problem for the prison survivors is that Tyreese’s group knows almost everything important about the prison, including where the walls are down. Tyreese appears to be the good man that he was in the comic book series, so I suspect that he’ll eventually end up back on Rick’s side. But the writers on this show have already developed a habit of fooling the people who read the original story, so all bets may be off.
"I Ain't a Judas" was the first episode in a while to slow down the pace of the story and let the characters catch their collective breath. Scott Wilson gave a particularly strong performance as Hershel got Rick to live up to his responsibilities as the leader and again when Hershel tried to reach out to Merle. One of the few comedic moments in the episode came when Merle half-heartedly apologized to Michonne for trying to kill her, only to gleefully agree with her point that he was only following orders… like the Gestapo. And either Merle was too dumb to realize he was being insulted or he knew what the Gestapo was and he took it as a compliment.
Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) even had a good moment when he urged Rick to step down as the leader. That seemed to get Rick out of his fantasy stupor, but it’s doubtful that he’s regained his sanity so quickly.
By design, "I Ain't a Judas" functioned mostly as a “calm before the storm” episode. But “The Walking Dead” needed an episode like this after the breakneck pace that it’s been on this season. However, it’s hard to see how the story can fill out five more episodes when it feels like the narrative could end after only one or two more episodes.
The end of the episode was oddly affecting as the entire group came together to listen to Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) sing a Tom Waits song. For just a few minutes, the entire group felt like an extended family again. The last time that happened was right before they tried to clean up the prison in the first episode of this season.
So if history is any indication, even harder times are ahead for Rick Grimes and his friends.