Episode Title: "Say the Word"
Writer: Angela Kang
Director: Greg Nicotero
Previously on "The Walking Dead":
Sanity and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) seem to have parted ways after the events in last week’s episode of “The Walking Dead.”
Is that really so surprising? Given everything else that Rick has been through since the start of the series, it’s amazing he didn’t flip out sooner. And in the depths of Rick’s madness, even a mundane occurrence became a compelling hook for next week’s episode.
Full spoilers are ahead for “Say The Word.” Don’t read this review until you’re up to date with “The Walking Dead”!
As much as Rick tried to pretend that he wasn’t still in love with his wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies); her death shattered him. The only thing that could have been worse was if Rick had lost his son, Carl (Chandler Riggs) as well.
Lacking a true emotional release, Rick did the next best thing: he grabbed an axe and went on a zombie killing spree. Lincoln’s performance was very animal-like and he even growled at Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) hapless attempts to help him through his grief.
Seeing Sarah Wayne Callies’ name was still in the opening credits, I assumed that we’d get at least one last look at Lori’s body as a cathartic moment for Rick. Instead, Rick finds only a bloody spot on the floor and a very fat zombie that apparently ate all of Lori’s corpse. That’s one way to cut a cast member out. But since when do the walkers eat skulls and bones? If that was a common thing then there wouldn’t be nearly as many dead people running around in this world.
The phone ringing at the end of the episode is another callback from the original “Walking Dead” comic by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. If they stick to that story, then I know who is on the other line and it’s more bad news for Rick. But that was a surprisingly good cliffhanger to end the episode on.
More than anyone else, this episode belonged to Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus); who unlike Rick, did not give into despair. Daryl’s heroic turn started during the second season, but it solidified here as Daryl took charge and made it his personal mission to make sure that Lori’s baby survived.
One of the reasons that Kirkman and the other “Walking Dead” producers have yet to bring in Tyreese from the comic book series is that he was the second Alpha male and that role on the show was filled when Shane stuck around a lot longer than he originally did. Without Shane or even Rick to take the focus away from him, Daryl stepped up and seemed like he could legitimately become the main character of the show. So there still isn’t much of a need for Tyreese yet, but I would hope that he shows up eventually.
Glenn is probably lucky that Daryl hasn’t shown any romantic interest in Maggie (Lauren Cohan), as that unlikely duo had some fun chemistry during their raid of an abandoned daycare center. Plus it was hilarious when Daryl killed an opossum and immediately declared it to be dinner.
On last night’s “Talking Dead,” the director of this episode, Greg Nicotero said that a scene between Maggie and Daryl was filmed and cut in which he reacted to the apparent death of Carol (Melissa McBride). And the episode really felt like it was missing that moment, with the only acknowledgement of Daryl’s feelings for Carol coming at the graveside scene. A few minutes in Woodbury could have easily been cut just to give us that scene.
With Rick off on his own and Daryl away, the rest of the group also had the chance to mourn their losses. Glenn had a powerful moment with Hershel (Scott Wilson) where he stated his willingness to kill anyone to protect their makeshift family unit. But it was undercut a little bit by Glenn’s unintentionally funny assertion about how great T-Dog (IronE Singleton) was. I have nothing against T-Dog’s character, but if the writers wanted us to really care about his death then we should have seen him doing these great things instead of hearing about them.
As part of Glenn’s tale, he related that T-Dog made sure that all of the senior citizens in his neighborhood had a ride during the zombie apocalypse. Left unsaid is that most of them were probably dead by the time we met T-Dog and the other survivors in season 1.
Over in Woodbury, I think that Andrea (Laurie Holden) has proven why she will never be the female lead on this show. It wasn’t just that Andrea was oblivious to the warnings of Michonne (Danai Gurira), it was because she so annoyingly dismissed Michonne’s concerns like they were nothing.
The two women obviously had a bond of friendship from their time together, but Andrea wouldn’t trust her friend’s instincts over her desires for the apparent security of Woodbury. Admittedly, it would be tough to leave Woodbury for a less secure future in the world overrun by walkers. But you either trust someone or you don’t. When Andrea decided to stay, Michonne lashed out by saying Andrea would only slow her down. That’s probably the only way that Michonne knows how to express affection at this point. If she didn’t care about Andrea, she would have just escaped on her own. But on some level, Michonne felt betrayed by Andrea’s refusal to come with her and only verbally swiped at Andrea to cover her feelings.
By the end, Andrea finally appeared to realize that she should have left with Michonne. At first it seemed like The Governor (David Morrissey) was taking Andrea to a monster truck rally. But there are no monster trucks in this world, just monsters. And the event turned out to be a gladiatorial style fight between Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) and another man while they were surrounded by a circle of chained up walkers.
Andrea doesn’t even know just how crazy the Governor really is. Much like his comic book counterpart, the Governor keeps a young girl zombie (who was probably his daughter, but that’s not fully confirmed) in his home and he unsuccessfully tries to brush her hair and behave fatherly towards her. It’s sick, but sad and somewhat understandable if Penny really is his daughter.
Less encouraging is the Governor’s notebook that Michonne flipped through during her break-in. It suggested that the Governor’s sanity snapped a long time ago and he’s just very skilled at hiding it from other people. Even in their last scene together, the Governor tried to sway Michonne to his side with his seductive manner. And there was some great intensity when she drew her sword on him. If the writers keep to the source material, that won’t be the last time the Governor and Michonne face-off. But it’s only going to get more brutal from there.
Compared to the other episodes this season, "Say the Word" was the calm and reflexive installment. We’re not even at the midway point of the season and it feels like “The Walking Dead” has already come much further than we expected.