Recap video and review of The Walking Dead – Season 3 Episode 10 – Home:
The Walking Dead has become a show that has no problem digging into its characters’ flaws in a more substantial fashion. This is not to say the show hadn’t done it before with the likes of Shane, but there was always the sense that we, as viewers, weren’t supposed to be questioning Rick’s judgment as leader, or Lori’s parenting skills. Yet it’s something that frequently happened anyway, due to the fact that the characters were wildly inconsistent in their actions. Take the season 2 arc where Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) suggests to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) that he needs to “take care of” the Shane problem. One minute, she’s telling her husband to kill his best friend. The next minute, she’s tearing into him for trying to kill the man who’s come perilously close to raping her before. It makes it difficult to get any kind of a grip on where the character is coming from, and nearly impossible to identify with them as a human being whatsoever. Thankfully, that isn’t really a problem now. We know where Rick is coming from and, more importantly, Rick knows where he’s coming from. He knows that the visions of Lori he’s seeing aren’t real, but he needs to confront those visions for himself, to suss out their meaning and come to peace. Whether this should disqualify him from serving as the group’s leader, going forward, is a legitimate point of contention. But as it stands now, “Home” allows us to explore not only Rick’s feelings of inadequacy, but also Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) and The Governor’s (David Morrissey), culminating in one of the best action setpieces the show has ever done.
Rick, in a fevered delirium, confronts the vision of Lori that he’s been seeing. Michonne (Danai Gurira) looks on from a distance as Rick strokes the air in front of him, believing that it’s Lori’s hair. Rick disappears for most of the episode, off on his walkabout with ghost Lori, but his presence permeates the episode. When Glenn wants to storm Woodbury and take out The Governor, Hershel (Scott Wilson) insists that Rick wouldn’t approve, to which Glenn states that maybe Rick isn’t in any kind of position to be making those decisions. I knew that someone would eventually challenge Rick’s authority, or at the very least question it, but I didn’t think it would be Glenn. This is part of a larger arc for Glenn, in which he comes into his own as a would-be protector. He wants to avenge whatever The Governor did to Maggie (Lauren Cohan), yet he doesn’t realize that the best thing he could do for Maggie is to ensure he doesn’t get himself killed. His quest for vengeance has nothing to do with Maggie, and everything to do with his violated sense of manhood. He couldn’t protect Maggie, and he’s been on a myopic quest for retribution ever since, even though he doesn’t know what The Governor actually did or didn’t do to her, because he never actually talks to her. To this end, he meets with her in her cell on the eve of his mission to infiltrate Woodbury with Michonne, and asks her about what happened. She talks about doing what she had to do to keep Merle (Michael Rooker) from cutting of his hands, and that included taking off her shirt and allowing The Governor to touch her. Yet when Glenn asks if The Governor raped her, she seems offended by the question, and it’s understandable to see why, at least from her end. It makes it seem as though Glenn feels that sex is the only thing that mattered about what happened to her, not that she was psychologically tortured by being made to listen to Glenn get beaten to a pulp in the next room. Worse, it makes it seem as though Glenn wants vengeance not to neutralize the threat of The Governor, but because The Governor committed an affront to Glenn’s manhood for which he must be made to answer.
Maggie shoves Glenn away, telling him to just go if he’s going to go. It’s at this point that Glenn starts to recognize the futility of his quest for vengeance, and that recognition calcifies after he talks to Hershel, who tells Glenn that he still trusts him with his daughter’s life, and that Maggie still trusts him too. Glenn decides he isn’t going to go to Woodbury, and the group is much better off for the extra pair of hands, since The Governor quickly makes his presence known at the prison. While talking with Carol (Melissa McBride), Axel (Lew Temple) gets shot in the head by The Governor, sniping from a safe distance out in the woods. And like that, the war is on. It’s a staggering action setpiece, as The Governor’s men flank the prison, gaining entrance by driving a truck full of walkers directly into the heart of the prison yard. The scene is immeasurably tense, as Rick gets cornered by a trio of walkers. I know he’s ostensibly the show’s lead, but it was hard not to fear for him in that moment, as he genuinely looked like a goner. At least until those rowdy old Dixon boys came to the rescue.
Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Merle spent half the episode wandering through the woods and hashing out old conflicts. This was the best arc of the episode for me, as Daryl gets incrementally more disgusted with his brother as the episode goes on, culminating in Daryl deciding to rescue a besieged Latino family from a horde of walkers, over the protests of Merle. Once the walkers have been taken care of, Merle decides to hold up the family, with a mother and a screaming baby, for food and provisions. Daryl cannot abide this kind of behavior, and turns his crossbow on his brother, telling him to let the people go. After the family drives off, the brothers get into it, with Daryl telling Merle that it was his own damn fault he lost his hand, that he gave Rick’s people little recourse. Merle doesn’t have much of a defense other than to fall back on his racism, at which point Daryl sticks up for his former crew, ultimately deciding that he’d rather go back to the prison where he belongs. It’s a wonderful arc that illustrates Daryl’s growth as an independent character, and not simply an archetype of the badass loner. Norman Reedus adds nuance to a character that so easily could be one-dimensional, turning him into one of the characters that’s most fun to root for, particularly when he gets to play the hero, as he does tonight.
Daryl and Merle rescue Rick from the walkers, but the prison folk still have to contend with The Governor’s men. Michonne cuts her way through walkers like Paul Bunyan cutting past a swath of trees, while Hershel, Carol, Maggie, Glenn and Carl (Chandler Riggs) take care of The Governor’s men, killing some and driving back others. It’s a kinetically-edited piece that keeps tensions high, as the show has done a hell of a job this season of establishing that anyone can die at any moment. The Governor and his men eventually retreat, his point having been made: there’s no way to stop what’s coming. This was one of the most exciting moments of the season, a visceral scene of unmatched carnage that plays to the show’s best action-oriented strengths. This would be more than enough to make for a solid episode any other week, but the character work places this one firmly in the win column.
Well, except for the business with Andrea (Laurie Holden), whose storyline is a total non-starter. The Governor leaves her in charge of Woodbury, and it’s a continued test of her loyalties, as The Governor wants to see just how committed she is to the cause, while Andrea remains conflicted. It’s perfectly fine, in concept, but it’s a bit of a drag in execution. That said, the storyline at least has David Morrissey on hand, which means we get more of his finely-tuned performance. He’s not merely glowering, he’s imbuing The Governor with a large sense of damage, a feeling that he’s always been this unhinged – it’s simply that he now has a purpose to direct that energy towards. Morrissey is one of the best additions to the cast in recent memory for just this reason, even if he looks almost nothing like the graphic novel’s depiction of the character. Then again, it isn’t really the show’s intention, at least not anymore, to ape the graphic novel from top-to-bottom, and I’m happy for that decision. There’s more to the material here than meets the eye (no pun intended, Governor), and I like that the show is willing to forge its own path, for the most part.
“Home” is a strong episode, owing to its incisive character work and two action setpieces that anchor the episode in a huge way, with one of those setpieces proving to be among the best the show has ever done. As we get closer to the end of the third season of The Walking Dead, it’s become even more readily apparent that the show is looking to finish strong, after one of the strongest starts to any season of television that I’ve seen in recent years.
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