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The Walking Dead 3.05 "Say The Word" REVIEW

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The Walking Dead 3.05 “Say The Word” TV REVIEW

Episode 3.05
Gregory Nicotero
Writer: Angela Kang

THE ONE WHERE Rick goes loopy, Michonne walks, and Andrea’s treated to some unusual entertainment.

VERDICT Many wondered if the TV version of The Walking Dead would dare to get to grips with the true darkness of the Woodbury storyline, as it emerged in the original comics. This episode provides further evidence suggesting that it won't, with a key element quite literally rendered toothless.

In the comics, Woodbury has an arena, and what goes on there is a considerably more disturbing, brutal business than the sanitised version presented on-screen. Now, there’s good reason to make changes, because the arena was one of the elements of the comic that was a little difficult to swallow; it wasn’t easy to see how it might have come about, or why there was a need for it to exist in a community with such a tiny population. But a WWF-style pantomime where Merle’s the star of the show isn’t really an adequate substitute. Frankly, the whole thing looks a little silly. Of course, we don’t know what future episodes hold - it may be that this family-friendly spectacle will be twisted into something far more deadly and perverse. But at this stage it feels like it might have been a better idea to skip the whole idea, rather than reinvent it so it's in keeping with this bunting-and-lemonade alternate Woodbury.

It makes for a deeply anti-climactic big reveal for an episode that doesn’t move things on very much, or have that many involving plot threads. Michonne and Andrea’s ongoing “should we stay or should we go?” debate isn’t exactly fascinating; neither is Daryl and Maggie’s search for baby formula.

Still, a lull is rather to be expected after an episode as shocking and incident-packed as “Killer Within”, and “Say The Word” does have its moments. Michonne’s confrontation with the Governor is intense, and there’s some superb FX work on display in the sequence where she slices and dices zombies. The scene where the Governor lovingly combs his zombified daughter’s hair is downright bizarre, its warped tenderness arguably even more disturbing than the comics equivalent, and the final shot of a ringing telephone makes for an intriguing cliffhanger - well, unless you’ve read the comics, in which case you’ll know exactly who’s on the line…

The highlight, and the one thing that lifts this above being a pretty forgettable instalment, is the sight of Rick as he teeters on the brink of insanity. Andrew Lincoln doesn’t speak a single word, but his performance is compelling – frighteningly disturbed, yet utterly believable. He carries the episode.

NITPICKS Why on earth is everyone convinced that Carol’s dead – sufficiently certain to dig her a grave - just because they’ve found her head-scarf? They didn’t give up on Sophia that easily (oh, if only they had…)

IT’S A DOG’S LIFE T-Dog’s becoming a more interesting character after his death! Why couldn’t we have seen more of the heroic figure that Glenn describes?

IS IT JUST ME…? Or is there a hint of, er, sexual tension between Michonne and Andrea?

BEST LINE Andrea reveals The Michonne Diet: “So you wanna run around out there with walkers on chains, eating twigs?”

Ian Berriman

Like The Walking Dead? Then you’ll love our latest special, The SFX Book Of The Walking Dead , on sale now!
Read our David Morrissey interview .

Read our The Walking Dead: The Road To Woodbury review .
Read all our Walking Dead season 3 reviews .

The Walking Dead airs in the UK on FX, on Friday nights at 10.00pm.

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Ian Berriman

Ian Berriman has been working for SFX – the world's leading sci-fi, fantasy and horror magazine – since March 2002. He also writes for Total Film, Electronic Sound and Retro Pop; other publications he's contributed to include Horrorville, When Saturday Comes and What DVD. A life-long Doctor Who fan, he's also a supporter of Hull City, and live-tweets along to BBC Four's Top Of The Pops repeats from his @TOTPFacts account.