The Walking Dead 3.10 "Home" review
Writer: Nichole Beattie
Director: Seith Mann
THE ONE WHERE Darryl and Merle bicker, Glenn plots revenge, Rick wibbles on... and then the Governor launches an assault on the prison.
VERDICT Heh... They had me worried there for a second.
The first half of “Home” is similar in tone to last week’s episode: ominous, character-focused, a bit too talky, frankly. It worked well as a breather last week, but another episode in that mould would have been a mistake. Like Lori plodding around in the grass, the ghost of season two still haunts this viewer. Happily, it was something of a ruse...
So, the first 20 minutes focus mainly on Rick's group wondering what to do next. Glenn is still super-pissed and hungry for revenge. Hershel reckons he's being reckless, but to my mind, he's just being proactive. Given the dire circumstances, his suggestion that they sneak into Woodbury and assassinate the Governor kind of makes sense. It’s not the moral thing to do, perhaps, but in the circumstances it's probably the most sensible. He's clearly developing strong leadership skills in Rick's absence.
Ah yes, Rick. He's still seeing dead people, though not quite all the time. As I said last week, I love the idea of the two leaders in this war coming undone and making questionable choices. But I found the scenes with Lori's spectre the least interesting here. Sure, it's a handy visual way of illustrating Rick's breakdown, but it's been done before on other shows, and better.
Over in Woodbury, Andrea is still being charmed by the Governor. She's a little suspicious, but his suggestion that she takes over the running of the town turns her head. That's a smart move – it gives her more of a reason to stay there, and makes her look less of a blind idiot.
Out in the wilderness, Daryl and Merle are tramping about on their own. And, of course, they’re already bickering. It leads to a brilliant set-piece, where they stumble upon another group of survivors surrounded by zombies on a bridge. Daryl rushes in to help, while Merle stands laconically back and watches. There's some nice direction here (I loved the claustrophobic shots of the woman with the baby trapped in the car). The fact that, at the end of it, we don't know anything else about these people is also brilliantly offhand. It’s just a snapshot of everyday life in zombieland.
After the battle on the bridge, you'd be forgiven for expecting the episode to settle back into talky-talk mode. And it does, briefly. Axel is suddenly being weirdly chatty, nattering away to Carol. Hmm… suspicious. My mind immediately flashed back to the prison serial killer subplot from the comics, which has so far been ignored by the show. Was Carol about to be threatened by the previously mild-mannered redneck…?
No. Because he got his brains blown out by the Governor, in a moment that made me yelp with surprise. Sure, that’s Axel's fate in the comics, but the framing of the scene is so low-key and casual, it really did come as a huge shock.
What followed was one of the season’s most exciting set-pieces as the Governor’s men attacked the prison, forcing the regulars to take cover. Rick, of course, wasn’t much help - he was too busy arseing about in the fields looking for ghosts. Hooray then for Daryl (rapidly becoming the star of the show) and Merle who – with eye-rollingly predictable timing – arrived to help stave off the attack. Not before a van-load of zombies was dumped on their doorstep, mind. Ooh, that’s a low blow.
So, while it was a little predictable and contained one of the rankest lines of dialogue in the show’s history (“I may be the one that’s leaving, but you’re the one who’s walking away”) it was also surprising, and at times thrilling. Yes… this is more like it.
ZOMBIE DEATH KILL Decapitation by hatch back.
Beth: “Why are you so sure he's gonna attack? Maybe you scared him off.”
Michonne: “He had fishtanks full of heads...”
Read all our The Walking Dead season 3 reviews
The Walking Dead airs in the UK on Fox on Friday nights at 10pm.