The Walking Dead 3.14 "Prey" TV REVIEW
Writers: Glen Mazzara and Evan Reilly
Director: Stefan Schwartz
THE ONE WHERE Andrea flees Woodbury – only for an angry Governor to come after her...
VERDICT Oh, good , an Andrea episode...
I'm sure I wasn't alone in groaning like a walker when it became clear that this week's Walking Dead would avoid Rick and the gang (almost) entirely, and concentrate instead on the show's most unloveable character. But hold all of your horses! Because “Prey” turned out to be a rather decent episode.
When people talk about The Walking Dead , they often say, “Oh, it’s not really about the zombies.” And they’re right, this is primarily a character drama that uses the end-of-the-world premise as a starting point. But once in a while, the show reminds you of its horror roots. That’s exactly what “Prey” does, though not in the way you might expect. This isn’t a big episode for the walkers – it's a slasher movie.
As the Governor hounds Andrea across fields and stalks her through abandoned buildings, it's hard not to be reminded of both Night Of The Hunter and A Nightmare On Elm Street (indeed his whistling seems like a direct nod to Robert Mitchum's terrifying Reverend Powell in Hunter ). It's spooky stuff, and there's a couple of nice jumps (though the scene where a zombie ambushes Andrea in the woods just leaves you wondering why it was hiding behind a tree in the first place). The Governor even gets an unlikely back-from-the-dead moment, like all good slasher villains.
Sure, it's hardly a prime example of the genre, but it does help make Andrea a sympathetic character again. Not because she's in danger (if anything, the fact that she ends the episode tied up in the Governor’s dungeon felt clichéd – the show doesn’t need to go down the damsel-in-distress route) but because it forces her to face the truth and be proactive again. By the end she’s certainly under no more illusions about who this guy really is…
It’s also the third episode in a row that breaks from the usual format. This week (save for a brief glimpse of Rick in the closing minutes) steers well clear of the prison. That meant more to do for Milton – a character I’m torn between finding enigmatic and just plain irritating. Like Andrea, he's having serious doubts about the Governor’s sanity. His sudden pleas that she kill him come a little bit out-of-the-blue, but then again, he knows better than anyone just how dangerous this guy can be.
There was also – hail Jandek! – screen time for Tyreese. Yes, he’s still in this programme. Unfortunately, he appears to have taken up Andrea’s mantel as the show’s stupidest character. Here, he’s presented with some fairly compelling evidence of just how dodgy the Governor and his crew are, but is talked around with a few glib lies. Given how important Tyreese is in the comics, it’s disappointing to see him handled this way. Hopefully by season’s end he’ll have seen sense – that is if he isn't immediately killed off. That would certainly be a curveball.
Was the episode basically filler? Perhaps. Last week’s ponderous episode ended with the promise of war, and it is a little frustrating that the show didn't immediately kick into that. But at the same time, this felt refreshingly different and told a solid story – and one that hints at a dire future for several of the recurring characters. Admittedly, ending the episode with Andrea back where she started (presumably either to die in the season finale, or for Rick to rescue her) was a little lame. But hey, last week I was totally ready for her to be zombie bait, so something’s obviously improved…
HEY YOU, WHAT’S THAT SOUND? The vaguely bluesy dirge playing at the end of the episode is “You Are The Wilderness” by Voxhaul Broadcast.
Michonne (on her former Walker buddies): “They deserved what they got. They weren't human to begin with.”
The Walking Dead airs in the UK on Fox on Friday nights at 10pm