The Walking Dead: ‘Arrow on the Doorpost’ Points to a Big Woodbury/Prison Confrontation

By  · Published on March 11th, 2013

After last week’s road trip back to his hometown and the apparent close distance of everything in The Walking Dead’s universe, Rick piles Hershel and Daryl into the car… and takes another one! Well, this time it’s to Woodbury to talk to The Governor. But a change of scenery seems to be welcome these days, doesn’t it? Much like last week’s episode, this week’s, “Arrow on the Doorpost,” plays with format and is indeed a welcome change from the show’s usual one location per episode mentality.

It also puts Rick directly against The Governor at long last as the two (kinda) attempt to make a deal, while Daryl and Hershel provide cover. This episode does have its drawbacks, but what it does best is pair opposing sides – Hershel with Milton and Daryl with Martinez – in a humanitarian approach, showing that despite allegiance to either Rick or The Governor. People are just people! Glenn and Maggie seem to prove this also, though via a somewhat unsanitary act of lovemaking outside the prison.

Rick takes Andrea’s word for it in going to Woodbury, thinking that a compromise with The Governor might actually be a possibility. Obviously, no, that’s not true, since Andrea was probably looking at The Governor through love goggles. Rick has a proposal of divvying up the land between the prison and Woodbury, but The Governor isn’t having that. He claims he will not attack if Rick hands over Michonne – when Rick leaves, he says he will attack anyway, but really just wants to exact revenge on our fierce lady samurai. And Rick actually considers giving up Michonne. Huh. Did she not babysit Carl last episode and save everyone’s asses several times? Geez, Rick. Clearly The Governor has proven himself as someone who cannot be trusted, so why would Rick even entertain the option of sacrificing a human life on the word of a madman? Rick’s not trusting Michonne is growing tiresome, and even our one-legged badass Hershel tries to talk some sense into him. Hershel is the show’s main voice of reason, isn’t he?

David Morrissey really shines in this episode as The Governor spins his tricky rhetoric and even seems to sway Rick somewhat. The Governor never had the intention of backing down, and Morrissey smoothly conveys that through a veil of sanity and reason. He plays the charismatic leader role so well, and every time he smiles there’s an underlying threat. It’s interesting as Rick and The Governor attack each others’ leadership roles – Rick critique’s the moniker “The Governor,” while The Governor claims Rick is behaving less like a cop and more like a lawyer. If you think about it, The Governor is quite the lofty title to christen yourself with… especially since The Governor was apparently just a businessman, right? Wishful thinking happened on his part, it seems – though as Frank-N-Furter once wisely crooned, “Don’t dream it, be it.” And yeah, he certainly does govern Woodbury with an iron fist.

The two community leaders are united on one thing: they are both annoyed by Andrea getting in the middle of their men’s work. And they both kick her out of their meeting space. Women, huh? Such meddlers! Though getting kicked out really unnerves Andrea, since The Governor had alleged that she was a secondary leader at Woodbury. Overhearing Rick mention The Governor’s cruel treatment of Maggie, Andrea later asked Hershel about it… and without him revealing all that much, she finally figured out that The Governor is pretty damn diabolical. By the look in her eyes, it seems that Andrea will finally side with the Ricktatorship yet again.

Finally… after witnessing the zombie cage matches and The Governor initiating war upon the prison. And probably countless other things. Anyway, yes, it’s about time, Andrea. Glad you see the light at long last.

The Hershel/Milton and the Daryl/Martinez pairings are perhaps the most intriguing part of this latest episode, recalling the humanitarian themes of the better George A. Romero films. The two pairings are initially quite hostile to each other, but after talking for a bit, find common ground and treat each other as equals and even friends. Daryl and Martinez stand guard together, and Daryl finds some cigarettes – the two bicker over menthol vs. regular and talk briefly about their past lives. Martinez has lost his family to zombies, and has a vendetta against them.

Though perhaps the best moment of the episode occurs during Hershel and Milton’s bonding session. Milton, as we know, is quite curious about the process of humans turning into zombies, and therefore he is very intrigued by Hershel’s leg amputation post-zombie bite, which successfully saved his life. When Milton asks to see the amputation scar, Hershel replies, “I’m not showing you my leg – I just met you. At least buy me a drink first.” The two laugh together in a moment of inadvertent camaraderie, Scott Glenn and Dallas Roberts really added to this scene with their perfect delivery, their trepidation in treating each other with empathy and then the surrender in accepting the bonding moment as it naturally unfolded.

Plus, a few things happened back in the prison while the gang assembled the weaponry obtained from Rick’s hometown. Mainly, Glenn was still pretty angry with Merle about their fight in Woodbury. So they have another fight, which is only disrupted by Beth shooting a gun in the air. Thankfully, her best friend, Lil Asskicker, is apparently fairly accustomed to loud noises at this point and didn’t cry for the rest of the episode. Outside later, Glenn professes his motivations for the squabble with Merle – his love for her – and the two of them do it outside in the dirt a few feet away from a fenced-off swarm of zombies. And the the lovemaking lasts for quite a long time… much longer than it needs to. I’m all for a good TV sex scene, but did we need this? Not so much. It definitely went on for way too long, and seemed pretty unsanitary, given it being in the dirt, even for zombie apocalypse standards. “Unbridled passion” is hardly something that comes to mind when you think of Glenn and Maggie, so it’s not exactly fitting here.

Beggars can’t be choosers though. This week’s episode maintained the better, more interesting format of last week and seems to finally be building to that huge prison/Woodbury confrontation. Finally. Get it together Rick – and listen to Hershel, goddamn it!

The Upside: The Hershel/Milton and Daryl/Martinez pairings during the Rick/The Governor tête-à-tête, David Morrissey’s unhinged performance, and Andrea finally seeing the light.

The Downside: Rick considering giving up Michonne and Glenn and Maggie’s outdoor zombie patrolling sex.

On the Side: I hope Glenn and Maggie are using protection, because pregnancy during the zombie apocalypse has officially been proven to be a bad idea.