The Walking Dead: Everyone Feels Hounded and Merle Channels ‘Party Down’

By  · Published on November 19th, 2012

Editor’s Note: These blog entries are meant to be a discussion of the most current episode of The Walking Dead, so we recommend you watch said episode before reading to avoid spoilers. Keep your eyes peeled for them every Monday morning.

On last week’s episode, The Governor was revealed to have a zombie daughter, Michonne left Andrea behind at Woodbury, Rick went into shock after Lori’s death, and Daryl and Maggie went on the search for baby formula.

This week’s installment, “Hounded,” was another inconsistent one – somewhat of a mash-up between an existential one man show, a middle-aged romance film, and violent revenge flick. Revenge flick worked… the others didn’t… although this episode is important in setting up the eventual coming together of Rick and The Governor, finally marrying the prison and Woodbury. Fingers crossed the payoff will be worthwhile.

We open with Merle and three of the The Governor’s flunkies on the hunt for Michonne, who has cleverly spelled out “go back” with zombie parts (“back” = a zombie’s back, get it?). Michonne is, of course, hardly the shrinking violet, and busts out, killing two of the flunkies with her sword (even beheads one). Though she doesn’t leave completely unscathed – Merle shoots her in the leg and rhetorically asks, “Are we having fun yet?” Yeah, we kinda are! This is quite the entertaining fight scene and an interesting way to open the show. Michonne, again, proves to be one of the only characters on the show who knows what’s going on at all times, and it has become a highpoint to watch her go all Kill Bill on everything in her path.

When Michonne and Merle are fighting, a band of zombies crosses paths with them – in perhaps the coolest effect of the episode, she slices open a zombie’s intestines, which gush out all over her. Our girl gags after being doused with zombie innards, but quickly realizes that this is to her advantage, since zombies don’t attack her when she smells like one. Michonne escapes Merle’s wrath and Merle kills his last remaining cohort so he can falsely report to The Governor that she killed her.

Michael Rooker continues to bring it as Merle – love the bloody blade prosthetic.

Remember last week when Rick picked up the ringing phone? Well, that’s still happening through most of this episode and plays like a bad one-man existential play. Obviously, the phone calls are all in his head. This is made even more apparent once the other end talks back at him – a woman says that she is in a “safer place” and a man knows he lost his wife. The third time is a special guest caller: it’s Lori from beyond the grave! Ugh. This is played out to be a big reveal (that Rick made up the phone calls), but it all feels obvious and completely unnecessary. Last week saw Rick understandably troubled by his wife’s passing, but this whole stunt seems like filler. The one bright spot? The imagined experience does help Rick get over his post-partum-depression-by-proxy as he finally gets his hands on that still-nameless baby.

Back at Woodbury, Andrea admits to The Governor that she actually liked the redneck zombie cage match from last week and as she did in seasons past, demands to be taught how to wield weapons. Will the hundredth time be a charm? Eh – not really. Though she does “get busy” The Governor, the lucky girl. This was obviously a long time coming this season, and why not? At least Andrea has something to do. The Governor likely has ulterior motives in seducing Andrea, and it will be interesting to see what those are.

With Rick somewhat AWOL for most of this episode, Daryl again steps up to the plate with Carl-minding and Carol reconnaissance. In a nice little scene, Norman Reedus is again one of the show’s bright spots as he recounts to Carl how Daryl lost his mother – sharing a stark story about her burning to death smoking Virginia Slims in bed. Those things should have come with a warning or something.

There’s reason to rejoice here becausesomeoneis finally looking after Carl. As a result, the kid is able to open up to Daryl about shooting his own mother and shows hopeful signs for eventually getting past the whole ordeal.

On his travels around the prison, Daryl finds Carol’s knife sticking out of the neck of a zombie and eventually finds his middle-aged BFF hiding behind a door. Surprise, surprise: she’s not dead after all. Are we actually supposed to care? Apparently Daryl is the only one who did, because her grave was already dug last week without even having recovered anything but that babushka.

The set up for the coming together of the prison and Woodbury comes when Merle happens upon Glenn and Maggie foraging for more formula. Merle holds Maggie hostage and forces Glenn to bring him Daryl. Michonne observes all and eventually turns up outside the prison, where she locks eyes with Rick through the chain link fence.

While this season is far from perfect, it is refreshing to see that it has better momentum. The set up here is very promising and does not bode well for Maggie at the hand of The Governor. It’s also exciting to think of how Michonne will interact with our core group at the prison and how she will fit into its hierarchy.

The Upside: The story of how Daryl’s mother died and Michonne, again, serving as a beacon of reason and samurai-powered justice. Also, the eventual coming together of the prison/Woodbury looks to be exciting.

The Downside: Rick’s imaginary phone calls from beyond were eye-rollingly dumb and the “twist” definitely did not come as a surprise. Also, again, it comes as no surprise that Carol is still alive… and I kinda wish she wasn’t.

On the Side: The rhetorical question of “are we having fun yet?” is best used on Party Down, as Henry’s (Adam Scott’s) beer commercial catchphrase. Please enjoy this clip.