WARNING! Spoilers below.
Look, I realize The Walking Dead is about the characters thrown into this horrific scenario and seeing how it impacts them. I don't need action to enjoy the show. In fact, it has had plenty of fantastic character driven moments which were totally lacking in the undead slaughtering department (Morgan's story, for example). But this was unfortunately a pretty boring episode where my interest was only piqued when walkers were the victims of some harsh violence.
'Prey' strays away from the Prison and focuses on how Woodbury is preparing to handle the upcoming war. As we know, "Nick Fury" is driven by revenge and wants to make Michonne suffer. While he's at it, he wants to backstab Rick and his survivors, too. Meanwhile, Andrea has been hit by a long overdue epiphany: the Governor is completely loco and cannot be trusted. Naturally, she wants to get out and warn the Prison crew.
Before I sound like a grumpy old man and dive into what I didn't like, this episode does deserve some praise. First and foremost, the use of prosthetic makeup was topnotch. The pit of burnt zombies was viciously detailed and a truly horrific sight.
The Governor's shovel kill is right up there with Martinez's bat kills for me. Simply brutal stuff right there. Additionally, I love that they briefly dove back into Rick's mental state. I was concerned they brushed that off after Michonne essentially said, "it's cool, bro, we all see things from time to time," but it's nice to see it's still a factor. It's great they were able to display this without blatantly throwing it in our faces, too. Andrew Lincoln's performance said everything we need to know. He knows he saw something, but then he realizes it's probably just another vision. Furthermore, the game of cat and mouse had a solid conclusion and I was thrilled to see Andrea didn't have a change of heart as her former lover was left screaming.
What was up with that opening scene? It felt completely random and out of place. If it's an attempt to further develop Michonne, we really don't need that. Those walkers being discussed are long gone and she had her time to shine during her team-up with Carl. If it's an attempt to show Andrea's connection to Michonne, why bother? We've seen that countless times before. So, randomly diving back to this time period was a confusing choice and didn't fit.
How'd the Governor not see Andrea while she was creeping on him? Yeah, the dude has one eye, but that screen was huge and not even that high up. We got a perspective from the ground level and it's really, really, reaaaaaally hard to believe he didn't spot them with his peripheral vision.
Andrea finally getting an ounce of common sense is something worth celebrating -- throw some confetti if you've got it. But, it took her seeing the torture chair to finally realize this? What about the room of severed heads? His zombie daughter on a chain? All of her friends warning her? It feels like too little, too late and I honestly don't feel bad at all over her status in the conclusion. Sure, she gets a badass moment or two here, but for me, it just doesn't counteract all of the frustrating nonsense we've seen from her.
I'm happy to see they're turning Tyreese into a man of morals again, but man oh man, did he fall for the worst lie ever or what? "We don't share our tactics with people we don't know," buuut we're okay with having them serve as an essential tool for setting up the tactic. Wait, what? The man has no reason to believe that information couldn't be shared with him, especially if he's being used to set it up. Get it together, Tyreese!
While I like how Andrea/Governor's game of hide and seek ended, it was seriously drawn-out. It was far too lengthy and I don't know about you, but I wasn't feeling the sense of danger or tension at all. A scene like this should have you on the edge of your seat. Instead, I was counting down the sections for something interesting to happen.
WHOA! Who didn't see that final shot coming? Seriously, who didn't? It's tough to feel any sympathy for Andrea at this point (she is without question one of the most frustrating characters in the show), but there's no denying it's at least a solid development. That, in combination with Milton's betrayal has finally spiced things up over in Woodbury. While this episode attempted to take leaps and bounds with Andrea, Tyreese and the Governor, I'm left far more interested in how things will happen over in the Prison. I feel they've done such a better job with those characters and I'm far more emotionally invested and intrigued by them -- especially with Merle back in the mix. There's only two episodes left this season, so here's hoping the season goes out with one helluva bang.
Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine and IGN Entertainment. This is the part where he shamelessly plugs his Twitter page in hopes of getting a new follower or two.